Mr. Larkin’s small storefront, tucked away just off of Sankt Hans Torv in Copenhagen, isn’t where you’d think to find some of the most lusted-after independent designers in the world. But a quick browse through the racks lining the wall (there are only four) provides the kind of wardrobe pieces that fashion-lovers dream about. Brands like American cult favorite Jesse Kamm (“We have a waitlist for the Kamm Pants,” I’m told) and Spanish fashion-and-objects designer Paloma Wool are just a few of the independent brands on offer.
The road to becoming Mr. Larkin hasn’t been a straight line, and American founder and owner Casey Blond doesn’t mince words about starting a business. “It was really hard!” She tells me, “and doing this in a country that’s not my home country has been a huge challenge. But the group of employees and customers who have become like family, well, I cherish that.”
Mr. Larkin was first founded in San Francisco in 2007. Back then, it was a slow fashion brand owned by Casey and a business partner.
“People weren’t really knowledgable about slow fashion or sustainability at that time; it wasn’t really in the vocabulary. We were dying our clothes with flowers. We were getting leftover avocado pits from the Mexican restaurants in the mission and using that for dye as well.”
“When you work at this artisan level, there are inconsistencies, so each piece is unique. At the time buyers did not understand the artisanal. Stores thought they wanted one-of-a-kind, but they really didn’t understand what that meant. We had trouble convincing buyers that pieces that didn’t look the same were good for their stores.”
As soon as they reached a point where they were mass producing, Larkin says, the joy began to dwindle. While still creating Mr. Larkin, Casey and her partner would travel around the world consulting on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability practices in fashion. They came to Copenhagen in 2009 to give a workshop, and that’s where Casey met her husband. In 2010, she moved to Copenhagen and became pregnant with her first child. At that point, the women behind Mr. Larkin made the decision to close the business. “I just wanted to get to know Copenhagen, and be in this new place in my life,” Casey explains, “I was discovering being a mom, discovering this city, and discovering myself. I really grew up, and I refined my aesthetic sensibilities, and in a way I became less carefree. Then I realised I wanted to make clothes that reflected this new, more functional lifestyle.”
So in 2013, Casey resurrected Mr. Larkin as an online store, now with her mom (who had always been in the fashion industry) as her business partner. Mr. Larkin clothes are androgynous, cool, slightly oversized, and imbued with the sense of calm-and-collected that’s both aspirational and a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The online store was first available to shoppers in the USA, selling the Mr. Larkin brand and about 10 others. Mr. Larkin’s clothes are produced in Poland, Portugal, and Bulgaria; Casey is still concerned about sustainability and aims to incorporate ethical production practices as much as possible. Eighteen months later, the store opened to EU customers.
After a successful year of online sales, Casey opened a pop-up store at the front of her studio in Nørrebro: It became so popular that it’s been there ever since. “We are interested in finding a bigger studio space,” Casey says, “but we love this store. It’s small but cosy, and our customers keep coming back. We’ve developed a really loyal base and they’ve become friends. It’s special.”
Aside from the in-house collection, Mr. Larkin’s multi-brand selection is one of the store’s main attractions. They carry independent brands – 98% female-led, by the way – that have cult-followings and that are hard to find elsewhere. In Copenhagen, many of these brands are only available in the store or in Mr. Larkin’s online space. Brands like Caron Callahan, Nanushka, and AVN, offer something unique in a city that can feel saturated with beautiful design and fashion.
To find a dose of inspiration, whether it be through artistic clothes and accessories, or the story of a woman building space for community and self-discovery, head to Mr. Larkin’s online or physical space. “There’s nothing like a place where you feel at home, and if you don’t have it, you make it,” Casey says.
Shop Mr. Larkin now!