You know we love to wax lyrical about Scandinavian fashion; from Ganni girls to Swedish jeans, Scandinavian design principles make for the best kind of fashion – accessible, sustainable, and beautiful.
This is particularly felt in Copenhagen, where the fashion crowd’s pretty-yet-practical uniform of dresses, quality knitwear, and comfortable shoes has captured the imagination of fashion press internationally.
Copenhagen does a great job of nurturing its homegrown talent and there’s a societal trend towards supporting the small, independent, and local. Arguably, no one knows how to dress a Dane quite like another Dane. But in recent years, there’s been an increase in brands from farther afield starting to break through and create a cult following in the capital.
We spoke with MALAIKARAISS, Mother of Pearl, and Rixo, German and British brands respectively that have called Copenhagen their second home, about what drew them to the Copenhagen fashion scene and why they keep coming back:
Berlin-based MALAIKARAISS was founded by Malaika Raiss in 2010. The ready-to-wear and jewelry brand specializes in sophisticated yet casual womenswear with a fun-feminine twist. This year, MALAIKARAISS chose to debut their 10th-anniversary RTW collection at CPHFW SS21 after years of showcasing their jewelry at Copenhagen trade fairs – but what made Raiss make the leap?
“I think the Copenhagen fashion scene is very fast forward when it comes to sustainability and digitalization, and I find that very impressive,” explains Raiss. “The brands and their presentations are diverse and super creative, I feel very inspired every time I visit the city during fashion week. I wanted to be part of CPHFW for such a long time.”
Sustainability seems to be a draw for many brands establishing themselves in Copenhagen.
Mother of Pearl Creative Director, Amy Powney, notes that “sustainability is a bigger conversation in Copenhagen than in many other regions of the world.”
This has been of particular importance to Mother of Pearl, as the brand positions sustainability at its core: “There’s no handbook on how to make a brand sustainable, but I wanted to know from start to finish where our product was grown or derived, who was making it and the social impacts along the way.”
Powney has shown at CPHFW, debuting Mother of Pearl’s sustainable No Frills collection in 2019, and assisted its advisory board on sustainably with Cecilie Thorsmark. “I am more interested in action than words,” said Powney of her desire to work with CPHFW and CEO Cecilie Thorsmark. “Cecilie and I met and her commitment to sustainability was endearing, authentic, and I was inspired by her genuine drive to make change – it made me want to be part of CPHFW. She is taking real action and I love it.”
At the time of Mother of Pearl’s debut, Thorsmark stated: “We look forward to spearheading a fashion week that offers a superb line-up of brands from Denmark and abroad. This season we’ve experienced a significant increase in interest from international brands to show in Copenhagen – something which I believe reflects the very attractive, current positioning of the Scandinavian fashion scene and our growing presence on the global fashion industry’s radar.”
Considering CPHFW is a fairly recently established event, one that’s still given underdog status in comparison to its peers, its ability to attract talent is truly impressive and a testament to Thorsmark’s hunger for change.
There’s no doubt that sustainability has put Copenhagen on the map – Rixo founders, Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey, agreed that “there is so much the industry can learn from Copenhagen fashion. Sustainability is a massive aspect of its fashion weeks and in that sense its definitely leading the way. The acknowledgment of sustainability and ethics are something to be proud of and something we learn from it constantly.”
But Copenhagen’s fashion scene has done plenty to keep brands coming back.
Powney mentioned “I was very grateful for the welcome myself and the brand received, and the sense of community and support for each other during these times was captivating. I love that Cecilie is working so hard to push the brands to become more sustainable and that the fashion scene is embracing and communicating this message.” Noting that “community within an industry” was also something that sets Copenhagen apart from other fashion weeks.
Raiss expressed a similar experience, as she fondly described being “welcomed with open arms.”
For Rixo founders Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey, it’s the consumers on the ground and how they interact with fashion that gives them a sense of community. “Copenhagen has always been such an inspiration,” they explain. “Not just the fashion, but the women. Scandi style is so effortless. What I love is that Danes don’t follow trends and just make it their own. I also love how Scandi girls have a real love for vintage and styling old with new, throwing together all kinds of prints.”
The eclectic nature of Danish style is what makes Rixo such an excellent fit, as they’re known for print clashing and reworking vintage motifs. The London-based brand showed digitally at CPHFW SS21 for the first time, debuting a presentation with four of their “favorite Scandi girls who we trusted” to represent the brand. “We really left the creative side of things in their hands and we are so glad we did.” The result was a postcard-style fashion film of Copenhagen that felt more like a love letter to the city and the women in it. After all, “Scandi girls style Rixo so well!”
In a time when the fashion industry is struggling to find its footing, its reassuring to hear Copenhagen is offering something designers really need: a space to be creative, an audience that supports sustainability, a community. Raiss, Powney, Henrietta Rix & Orlagh McCloskey all expressed a desire to return.
Rix and McCloskey: “We would love to eventually show physically when it is safer to do so.”
Powney: “I put all travel on hold [Powney recently had a baby] so we haven’t been part of fashion week for the last two seasons but YES, we would love to be back. In what form I am not sure yet, but I really felt sad seeing all [CPHFW SS21] through Instagram but not being there!”
And Raiss? “We’re already working on that!”
Here’s hoping even more brands will start to brave the cold and dip their toes in the Baltic sea.