Last week it was time for Copenhagen Fashion Week. The city holds a reputation of being the more progressive fashion city in Scandinavia, which also has fostered its own kind of style and aesthetics. Chic but functional, fun but not quirky, elegant but not extravagant – all characteristics that could describe the typical Copenhagen-style, obviously with a bike in hand.
So when the fashion insiders, -influencers, and -interested gathered in Copenhagen to take part in its fashion scene and what it offered, they were served much more than the stereotypical Copenhagen style.
The opening act of the week was Berner Kühl. The young designer, with his namesake brand, is trying to go towards the ever-so-increasing pace of the fashion industry and instead create pieces that will be wearable for many years to come. Perhaps an approach that might not be that novel — however, the way Berner Kühl is combining more conservative elements of tailoring in modern iterations, with sportswear and technical materials, he creates a look that is equally wearable and luxurious.
Before Copenhagen Fashion Week, the organization announced its new talent incubator program, CPHFW NEWTALENT. The talent program is thought to support emerging designers from the Nordics with both the design part as well as the business side. The talent program is sponsored by Circulose. The first three designers taking part in the program are A. Roege Hove, P.L.N. and Latimmier.
Behind A. Roege Hove is Amalie Røge Hove, before starting her own conceptual knitwear brand in 2019 she has been working both for Cecilie Bahnsen and Mark Tan with knitwear. In only three years the brand has made a significant mark on the fashion scene and last year she won the Wessel and Vett Fashion Prize (formerly known as Magasin du Nord fashion prize). For SS23, Roege Hove is going back to its foundations, in which craftsmanship and materials play a central part in the collection.
The Finnish designer Latimmier made their Copenhagen debut during the week. The brand has made itself famous for challenging stereotypical gender roles. When presenting during Pitti Uomo in January, the brand did so by staging a grandiose ballroom performance. In Copenhagen, the brand switched the renaissance palace to a different setting. When entering the location in Copenhagen’s meatpacking district, guests were welcomed to a CrossFit gym, in which some, not that skinny, men were deadlifting weights. The clothes presented are also a good representation of the contrasting masculinities Latimmier is working with or is questioning. Traditional, masculine tailoring is the foundation of the collection. But, with revealing cutouts, innovative material choices, and atypical styling, the collection caters to a new type of audience.
Peter Lundvald Nielsen have stints on Balenciaga, Vetements, and Ottolinger before starting his brand — P.L.N. Nielsen’s high-fashion background (he has worked closely with Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga) is reflected in his vision with his brand. The aim of starting P.L.N. was, according to Nielsen, to ”challenge the polished Danish fashion and create a dark but raw identity”. Working with a dark colour palette and up-cycled materials, that carries a raw, hard, and rough feeling, the collection has a very tactile ease to it. In addition, Nielsen works with deconstructed and slashed garments that boast dramatic silhouettes.
The New Scandinavian Chic
P.L.N. isn’t the only brand that challenges the idea of what Danish and Scandinavian fashion is. The sibling-duo, Simon and Nanna Wick, have with their brand (di)Vision been questioning and widening the scope of Scandinavian fashion. With its inherent up-cycling approach, the brand has for its SS23 collection fetched inspiration from Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now. The collection has a military theme which comes through in the use of surplus military gear.
One of the more talked about shows this season was Jade Cropper. The Swedish designer has for this season worked with Circulose, whose recycled textile is integrated into the collection. Cropper, who makes her collections by hand in Stockholm, works with distressed fabrics, unexpected cutouts, and unconventional draping, that comes in a dramatic palette. The combination makes Cropper’s collection equally sexy as it is intimidating. Cropper herself means that she wants to create something that’s ”feminine and organic with an edge” – mission accomplished.
Norwegian Holzweiler initiated its fashion week by releasing the news that the venture firm Sequoia Capital China had acquired a majority stake in the brand, indicating a global expansion. With fringes and crocheting, the collection has a touch of handicraft, which adds to the general rawness.
The Traditional Scandinavian Chic
Even though several brands widened the scope of Scandinavian fashion, many of them stuck to their guns. Ganni, one of the most recognizable Scandi-brands internationally, presented its collection called Joyride. The collection could be seen as a celebration of the brand’s hometown since it was partially presented by bicycling models (Copenhagen is the city with the most cycling commuters per capita). Besides presenting collaborations with Barbour, Levi’s, and 66° North, the collection was full of colourful and wearable pieces. Oversized blazers, utilitarian accessories, and cargo pants — all made for a joyful ride in the saddle.
When Rabens Saloner presented its collection, guests were seated under pastel, almost sun-bleached, umbrellas that were contrasting with the harsh tarmac that models strutted — in a way it gave a feeling of southern European summer cities, which have lost their lustre from its great days. The umbrellas added an optimistic vibe, to the otherwise industrial setting. The same goes for the collection. One of Rabens Saloner’s specialities, tie-dye, is for SS23 used to contrast hard greys, with a colourful, saturated palette. Flowing dresses and downplayed tailoring creates a dreamy elegance to the collection, without being princess-esque.
Barbara Potts and Catherine Saks launched Saks Potts in 2014, they quickly gained international recognition with their bright, eye-catching, fur-trimmed coats. In autumn, 2021, the duo changed the direction of the brand and the Saks Potts-girl, became a woman (or woman-to-be). The brand is still defining the way forward, but for SS23 the inspiration came from a living woman — Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. The Crown Princess grew up outside of Denmark but settled in Copenhagen in the early 2000s to live an — almost — ordinary life. Saks and Potts got their inspiration from Mary, at the time, working at Microsoft and walking the streets of the Danish capital. Very much so did also the models of the Saks Potts show which was staged at Kongens Nytorv, one of the biggest central squares in Copenhagen. The collection is sophisticated, with a bohemian twist.
Stine Goya, on the other hand, presented a collection thought to be going out. Floral dresses, windbreakers, sequined sets, and trail-inspired trainers — all combined in a sort of high-low way, that could be described as the national costume of the Copenhagen girl.
If there is one thing that has become a trademark of Scandinavian fashion it’s its reservedness — form follows function and there are no excesses. Surprisingly, the Hungarian brand Aeron, was the brand that did the Scandinavian exercise most well executed. Sweeping dresses and sharp tailoring, in a toned-down palette, creating garments that are well suited for everyday wear.
Soulland presented the first instalment of its collection Spring Devil in Florence, at Pitti Uomo, earlier this summer. This time it was time for the sequel on home turf. Besides the earlier presented collaborations with Li-Ning and Ace and Tate, Soulland unveiled two new collaborations — danish knitwear designer Lærke Bagger and Hello Kitty.
The SS23 collection from Saks Potts could be seen as, at the moment being defined as, ”Old Money” on TikTok. Or how Soulland, with its expressive Hello Kitty collab, is catering to a Y2K audience. The trends are just two among many on the SoMe app.
For the last couple of weeks the ruling fashion app, Instagram, has been in turmoil due to the app pushing video and sponsored content, rather than the people you’re actually following. Instead, TikTok is becoming the to-go app when it comes to fashion (after one of the shows I overheard one attendee saying that ”TikTok is just so much more authentic” while filming herself in the venue). Therefore, the announced collaboration between Copenhagen Fashion Week and TikTok came quite naturally. During the week the two organized a TikTok-hub, in which creators could meet. TikTokers also filled the front rows, backstages, and after parties. Do we sense a shift in social media in which ”authentic” content is the go-to?
Looking at what was being presented in Copenhagen for SS23, it seems that the utilitarian outdoor trend ain’t going nowhere. Ranra (previously known as Arnar Mar Jonsson), winner of Zalando’s Sustainability Award, is working between London and Reykjavik. The brand combines casual urban elements, with more functional and performance pieces.
British Ræburn, another finalist of Zalando’s Sustainability Award, is also exhibiting how technical and utilitarian clothing is still holding on. The British designer has sustainability at its core and has since its foundation in 2009 been working with up-cycled military surplus. For its SS23 collection, Ræburn has found its inspiration from the SR-71 Blackbird, a 70’s reconnaissance aircraft.
ISO.POETISM by Tobias Birk Nielsen, showcased a collection that draws your mind to another type of aircraft — namely spaceships. With their white, all-covering, outfits, the models felt like they were out on a space journey. The highly technical pieces from Birk Nielsen, have been developed through artificial intelligence. With help from a trained program, the visual history of the brand has been analyzed, and created about 300 abstract pictures, have been used in the creative process of the SS23 collection.