Fulsnygg = Ugly-Beautiful

Phillip Marhsall


In Swedish, the term ‘Fulsnygg’ describes something or someone who is ugly-beautiful. It’s a concept that English counterparts lack, yet it seems to encapsulate the current vibe of high-end luxury brands.


Maison Margiela Fashion Show 2024

HighSnobiety, renowned fashion commentators, released a paper in January titled ‘New Luxury’s New Rules’ which delves into this trend.

Established fashion houses like Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Mui Mui, and Gucci are not only fending off competition from newer brands like Fear of God and Aime Leon Dore, but they're also directly competing with mainstream brands like Solomon, Stussy, and New Balance. This shift underscores the increasing importance of a brand being a contemporary Cultural Pioneer, rather than solely relying on its historic reputation.

Many argue that this shift is overdue, as fashion and brand experiences have become increasingly homogeneous. This has been especially evident on the high street, where the stores of many mainstream fashion brands had become indistinguishable in their design aesthetics and sometime product. This loss of brand identity inevitably leads to a loss of customer loyalty.

Area Fashion Show 2024

The brands that push the boundaries of being Cultural Pioneers are also exploring the concept of good taste and what it means. They are determined to carve out their own paths and opinions, and their audiences are embracing it.

Two statistics from the HighSnobiety paper that stand out are “44% of people are drawn to things considered weird or ugly by the mainstream” and “63% say their aesthetic tastes have become more niche in the last few years.”

Similar to how a good indie film can leave you feeling both awkward and uplifted, brands like Rick Owens and Maison Margiela are pushing the boundaries of ugliness and beauty, leaving us in awe.

As the HighSnobiety paper puts it It has never been so cool (and so profitable) to be ‘strange’. Luxury is embracing the niche to bring a sense of newness and alternativeness to their mass consumers. Counterintuitively, niche is a commercial asset, and the margins are the mainstream.”


Poor Things film 2024.      

Given that HighSnobiety also state that “63% of Cultural Pioneers say their favourite way to engage with brands is through branded physical spaces (e.g. retail or branded events)” and “85% have attended a brand event in the past 6 months, or plan to attend one in the future” it might be that we get to redefine retail and event spaces and communications yet again. Let’s hope so.

It will be fascinating to see how this trend continues to evolve in the coming years as well as filters down into the mainstream. To me, the idea of embracing and defining a brands as ‘Fulsnygg’ is an exciting prospect that I look forward the exploring.

After all beauty is in the eye of the beholder and what one person regards as trash could be someone else’s treasure. It’s all just a point of view.

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