Danish fashion designer Lærke Andersen has become known on the Danish fashion scene for her workwear and sportswear-inspired clothes. But there’s an edge of artistry, experimentation, and fun that pervades her work, and certainly has been the catalyst for her success in the industry.
With degrees from Danish Design School and London’s Central Saint Martins as well as a PhD in Textiles from University of Borås in Sweden, Andersen spent the bulk of her career focused on fabrics.
“Central Saint Martins was a very important experience for me,” she explains, “because their take on textile was so technologically advanced. I learned so much about natural fabrics, but also about what we can do with technology. If we truly want to move towards sustainable production, technical fabrics will be a big part of that, and I don’t think people talk about that enough,” she says.
Between degrees, Andersen interned for Henrik Vibskov. “The environment there was really experimental and international,” she remembers. “It wasn’t even always about fashion. The playful energy there is something that I’ll never forget.”
When she finally graduate from her PhD in 2013, Lærke decided to launch her own brand – an eponymous womenswear line. “It really kicked off because some people in my running group were complaining about how they wanted fashionable athletic clothes but couldn’t find what they were looking for. So I started thinking about how you could use technical fabrics in a more fashion-forward and also sustainable way,” she says.
Making everything by hand in her Copenhagen atelier, Andersen sourced her fabrics from Italy, Sweden, and Portugal. She began putting out two small collections per year inspired by athletics and with nods to workwear and oversized, unisex silhouettes. In 2017, she won the Magasin Prize; at that time, part of the prize was that you had to do a runway show during Copenhagen Fashion Week. Her first runway collection was for autumn/winter 2018. She’s been taking part in CPHFW every season since, with a film rather than a runway show for the autumn/winter 2019 season.
“It was extremely lucky for me to win that prize and get into fashion week,” Lærke notes, “but I have to say that I do find the runway format quite restricting. I need to find other ways to showcase my work; some collections look really great on a runway and truly belong there, but for others it’s just not the best venue. A film was my attempt to interact with Copenhagen Fashion Week in a new way. My designs have always been about the people that wear the clothes and not just the clothes in and of themselves. With this film we had the opportunity to create a more detailed picture of of how our cloth interacts with people, and focus on everything from the small awkward movements to the raw and truthful expressions of garment vs human,” she explains.
In addition to her biannual collections, Andersen has also recently embarked on two collaborations: one, with Danish shoe brand ARKK Copenhagen, and the other with Danish technical workwear brand Kansas.
“The sneakers with ARKK were really interesting for me,” Lærke says, “because I had never done shoes before, and there’s so much that goes into shoe design. Luckily ARKK is really on the cutting edge of the technology there – they make their own soles – so I had a lot to work with. What we ended up producing is very fashionable, but also wearable and has athletics mixed with a kind of lingerie vibe.”
The Kansas collaboration focuses on outerwear and is a perfect distillation of the two brands. Functionality is key, but with a coolness that only Lærke can make. “I loved working with Kansas because they are so on top of the technical fabrics field. They have to be – they make real workwear – so it was just a matter of dreaming up the pieces. I’m so happy with how it’s come out.” The collaboration launches in August 2019.
Though Andersen’s work is well-known and respected within the Danish fashion industry, her largest markets are not in Scandinavia. “South Korea and Japan are where we sell the most,” she says, “But I think these collaborations might jumpstart the Scandinavian market a bit more. It’s a very exciting time! As long as I keep getting to make what I love, I’m just enjoying the process.”
Although she shuttered the company in 2019, we’re sure this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Andersen.