We found it very interesting that four (2,6,7,8) of eight participants, were wearing Converse, although none of them were presenting the same type of clothing style. Some of our observers, could not identify the gender of our participants while others were inspired to create general assumptions.
Observers comment(6): “She looks very casual. I would say her favorite store is Carlings or maybe H&M. This person definitely listens to rock, I can tell by the Rock inspired Converse.“
Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars
As far as we knew, Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, produced by Converse, had absolutely nothing to do with Rock and was originally an elite basketball shoe. What we didn’t know was that the shoe, throughout the years, made a shift from athletic sportswear to casual footwear. Suddenly Converse got popular among variety of subcultures.
Observers comment (2): “This is a woman who likes to spend most of her time riding her motorcycle and listening to Hard Rock. She’s probably not a very kind person, looks a little bit harsh with all those tattoos.”
Tattoos, the mark of the outcast
We were aware of the fact that tattoos, in the western world, were ones the mark of the outcast and that they often were associated with bikers, criminals, prostitutes or prisoners, that wanted to demonstrate their defiance of traditional authority. Individual’s that wanted to display a stereotyped symbol of physical strength and aggressiveness. But we also knew that tattoos then were, a symbol of working class masculinity, while now being a symbol of middle class. Getting a tattoo today, not only in Malmoe, is just an everyday thing. It’s a way of expressing oneself, a way of communication among individuals and can be considered as an accessory in combination to one’s appearance.
Observers comment (7):“Typical swedish young student wearing Converse and black jeans. He’s probably into Rock n Roll or something, smokes and likes beer”
Gender and equality
Our observer could clearly not identify the gender of our participant describing her as a “he”.The dress code has built in rules or signals indicating the message being given by a person’s clothing and how it is worn. This message may include indications of the person’s gender. The clothing used by men and women, have been unique all through the history and there has been a clear distinction betweeen the genders allwoing the individual to identify the gender. Growing up as kids, we were all used to the fact that trousers were men’s apparel and dresses were women’s. Nowadays, pants are worn by both men and women and the distinciton between the genders is fading.
Observers comment (8): “This is a typical swedish young girl wearing white Converse and a cute little top. She’s probably into RnB and likes to hang out with her friends in the city.”
We noticed that all of our participants and observers were either mentioning or talking about the “typical Swedish look” so we asked them to describe, what in their opinion, could be considered as a typical everyday look in Sweden.
The typical Swedish look for women;
- Coat – dress – heels
- Converse – skinny tights – oversize top – leather jacket
- Sneakers – tights – hoodie – leather jacket
- Chinos – tunic – Converse – jacket
- Oversize cardigan – pumps – tights – coat
The typical Swedish look for men;
- Converse – skinny jeans – shirt – leather jacket – fancy watch
- Sneakers – chinos – t-shirt – hoodie
- Dress- or polo shirt – trousers – bomber jacket
- Low waist jeans – Converse – polo shirt
- Boots – jeans – t-shirt
Observers comment (4): “This woman has a very unusual clothing style. I like it but I’ve personally never seen someone dressed like this in Malmoe. She is either rich or likes to design her own clothes.”
Creative or rich
The stores in Malmoe, straining to attract youths are pretty similar one to another both by prize and offerings. That is why individual’s often draw hasty conclusions when it comes to either creativity or social finances. Either you spend a lot on your appearance, or you have the creativity to create a unique, personal style. If you can put an outfit together that looks more than it costs, you’ve succeeded to mark yourself out.
Observers comment (5): “He’s a salesperson for sure. I can tell by the way that he dresses, and his shoes. Looks like the type of guy that spends a lot of money on his appearance.”
As mentioned, meeting a customer or client, for the first time there will automatically appear judgments based on one’s appearance. That is a reason enough for a salesperson to consider his or her clothing very important. A costumer recognizes one based on his or her style so the main key to this kind of success, is creating a unique style. That’s exactly why our observer assumed this young exchange student was a salesperson. He had a personal, unique style that was rare to be found in Malmoe city.
Observers comment (3): “I don’t know actually. His T-shirt makes it easy for me to guess what kind of clothes he likes to wear. I think that he likes to listen to Hip-hop and Rap.”
Streetwear gets easily confused with Hip-hop fashion although it’s roots are in skateboarding. Oversized t-shirts, sneakers and jeans.
Observers comment (1): “This guy has a very formal clothing style. I bet it’s expensive too.”
Men and women spending the same amount
There’s a reason why men in Sweden generally feel that formal clothing styles are way too expensive. Some of the men we talked to told us that they had like maximum five stores to choose between, while women had endless choices. They also told us that guys had to spend a lot more money on clothes than girls. Men considered them spending the same amount of money on one formal outfit, as women did on three formal outfits. Talking about equality in Sweden, we found this unfair.