COPENHAGEN — “In January we said it was wild. Now it’s sheer madness,” said Ganni’s creative director Ditte Reffstrup.
The Danish label started the year asking its community of stylish, leopard print-wearing Ganni girls the question, “What do you think the Twenties will look like?”
Its own vision for the new decade started with “202020,” a collaborative project that showcased the works of up-and-coming female artists alongside Ganni’s new collections.
More than six months later and having experienced a global pandemic, Ganni’s 202020 vision is different — but very much alive.
Scales, budgets and volumes are not what they used to be. Instead of hosting its usual blockbuster show at the end of Copenhagen Fashion Week, the label is opting for a more intimate exhibition held on the first day of the showcase. Its collection has also been reduced by 50 percent in size.
Yet collaboration and sustainability are still the way forward, as far as Reffstrup and her team are concerned. That’s why the brand is forging ahead with the launch of Ganni Repeat, a new rental platform for the U.S. and Europe. To give everyone incentive to embrace renting, the platform will make its international debut with a rental-only, limited-edition Levi’s collaboration, created using repurposed denim.
Once again, “a cross-cultural group of emerging artists” came together — this time via countless phone calls, texts and Zoom conferences — to create artworks for the event and add a bit of their handwriting to Ganni’s new season lineup.
“With the way 2020 is going we had to revisit our questions around the new decade. It’s about the culmination of what we have learned so far and where we go from here. After months of darkness, I’ve found optimism [around this] feeling of change,” Reffstrup said. “Our exhibition is all about exploring this feeling and we’ve chosen to do it in collaboration with creatives from different corners of the world, to ensure our perspective is multifold. We wanted to see what everyone had learned from the decade so far and ask for their perspective on how we need to move forward.”
Held in a warehouse-like space in Copenhagen’s city center, the exhibition invited guests to take their time and explore new ideas and artistic mediums, as much as look at clothes. You can spend six minutes listening to an essay by the writer Marjon Carlos, written while in lockdown at her New York apartment, or view photography by Jakob Landvik showcasing the new spring 2021 collection on friends of the brand, including Reffstrup’s young daughters and colleagues.
There are also a series of cutouts by London-based photographer Rosie Marks featuring women dressed in Ganni and posing in Marks’ back yard; an installation by Hayley Blomquist made using repurposed Ganni and Levi’s fabrics, and a film in which Swedish dancer Maria “Decida” Wahlberg, dressed in pieces from the new spring collection, performs to a custom soundtrack created by DJs Ouri and Mobilegirl.
“One is based in Berlin, the other in Montreal and they’ve never met each other, but they managed to work together on this digitally. That’s one of the positives that came out of lockdown,” Reffstrup said.
Aside from a gift shop at the exhibition that sells limited-edition merchandise, the rest of the clothing can only be viewed digitally through the film and photography on screens.
The aim? To embrace the change and offer something that feels more “relevant” and in tune with the times.
Physical experiences are irreplaceable, according to Reffstrup, but even when thinking about in-person events there’s room for reinvention and different ways to engage people beyond the catwalk.
“That’s not to say we’re never doing a show again, but we wanted to push ourselves to rethink what was becoming a cycle,” said Reffstrup, who also found it refreshing to edit her designs back to the brand’s core, including playful animal prints, loose cotton dresses and bright striped separates.
“It really forces you to pick your darlings and hero shapes. I am hoping people will buy less and better,” she added.
There was also the appeal of creating a more inclusive experience that can last longer than a few minutes.
After presenting to industry professionals, the exhibition will be made available to the public and more than 200 people have so far booked a guided tour.
The priority shift spurred by the pandemic also encouraged Ganni to further commit to its sustainability goals and work toward reaching them even faster than initially planned.
Cue Ganni Repeat: the label’s new rental platform that’s now being made available across Europe and the U.S. following a soft launch last year in its home country of Denmark.
“We launched our rental platform Ganni Repeat as a project to trial a more circular fashion system and help people rethink how they consume fashion,” explained Reffstrup. “People were super excited and mostly showed interest in event dressing, so we decided to center our rental offering around party dresses. It’s not a profitable [venture], but we hope it will become over time.”
To mark the launch and give it bigger international exposure, the label joined forces with Levi’s on a rental-only capsule that features classic denim pieces like button down shirts — given the Ganni treatment by way of big, ruffled collars — or Levi’s 501 jeans made using vintage or repurposed fabrics. Each piece also has a tech-enabled size patch that can be scanned with a smartphone to reveal stories about the past of the piece and its previous renters.
“The Levi’s collaboration was a perfect opportunity to bring rentals to the global community, so we could truly create something worn by many, but owned by none,” added the designer.