Review of Stockholm’s Best Denim Destination, Second Sunrise
Scandinavians have been into denim for decades. Particularly the Swedes love a good pair of blues. And they know how to make it.
So what’s the best place to buy denim in Sweden – or in the whole of Scandinavia for that matter?
In this store review, I talk to Kerstin and Douglas from Second Sunrise, which most certainly is the Swedish capital’s best denim destination.
To add a little more perspective, I’ve also asked two of the store’s loyal customers why they think it’s a must-visit.
People behind the store:
Five brands that define the concept of Second Sunrise:
The Roots of Second Sunrise
Douglas is a true denim hunter. Before many of us even had the faintest idea of what indigo and selvedge are, he was hunting for vintage denim in abandoned Nevada mines with his brother (Hampus), Viktor Fredbäck, and Michael Harris himself.
Doing so successfully requires a certain understanding of denim’s history. But, actually, Douglas wasn’t too much into history as a kid. That was until he realised that jeans are something that we all wear today, and that the people rushing for gold in California in the 1800s also wore them.
Soon he was picking jeans apart to see how he could make his own, an effort that escalated into the Blue Highway blog project, which he started together with his brother. Eventually, they got an offer from the people behind Sivletto to open a denim store. They called it Unionville, and it opened in 2010.
Some years later, Kerstin stepped through the door looking for some reconstructed LVC miners pants. They started talking about indigo and dyeing, and one thing led to another. In 2017, the couple bought Unionville and rebranded it as Second Sunrise.
In January of that year, we started thinking about offering the previous owner to buy the store,” Kerstin recalls. “When the wheels started turning, everything happened very fast.”
By March, they’d bought the store. And the couple do almost everything themselves, because employing people in Sweden is costly. They take the pictures for the webshop, do the books, and ride their bikes to the post office to drop off online orders.
In addition to co-owning a store, Kerstin and Douglas have also published a book together. It’s called ‘Indigo: Cultivate, Dye, Create’ and you can read my review of it here.
The couple also regularly host indigo-dyeing and denim mending workshops at Second Sunrise. You can read more and sign up here.
Why It’s Called ‘Second Sunrise’
For various reasons, they didn’t get to buy Unionville’s webshop domain. Since they had to build a new webshop anyway, they figured it was a good opportunity to rename the store.
“One morning, Douglas woke up from a dream of the hobbits eating second breakfast, and he said, ‘why don’t we name the store Second Sunrise?’,” Kerstin writes.
They figured it was as good a name as any, and decided to go with it. “In a way, the name change was also a statement from our side,” Kerstin remembers. “Unionville is a small former mining town in the US, and we felt like we wanted to open up our concept a bit more.”
The Concept and Key Brands of Second Sunrise
Kerstin makes it clear that they “firmly believe that being friendly is better than being cool.” Making sure visitors feel at ease and welcome is one of the most important aspects of how they run the store.
Unionville was arguably a typical menswear heritage store. But Kerstin and Douglas hope Second Sunrise is seen as more than that. “We try to treat the store as a place where anyone can come in and buy a sturdy piece of clothing,” she says.
Recently, a lady in her 70s came in asking for our heaviest denim, and left with a pair of 21 oz. Iron Hearts. When came back to get them hemmed, she told us that apart from the buttonholes being a little stiff she really enjoyed them!”
In addition to Iron Heart and the five brands listed at the beginning of this review, Second Sunrise stocks brands like Levi’s Vintage Clothing, Red Wing Heritage, Burgus Plus, Lady White, orSlow, Pallet Life Story, Warehouse, TCB Jeans, Pherrow’s, and many, many more. But if they were to point out their most important brand, though, it would be Indigofera.
“It’s by far our biggest brand and we get amazing support by the guys who run it. They have been very important for our store through the years and one might say that they are part of our DNA,” Kerstin argues.
This spring, they also added W’menswear to the list; a brand that makes clothing for modern women inspired by brave and important females from the past. Generally, Second Sunrise will offer more clothes for women as they see a gap in the market of women longing for sturdy, hard-wearing clothes.
Talking about news, they’re also working on their own Blue Highway jeans, which will made in Sweden and hopefully released in 2019.
The Visual Identity Experience of the Store
Most of the interior design of Unionville was done by a friend of the former owner. “He was maybe into western-style a little more than we are today,” as Kerstin so diplomatically puts it.
In a trip to the US in 2009, Douglas had visited the Mister Freedom store in Los Angeles and got inspired to build a workshop inside the store; something that was rarely seen in Sweden back then.
The interior is a solid base to build on, and they do make continuous changes whenever they find furniture that they like or talented craftspeople who can help out.
The visuals of webshop are noticeably cleaner than the physical store! “We believe that when you are looking at garments online, you don’t need a lot of ornaments distracting you,” Kerstin argues. “The webshop is all about showing the garments in the best way we can.”
“We firmly believe that being friendly is better than being cool. So making sure our visitors feel at ease and welcome is one of the most important parts of our daily work.”
Anyone who’s visited the store knows that they’re always open for discussions about denim history, and they happily show pieces from their archive to anyone interested. “This we try to convey digitally through the blog section on the website where we put up blog posts about our archive, happenings in the store or things that interest us.”
In terms of social media, they’re mainly active Instagram, but they also have profiles on Facebook and Pinterest. “We do our best to share not only available products, but also things that we find beautiful or meaningful because we want our store to be more than just a place of commerce,” Kerstin adds.
Why It’s a Denim Destination
From the two regulars I’ve talked to, it’s clear that Second Sunrise is one of Sweden’s best denim stores. They both mention the wide selection of brands from Japan, the US and Europe, as well as how Kerstin and Douglas run the store.
Svante Nybyggars aka @theurbanhippieswe lives in Malmo but visits Second Sunrise every time he goes to the capital.
“The store has many exciting products in a nice environment. Not just new garments, but also some vintage rarities,” he points out. “Here you will find everything from hats and beanies, to clothes, jewelry, bags and boots.”
Pål Tidebrink aka @thedenimjournal has been shopping at Second Sunrise (and before that Unionville) for some 6-7 years. In his opinion, it’s the only real denim store in Stockholm.
“They have a great selection of high quality brands from all around the world, and they also have a range of vintage and secondhand garments.”
He sees the store as a place where you can meet and hangout, grab a cup of coffee and have a chat when you look through their selection and try on things. Svante agrees that the store has become a meeting place for Stockholm’s denim community. A place you want to stay a while longer, talking and drinking coffee.
Pål also enjoys the friendliness of the staff, their level of product knowledge, and how they’re always happy to answer questions.
“Since they know so much about denim and garments, and they even made their own jeans, you can expect to get the best service available.”
Svante agrees that the service is second to none. “Douglas has worked the denim for over a decade and Kerstin is a trained tailor. They complement each other well.”
Other Things To Do and See in Stockholm
Second Sunrise is located in the area of Södermalm, which is the equivalent to Brooklyn in Svante’s opinion. There’re lots of independent restaurants and cafes there. Plus other stores such as Nitty Gritty, Herr Judit and the magazine store, Paper Cut.
From the store, it’s not far to Fotografiska, a popular photo museum that Svante thinks is well-worth a visit. Kerstin and Douglas think the museum is a bit overrated and would rather spend a day at Skansen or the Museum of Ethnography, where they often have indigo-themed exhibitions going on.
For places to eat, Kerstin and Douglas recommend the pizza at Omnipollos Hatt and Bananas, the brunch at Greasy Spoon or Pascal, and the vegetarian buffet at Hermans. “The food at TvåSmåSvin is also great,” Kerstin adds.
If you want to spend a couple of hours pretending that Stockholm is Tokyo, they recommend the arcade game hall called RoQ near Odenplan.
If you visit during the winter, Kerstin suggests that a visit to the hothouses at the botanical garden Bergianska will cheer you up; it’s warm and they have lighting that reminds you of what sunlight feels like. “Ask for our friend Kaili who’s a gardener there if you want to have a special introduction to the various indigo, dyeing related and textile fibre plants.”
As for other stores, they recommend 118 Second Läder, Stockholm’s best vintage leather store. There are a lot of goodwill stores too. Search for Myrorna, Stadsmissionen and Emmaus and you’re all set. Stockholm’s Red Wing Store is near the central station.
Ready for More Stories …?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this review of Second Sunrise. Feel free to share your experiences with the store in a comment below, or on Instagram.
And inf you haven’t read them already, check out the post about Kerstin and Douglas’ book, Indigo.
If you’d like to read more stories, check out all the previous posts published here on Denimhunters.
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