Hygge: A Danish way of life, now trending worldwide

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What: Hygge 2016 was a rough year, and 2017 is off to an interesting start. Maybe that’s why more people worldwide are embracing hygge, “the Danish idea of coziness” (Vogue). Though difficult to succinctly describe, The Little Book of Hygge author, Meik Wiking, elaborates that hygge is about “being with the ones you love, about indulgence, good food, gratitude…all those things mixed together” (Vice).

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Why it matters: Because its popularity continues to grow The magnitude of hygge’s power can best be summarized in the publishing industry: “More than 20 books on hygge were published last year in America alone, and more are due out [in Europe] in the coming months.” One author reported to The Guardian, “it is the most striking publishing trend I can remember, in terms of the sheer number of titles published at the same time” (The Guardian). Hygge is no stranger to social media either. “Look up hygge on Instagram and you’ll find 1.7 M posts,” (Vice) and on Pinterst the term’s presence has spiked 285% from 2015 to 2016. Fashion also loves the concept of cozy layering.

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During this year’s Milan Fashion Week, “Max Mara models came down the catwalk wearing thick, warm camel colored cable knit sweaters, oversized shearling teddy-bear-like coats, and velvety trousers [that the brand itself describes as] ‘wearable Hygge'” (Yahoo).

When: Given today’s cultural climate, the desire for hygge makes sense In the US, interest in self-care, relating to values including health, relaxation and comfort, has been on the rise since 2010 (Iconoculture). Therefore, Americans’ adoption of the long-standing nordic version of indulging in “me” time should come as little surprise. That said, the reason for hygge’s rise to prominence might also have to do with the polarizing nature of the political landscape, the stress of a workforce under pressure from automation, the never-ending barrage of information, the impacts of urbanization, and other draining factors that have been cause for more people to turn inward. TIME may have said it best, explaining that “people are feeling very nervous about the future, and feel a deep primal need to start looking after themselves. We can’t control outside events, but we can control ourselves – hygge is about savouring that and not getting drawn into the maelstrom of craziness that’s going on in the world” (TIME).

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How: To capture the spirit of hygge brands need to understand what it stands for At its worst, hygge has become a word to slap onto cable knit sweaters, cakes and candles, or to simply prove something is Danish. In other words, “just as ‘chic’ is the thing that everyone knows about the French, the word hygge must now be affixed, almost by law, to any media story about Denmark or, indeed, anything remotely Scandinavian, whether the subject is clothes, furniture, cookery, travel, or working hours” (The Guardian). For brands to fully leverage the emotional power behind the hygge philosophy, they must remember that the term celebrates “resilience and making the most of what life has to offer you” (TIME). At its best, when brands authentically speak to the word’s ethos, hygge-identified goods become more than mere “products with a particular and practical use, but rather transcend into magical objects that might summon up feelings and emotions: of safety and solace, of comfort and calm, of a being-in-a-time-before” (The Guardian). In short, buying hygge is buying an antidote to outside stresses and uncertainty. Who wouldn’t want to buy that?

Sources: 

  1. Vogue, Forget Hygge, 01/05/17 http://www.vogue.com/article/hygge-trend-lagom-2017
  2. Vice, The Scandinavian hygge lifestyle is taking the world by storm, 02/19/17 https://news.vice.com/story/the-scandinavian-hygge-lifestyle-is-taking-the-world-by-storm
  3. The Guardian, The Hygge conspiracy, 11/22/16 https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/nov/22/hygge-conspiracy-denmark-cosiness-trend
  4. Yahoo, Hygge has taken over fashion week, 2/23/17 https://www.yahoo.com/news/hygge-has-taken-over-fashion-week-235057970.htm
  5. TIME, Hygge, the Nordic Trend That Could Help You Survive 2016, 12/05/16 http://time.com/4579894/hygge-denmark-nordic-trend-survive-2016/
  6. Iconoculture, The self-carevolution, 08/16/16

 

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