COPENHAGEN, Denmark — It’s been over a decade since Ganni hit the scene with its laid-back, Copenhagen girl look of bright colors, clashing patterns and loose silhouettes — comfortable enough to ride one’s bike in.
Now, with a global infrastructure and a forever changed fashion landscape, the Danish star label remains open to change and is evolving quickly. For starters, the brand was visibly absent from Copenhagen Fashion Week’s runway schedule for fall 2022, debuting a digital presentation-cum-music-video dubbed “Love Forever” instead and returning to the intimate, family-style gatherings for which it first became known.
To close fashion week, founders Ditte and Nicolaj Reffstrup hosted a screening and dinner at their new showroom, where a handful of international guests got to mingle with the Ganni team, eat locally sourced food, prepared by the company’s in-house chef — in the Danish capital it’s almost a given that companies cater food for their staff — and dance the night away.
Ganni’s vision of the Copenhagen girl look is changing, too, and for fall 2022, there was a bigger focus on solid colors — like the candy pink knits or baby blue, ruched satin dress that stole the spotlight in the new-season video — with fewer sprinkles of floral jacquards and signature bright checks.
But one thing will remain forever unchanged as far as creative director Ditte Reffstrup is concerned: Fun. A warm, charismatic personality, who’s always up for a dance, Reffstrup was keen to make a point that no matter how big Ganni becomes or what’s going on around her, the brand will always keep its sense of humor — hence the abundance of smiley face prints and high-shine separates a wearer can party in.
Fellow power women are the designer’s other northern star. So using Ganni’s highly followed platform to promote them and keep a creative dialogue going has become another part of Reffstrup’s mission. It’s why she tapped London-based Priya Ahluwalia for a design collaboration last year, and why she wanted to use the brand’s fall 2022 digital launch to turn the spotlight on the up-and-coming singer Jada — even more so than her new-season designs.
Here, Reffstrup talks with WWD about her new year outlook, the women who inspire her, and why it’s important to let them in and remember that “Ganni is bigger than [her].”
WWD: Why did you decide to stick to a digital presentation format for fall 2022?
Ditte Reffstrup.: We realized we need to hang onto what the pandemic taught us about ourselves and our business. I don’t want to put myself in a situation where we are forced to do shows over and over again. There was some kind of freedom in trying out a different medium. We are for sure going to go back to the physical show soon, but maybe we’ll only do one over the summer now, or maybe we’ll experiment more with different kinds of creativity. It was a good thing that we were all forced to think differently, many brands agree — and we must hold onto that opportunity of having the whole community, not just the industry, involved in fashion weeks.
WWD: What was the concept for the new “Love Forever” film and the message you were trying to communicate?
D.R.: We wanted to communicate that same feeling of running backstage at the end of a show, feeling energized, and everyone cheering. More generally, the film is very much about insisting on having fun and highlighting that fashion should be a fun place where you can express yourself. That’s our ultimate mission and it’s why we collaborated with Jada, an under-the-radar pop artist. You are immediately drawn to her because she has so much power but is also super cute and feminine. She’s just herself and just doing what she loves.
WWD: What role does music play in your work?
D.R.: Even though we try to seek inspiration elsewhere, too, we always go back to music. It usually starts or ends there. This time, we really dived into the ’90s and all the female artists at the time that were so empowered and created powerful, energetic music that was almost terrifying sometimes — especially when it came to an icon like Björk. Jada embodies that same duality of beauty.
WWD: How important is it for you to let other creatives into your world?
D.R.: Ganni is much bigger than me. I want it to be a community where people use our platform in different ways so that we are always helping each other. This time Jada is the main star with her backup dancers, but throughout the pandemic we’ve been doing a range of collaborations with artists, chefs and all sorts of creatives on our social media, our new podcast and newspaper.
We also have a much bigger design team now and we’re all working very closely together. There’s this ongoing conversation with our designers and they give me so much energy. It’s not about me, it’s a collaboration, just like being a soccer team playing together. Just because I’m here at the front of the field, it doesn’t mean I could play without them.
WWD: How is the signature Ganni girl look evolving with the new fall collection?
D.R.: We’re focused on working with high-quality fabrics and adding these gorgeous details. This is something that has maybe changed for Ganni. We are still using the flower prints and the checks that people know us for, but the look has evolved and is a lot more detailed-oriented. It was a natural evolution, and maybe it’s also to do with the current timing and [the aftermath] of the pandemic. We just realized that we were all wearing a lot more solids and suiting, but always with our signature, fun details.
WWD: You are also changing up the fabrics you are using and setting some really ambitious sustainability goals. Is that limiting for you in any way as a creative?
D.R.: We are no longer using leather on the ready-to-wear: It has been an ongoing discussion, with our CSR department, who made us realize that you’d need to wear a leather jacket, for example, for 100 years before you can call it sustainable. Working with leather is so easy in a way, but it’s a fun challenge to try to find alternative materials that are equally rich.
In the beginning it felt very limiting and I was frustrated. I got so annoyed and kept thinking that I didn’t want to be a boring brand that only uses the few organic materials that were available at the time. But we now have our CSR department, constantly giving us the lowdown on fabrics of the future. I’ve also been learning from Priya Ahluwalia, who is always so positive and instead of seeing limitations, she just sees opportunities.
The good thing is that we have started early on and now reached a point where nine out of 10 pieces in the collection are made responsibly. We are where we want to be today and we want to push the boundaries even more this year, taking bold decisions around the fabrics we use, working around resale, and doing more upcycled projects.
WWD: As an ongoing supporter of young talent, what did you think of all the up-and-coming brands taking over this season’s Copenhagen Fashion Week schedule?
D.R.: I’m totally blown [away] with all the new young talent. There are so many of them, they have like a big international reach and they’re really bringing something new in Danish fashion. We need young talent, otherwise it would be boring for the international crowd to come back to our fashion week, if it was only the 10 same brands over and over again. I loved seeing the street style this season, too, there are so many new people I don’t know and they look incredible.
I hope we can be an inspiration. Here in Copenhagen, it’s a little bit more like a small town, you are trying to help your neighbor.