By  on August 8, 2011

COPENHAGEN — On the heels of an energetic Copenhagen Fashion Week, the pulse rate is strengthening for the Danish fashion industry, with exports flourishing and a brighter morale.

The Aug. 3 to 7 event opened with a show by local rising young talent Anne Sofie Madsen at the City Hall here on Wednesday.

A total of 11 young Scandinavian brands will have made their catwalk debut at the event this season, including the Tabernacle Twins, Magnus Löppe and Dennis Lyngsø. Hugo Boss also participated in the event for the first time.

According to Dansk Fashion and Textile, the trade association for Danish textile and clothing companies, Denmark’s fashion industry for the full year 2011 is expected to generate turnover of over 26 billion Danish kroner, or about $4.97 billion at current exchange rates, versus 23.59 billion Danish kroner, or $4.2 billion at average exchange rates for 2010.

In the first four months of 2011, the country’s clothing exports rose 22.5 percent versus the equivalent year-ago period.

“In spring [2010], we reached the same level as prior to the crisis. So the growth in the fashion industry is no longer a recovery from the crisis but actually additional growth,” commented Michael Hillmose, head of international affairs at Dansk Fashion and Textile.

Exports represent 93 percent of total turnover for Denmark’s fashion industry. Germany, Sweden and Holland are the industry’s most important markets, with Germany proving a major growth market.

Eva Kruse, chief executive officer of Copenhagen Fashion Week, said that the democratic nature of Scandinavian fashion has helped sustain its performance during the economic downturn.

“Scandinavian fashion has something to offer the market when [spending capacities are reduced] as you get a lot of value for your money in terms of quality and design — we like to refer to it as democratic fashion,” said Kruse. “In our culture, we have a tradition of supporting and sharing. We like to produce clothes that are very accessible; not exclusive, or excluding, but inclusive.” Buyers visiting the concurrent Gallery, CPH Vision and Terminal-2 trade shows, where the collections of many of the brands showing on the runways are exhibited, couldn’t agree more about the accessible and design-friendly nature of the region’s fashion offer.

“You can get a lot of bang for your buck: It’s nicely designed, with great details, at casualwear prices,” said Lee Douros, buying manager, men’s wear for Ultralight tailoring is a must-have for the men’s spring-summer 2012 wardrobe, he said, adding that brightly colored chinos, which have been big, are set to break out to a wider, mainstream audience.

Paul Metcalfe, men’s buyer at British footwear retailers Office and Poste, said brightly colored high-tech sneakers will be everywhere next spring, with nubuck and summery canvas loafers among other strong trends.

Lisa Crockard, men’s casualwear buyer at Selfridges, which is carrying out a massive refurbishment of its Oxford Street men’s department, lauded the variety of lightweight outerwear on show, notably summery takes on the duffle coat, which was a bestseller for fall. She particularly liked Velour’s take in cotton drill.

“There were tons of bright colors in the collections. It’s nice to see multicolor,” she added, nodding approvingly at a wall of bright canvas backpacks at Seil Marschall’s stand.

Louise Little, co-owner of Hus & Hem, a store specializing in Scandinavian design based in Ledbury, England, said she felt the women’s collections were softer in mood, with lots of “beautiful” pastels. “There was a huge amount of silks, with lots of dainty prints — very girly. We saw lots of unusual tight asymmetrical pants with pleating paired with loose tops,” she said.

For Aimée Brown, buyer for women’s brands at Urban Outfitters, Scandinavian brands are great at staying true to their aesthetic, “unlike a lot of other brands right now who are trying to copy the look of French brands like Maje and Sandro — that edgy contemporary look.”

Scandinavian style for her is all about easy dressing, with simple loose shapes and cool details, such as a stripe in a contrast fabric, and great price points. “They’re great at layering. I saw this oversize top over wide pants at Carin Wester, which you would never think you could pull off, but it totally worked.” Among other brands doing quality affordable fashion best, Brown mentioned Danish brand Won Hundred, which she likened to Acne “before Acne went ultra high-end.”

Won Hundred is distributed in about 400 doors, roughly 40 of which are based in the U.S. The brand in February opened a shop-in-shop in Copenhagen’s Illum department store, and plans to open two stand-alone stores next year in the Danish capital.

Hanne Bloch, designer of a collection of luxury women’s swimwear and resort wear, said buyers are looking for something extra special. “One store in Miami bought one of everything to avoid customers bumping into other clients in the same looks,” she said. Highlights from her collection included a pink silk bustier bathing suit with silver tassels and a contrast cream Lycra bottom, and a one-shouldered dress in a doodle print by Bloch’s 17-year-old daughter, Olivia.

Having for now safely weathered the worst of the economic downturn, brands by no means were in leisure mode, however. Lars Hedberg, co-founder of Swedish label Uniforms for the Dedicated, said: “The [crisis] cleaned out the industry. Today, if you want to create something, it needs to have its purpose, looking not just at the product but also how it’s made — the whole process.”

Denmark’s Bruuns Bazaar presented its first collection under the brand’s newly appointed creative director, Rebekka Bay, formerly creative director of H&M’s high-end concept COS. Bruuns Bazaar chief executive officer Teis Bruun said the brand was focusing on going back to basics.

“In the current market, it’s about being perfect in what you do; otherwise you don’t have a chance,” he said. “We’re very cautious still, though we do see endless possibilities in terms of export and growth.”

Under Bay, the brand, which carries men’s and women’s collections, is taking a more minimalist, international direction, he added. “We’re focusing more on the quality and fit, with a big lift in our product in general. We see a whole minimalist wave coming,” he said.

Henrik Vibskov, which presented at Gallery for the first time, launched a line of three unisex perfumes named Type B, C and D, with each letter standing for the city that inspired the respective scent: Berlin, Copenhagen and Damascus.

The scents will go on sale Sept. 1 in select stores including Colette in Paris and Liberty in London. The brand also presented a larger range of luxury-oriented products featuring rich digital prints and Japanese fabrics.

At the Terminal-2 trade show, Brand 8 showcased a collection of four T-shirts designed by model and photographer Helena Christensen. All proceeds will go to the Danish AIDS foundation. Two of the styles will be released in October and two in February.

Nudie Jeans introduced a line of organic and Fairtrade certified jersey tops called Backbone with different fits.

Meanwhile, fashion week events taking place around Copenhagen included the inauguration of Wood Wood’s new flagship on the trendy shopping street Grønnegade; an exhibition of iconic designs by Peter Jensen at Design Museum Denmark, to mark the designer’s 10th anniversary, and the launch on Aug. 4 of two fashion stamps by Denmark’s postal service, Post Danmark, honoring local talents Malene Birger and Soulland’s Silas Adler.

For its fashion show the same day, Soulland kitted out its staff members in T-shirts that it plans to give away in its stores in Norway in a gesture of solidarity following the recent terrorist attack in the country. The T-shirts carry rose motifs to symbolize democracy.

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