A youtime x Scandinavian MIND report from Copenhagen Fashion Week. We speak to five new designers who should be on your radar.
Senior Editor of Scandinavian MIND
© Zalando SE
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Here are five rising local stars from Copenhagen Fashion Week, championing a more responsible use of material resources, diversity, and the new era of digital fashion.
Siblings Nanna and Simon Wick started (di)vision back in late 2018 with a vision to build a fashion brand with an ideology of working with already existing materials.
"Most of our material sourcing and production is based in Prato, just outside Florence, in Italy," the duo explain. "There’s a lot of fabric and garment production in that area, which means that there are a lot of deadstock fabrics. We work with local suppliers that buy the leftover fabrics from other productions."
Working with deadstock and surplus, they say, does present challenges: It's hardly possible to know what fabric is available and how much is left, which can hinder the design process.
"We could have this idea of a jacket in a specific colour or fabric, but if it’s not available there is not much to do. We try to make it a part of the design process; when we design a collection, we have an idea of how it should turn out - but it often ends up with some amazing ideas we wouldn’t have thought of.
"When we find a fabric that’s amazing but a low quantity, we try to see how we can work with it as much as possible anyway, such as creating exclusive pieces for the retailers we work with."
The brand just opened its first flagship store in central Copenhagen, where the show for the coming Fall/Winter 2022 collection also took place during Copenhagen Fashion Week.
Following the release of the Pentagon UAP report earlier this year, along with The New York Times’ article about UFOs, (di)vision – like many others – found themselves intrigued by the unexplainable phenomenon occurring in our skies.
Their fall collection is inspired by the idea of "something being out there". Nanna and Simon have taken inspiration in the paranormal, creating a feeling of encountering the strange and explicable. The show also premiered the label’s second collaboration with Adidas Originals.
"Together, we’ve created an NFT (Non-Fungible Token) called Ozzy. We’re so interested in the metaverse, future digital wearables, and NFTs, and Ozzy is an animation of an alien wearing one of our looks from the show.
"To minimise the barrier between physical and digital, the NFT owners will also get the outfit that Ozzy is wearing. We gave out 10 NFTs for the show attendees and 15 more were sold afterwards. These 15 sold out in 30 seconds, so it seems like we’re getting somewhere, and expect much more in the metaverse from (di)vision in the coming year."
With a Masters in textile design from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Amalie Røge Hove has years of experience as a knitwear designer for prominent Danish brands such as Cecilie Bahnsen and Mark Kenly Domino Tan.
In 2019, she created her own brand, A. Roege Hove, as a way of bringing her own visions of knitwear to life – challenging traditions and merging traditional knitwear techniques with a modern and artistic approach to original craftsmanship.
Last October, A. Roege Hove was announced the 2021 winner of Denmark’s biggest award for new fashion talent, Magasin du Nord Fashion Prize.
"Most of the time, I’m in my studio with my small team, alone in our own world. The fashion industry is characterised by high pace and that’s what I will use the money from the prize for – to invest time in our products, she says.
Given the award, the expectations on A. Roege Hove’s Fall/Winter 22 show during Copenhagen Fashion Week were definitely higher than before.
She showed both a renewed and recognisable version of the brand, combining light and heavy styles into layered looks in a mix of turquoise, chestnut and – the signature – monochrome black, white, and transparent hues.
Loops of threads were interlocked row by row and united into wearable pieces – a modern approach to an old technique.
With diversity being a focal point for her label – which was even clearer this time – the knitted pieces were shaped and framed by a varying cast.
Letting the material, shape, and bodies that wear it influence each other mutually was all according to the conceptual knitwear designer’s stated vision – to let the pieces frame the body to see the real shape brought to life by its owner.
As Marie Mark and Katrina Anne Wittig both have a background as dancers, the inspiration when founding their fashion label Kerne.Milk was, quite naturally, the dancing environment and the focus on the lines of the body.
"For instance, it’s reflected in our blouse, called Split, which has lines down the ribbed material forming the body while also being formed by the body," Mark explains. This meeting between creating lines and shapes and the natural shapes the different bodies add to a style is our biggest inspiration.
The brand works with deadstock fabrics and uses cut-offs from previous collections to create new garments.
"This way of working, trying to develop out of limitation in the material selection, means that we can maintain an experimental and responsible approach as well as create styles with our own strong aesthetic."
For Fall/Winter 2022, Kerne.Milk presents CIRCUS, a collection inspired by the atmosphere and different characters in the circus.
"We liked the idea of 'behind the scenes' and the sense of being off stage just before the show begins. This is translated into the possibilities of both using the pieces in the collection for everyday use or dressing up.
"The collection has a very playful and dreamy expression both in colours, materials, and print, and includes our Spring cardigan with ceramic buttons, homemade here in Copenhagen, making every piece unique.
"Inspired by the circus world, we have combined artistic details with playfulness, and our offcut scraps from previous collections are now bras and straps on purses," says Wittig and Mark.
After graduating from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts with a Masters degree in 2017, Copenhagener Tobias Birk Nielsen founded what he describes as “a modest brand project,” called ISO.POETISM BY TOBIAS BIRK NIELSEN.
"The core idea and mission," he explains, "is to disseminate emotions – that has been my dogma from the very beginning. Real lived emotions, which I, as the designer behind the brand, encounter myself while going through life – with all its vast ups and downs – is the inspiration.
"We strive to create a perfect balance between poetry and dystopia but it’s important that we’re not just working for the sake of creating something new and beautiful, but because I believe the garments can work as a tool to communicate important topics.
More than half of the brand’s sales are in Asia. As one of three finalists in this year’s edition of the Zalando Sustainability Award, Birk Nielsen secured a spot on the official schedule for his first-ever catwalk show at Copenhagen Fashion Week.
After showing his collection for the upcoming fall, The Echoes Which We Remain, he was announced the winner of the prize.
"The collection was inspired by a volcanic eruption and its devastating effect on its surroundings but where life picks up in the most beautiful manner and brings so much hope and a new beginning to a new generation," says Birk Nielsen. "It’s reflected in the materials, prints, and quotes.
"Several abstract styles really show our capacities within recycling while others show a big range of craftsmanship. However, what I’m most proud of is that we have maintained our vision and clear DNA through every single season since the very beginning.
"And also, not letting us compromise by our surroundings – for example during a very challenging two-year period with Covid – which, I guess, is also why we have managed to grow our business and even improve it through four difficult seasons."
Birk Nielsen is currently working on an upcycled capsule collection made out of deadstock items from an iconic Italian sportswear brand, who he can't name yet: "I’m 100 per cent sure that you know it very well, but unfortunately, I can’t reveal the brand partner yet," he says. We will be waiting and watching.
Founder and creative director Emilie Helmstedt has not only experienced recent praise and vast international growth for her fashion brand, but is also enjoying her first year being a mother to her daughter Blå.
This life-changing experience has inspired the line for Fall/Winter 2022, where Helmstedt, naturally, is also launching the brand’s first-ever children’s wear collection.
One great reason for the praise is Helmstedt’s artistic approach to fashion, working with elements like hand-painted prints and poetry as parts of the collections.
FW22 is no exception, where the line has come to life through the stories that Emilie tells Blå at night and how they evolve in her mind after being put to sleep.
One story that she remembers from her own childhood is H.C Andersen’s fairy tale, The Flying Trunk, and Emilie now retells her own version of it to her daughter at night.
It’s a version where a train of thoughts turns into an imaginary universe, where elephants are picking down stars from the cloudy night sky, air balloons are floating over Copenhagen, and toy soldiers are dancing in the moonlight.
This certainly is a dreamy universe, where a classic tale is transformed into a mythical universe, time stands still, and the words of a fairy tale suddenly turn into a language of colourful images. It’s refreshingly far away from the, quite often, pretentious inspiration stories that can be heard from some fashion designers.
For this next fall collection, called Moon, Helmstedt has also expanded the brand DNA, bringing the colourful hand-painted patterns into an expanded knitted category, refining the embroidery, and introducing crochet as a new technique.
The care for the materials that are used remains, using high-quality, mono materials such as 100% silk, organic cotton, and recycled polyester. The kid’s collection, ranging from ages 3 months to 7 years, is made in materials such as recycled polyester and organic cotton.
Senior Editor of Scandinavian MIND