LONDON — Pernille Teisbæk and Hannah Løffler Schmidt have become chief whips of the Copenhagen fashion scene, corralling a crowd of Danish and international influencers for the city’s fashion week, curating their clients’ front rows at shows and connecting Danish brands to international retailers and influencers — and vice versa.
Through their agency Social Zoo, they act as intermediaries, managers, influencers, event organizers and social media gurus. They acted as Copenhagen Fashion Week’s official digital strategic partner in 2017 and, according to multiple industry sources, Social Zoo has an unprecedented influence on brands’ guest lists and seating arrangements at shows. Industry sources said they’ve become the unofficial Copenhagen fashion council, with brands and retailers wanting to partner exclusively with them, especially during the twice-yearly fashion weeks.
Teisbæk wields great influence due in large part to the personal relationships she has developed as an influencer herself. With 573,000 followers on Instagram, she was one of the first Scandinavian influencers to emerge and she built Social Zoo on the back of her formidable popular media accounts. Her straight, sandy brown hair and sharp features are easily recognizable at shows, and she has been featured on a string of street style Instagram accounts.
Via Social Zoo, which was founded in 2016, Teisbæk now plies her personal brand and pushes sponsored content on behalf of her clients, which include Net-a-porter, Gucci and Chanel and Scandinavian influencers Mads Emil, Trine Kjær and Tine Andrea.
Løffler Schmidt, who previously worked as Teisbæk’s agent, said launching a company on the back of her partner’s social power was inevitable. “Her brand took off so fast, we had so many clients approaching us with projects,” said Løffler Schmidt, adding that, at the time, there was a big gap in the market, with influencer agencies lacking in expertise and brands unclear about their marketing and social media approach.
Social Zoo manages six influencers on a permanent basis, including Jeanette Friis Madsen, Josefine HJ, and Emili Sindlev. In total they have 1.06 million followers.
“We really represent these girls in a different way than a lot of the other agencies in Denmark. It was such a new industry when we started, no one really knew how to work with influencer marketing,” Løffler Schmidt said. “We want to have a long-term strategy, not just for them to be one big advertisement. We want their personalities to shine through. [Being an influencer] can be a very lonely job and you have to make a lot of decisions on your own, it’s super crucial to have someone who you trust completely.”
They are organizing their second hospitality event pegged on Copenhagen Fashion Week, which runs from Wednesday through Friday. Last year, they invited 15 guests — international press, buyers and influencers — and created a holistic experience of the city. This year, they have teamed with By Malene Birger, Ganni, Saks Potts, Stine Goya and Net-a-porter and influencers including Lucy Williams and Blanca Miró.
Social Zoo flies influencers and members of the press to Copenhagen Fashion Week, “and it’s definitely increased the international awareness of all the Danish brands,” Løffler Schmidt said. “When there are guests with a huge social media following, it creates a lot of buzz network and great press features. We definitely saw a huge impact for the brands the last two times we did this.”
Not only are the influencers and writers able to experience Copenhagen’s top restaurants, social venues and gain insight into the city’s sustainability scene, they also are escorted to the shows courtesy of Social Zoo. “Pernille, Hannah and the team always have an incredible schedule of events to support local talent, both within the fashion industry and beyond,” said Lisa Aiken, fashion retail director at Net-a-porter.
The luxury site plans to cohost a welcome dinner with Social Zoo for influencers and press on the opening day of Copenhagen Fashion Week.
One industry insider, who has worked with Social Zoo, said they are essential on-the-ground partners. “People go to the four fashion capitals of their own volition and on their own budget. In Copenhagen, for the most part, brands need to fly people in. They have to allocate budget, manage their travel logistics and all of these elements that don’t exist in London, Paris, Milan or New York. It’s that side of things that allows Social Zoo to have such a strong influence,” the source said.
Social Zoo is also pushing Scandinavian brands to the limelight. The agency recently doubled the Danish accessories brand Núnoo’s Instagram following with their latest influencer-backed campaign. “I can clearly see that our account grows when the international influencers post with Núnoo, and in our latest financial statement we had grown [sales] by 500 percent,” said Pia Silfen, cofounder and head of marketing at Núnoo.
Social Zoo is part of a larger movement that has seen Scandinavian fashion design carve a niche in the international arena and shed its stereotype of minimalism. “When a lot of people refer to Scandinavian style, they think of something minimal,” Teisbæk said. “Just a few seasons ago, a lot of our brands looked outwardly and realized they needed to step up and get inspired by something else, and I think that’s when the magic started.”
She said smaller names such as the contemporary brand Saks Potts are “just popping up everywhere. It’s cool to know that wherever I travel, I meet people, and everyone knows the Danish brands. It’s not only Dior and Louis Vuitton — the awareness has become huge and it’s amazing to see,” she said.