For Nicolaj Reffstrup, chief executive officer of Copenhagen-based label Ganni, the decision to test the waters in the U.S. came about rather casually.
“Whenever we or our friends wore Ganni in New York — our favorite city — the reception was always positive vibes,” Reffstrup said. “We had no choice but to do something about it.”
The Danish label’s expansion plan seems similarly nonchalant; Reffstrup was quick to dismiss the idea of an aggressive rollout. “We do not execute long-term marketing strategies or abide to any set of rules,” he said. “We are not owned by a private equity fund…The only long-term planning we do is the partnerships we strive to establish with the select customers we target while building distribution.”
But the slow-and-steady approach seems to be paying off: Ganni has appointed a U.S. press and sales team and will launch on shopbop.com this spring, as well as at select boutiques including Grethen House in Minneapolis and P.45 in Chicago. The brand hosted a party at Manhattan’s Ludlow Studios during New York Fashion Week to showcase its fall collection.
Frans Truelsen founded Ganni in 2000, and in 2008, Reffstrup and his wife, Ditte, who is creative director, took the reins. The husband-and-wife duo continues to raise the brand’s profile in its established markets throughout Europe, where Ganni currently operates 16 concept stores, of which 12 are stand-alone and four are concessions within department stores across Denmark, Norway and Germany.
Led by a design team, Ganni has an aesthetic that is streamlined with a classic mix of feminine and masculine elements; think floaty silk crepe dresses alongside leather motorcycle jackets, all of which retail under $1,000. “We resonate with the U.S. market because we are a lifestyle brand taking the best of the effortlessly dressed Scandi girls and bringing that to an international audience,” Reffstrup said. He cited the brand’s ideal customers as Kirsten Dunst in Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides” or Jean Seberg in Jean-Luc Godard’s “À Bout de Souffle.” The brand also designs swimwear, lingerie and accessories, with footwear ranging from $200 to $500.
Asked whether he intends to delve into more categories, Reffstrup said: “We only launch new categories for a reason, with purpose. For our Copenhagen Fashion Week show, we did four fashion jewelry pieces in a collaboration with the über-talented Sophie Bille Brahe…so who knows, maybe the fashion jewelry category is next?”