The conversations between street photographers are often cut short, what might be considered rude behaviour – checking over the shoulder of the person you’re talking to and/or walking off mid-sentence – is perfectly acceptable outside any Fashion Week show. One of the questions that usually gets asked is “Where are you off to next?”, or “Are you going to___” fill the blank with any of the ‘Big Four’ names. These places monopolise press coverage and the direction of trends. Right now the running order for the womenswear circuit begins with New York, then London, Milan and Paris. Of course, there are fashion weeks happening all over the world – Malta Fashion Week anyone? – but, for second-tier cities it is hard to be heard against all the noise from the established Big Four.
One city is going for it, getting international attention and establishing itself as a serious contender – Copenhagen. It is the largest fashion week in the Nordic region overshadowing its Scandinavian rivals: Oslo, Helsinki and Stockholm. There are various reasons for the current wave of attention, recently it has set itself up as a global leader in sustainable fashion, importantly the timing works well within the fashion calendar, and it also helps that the industry has solid financial support. Did I forget anything? Oh, yes the fashion! Ideally with any city there’s two great things happening, the obvious one is of course a high calibre of designers/graduates and their collections and secondly it is essential to have a healthy streetstyle scene too.
Ganni is one of the hot Danish brands creating a buzz on the catwalk and on the street. One of the reasons for this is their unpretentious attitude towards fashion, in an interview with Vogue, Ditte Reffstrup the creative director describes their process, “I think it’s very much because we do what we love. I think you can see that it’s made out of love. I try not to think about it too much. I think in a way it’s very honest and that’s why people like it.” Ganni are responsible for the floral ‘Ganni Dress’, every Danish blogger’s current crush. Munthe is another brand with a feminine signature, their beautifully patterned and ruffled dresses were interspersed with edgy separates and transitional knits and cold-weather coats.
Jens Werner is the Creative Director of J. Lindeberg, one of the biggest brands attracting attention at Copenhagen Fashion Week. The designer knows all about giving styles an edge, he previously worked at adidas, specifically on their collaborations with Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Y-3 and Kanye West. His sportswear credentials, and love of skateboarding, influenced almost every look in the huge SS19 collection. The fast-paced show mixed branded sportswear with sharp tailoring, and was cleverly styled to appeal to a wide fashion-savvy audience.
Blanche is an ‘eco-conscious’ brand, producing denim derived from organic sources or leftover fabric from past production. The collection is contemporary and minimal, and makes an impact with smart constructions in fresh colour blends. Another big player is the By Malene Birger brand, with a new creative director Mathilde Torp Mader, who brings experience from Mulberry, Marni and Sonia Rykiel. The collection played out in an enormous space, formerly a train workshop, vast sails occupied the area above the catwalk space and the collection delivered the type of strong womenswear looks that buyers expect from the brand.
HÆRVÆRK (the word roughly translates to ‘vandalism’) are a brand with a strong image built around 4 Gorillaz-like characters: Benny, Birk, Bjorn & Buster, online you can enter ‘Buster’s World’ and buy limited edition pieces. This strategy resonates with a youthful audience who see past the crazy neon catwalk styling, to the uniquely covetable pieces. MUF10 designer Renza Etamadi, has made a stand against Denmark’s new burqa ban by accessorising his cool street-centric looks with traditional Muslim hijabs. In a crowded street/sportswear marketplace it’s a clever move that reaches out to a young, politically-aware consumer.
The Copenhagen streetstyle scene is easy to read, trends are clear and concise, ” it’s as if they all got the memo” I overheard one amused photographer quip. “Everyone is wearing the Celine alphabet necklace and a maxi pattern dress” said one Australian buyer, clearly disappointed at the lack of variety. Ok, it might not have London’s eclectic street crowd or Paris’s edgy elegance, but it does have its own identity. The womenswear looks, on and off the catwalk, are ‘balanced’ something that’s not always easy to achieve in fashion. That balance is the fine line between clothing that’s wearable, yet still has enough of an edge to keep it ahead of the curve. This Danish style has been nicknamed the ‘Copenhagen Girl’ look, and it has a lot to do with contrasts, hi/low mixing and hard/soft textures, and styling is key. This season accessories are rooted in nature, raffia and straw bags, bamboo cages and natural cowry shell necklaces, earrings and ankle chains. The midi-length pattern dresses are sheer with asymmetric hemlines or plunging backs, often teamed with chunky footwear or cowboy boots. The crowd also dabbled in men’s-style tailored suits or combined structured jackets with sportswear.
The user-friendly size of Copenhagen means that it is easy to navigate even, at a push, to get around to all the fashion venues on a bicycle. The 30+ catwalk venues cleverly form a quadrant through the city, starting at the central locations, then at the Bella exhibition centre and on to Refshaleøen the old shipyard, and the former train workshop Lokomotivværkstedet, all providing some amazing backdrops and different perspectives of the city. Two tradeshows CIFF and Revolver are also key to the success of Copenhagen’s Fashion Week, these are firm favourites with buyers providing everything including upmarket womenswear brands, menswear specialists, streetwear and denim labels. Importantly the shows also fill a gap for buyers who don’t get what they need at Pitti Uomo. This season CIFF partnered with Stavros Karelis, the founder and buying director of MACHINE-A, who initiated a project named ENLIGHTENMENT. Artists created works around the theme of benevolence, generosity and humanitarianism. Nick Knight, founder and director of SHOWstudio produced a dramatic film ‘The Sound of Lights own Destruction 2’, inspired and informed by light. Peter Saville designed banners with inspirational quotes picked out by Naomi Campbell, and to bring awareness to the Little Sun project Virgil Abloh created a field of 1,000 solar lamps.
Copenhagen is also blossoming because of support from the Global Fashion Agenda, formerly the Danish Fashion Institute, an NGO promoting Danish fashion Design and providing financial support to Copenhagen Fashion Week. Recently the initiative has focused its attention on sustainability in fashion, creating the forum Copenhagen Fashion Summit, which aims to focus industry efforts on sustainability in fashion. During fashion week, transport was provided by Tesla, guests to the shows were chauffeured in a fleet of Model X cars with the freaky upward opening doors, proving that zero-emission clean-energy cars, which Scandinavia is openly embracing, can also look incredibly cool.
The August slot on the calendar doesn’t seem ideal, there’s not much going on in the fashion circuit. Most places wind down and go to the beach, Italy effectively closes shop, and it seems the fashion crowd is collectively taking a deep breath in anticipation for September with its crowded schedules, launches and fashion weeks that spill over into October. But for three days in August Copenhagen lures the fashion industry in. The warmth of the fashion community and relaxed pace of the city make it a great place to do business and form strong connections with people. Importantly the events are also a magnet for Danish and Scandinavian influencers who keep the buzz alive long after the shows finish.
So if you happen to hear street photographers chatting about which cities they’re covering this season, don’t be surprised to hear them mention Copenhagen.
next show dates:
Copenhagen Fashion Week 30 Jan – 1 Feb 2019 http://copenhagenfashionweek.com/
Copenhagen Fashion Summit 15-16 May 2019 https://copenhagenfashionsummit.com/
CIFF tradeshow 30 Jan – 1 Feb 2019 http://www.ciff.dk/
Revolver Copenhagen Int. Fashion Trade Show 30 Jan – 1 Feb 2019 https://revolver.dk/
(check websites as details may change)