COPENHAGEN — Danish label Custommade has been in business since 2002, having come to life in the form of limited-edition collections created using deadstock fabrics. But it moved on to the more traditional wholesale model and reached big commercial success with hundreds of accounts across Europe and the U.S.
Founder Christian Dam is now looking to scale things back and take a more luxurious, design-led route that involves a lot more storytelling, smaller collections, a luxury retail network and a new accessories line.
“The company grew so fast, so it quickly became very commercially driven. We now want to press restart and look at the opportunity to focus on a design-driven distribution, and more quality, edgy designs,” said Dam in an interview.
The label communicated these ambitions with a fall 2020 presentation during Copenhagen Fashion Week, where it presented its collection in a makeshift office space filled with models dressed in elegant pussy-bow blouses, dungarees, bright suits and pretty shirt dresses, as they answered phone calls and typed e-mails.
The idea was to highlight that its feminine, decadent aesthetic can fit into a woman’s everyday life: It worked and made for a fun setting that guests went the extra mile to Instagram.
“I think it was just important for us to stick to what we loved, even if the market is demanding something different,” said head of design Anne Rasmussen, who is sticking to her love for all things girly, preppy or sparkly despite market trends for extreme minimalism.
Some products that stood out and are quickly becoming signatures are the shirts featuring extralarge bows, shirtdresses done in metallic brocades and accessorized with removable crystal-embellished collars, as well as the label’s growing shoe range, whose velvet bow mules have been building a social following of their own.
Everything is competitively priced from 100 euros for a collar to 800 euros for a coat.
Dam pointed to a need to look at the brand’s repositioning from a 360 angle, which includes new sales and marketing strategies. The latter is spearheaded by the brand’s new head of public relations, Therese Hellstrom, an influencer in her own right and unofficial brand ambassador who models Custommade suits, sparkly heeled boots and evening dresses on her Instagram and at international fashion weeks.
“A new design strategy needs to lead to a new marketing and sales strategy and we’re already seeing a quick response,” added Dam, pointing to having gained key new accounts like Shopbop in the U.S. and Printemps in Paris.
The brand is also offering a series of limited-edition products, dubbed “By Numbers” and integrated into each collection. Each product comes numbered and features much more intricate fabrics than the main collection.
“You’re directly talking to a new kind of customer by having these limited, higher-priced items and it attracts the attention of bigger international buyers,” said Dam, adding that the core of the collection will remain more competitively priced. “We’re not looking to raise all prices.”