The fur industry might be attracting protest, but Saks Potts — a Copenhagen-based fashion and outerwear label — has Millennials and Gen-Z trendsetters lining up to buy its fox, lamb and mink-trimmed coats.
Saks Potts has lured a new generation to expensive coats by making luxury outerwear part of larger pop culture. An endless list of global pop stars have sported one of their designs with Cardi B, K-pop fashion plate Jennie Kim of Blackpink and budding LatinX phenomenon Rosalía among the label’s fans. Their coats, simultaneously ostentatious and cool (typically $850 to $2,000), are offered in ice cream shop palettes and strike an aspirational nerve with their laissez-faire styling and emphasis on youth culture. Founded in 2014 by Cathrine Saks and Barbara Potts, the brand is now stocked in around 80 stores globally — including Bergdorf Goodman and Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysees.
While an integral part of Copenhagen’s new wave fashion movement, both Saks and Potts find inspiration for their collections through travel. And thus, the designers touched down in New York earlier this month to take in the city’s Christmas lights, visit FIT’s research library and meet with their local retailers including Nordstrom and Kith. Their label now counts the U.S. as its top market — a metric evident at Saks Potts’ first New York sample sale last month. Held at Lower East Side gallery Larrie, the three-day event drew hours-long queues where fashion students and downtown artist types eagerly bought hundreds of coats that, even at markdown, were often priced well above $500. The brand declined to reveal numbers but said they are steadily profitable.
Fur may have been Saks Potts’ first big hit, but the company is now looking to diversify its offerings. The brand saw success this season with a pastel puffer coat that sold out worldwide. In the last six months, it has unveiled a collection of disco-era style denim and an irony-wrought collaboration with Danish orthopedic shoe brand Ecco (they made cowboy boots together). Ahead of their pre-fall collection slated to be presented next month in Paris, Saks and Potts catch up with WWD about what’s next.
WWD: What brings you guys to New York?
Barbara Potts: It’s our first time in New York during the holidays, so that is quite exciting. In Denmark there are a lot of Christmas celebrations and traditions but we had the idea that New York is outstanding about that so we are looking forward to seeing the beautiful decorations everywhere.
Cathrine Saks: We are excited about going to visit all of our friends and saying hello to everyone, our costumers of course and also these cool stores we are very proud to be in — we will say hello to the staff and buying team. There is a different energy in New York than there is at home — it’s something else, you feel excited when you’re here which is a nice feeling.
WWD: You said the U.S. is now the biggest market for Saks Potts, why do you think that is?
B.P.: Yes, you can see it in our sales but also with social media, we have such a big reach here, especially in New York. We just had a sample sale two months ago, it was crazy with the queues all the way down the street.
I think our coats represent something different and fit a lot of different styles…more classic or colorful and crazy.
C.S.: Especially in this city, the weather is really cold in the wintertime just like in Copenhagen, so you need a nice coat to feel warm that has a bit of personality. Our designs emphasize people’s individual taste and in New York you have people from all different parts of the world gathered in one place. I feel like you could say our collections have a little bit of the same appeal.
WWD: Where are your top markets right now?
C.S.: Italy and the U.K. are pretty strong, and of course Denmark. In Asia, Seoul is the strongest. From what we are told Korean people are very focused on fashion and everyone in Asia is looking at Seoul as the coolest place. We love the K-Pop stars who wear our clothes; you can see it immediately in the sales and on social media.
WWD: You guys really excel in the fall and winter months because of your strength in outerwear. What are some of your most popular styles this year?
B.P.: Our most popular coat is the Foxy style but we also made this star puffer coat in a pastel multicolor from our 11th collection and it’s sold out everywhere worldwide.
WWD: Copenhagen has become a new wave fashion capital and has been promoting a very girly, laid-back look. Both of you are wearing all black today, so it would seem things are moving along — how is the Copenhagen look evolving?
B.P.: I think people are dressing up a little more in Copenhagen right now. We have been wearing sneakers to parties for the last 10 years and now I’m seeing more boots, I think people are going in another direction a little bit. I like it.
C.S.: I think we are tired of not wearing festive things to festive events, it’s just nice to dress up. Maybe the style is growing up a bit; instead of it being very young and girly maybe it’s a little bit more feminine and ladylike in a way.
WWD: There is a huge debate in the industry around fur today, with some brands dropping fur altogether. You are both young designers inspiring young shoppers to buy their first fur coat — which goes against what’s being written in media. Why do you think that is?
C.S.: It’s extremely important when you are dealing with fur that you know where you are sourcing things from and make sure the animals have been treated with the upmost respect. I hope there is no one who wants animals to be treated cruelly. There are people who don’t think that animals should be bred to serve human needs and that is totally OK, then you can become a vegan and not use leather.
B.P: We are a fashion brand with a focus on outerwear, we do a lot of jackets with fur but we are not a fur brand. We work with Copenhagen Fur, it’s the highest quality, but you can also buy a puffer coat or a jacket without fur. It’s like a menu in a restaurant — do you take the meat or have a vegan salad? It’s completely up to you.
I think young people are buying the coats because of the label, it’s not about it being fur or not — it’s a cool coat and it’s good quality that will last for many years.
WWD: Each of your collections have a seasonal theme but you are slower to introduce new designs than many other labels in the market. Why?
C.S.: We definitely feel a pressure to evolve, everyone in the fashion industry should, but you also have to feel a commitment to not changing things too fast. The world we live in, you should be able to keep things for many years and if trends are changing every season, it’s too much. Times are changing and trends, I think, are slowing down. We love to do our classic stuff and keep them every season, and there will always be new things. too.