Danish fashion has long been known as a bastion of minimalism and high-quality. As brands and Copenhagen Fashion Week grow on the global scene, Danish fashion and style are evolving and refining. Yes, minimalism and monochrome are still in, but so are weirder, wilder looks. Androgynous styles are popular across the gender spectrum, and casual comfort is king (most people wear sneakers to work).
Let’s dive into the aesthetics, practicalities, and names-to-know of Danish fashion.
What is Danish fashion and Danish style? Our guide has all the answers:
How to dress like a Dane
There aren’t many rules to dressing like a Dane, but there are a few guidelines that, if followed, should set you on the right track.
It’s better to go for quality than quantity. Invest in the pieces you’ll be wearing a lot and that need to be highly functional. That means Danes tend not to skimp on: jackets, shoes, bags, and knitwear.
Layerering is key. You never know what the weather will bring in Denmark, so lots of layers will keep you in good standing no matter what!
When in doubt, wear black! It’s cliche but it’s true. Danes to lean towards dark colors, particularly black. There’s a certain safety in it, and it’s true that black usually looks chic. Black is always in style, so it’s a smart choice if you’re looking for an investment piece.
Second-hand isn’t second rate. Danes love flea markets, second-hand shops, and vintage. Often you can find great deals on gently used designer items, although just as often, the vintage prices are extremely high.
The real key to Danish dressing is leaving things a bit undone. The mussed hair, the scuffed shoes, or the patterns that clash just enough to stand out. It’s easy to be effortless if you put so much forethought into the things you buy – after that, you just throw them on and go.
Is minimalism still a thing?
Definitely! For the most part, Danes tend towards minimalism in their clothes, especially their professional-wear. Button-down shirts, casual blazers, tailored pants, and stylish (usually white) sneakers are office staples. Paired with a sharp jacket and (weather-dependent) a scarf and hat: bam, that’s the daily look!
Sustainability in Danish fashion
Danish fashion brands are known for their commitment to sustainability, although a lot of it is hype and bandwagoning. The brands that are truly built on core values of sustainability and ethical practice stand out above the rest. A few of the best are Aiayu, who are working towards zero waste, and Organic Basics, who create timeless undergarments in technically-advanced textiles.
Danes’ love of second-hand shops and flea markets isn’t just about finding a great deal, it’s also a way that they support circular economy. Many vintage stores are fairly expensive in Copenhagen; that’s partly because they’re selling designer items and partly because they don’t actually see used items as “lesser” if they’re in good condition.
Copenhagen Fashion Week
Copenhagen Fashion Week is the largest of the Scandinavian fashion weeks and is considered one of the most cutting edge fashion weeks worldwide. It’s still small, but not too small; international press are there, and the larger shows are starting to get global attention.
Copenhagen Fashion Week includes two fairs: Copenhagen International Fashion Fair (CIFF) and Revolver, as well as graduate shows and a huge array of events. It’s where you’ll see all the best Scandi street style for your biannual dose of sartorial inspiration.
Danish street style
Danish street style has been a global influence on fashion trends worldwide. Street style photographers who have been at the forefront of capturing Danish and Scandinavian streetstyle include Søren Jepsen/The Locals (a Dane himself) and Jason Jean.
Scandinavia Standard covers street style for every season of Copenhagen Fashion Week and it’s always full of fun and inspiration.
Big Danish fashion brands to know
Danish fast fashion brands
Yes, Denmark produces fast fashion! Though the brands that breakthrough globally tend to be design houses, there’s plenty of fast fashion in Denmark that’s both cheap and questionably-made. Some of these brands have good sustainability policies
– Moss Copenhagen: on-trend fashions that tend towards the bohemian-look, as well as athleisure and basics like t-shirts. This brand is popular amongst the younger crowd and the quality is fairly good for the prices. Their sustainability practices are unknown.
– Bestseller: this brand is kind of the Danish H&M, on a smaller scale. They own Vila, Vero Moda, Selected, Bianco, and a number of other fashion brands, as well as the eponymous line. They have a fashion investment platform called Invest FWD that has become a partner in Fashion for Good, a fashion sustainability incubator. They do not, however, provide an annual report on their website.
– Samsøe Samsøe: this brand produces trendy and foundational pieces that certainly fall into the “Scandi cool” category. They have a strong CSR policy but no annual report is available through their website.
– DK Company: this company owns a large number of Danish fashion brands that fall into the fast fashion/high street fashion category, including Part Two, Gestuz, InWear, ICHI, and b.young. Their brands run the spectrum from more mature and classic (InWear) to young and trend7 (b.young). They do have an extensive CSR policy but their website does not provide an annual report.
– Mads Nørgaard: The king of stripes, Mads Nørgaard has created a unique and instantly recognisable brand identity on the Danish fashion scene. The brand sells good quality basics at fair prices, and their fit is always really good. If you’re going to go fast fashion, this a good brand to choose; they have a CSR policy but unfortunately no available sustainability reporting on their website.
Danish designer brands
– Henrik Vibskov: You can’t talk about Danish fashion without mentioning Henrik Vibskov. A fashion designer who is also an artist, musician, and general creative, Vibskov’s work is the antithesis of the Danish minimalism. Instead it’s graphic, colorful, and full of pattern. Where he has been most influential is in his oversized, androgynous silhouettes and the wonderful art installations he puts together with every fashion show.
– Ganni: The ultimate Danish cool girl brand, Ganni has been one of the first companies to have major crossover success in the UK and US markets. They started as a knitwear brand and their knits are still great. They produce everything from dresses to outwear to accessories; it’s all about being effortless and slightly undone, but still considered.
– By Malene Birger: A brand that’s all about powerful dressing for women, from great dresses to professional-wear. The clothes can be on the minimalist and sleek side, but they’ve been incorporating more color and pattern lately, for a playful vibe.
– Stine Goya: Whimsy, unexpected color combinations, and strong pattern are the basis of this beloved Danish brand.
– Baum und Pferdgarten: Youthful pattern-clashing and oversized silhouettes set Baum und Pferdgarten apart as one of the most fun fashion houses in Denmark. They often throw in a bit of preppy too, with varsity jackets and very visible logos.
– MKDT Studio: MKDT Studio, formerly called Mark Kenley Domino Tan, is the true couturier of Denmark. His sharp tailoring and fantastic creations are the stuff of fashion dreams.
– Cecilie Bahnsen: With oversized babydoll silhouettes and stunning, sharp tailoring, Cecilie Bahnsen has quickly become a darling of the Danish fashion scene.
Danish menswear brands
– Norse Projects: This ultra cool basics brand makes pieces that are extremely high-quality and minimalist. Their outwear and winter accessories, particular scarves and beanies, are Copenhagen-style classics. The brand also makes womenswear but are best known for their men’s pieces.
– Han København: The streetwear and athleisure brand mixes art, clean tailoring, and minimalism in with their casual wear influences. The result is excellent pieces that have become ubiquitous with the hip crowd.
– No Nationality 07: Also known as NN07, this brand provides mid-priced, high-quality and minimalist basics. We love their magazine, which you can get in the store for free and which features a new city and local street-cast models for each issue.
– Les Deux: This brand sits at the apex of minimalist and preppy. The clothes are clean, sharp, and move easily between professional and casual wear.
– Martin Asbjørn: Moody club kid meets skateboarder with Danish fashion favorite Martin Asbjørn. A must-know for Scandi-fashion-Fashion lovers!
– Tonsure: We like a brand that can get a little weird, and Tonsure always pokes a bit of fun at itself and fashion in general, while creating cool, fashion-forward pieces for men that often play on womenswear and trends while staying timeless.
– Matinique: Sharp suiting and good quality basics at fairly affordable prices are at the heart of this brand. Definitely a go-to for smart professional wear that won’t break the bank.
Emerging Danish fashion brands to know
– Rains: With well-priced and stylish, classic raincoats and backpacks, Rains has become the rainwear brand to know in Denmark. Rain gear is especially important in Denmark, where 40% of the population cycles to work!
– Lærke Andersen: Mixing workwear and athleisure, as well as lots of high-performing technical materials, Lærke Andersen’s line is an interesting mix of functionality and artistry.
– Morten Ussing: Morten calls his style of design “Nordic Expressionism” and we think it fits perfectly. With whimsical, flowing silhouettes and a deep love of color, Morten’s work is unique on the Danish scene.
– Aiayu: This brand is modelling the ways to be truly sustainable and ethical fashion brand, with a goal of zero waste. It helps that their pieces are impeccably designed and produced. We also recommend their bedding!
– Organic Basics: The name says it all! This brand produces basics like t-shirts and undergarments in organic or environmentally friendly materials. The collections are beautiful, last for a long time, and make putting on your underwear feel special.
– Maja Brix: Maja makes custom suits as well as a very small collection of other pieces such as dresses. Her work is architectural, a little quirky, and absolutely top quality. If you’re looking for your perfectly tailored suit, why not get one customised from her?
– arv Copenhagen: Fashion designer Maikel Tawadros has launched arv, the sustainable brand made from mostly deadstock or organic fabrics. His logo t-shirts have been a big hit; expect to see them everywhere in Copenhagen soon!
– Andersen-Andersen: Simply the best knit-wear around, period. Andersen-Andersen was launched in order to recreate the perfect fisherman’s knit and they’ve done that, and then some. Their wool is specially-made for them, and it’s so high quality that instead of pilling, the knits actually develop a patina over the years.
– Schulz by Crowd: The idea behind this fashion brand is bring emerging designers together to create a variety of sustainably-made pieces. The prices are great for the quality, and they always have a lovely array of matching separates.
– Rue de Tokyo: There’s a definite Parisian vibe to this brand; the easy-to-wear yet tailored pieces are a nice departure from Copenhagen’s usual undone look.
– Sur le chemin: Very sustainable, very minimalist, and very high-quality: those are the tenants of this beautiful brand. The pieces are mostly foundational, including button down-shirts, t-shirts, and hoodies, but they’re the kind you’ll wear constantly because they’re so well-made.
– Mr Larkin: This brands was originally founded in the USA, then closed down and was relaunched in Copenhangen years later. The collections are always funky, quirky, and incredibly chic. Think the stylish best friend who always manages to find that fantastic, unexpected piece.
Danish shoe and accessories brands to know
Danish shoe brands
– ARKK: Sneakers inspired by Copenhagen’s architecture? It doesn’t get much better. This brand also works with a number of cutting edge technologies, and have developed their own sole, for maximum comfort and functionality. Very Danish, very cool.
– ECCO: They may not always be considered the most fashionable, but Ecco makes excellent shoes that are actually good for your feet, and the styles are both classic and on-trend. They also have a very extensive and specific corporate responsibility policy.
– Woden: This shoe brand makes fashionable sneakers for adults, teens, and kids. Think colorful sneakers that you probably can’t run in, but that are still comfortable and stylish.
– Bartels Since 1920: A fashion-crowd favorite, Bartels is a family-owned business that’s been making shoes for decades, but was only recently revived. The gorgeous shoes are made in extremely small-batch production from deadstock fabric leftover from striped Italian parasols. Come on.
Danish bag brands
– Aagée: This handbag brand only has a few styles, but wow are they good. With clean yet curved lines and a focus on quality, this brand is definitely one to watch.
– Aesther Ekme: A Danish-French handbag brand focused on minimalist, architectural pieces in neutral colors. These bags are extremely high-quality and timeless; truly a treat.
– Adax: This is a brand that you’ll see often around Denmark, particularly carried by women around age 40 and up. Adax isn’t about trends, although they have done some cool designer collaborations. They’re just well-made handbags and backpacks that last.
– Decadent: The quality of Decadent handbags is evident; the thick, pebbled leather that is their calling card has a particular tactility and thickness that looks like it will last. And, unsurprisingly, it does. They make a range of bags from shoppers to evening clutches.
– Nunoo: You’ll be able to spot a Nunoo bag from a mile away. Their long horizontal bodies and double pockets on the front are totally a 90s throwback, and the fashion crowd has spoken: they are into it.
– Mismo: These bags are ostensibly for men, but of course anyone can, and should, use them. Combining canvas, nylon, and leather, these super-sleek briefcases, backpacks, weekend bags and totes are fantastic quality and stylish forever.
Challenges in Danish fashion
In some ways, Danish fashion’s reputation has grown faster than the brands themselves. To be truly successful in more markets around the world, Danish fashion brands need to take an international approach to their collections, namely in the perspectives they include in their work. This means more size diversity, racial diversity, and ability diversity.
Some Danish brands seem to struggle with changing social mores, particularly the use of real fur. Brands such as Saks Potts have built their fanbase on the use of real, albeit brightly-colored, fur. It will be interesting to see how brands like this progress in the future.
How is Danish fashion different from other Scandinavian countries?
The primary differences between Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian fashion are:
Danish fashion is more casual than Swedish fashion
Danish fashion is less functionality-focused than Norwegian fashion (i.e. the bulk of the popular Norwegian brands produce technical clothing and accessories)
Danish fashion is more colorful than both Swedish and Norwegian fashion
Danish fashion is globally more popular than Norwegian fashion, but less popular than Swedish fashion (they do have H&M, after all)