Copenhagen, Denmark – Fashion may not be Denmark’s biggest export – rather pharmaceuticals, food and furniture – but it doesn’t matter that brands and designers here are quickly gaining popularity in the international market, promoting themselves as stylish, sustainable and collaborative. A start.
That famous Scandi aesthetic — a happy young woman in a breezy vintage dress cruising down bike-lined streets — is now so familiar, and her aspiration is, effortlessly, Parisian cliché. The black-clad, sharp-edged New Yorker, or the slim Italian with a soft shoulder suit.
The Scandi look continues to bubble up from the streets of the Danish capital, where women of all ages are mixing high and low and adapting their clothes into their everyday lives.
Last season, designer Cecile Bahnsen showed dresses with irregular hemlines inspired by the way some of her Danes tuck and tie their skirts so they don’t have to worry about riding their bikes.
Bahnsen is smitten with her chic, baby-doll dresses, and during a collection preview in her sunny studio on the northeast edge of Copenhagen, she described the Danish approach as “a very playful, effortless way of assembling.”
This season, Gani creative director Diet Refstrup says her spring 2023 collection is about putting that heart-warming bike to work, “to roll through the city and feel the joy of a Copenhagen winter.”
Barbara Potts and Katherine Sachs, the designers of Saks Potts, said there was only one question they asked each other in the studio: “Would we really wear it?”
In the spirit of the week and Denmark’s love of vintage, the duo based their entire Spring 2023 collection on Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary before she married into the royal family.
“She was just a normal girl, and her look was super cool and sporty, with a bohemian twist,” Potts said. The designers staged the show at Kongens Netorve Square in the city centre, where Tasmanian Mary Elizabeth Donaldson used to take her lunch break or meet up with friends while working in the city.
Taking that street style to new heights, Saks Potts saw guests sit on park benches and watch models do the square lap before crossing to the back stage of the Hotel d’Angleterre.
The Scandi look hits the sunny streets of Copenhagen during the week and wraps up at the Spring 2023 edition of Copenhagen Fashion Week, on August 12.
Denmark has been working hard to put Scandinavian fashion on the map and promote Copenhagen Fashion Week as the cooler, more progressive – and more fun – younger sibling of London, Paris and Milan.
Much of the credit goes to Cecile Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week, who is determined to make the show synonymous with sustainability and believes fashion has a “moral obligation” to act on the environment.
She’s taking a holistic approach: All designers featured on the program must adhere to at least 18 minimum standards, including diversity and equality, affordability, supply chain and garment life.
In February 2023, Copenhagen Fashion Week will raise the bar and add even more sustainability standards – and goals – to its brands.
The five-day event takes conservation seriously: electric cars ferry guests around town, water is served in cardboard cartons and the food is (with a few exceptions) vegetarian. No paper tickets.
Torsmark was working with Zalando, the week’s top line sponsor and strategic partner. For the past two years, they have been awarding the winner of Sustainability Innovation €20,000 and the opportunity to collaborate with Zalando.
This year’s winner, Ranra, a brand based between London and Reykjavik, Iceland, focuses on the adaptability and longevity of its clothing, as well as color and quality.
“Cecil is brilliant and authoritative, and she’s doing something very special here,” Jonathan Hirschfeld, founder and CEO of Etis, the Stockholm-based sneaker and ready-to-wear brand, said of Torsmark. “She and the team were smart about choosing this time of year to show when everyone is in a good mood,” and the show isn’t squeezed between competitors like London, Paris or Milan.
Aitais will not be shown or sold in Copenhagen, but it hosted a dinner during the week to highlight its collaboration with the Paris-based Sevali couture label.
“Copenhagen Fashion Week brings people together; the big brands attract buyers, and there’s a good mix of business and events. We wanted to take advantage of that,” added Hirschfeld.
Fashion and luxury executive Ulrik Garde Due, now managing director of Mark Cross and chairman of Cecile Bahnsen, said the nonprofit Global Fashion Agenda, which organizes the annual fashion summit and other events, has helped bring Copenhagen back. Fashion and design map.
He added that the city’s annual design festival 3daysofdesign in June has never been more successful and that the focus on sustainability is boosting Copenhagen’s green credentials, with a “down-to-earth approach and authenticity.” As a result, fashion and design shows are becoming more relevant,” he said.
On the eve of Copenhagen Fashion Week, Raf Simons, who is involved in the world of fashion and interior design, announced a new collaboration with Kvadrat: a storage and accessories concept for the home called Shaker System. Simons & Kvadrat opened a concept store in the swanky shopping district of the Danish capital to present the new collection.
Denmark’s, and Scandinavia’s, growing businesses are adding to the vibrancy of the week.
Many of these businesses, including Stine Goya, Saks Potts, Ganni and Holzweiler, are run by couples – siblings, husbands and wives or old friends – for powerful, collaborative teams.
Steen Goya, who showed off a glittery floral print collection during the week, will open its first UK store on Beck Street in London’s Soho in September. The UK is now Stin Goya’s biggest market, followed by Denmark and the US
Norwegian label Holzweiler, which filled its collection with dirty floral prints and upcycled parachute fabrics, has invested from Sequoia’s capital, China.
Meanwhile, Ghani’s partners are said to be selling the Danish label El Caterton acquired in 2017 in a deal estimated at between $500 million and $700 million.
Buyers on the job this week said Copenhagen brands are getting a lot of attention for their broad appeal and wearability. They are correct. Copenhagen is not a large-scale, trend-setting show, but one that delivers on beauty and business.
“There’s always one thing about the brands that show this week – the clothes are wearable and accessible. They have a broad appeal to a wide demographic,” said Laura Larabalstier, fashion director at Harvey Nichols, who has been attending Copenhagen Fashion Week for more than a decade.
She said she’s seen it grow from a short, back-to-back series of presentations and showroom appointments to a full-blown, five-day showcase.
With most of these brands playing in the trendy space, the prices here are also attractive. Even limited couture pieces such as Bahnsen’s short sugar pink dresses cost no more than 2,000 euros, expensive but expensive when compared to the prices of luxury brands.
Larbalestier said the week’s biggest trends and elements include Y2K, sequins, pink rainbows, lots of knits and textures and the continued embrace of the vintage look.
Sequins and glitter were everywhere, and meant for every day, from hot pink dresses, hats and skirts at Saks Potts Paget to short, sparkly mini-recesses at Steen Goya and slinky party pieces at Rotate.
Ghani and Baum und Pfeifferdgarten offered some cartoonish brights — pink, aqua and Negroni orange — and curve-hugging sweaters and breezy shirt-and-trouser combinations.
Ida Peterson, director of buying at Browns, described Copenhagen as a “key investment market” for the store and said there was a real aesthetic difference between the Scandinavian brands, meaning “there really is something for everyone. But the price point is generally without compromising on quality, which means inclusion.” He says,” she says that budgets are over.
“We’re seeing very strong activity with designers from this market,” she said.
Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director for Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, has been covering Copenhagen Fashion Week and trade shows for a few years and says he’s always admired “the Nordic style that has historically influenced much of the menswear world.” The vast creativity and innovation of designers here today has redefined what Scandinavian beauty stands for.
Pask added that shapes for spring 2023 are “more exaggerated, looser and more flashy, as we’ve already seen in Paris and Milan, and the relaxed and casual approach to dressing continues.”
He believes that the Copenhagen fair and the CIFF and Revolver trade fairs have taken an increasingly global approach, recognizing the wide demand of brands here for the wider markets.
He added: “With buyers and organizers from around the world, the week is positioned as a regional showcase and in line with fashion weeks in other major cities.”
At Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman in particular, Pask said there is a “rapidly growing awareness and importance of Nordic-based collections for American customers” and pointed to “promising” menswear brands in Copenhagen.
All of the retailers we interviewed pointed to the week’s talent, either on the runway or as a group at a new talent spot in the city. Their presentation is in partnership with the Swedish Fashion Council, with the support of brands including Sweden’s Circulos, which is made from textile waste.
Notables include Jed Cropper, A. Roger Hove, PLN, Lattimeier, Mein Noue, Dimonde and Rolf Eckroth. In addition to whipping up beautiful collections, these young brands also take a holistic approach to sustainability.
At Main Nue, the Swedish label designers Alva Johansson and Maja Freiman work only with vintage fabrics, stones, old tablecloths or furniture fabric that they take to the landfill. They changed sweaters; He added new life to t-shirts and sweaters with a tie or BD, and did the same to jeans by adding a patch and stitching.
Tags hanging from their clothes are old recipe cards they found in the trash. “There are so many opportunities out there – so much material and so much potential in people,” Johansson said.
Dimonde’s fellow Swede, Angelo da Silveira, was also thinking about human potential. He trained and hired refugees from Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia to work in his studio and bring their craft skills to bear on his collection.
Harvey Nicholls Larbalestier says this is the future of Copenhagen Fashion Week: with a 360-degree approach to ESG and DE&I, brands are thinking about people as well as the life cycle of clothes. The future also depends on regional cooperation.
She says Copenhagen Fashion Week is a great example of inclusion by embracing fashion shows, brands and designers from other Scandinavian countries. “They work as a team, which makes these markets unique,” she said.
That collection is growing every season.
Budapest-based designer Eszter Aron, who makes high-quality knitwear with low-waste production methods, Copenhagen is perfect for the brand Aron. “The city is peaceful and family oriented. We are aligned with the standards of beauty and sustainability and we are growing together,” Aaron said.