Report / Fashion
4 things we learnt from Copenhagen Fashion Week’s physical return
The Danish fashion week had its official physical homecoming, where sustainability and digital innovation took the front seat. 
16 Aug 2021

Last week it once again was time for Copenhagen Fashion Week. With restrictions being loosened up, press, influencers and buyers were admitted to be physically present in the Danish capital. But, through a collaboration with YouTube, the organisation was able to create a phygital experience with all shows, talks and fashion films being broadcasted on the streaming platform.

Doubling down on sustainability and Greta Thunberg’s warning

What makes the Danish fashion week stand out compared to other fashion weeks, is the strong focus on sustainability. In early 2020 the organization behind CPHFW, together with industry experts and scholars, released the 2020-2022 sustainability action plan. In the plan, they pinned down concrete targets that the fashion week is striving to achieve by 2023. The most remarkable one being the minimal standards that brands have to comply with to take part in the Fashion Week in 2023. A criterion, that fashion weeks historically have foreseen and instead have been looking at parameters such as design or commercial potential. 

Another step of the sustainability work is the white paper released last week, named ”Sustainability by Design”. The white paper is created by the organisation Creative Denmark in collaboration with Copenhagen Fashion Week. Creative Denmark is a not-for-profit, public-private partnership working to create an international platform and awareness for Danish creative solutions and skills. The white paper takes hold of how the design phase is vital when creating sustainable fashion. It also gives concrete examples of how different design practices and business models could give a positive impact on the industry as a whole.

— Over 80% of all product-related environmental impacts are determined during the design phase. If prolonging the life and minimising the impact of a product were prioritised at the start of the value cycle, the harmful consequences of manufacturing and waste could be significantly reduced. Designers have the power to lead this transformation, states Federica Marchionni, CEO of Global Fashion Agenda, in the preface.

”The harmful consequences of manufacturing and waste could be significantly reduced — designers have the power to lead this transformation”

First out during the week was the young brand (di)Vision. The brand that is run by the sibling-duo Simon and Nanna Wicks, is mainly working with repurposing and upcycling old garments. For their SS22 collection, the duo fetched inspiration from the past year with soft clothing and loungewear — but also a time to come, that includes hugs, kisses and colours. 

Building further on the lockdown wardrobe, where sweats and comfort clothes are now an essential part, was 7 Days Active. Being founded just two years ago, the brand has become an expert on producing sportswear, that is as suitable in the gym, as on Sunday brunch. For SS22 the brand presented, through a very inclusive casting, a collection of muted sportswear with bright accent colours, influenced by the ’80s.

The sustainability issue, and solutions to it, was omnipresent throughout the whole week and all brands addressed it in one way or another. One part was the Zalando Sustainability Award won by Nikolaj Storm, earlier reported on here. Released during the week was also the inaugural issue of Vogue Scandinavia with Greta Thunberg as the cover star. And the climate activist did not spare her words on the industry and the sustainability discourse when tweeting out the cover. ”Many make it look as if the fashion industry is starting to take responsibility, spending fantasy amounts on campaigns portraying themselves as ”sustainable”, ”ethical”, ”green”, ”climate neutral” or ”fair”. But let’s be clear: This is almost never anything but pure greenwash”, she wrote.  

Unique show locations

There was no doubt that Copenhagen and its fashion world had sought after a physical fashion week. The brands manifested a great variety and creativity in show locations and what the city has to offer. One example is Soulland. The show took place in Royal Arena with a capacity of up to 16 000, where attendees were sitting on stage in the shape of an S.

— I’m very excited to show where we, Soulland as a brand, are right now. For that, I chose the biggest indoor arena in Copenhagen I could find. It is that simple, to be honest, explained Silas Oda Adler, Creative director and co-founder of Soulland.

The brand that has made many notable collaborations in the past, presented some reoccurring and new ones for SS22. For example performance clothes and shoes with the Chinese sportswear label Li-Ning and watches together with Danish watch brand Skagen.

Ganni, presented its collection ”Higher Love” in what might be Copenhagen’s highest location. CopenHill, which is underneath the cleanest waste-to-energy power plant, is on top an artificial skiing- and hiking hill. The location itself was no coincidence. Ganni, the brand that has become the epitome of the female Scandi-chic aesthetic, is with the show and the collection, according to Creative Director Ditte Reffstrup, ”aiming to take it higher”. A hope and wish that is translated into a collection full of clothing made to be going out, dancing and loving. 

The Ganni runway on top of the CopenHill artificial ski slope.

Denmark is a small country in terms of population and area, but possess a rich heritage of design and architecture.A heritage celebrated by the brand Saks Potts. The brand presented its see-now-buy-now collection (a decision making them, the only brand presenting FW21 and not SS22.), and also new direction, in the garden of the Danish world-renowned architect, Arne Jacobsen’s old home. The villa, that was made by Jacobsen himself in 1929, is a great example of Scandinavian functionalism. A design orientation characterized by few, but very well balanced, design decisions – a process leading to a clean, stylish end product, where each design element has a functional purpose. The collection presented by Saks Potts, a brand that has been appreciated by celebrities worldwide, could be described in the same way. The brand is with their new direction, according to the brand, purposing the ultimate female wardrobe — with crisp shirts, dress pants and statement coats, with functional features.

Saks Potts’ show at Arne Jacobsen’s old home.

NFT collections and digital shows

Even though this edition of CPHFW was full of striking physical shows, there is no doubt that the future fashion week ain’t just a physical affair. Samsøe Samsøe presented the collection Chasing the Sun through a fashion film, where clothing had a breath of ’70s flair and the main theme of the film was freedom. The same approach, presenting the collection through a film, was found at The Garment. The brand, that is founded by influencer Sophia Røe, presented the film Watching the thinker. A film directed by Røe herself, where we get to follow her friend Emilie through everyday situations dressed in the garments from the brand, narrated by Røe and her descriptions of the looks.

The same idea of presenting was present at the Norwegian brand Holzweiler. The unisex collection ”In Transit” could be seen through a fashion film that takes place in central Oslo, where the brand is based. The collection is brought to life by the idea that creativity is something that you acquire by being in motion, but with pandemic restrictions being in place new sources of creativity are needed.

Previously named Soulland, as one of the first in the world, presented a piece of the collection as an NFT, that was made available on The Dematerialised.

— I think that it’s interesting to see how we can merge the digital world with the physical. The design process is the same with the digital look as the rest of the collection. The same fabrics, prints and inspiration. The only difference is that it does not exist IRL, Adler explained.

The Soulland and The Dematerialised digital NFT drop gained a lot of buzz.

Young talents leaving a mark

When it comes to young talents, CPHFW did not disappoint. One is the designer A. Roege Hove, who presented at CPHFW for the first time. The womenswear brand that is rooted in the craftsmanship of knitting, presented a collection that was highly praised by the fashion press. Sheer knits and jerseys were realized in patterns that created an interplay of hiding and exposing, creating a subtle sexiness. 

Another debutant was Fredrik Berner Kühl with his eponymous label Berner Kühl. The designer that has experience from several Danish fashion brands have with his venture created a menswear label that with a modern approach to tailoring, combined with a historical interest in functional clothing, created a versatile brand for the up-to-date man.