LONDON — Copenhagen’s fashion scene has been rapidly evolving beyond the Instagram look and the contemporary crop of labels it first became famous for to include a new generation of up-and-coming designers with potential to grow on the international stage.
During the last Copenhagen Fashion Week, the brands that stole the show were mostly new names such as knitwear label A. Roege Hove; Berner Kühl, a men’s wear brand known for its modern tailoring; Louise Lyngh Bjerregaard, known for her artisanal designs, and (di)vision, a buzzy new name that works with upcycled materials and has already caught the eye of Hailey Bieber and the Kardashians.
All four designers were nominated for the Magasin du Nord Fashion Prize, a design competition spearheaded by the Danish department store to support local brands with potential for international growth.
A jury that included Global Fashion Agenda’s Federica Marchionni; Ganni‘s Nicolaj Reffstrup; Peter Jensen; and Marimekko creative director Rebekka Bay, among others, handpicked A. Roege Hove as this year’s winner — boosting the momentum around the brand even further.
Designer Amalie Røge Hove Geertsen, who started the label two years ago after cutting her teeth at brands like Cecilie Bahnsen and Mark Tan, said the added vote of confidence and the 300,000 Danish Krone, or roughly 40,000 euro, cash prize she is receiving will help her spearhead her brand’s plans for the future by expanding her team and investing further into testing new material innovations.
Geertsen’s work stands out for its conceptual approach to knitwear, marrying traditional knitting techniques with cool, form-fitting silhouettes that can adapt to a wide variety of body types.
“I have a genuine interest in the body, that’s why I also brought six different models to show the jury how pieces can adapt on different people. When people try our products, it usually inspires me to create something else because a style can look so different on each individual. That’s part of my process to take a design from the machine to the body and back to the machine,” the designer said.
Her attitude toward size inclusivity, as well as the no-waste approach her knitting methods allow, give Geertsen a new kind of relevance in the fashion landscape. This contributed to her debut spring 2022 show in Copenhagen last August garnering international attention, allowing her to double her retailer partners in one season.
“The publicity and attention after the show has been crazy. Between the show and this prize, there’s a lot of momentum. It feels like something new is happening every day,” she added.
To leverage the newfound attention, Geertsen wants to invest in testing-and-sampling new products and open up her business to relevant new markets — but scale is not a priority. Like many of her Scandinavian peers, she believes that working sustainably isn’t a question and would rather focus on her knitwear niche.
“I want to show that you can build a business by staying focused on one material, or one technique. It seems so narrow, but for me, the possibilities are endless: we’re not just knitting, the craft itself offers so many ways to create a surface. It’s not about growing our collections a lot, but offering tight ranges where everything feels relevant. I don’t feel the need to venture into outerwear, shows and all these new categories in the traditional way, I just want to develop what I’m good at,” added Geertsen, who has been mentored by fellow Danish designer Silas, of the popular streetwear label Soulland. “Silas helped me realize that it’s not just about growing and having a big business, but a smart business.”