Copenhagen Fashion Week Highlights a Changing Danish Design Identity

The summer edition highlighted its position as a hub and gateway into the Scandinavian fashion sphere, while designers flocked to celebrate brand landmarks.


Collection Henrik Vibskov - Picture: Victor Jones


Bigger, better and stronger-than-ever was the take-away from Copenhagen Fashion Week. An air of optimism floated on the city, thanks to clement weather but also to the positive figures published by the Dansk Fashion & Textile trade association. Despite a continued post-Brexit slump and lackluster performance of the Scandinavian region, the domestic market experienced 12.3 percent growth in the first quarter of the year, while exports, notably to Germany, Italy and Belgium, were flirting with double digits.


“The indicators in the Danish industry are on an upward swing. One example is that buyers are ordering more styles in larger quantities,” said Copenhagen Fashion Week chief executive officer Camilla Frank for whom this positive outlook was the perfect mind-set to kick off profound change for the organization.


To strengthen the Danish capital’s signature, a meatier five-day schedule was streamlined and enriched to include graduate shows, showrooms and the fashion prize organized by heavyweight department store Magasin du Nord; the notion of off-schedule was made redundant, with presentations and other fashion events scheduled in equal footing with runway shows through a new vetting process; talks and round-tables opened to the public, and also host brands hailing from other Scandinavian countries such as Norway’s Holzweiler.


“It’s very important for us as a fashion week that the strongest Danish and Scandinavian brands use Copenhagen as their platform,” said Frank. Conversations are ongoing with Stockholm Fashion Week and the one-day Oslo Runway, to achieve an “even stronger Scandinavian experience,” as well as ideas to link up with the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. “It’s still early days, as we want to make sure that when this program happens, it is strong, useful and a conversation that involves the whole fashion business,” she added.


Collection Ganni - Picture: WWD


Beyond the bevvy of stylish events around the Danish capital, business was brisk at the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair (CIFF) and Revolver trade shows, and specialized showrooms, highlighting the city’s position as a source of talent but also as a commercial gateway to the Nordic regions.

The Jewellery Room, the specialized showcase-cum-digital-platform drew some 700 visitors to its 25-brand selection ranging from mass-market heavyweight Pandora and royal appointee Ole Lynggaard to accessories brand Pilgrim or Orit Elhanati’s one-of-a-kind designs featuring recycled gold and recuperated precious stones.


“The month of August kicks off the school year in Nordic countries and there is a regional dynamic at play,” says Sylvie Pourrat, director of the Paris-based trade show Première Classe, noting that many brands would continue their sales through October. “The presence of premium brands [like McQ Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood] shows that business is going well.”


In addition to the trade shows, the schedule was bolstered by newcomers such as London-trained LVMH Prize finalist Cecilie Bahnsen as well as a number of Danish brands with international reach returning to Copenhagen this season such as By Marlene Birger, Designer’s Remix and street-style favorite Ganni, who also hosted a fruity pop-up store selling the brand’s popular fruit printed Ts as well as ceramics by Philadelphia-based plastician Jessica Hans.


Beyond the winds of change sweeping through Copenhagen Fashion Week as a platform, the season’s upbeat mood was also down to individual brand histories. “What is special this season is that so many Danish brands are celebrating 10 or 15-year milestones,” said designer Freya Dalsjø, who marked her 10th collection.


Scandinavian hype may have crested a season or two ago, but its lifestyle and values remained a stable attraction, particularly for Copenhagen, where pure and functional designs are blended with a dash of color or innovation, whether in its gripping fiction or its gastronomic luminaries of Noma fame. “Danes are the Italians of Scandinavia,” quipped Kappelgaard. “What Danish designers are very successful in is creating clothes that work on a catwalk as they do in the real life. It’s their strongest force,” CFW’s Frank said, an opinion shared by Pourrat. “What is most attractive is how affirmed and balanced [local] designers are in their expression,” said the French tradeshow director.





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