The Scandi Brands Ready for Prime Time

This is an edition of the newsletter Show Notes, in which Samuel Hine reports from the front row of the spring and fall fashion weeks. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.

Hej from Copenhagen, the oversized leather jacket capital of the world. At Copenhagen Fashion Week, which wrapped today, I learned why just about every Dane has one—even in August, it’s liable to be 50 degrees and spitting rain in the small city by the sea.

I also learned why stylists and buyers and journalists rave about CPHFW. It’s not one of the major international fashion weeks, and has few big brands on the schedule and no celebrity-stoked hype. (The only VVIP I spotted all week was a very low-key looking Oscar Isaac, who slipped into the front row at Henrik Vibskov with his wife.) Which is precisely the appeal. Compared to Milan and Paris, CPHFW is extremely chill. Out of town editors spend their days gliding around in Polestar sedans, driven by local students, going from punctual shows to laid-back presentations. Natural wine flows freely. When the weather is perfect, which I’m assured it usually is, everyone swims in the canals. There’s even time to steal away to hit the Louisiana Museum or Noma.

It’s also a menswear paradise. For its size and geography, Copenhagen majorly over-indexes in the men’s fashion department. “There’s probably over 40 Danish menswear brands now. It’s fucking insane,” says Nikolaj Hansson, the founder of Palmes, a local label that makes tennis-inspired gear.

Hansson’s story is illustrative of how this Nordic menswear boom took shape. The born-and-raised københavner worked at Norse Projects, one of several Danish labels that introduced men to sleek button-down shirts and artfully tapered chinos in the mid-2000s. During the pandemic, he began playing tennis, and his new obsession quickly formed the seed of an idea—why not start a brand that interprets Danish style through tennis culture? Palmes was born in 2021. And now, with a pop-up store in the city center and a growing list of international stockists, it’s part of a surging second wave of Scandi brands.

As Hansson tells it, aesthetic craft is practically second nature to his generation. “We grew up with Artek in our public schools, surrounded by Arne Jacobsen buildings,” he said. “We’ve all been around good design our whole lives, and I think we’re just bred with design values.” Factor in a robust network of established regional labels (Wood Wood, Our Legacy, Acne Studios) where designers can cut their teeth, strong social services that enable entrepreneurs to take risks, and an international market hungry for Nordic design, and you get what might be the highest number of menswear brands per capita in the world.

Some of them are great, and a few are exceptional. Out of the dozens of Danish brands I saw this week, here are the ones that will keep me coming back, rain or shine.

Do you know the band Laid Back? When the Danish ’80s duo showed up to lay down some tracks at the Sunflower show, held in a courtyard next to a longstanding punk bar, the crowd of a hundred or so went bananas. The Americans in the house started Googling. This was, apparently, the Copenhagen Fashion Week equivalent of getting Dua Lipa to perform at your runway show.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top