WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
The Nordics consistently top the charts when it comes to health, happiness, and wellbeing. It’s no wonder that some of the region’s fashion has become so dominant globally with all that positivity and productivity. Think ultra-hip brands like Nudie Jeans, Our Legacy, and Filippa K, or fashion heavyweights like Henrik Vibskov or Astrid Andersen. Somehow, the Scandi’s have managed to go toe-to-toe with the Japanese on minimalism, the Americans on sportswear, and the Europeans on luxury while still being relative newcomers in the world of fashion, and we haven't even mentioned footwear either. Here are three of the best Swedish sneaker brands that'll be giving the likes of Nike, Balenciaga, and Common Projects a run for their money, and how to get the right size in them. You’ll be happy you did.
Swedish Sneaker Brands: Acne Studios
I originally bought the Acne Studios sneakers as an alternative to my all-white Balenciaga Triple S. Being a similar style and shape they were the perfect alternatives and much more understated due to them being Acne. They’re comfy, clean, and can be styled in many different ways. They were my go-to sneaker for a long time just because of how clean they are!
Cropped oversized trousers, always. These look absolutely great with them, especially if you can see the top of the shoe and a bit of sock too –– they’re a very obvious shape and something I believe should be shown off. So, this style of pants with a tee, hoodie, and/or a jacket is the best. My favorite look is pictured, it’s a simple one that pairs the sneakers with a white tee and Acne Bomber jacket in green.
Sizing & Fit:
The Acne sneakers actually come up a little bit big. Thankfully, someone told me about this before I purchased them so I went for a UK9 but I’m normally a UK9.5/10. They fit perfectly, however, it’s worth noting that they do (like all sneakers) stretch over time.
They’re very comfy. I always wear them with long socks as I like the look of it, but you could wear these with thin ones too. They’re certainly just as comfy as the Triple S, and much comfier than the likes of the Balenciaga Track.
The suede on them is a killer, that’s what you need to take care of. The material itself is quite good for wiping dirt and other marks off, however the suede will get you so watch out.
When chunky sneakers started trending a year or so ago, I knew I wanted a pair of Acne sneakers. I typically don’t like to invest in trends, but the Acne Studios Manhattan sneaker goes with everything, and I can see myself wearing them for a long time.
I love to style chunky shoes with short hemlines, so I like to style my Acne Studios sneakers with oversized tees and blazers that I wear as a dress. But these shoes can make any outfit cool. Throw them on with something simple like black straight-leg trousers and a white tee, and you’re good to go.
Sizing & Fit:
For me, the Acne sneakers fit true to size and I have fairly wide feet, so I’d say stick to your normal sizing.
They’re comfy too! They’re less heavy than the Balenciaga Triple S, but nowhere near as lightweight as a Stan Smith or other athletic sneakers. It’s a great shoe for walking around the city in, but I won’t exactly be running marathons in them.
I'm actually so terrible with sneaker maintenance! I don’t do anything to protect or maintain my Acne sneakers but they still look good as new so that’s testament to the shoe!
It was when I visited the Acne Studios Store in Hamburg last year where I first saw the sneaker and fell in love. Not only are the pieces from Acne absolute bangers, but the concept of the stores and the color palettes are really fantastic. Acne Studios has inspired me a lot with the way they create fashion in a modern way, that’s why I had to add some Acne sneakers to my wardrobe. They go with almost all of my outfits, they’re so timeless, classy, simple, and clean which matches the way I like to dress exactly. The Acne Perey sneaker is a real eye-catcher of a high-fashion shoe. I don't think there’s any sneaker that can compare to this one. Lately, I’ve seen some other brands trying to copy the shape and colorway of this shoe, but no brand has been able to beat them. The Acne Studios Face Logo on the back is a unique signature detail of the brand. The Pereys are crafted with high-end materials like smooth calf leather and feature a durable rubber sole with adjustable upper straps. To be honest, I love every detail about these sneakers, and they also smell good too! I wear the Perey sneaker at least three days a week pretty consistently. They’ve been one of my favorite sneakers in my collection for a year now. I would definitely recommend buying Acne Studios sneakers. Get a pair, you won’t be sorry.
I’m wearing the Acne Studios Perey sneaker in white leather. The Perey works with everything in my wardrobe, especially my trousers and jeans. My favorite way to style them is with a relaxed pair of black or blue jeans, a black or cream oversized jumper, and finished with a cap on my head. I have a few Acne pieces and they all match each other really well.
These Acne sneakers also look great with black wide-leg woolen pants and a roll neck jumper. There are so many great ways of combining them.
Sizing & Fit:
My advice for those who are planning to buy Acne sneakers is to go one size down. Usually, I wear a EU42 yet in the Acne Perey I wear a EU41.
The Acne Perey sneakers are very comfortable. There’s no problem wearing them for the whole day. I love the fact that they have adjustable upper straps, it’s such an easy and fast way of putting them on.
Keeping the Acne Perey sneakers clean is essential to keep them looking special. The easiest way to do this is to wipe them with a wet paper towel immediately after wearing them. The smooth leather and rubber sole are super easy to clean. Every time before I wear them, I give them a quick clean. I often treat my shoes immediately after buying them with Crep Protect which helps keep the dirt away for a longer period of time. Protecting them from light is very important when storing them at home.
Swedish Sneaker Brands: Eytys
Fashion Instagrammer from Berlin, Germany
I bought some Eytys sneakers after being influenced by some fashion experts on Instagram. The exact person I got influenced by was Agnes Olofsson (@agnesanjou) and as far as I know she’s an Eytys model. The reason I love them is the way I can style them with many different kinds of outfits. Eytys sneakers don’t just represent one style of dressing, they work across a diverse range of style directions. I own Eytys Angel Suede, Athena, and the Akira Canvas Black Boots, each one of them gives me a different vibe. They’re chunky high-fashion sneakers that are made to stand out from the crowd. I’m looking forward to owning more Eytys sneakers in the future.
How I wear my Eytys sneakers depends on my daily mood. Sometimes I like to go for a cozy look, so I’ll often wear plain black pants combined with an oversized sweater or pullover. You’re also good to go if you pair them with blue denim jeans like Levi's, I usually wear a relaxed fit. Denim is timeless, so it is kind of perfect for an everyday look. Denim with the Angel Suede sneakers gives me an old-school vibe. On other days I love to rock a full leather outfit, inspired by punk rock music! My perfect combination is Eytys Athena sneakers with faux leather bondage pants and a leather shirt.
Sizing & Fit:
My Eytys sneakers fit true-to-size which is always EU43. I’d recommend going true-to-size but if you are used to half sizes choose the next higher size. Since Eytys sneakers are unisex it should be easy to figure out the best size for each individual. A good way to make the best decision on your size is to measure your feet before ordering.
Although they’re incredibly heavy, especially the Angel Model, Eytys sneakers are quite comfortable. After breaking in a new pair of sneakers the feeling when walking in them gets better.
As soon as my Eytys sneakers arrived, I applied a water-repellent spray to them. After 24 hours they’re ready for outdoor use. Assuming they get messed up, a soft brush helps to clean up any dirty spots and won’t damage materials such as suede. I usually use the premium bundle set from Jason Markk. The set contains an RTU foam cleaner, a premium brush, a microfiber towel, a suede cleaning kit, and Repel spray. By following the instructions, the sneaker should be clean and protected against dirt.
Fashion Instagrammer based in Madrid, Spain
I really love sneakers in general but sometimes I get tired of seeing the same silhouettes over and over everywhere. That’s the main reason why I got myself a pair of Eytys sneakers, I fell in love with them as soon as I tried them on for the first time. But, there are two reasons why I love these sneakers –– the first one is because they’re comfy (once you’ve broken them in) and the second is the versatility of them. These sneakers match with almost everything and they make every outfit look good and somehow stylish. At the moment, I own a pair of Eytys Grand Prix Methane, by far my favorite silhouette of theirs and in my opinion the most aesthetic silhouette the label's released up until now. The color palette of greys, teal, and lime green make this model very aesthetically pleasing to look at.
The fit I put together is composed of a pair of straight jeans in a light blue wash with a vintage off-white zipped jumper, a green jacket, and the Grand Prix Methane from Eytys. I tend to wear the Eytys Grand Prix with straight or baggy pants. That’s why I love them so much, they match with almost everything as long as you know how to match the color palette on them. I like to use a complementary color scheme in my outfits, but you could also go for a contrasting or tonal look and they’d still look amazing.
I like to wear an oversized blazer, sweatshirt, or jumper on top. I follow this with classic Levi’s 501s or any other straight workwear pants which match perfectly with this model. I really like how they pair with a head-to-toe look such as a matching sweatpant and sweatshirt set or an oversized suit.
Sizing & Fit:
I think everyone has a different opinion on sizing but in my case, Eytys shoes do fit true to size. The only advice I’d give to someone who’s looking to get a new pair is to get thick socks and plasters –– the first days you wear them they may cause you a bit of pain especially on the heel so you’d better be ready for it. However, once they’re broken in they’ll be so comfortable.
Eytys sneakers are so comfortable due to their huge platform soles which feel like you’re walking on air. If I had to compare the fit of Eytys sneakers to another sneaker, I’d say they’re similar to the Balenciaga Triple S or Dr. Martens Jadons. The weight is almost the same on all of them, and they’re comfy and chunky which is the main reason why I love them. Nobody can deny that a pair of Converse or Air Jordan Is weigh less than Eytys, but bear in mind that they don’t have the platform sole a pair of Eytys sneakers has. Although Eytys is known for its thick soles they recently released a new model – the Fugu – which has a lighter sole.
When it comes to care it really depends on the model of Eytys shoes you have. In my case, the Grand Prix has a huge suede panel which means I have to be careful with liquids in general, so I try to avoid wearing them when it’s raining outside to avoid mud spots. Cleaning suede is a total nightmare. I try to clean them as soon as I get home and I store them in the box to keep them away from dust. Anyway, we should enjoy sneakers and not be overprotective about them. There are a few sneaker cleaning companies where I live so I don’t really worry that much if they get dirty, I can just take them there.
Swedish Sneaker Brands: Axel Arigato
I've been a big fan of Axel Arigato shoes for ages. I really loved their store in Copenhagen. The brand not only offers amazing clothes and shoes but also has an amazing image. A few months ago they sent me their ‘Marathon’ runners and I became obsessed with them. I love wearing ‘dad sneakers’ but actually didn't expect to wear these as often as I do. I just love the shape and how the different materials are in harmony with each other. They also go with everything, no matter whether it's chic or casual.
I love wearing my Axel Arigato sneakers with an oversized suit, it's quite a nice contrast. I also suggest getting some well-fitting Levi’s pants and an oversized band shirt to wear with them, I love my tee from Balenciaga for this. Since they’re so simple and easy to combine with almost every outfit, you can also wear them with color popped wide-leg pants and matching accessories. What's most important while wearing them is to have something in your outfit that matches the Marathon runners, in my case the bag, t-shirt, socks, and pants.
Sizing & Fit:
Axel Arigato shoes fit perfectly, I'm extremely happy with how they fit. So go and order your normal size and I promise you'll be happy!
I've worn my Axel Arigato sneakers quite a lot during my life, especially while working in fashion. They’re so comfortable that I can even wear them when hiking. They have quite a strong sole which makes them appropriate for the underground too. Besides my Axel Arigato Marathon Runners I love wearing my Balenciaga Triple S, adidas Supercourt, Nike Air Force 1 and Air Jordan Is and I have to say that the Marathons are definitely in my top three sneakers when it comes to comfort.
I usually keep them clean using a sponge and water. If they’re really dirty, I really recommend the sneaker cleaning kit by Jason Markk, it’s the best! Just be very careful while using the cleaning kit as the shoes are made out of different materials. There should be no problem with the sole, but be careful with the upper part of the shoe.
Fashion Instagrammer from Nottingham, United Kingdom
The first thing that drew me to Axel Arigato was actually seeing the model I am wearing –– the Marathon R-Trail –– on one of my favorite influencers on Instagram. I absolutely love a dad sneaker with a hiking vibe, so I was instantly drawn to this style. It was then that I looked into the brand itself, I adore the brand’s minimal and clean aesthetic (I have visited the store in London many times, and it‘s seriously cool). I also love that the brand is always looking to the future to create really forward-thinking pieces. I am obsessed with the 90’s vibe that you get with the Marathon R-Trail, and the colorway I have really makes a statement if you style it with muted colors. I have quite a large sneaker collection, from Nike to Gucci and Balenciaga, and my Axel Arigato sneakers are one of my favorites. The mid-price bracket for a really unique pair of sneakers is really appealing for me, especially as the quality is second to none. You can see genuine craftsmanship in the way the sneakers are made, which I just love to see.
My personal style will always have an androgynous feel, and I carry that aesthetic across the majority of my outfit choices. Taking that into account, my favorite way to style my Axel Arigato sneakers is with an oversized men's vintage suit. I love the boxy fit of a vintage blazer, and you can get away with wearing a much bigger size by pulling in the waist with a belt. The oversized aesthetic just works so well with the sneakers. I also have the biggest obsession with the brand Low Classic and can see one of their minimal suits working perfectly with the 90s vibe of these sneakers. I also love to pair a matching loungewear look with my Axel Arigato sneakers. I mean can you just imagine these sneakers with an Alexander Wang full loungewear look?
Sizing & Fit:
Axel Arigato sneaker sizing is most definitely true to size. I wear a size UK5 or EU38 in sneakers and the fit is perfect. I’d take your normal Nike or adidas shoe size and apply that to the Axel Arigato sneaker as the sizing is very similar.
They’re also super comfortable, I’ve worn my Axel Arigato’s for a full day of city sightseeing and shopping (activities where I get my most steps in) and still had very happy feet at the end of the day.
The uppers of the Axel Arigato Marathon R-Trail sneakers are leather and mesh, so the main part that needs to be protected is of course the leather. I used a good quality leather protector spray on the trainers when I first bought them, which gave them a better chance of staying perfect for longer. After each wear, I clean them and put them back in their original shoe box to protect them from dust, but it’s also a great way to store them as boxes can be easily stacked. There are some really great sneaker cleaning kits out there if your beloved sneakers get a little worse for wear, they’ll bring them back to life with a little TLC.