Scandinavia Standards’ Rebecca Thandi Norman on Fashion, Culture and World Domination.
Whether you’re a local looking for new drink hotspots, or experiencing Scandinavian culture for the first time, Scandinavia Standard is a website for a niche market built on the context of informative awareness. The website also features all original content and photos. It’s chic and up to date, supplying news across the Nordic continent, with a focus on Denmark, Sweden, Oslo and Reykjavik. The website was founded out of Copenhagen by Freya McOmish and Rebecca Thandi Norman. Both females are immigrants to the country but have built a successful brand on a variety of social platforms, covering topics that range from interior design, city highlights, beauty and food trends to backstage access at some of the biggest fashion shows in Scandinavia. “We want to provide people with content on various subjects, as well as what we wish we had known when immigrating to Scandinavia.”
By clicking through Scandinavia Standards’ Instagram and Facebook, it is hard to miss how immersed the website is in fashion, culture and cuisine. There is currently a spotlight on Scandinavian style. Copenhagen and Sweden are named as two of the most important cities in fashion, with clean, minimalistic outfits all over editorial fashion magazines. Rebecca embodies this very well. She sat down with me in a quiet little café called Katz off of Frederiksholm Kanal 1, an area in Copenhagen near the water that is populated with private art galleries. She is very chic, with a trendy long bob and red lipstick complementing her oversized grey jumper. She puts down her Stutterheim tote (a feature on the site!) and is polite, smiling warmly as she asks for an espresso and carrot cake from the waiter in Danish.
What’s intriguing about the website is that it’s a completely different take on the mold of the stylish, blonde Scandi trendsetter. Freya, 29 is of Danish and Australian descent, while Rebecca, 28 is American with South African heritage. Rebecca completed her masters at the University of Copenhagen and fell in love with her now husband, who is a Dane. “Freya and I met through a mutual friend and she was talking about a website that she’d always wanted to start. I called her the next day to tell her that I was in and within four months we were doing Scandinavia Standard full time.” The approach to the brand is very clean, with white templates and black writing showcasing colourful imagery and features.
Amidst the high level of success over the past year, Rebecca feels that Scandinavia Standard is still in the process of becoming respected in the industry. “Part of it is that many people think that both Freya and myself don’t speak or understand Danish – which isn’t the case.” This fact alone creates a barrier, especially when they aren’t added to local guest lists and continue to be viewed as an international brand. “The fashion industry, even though known for being biased, in it we have met wonderful people who have accepted us and have given us access to other people,” says Rebecca, “but once you have been given a small approval you begin to have access to everything, and that continues to grow as we keep providing them [with] content.” Their access to major fashion shows in Copenhagen is quite impressive, with dozens of behind-the-scenes videos from designers such as Maikel Tawadros, and Nicklas Kunz on their YouTube channel.
But what is it that makes Scandinavian fashion stand out to the rest of the industry? “It’s harder to differentiate because Scandinavian fashion is having a real moment right now, and many brands are piggybacking on that,” says Rebecca, describing it as “clean, minimalist, nice silhouettes, not well, but crisply tailored. That alone is a huge sign of Scandinavian fashion, usually monochrome will a little neutral colours thrown in. It is fairly androgynous, which I like a lot. High quality materials, and usually many natural materials such as wools and cottons.
“There actually are in my opinion fairly big differences between Swedish and Danish Fashion,” says Rebecca. “Copenhagen is more of a casual city and even when you go to the nicest parties, people are still wearing casual stuff. It’s very well made and it’s beautiful and probably more expensive than a ball gown I’ve ever owned, but it looks casual and it fits casual. With Sweden, people in fashion tend to mix between very formal and fitted to weird as hell and quirky. You’re always also going to find people in the middle who are more minimalist, but the fashion scene in Stockholm is very pronounced, where as here people are still wearing their casual black and white.”
Rebecca and Freda chose to create Scandinavia Standard because as immigrants living in Copenhagen, they wanted to globally show that it is possible to become completely immersed in a city that is not initially your own. “You can connect with a city the way you can connect with a person, and Copenhagen is my city,” says Rebecca.
“You can connect with a city the way you can connect with a person, and Copenhagen is my city.”
Rebecca refers to herself as an immigrant – a word that in recent times has been looked down upon. “The first thing I would say it’s a silly thing but is what you call yourself. Immigrant is such a connotation, I call myself an immigrant because I immigrated here, and the word expat gives the impression that you are not planning to stay. There is a certain class to being an expat, and by identifying by it you don’t mind saying that you mind being in a separate group, when you’re an immigrant, like myself, you must learn to adapt,” says Rebecca. “The reason we created the site is to allow people to immigrate culturally, and to give them resources to events and cultural traditions while staying true to your own…There’s a fine line between making your own traditions in order to make yourself feel comfortable, as well as partaking in existing ones has been helpful to me in order to live here day to day.”
“There is a certain class to being an expat, and by identifying by it you don’t mind saying that you mind being in a separate group, when you’re an immigrant, like myself, you must learn to adapt.”
Rebecca has plans to expand the platform on an international level. “If the model worked here, we’d love to take it and represent it in other regions of the world. We’d like to do Mediterranean Standard, South Pacific Standard. Immediately next is Reykjavik Iceland. We’re going to Reykjavik next year and we’re looking for an Icelandic city manager. It’s a four-year plan to roll out of all of Scandinavia, build up the content and making certain product collaborations.” Strong ideas play in the evolution of Scandinavian Standard, and it’s evident that Rebecca, as we say our goodbyes and she climbs on her bicycle, wants to live up to her sarcastic declaration of “world domination.”
For an insider look to Scandic life, check out: http://www.scandinaviastandard.com