Swedish prison uniforms 17.11.08

words Johanna Agerman

Students at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm have collaborated with the Swedish Prison and Probation Service to design a collection of new uniforms for female inmates.

“Over a year ago I got a phone call from the Swedish Prison and Probation Service and I thought, ‘what have I done now’?” explains Staffan Bergström, a tutor at Beckmans, who led the project together with fashion course leader Gabriella Fischer.

There are almost 400 females in Swedish prisons, compared to over 6,000 men. Although their uniforms are considered unisex, they favour the male body shape. “Many female prisoners find this adds to their punishment and many complaints have been received,” explains Bergström. So, together with the fashion students at Beckmans, he took on the challenge of designing the first collection of female inmates’ uniforms, taking into consideration safety, ease of production, functionality, fit and comfort.

The collection, which was launched at a prison outside of Stockholm in September, consist of twenty pieces ranging from shorts, skirts and trousers to T-shirts, jumpers and jackets. It is the result of a year’s research and interviews with over 1500 people.

Part of the collection is going into production in January and the inmates themselves will be responsible for manufacturing it. Little by little more pieces will be added to the range. “This is a good project both from a social, environmental and design perspective,” says Bergström.


illustrations Beckmans College of Design students

Models wearing the new uniforms at Färöanstalten outside of Stockholm ©Bertil Nordahl
Models wearing the new uniforms at Färöanstalten outside of Stockholm ©Bertil Nordahl

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