By  on August 14, 2009

COPENHAGEN — Determined to strut its stuff despite a challenging retail landscape for the Scandinavian fashion industry, Copenhagen Fashion Week presented its largest runway schedule yet with a record 42 shows, made up mainly of Danish designer-driven labels.

Some 55,799 visitors attended the event, which ended its five-day run here Aug. 9, down 12 percent compared with last August’s edition. Boss Orange joined the show lineup for the first time, as did a trio of hip Swedish brands: Minimarket, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair and Carin Wester. Running concurrently were the fashion fairs Gallery, Copenhagen International Fashion Fair, CPH Vision and Terminal 2.

“This is the time to be visible, to be out there,” said Eva Kruse, executive director of the Danish Fashion Institute. “Going through the fashion fairs, we’re likely see smaller collections, cut prices and even adjustments in the manufacturing process to accommodate buyers’ lowered budgets — anything that can bring costs down.”

“The competition is very tough….The consumer is changing and we’ve seen several small stores squeezed out of the market,” commented Jens Birkeholm, chief executive of the Danish Textile Union. Clothing sales in Denmark hit bottom over the past few months and have plateaued, following a drop in sales of about 5 percent in the first half of 2009, he said.

Jan Busch Carlsen, director of the CPH Vision trade show, which covers streetwear, denim and young designers, cited encouraging orders from retailers, signaling, he hopes, a turning point for the industry. “I have one exhibitor who sold the same amount in one day as she did [during the whole fair] in February. It’s a good sign,” he said. “Right now everyone is rigging their boats to get business going again.”

Helle Hogsbro Krag, owner of Copenhagen-based store Crème de la Crème à la Edgar, was among the retailers stripping back on brands, having lowered her budget by about 10 percent. “We’re tidying up,” she said, naming Acne among top spring collections, especially some of the Eighties-inspired bleached denim looks.

Trends across collections included oversize boxy silhouettes with slim bottoms, one-shoulder looks, knotting, pleating and zip details.

“The color palette for spring will be warmer, moving…to more intense shades of salmon and peach. The big neutrals of the season will be gray — from silver to charcoal — and black, Nordic fashion’s key color,” said Luiz Lobao, owner of the Madrid-based fashion store Bunkha.

Key accessories noted by Barbara Kramer, co-producer of Designers & Agents, which will present a Scandinavian and Nordic design section at its New York show in February, included chain body jewelry, some wrapped in leather; studded shoes, belts and bags; heavy stacked shoes and platforms, and flowers for the hair. Among standout collections she listed Noir, Rützou, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair and the hip eco-friendly Norwegian label Fin, which introduced looks made from a milk fiber-based fabric at the fair.

Orjan Andersson, founder and chief designer of Cheap Monday, observed a move from dressed up styles to streetwear and “a harder look” for spring. The brand has just launched an eyewear line in Sweden, Cheap Monday Clairvoyant, produced by Flo Scandinavia, marking the brand’s first licensing venture. The collection will be rolled out into Europe this fall, with international launches planned for 2010.

Among other launches, Odd Molly presented a new eyewear line plus a capsule bed linen collection by Helena Christensen, with profits to go to victims of the Chernobyl disaster. During an event at its Copenhagen flagship on Aug. 7 — attended by fashion week regular Crown Princess Mary of Denmark — Georg Jensen unveiled its new Moonlight jewelry collection, based on revisited archive pieces in sterling silver with hand-mounted precious stones. “It’s the time we live in, we all want to go back to our roots,” said the brand’s president and ceo Ulrik Garde Due. Georg Jensen is also working with a band of high profile stylists for a new line of reworked vintage jewelry pieces due for release in December. Meanwhile, Peter Jensen, who presented his first women’s resort collection at the Gallery show, has designed a capsule spring line for Swedish clothing chain Weekday.

Key spring trends for denim, a hard-hit category in Scandinavia, included tight fits, patchworking and paint splashes. Denim jackets will be a key focus for spring, while a burgeoning trend for men is ultraslim short denim shorts with turn-ups, said to have been sparked by retailers lopping of the legs of old stock.

A move away from denim to twill fabrics and a snubbing of premium jeans by increasingly price-conscious consumers were listed among factors plaguing the market, along with the ongoing dresses and leggings trend.

“It’s the boutique end of the market that’s really suffering. There’s a big adjustment happening here, with the more experienced players repositioning themselves,” said George Doumani, manager of Goggle, which has three stores in Copenhagen. “We’re trying to put the focus back on denim wear,” confirmed a spokesman for G-Star, which presented a capsule spring jeans line by its new campaign face, Liv Tyler, at the event, featuring three styles in a variety of washes.

Several fashion labels at the designer-oriented Gallery fair showcased wallet-friendly diffusion lines. Minimarket, for example, presented its fledgling Mini for Many collection for the first time outside of Sweden, while Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair extended its line of more affordable jersey pieces.

Those pushing accessories included Marimekko, which presented a new bag line, designed in collaboration with Virva Launo with prints by Maija Louekari, and its first shoe collection at Gallery, designed by Finsk’s Julia Lundsten.

Sweden’s Whyred, which showed an expanded footwear line, counts among several brands developing their own store networks to secure distribution, with a store due to open in Gothenburg, Sweden, Aug 27. Whyred already owns three stores: two in Stockholm and one in Copenhagen, as well as four shop-in-shops in Scandinavia. Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair opened a second store in Stockholm in June. While in February, Bllack Noir will open its first shop-in-shop in Copenhagen’s prestigious Illum department store timed for the city’s next fashion week, scheduled for February.

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