Contrary to common opinion, Danish Fashion is not only based in Copenhagen.
Especially the area of Midtjylland/Central Denmark is home to a lot of important international fashion players: The revenue of privately owned fashion here accounts for approximately 75% of the Danish fashion industry’s total revenue (source: Headstart Fashion). While the heavyweight Bestseller Group’s main headquarters is in Brande, sustainable menswear brand Knowledge Cotton Apparel is in Herning, Nümph is based in Kolding and DK Company maintains head offices in nearby Vejle (Blend, B.Young, Ichi etc.) and Ikast (Gestuz, Cream, Denim Hunter, Kaffe etc.), next to a base in the capital.
But it’s the introspective city of Aarhus, this year’s European Capital of Culture, that groups together most casual fashion power: Minimum, Rvtl, Hummel and H2O Sportswear, just to name a few, all have their home base around Aarhus’ modernized Docklands, which also house the super futuristic Dokk1 (opened in 2015), Scandinavia’s biggest library and an international example of great public architecture and service.
To advocate the area as a fashion hub and help local brands develop, collaborate and network, Headstart Fashion was founded three years ago in a joint effort by the Central Denmark administrative region and Aarhus 2017 European Capital of Culture. Since then, the initial one-man show works closely together with companies, organizations such as Dansk Fashion & Textile and the Danish Fashion Institute and educational institutions such as VIA Design. It also hosts an annual press day to introduce local and international journalists to established and new talents from the region.
In addition to the big names mentioned, 90% of the 350 fashion companies based in the Aarhus municipality alone have fewer than ten employees. That’s why today we’d like to highlight five of the smaller-scale labels from the area that are definitely worth watching.
The full name of the “Dansk Bomuldskompagni” (“Danish cotton company”) is already more than 25 years old and was originally used for the in-house brand of Oliver Harald Nielsen’s mom’s tailoring business. In 2014, Nielsen, a former fashion buyer and retail owner, decided to redesign its logo and use it for a new, graphic-driven menswear brand. Dansk’s shirts, jackets and pants are colorful and quirky, but also super wearable and, above all, super affordable: bright trucker jackets retail for around DKK600 (about €80). “We believe that we can deliver the everyday wardrobe and we can only achieve that by having an affordable brand,” says Nielsen, who designs all the prints himself, while his mum is responsible for pattern design and measurement sheets. All fabrics are exclusively made for Dansk with all the garments being produced in Turkey and Portugal. The brand is currently sold in Nielsen’s two ButikHarald stores in Copenhagen and Aarhus and it is just kicking off its wholesale business, hoping to land in Germany very soon.
The name says it all: Amir Hassan likes to keep his work limited. The young designer only makes 12 numbered pieces of the 12 styles in each capsule collection. And he tries to always emphasize a new current (political) issue in his minimalist streetwear pieces. His first collection “The Spring” pays homage to Hassan’s cultural heritage and tells “a story about the Arabic Spring and all the anarchy in the Middle East.” This resulted in a range of natural toned oversized layering pieces and accessories (highlight: the hooded scarf) with bold graphic prints, playing with the words “freedom,” “rebellion,” “brotherhood” and “justice” written in Arabic letters. While long viscose shirts retail for €120-130, the woolen “Brotherhood coat” is €560.
Duo Jens Kristensen (CEO) and Helle Bennetzen Kaarup (head designer) founded their shoe brand in 2013. Together they make women’s footwear that is timeless and clean, yet always has a twist: hiking booties are given a light pink tongue and laces and classic white mules receive a red heel. Another Project’s two yearly collections are mainly produced in Italy and Portugal and can be found at trade shows such as Revolver in Copenhagen or Premiere Classe Paris. Retail prices range between €80 for braided slides to €180 for platform booties.
In her former life, Mette Rodtnes used to design homes and interiors as an award winning architect. However, in the spring of 2012, she switched industries by starting her bag brand Rodtnes. She hasn’t abandoned her architectural design approach though. According to Rodtnes’s view of a bag being an “identity amplifier,” the designer always tries to merge the pragmatic demands of a handbag with a style statement, resulting in super high quality, contemporary leather bags. In Rodtnes’ most recent “Villa Collection,” she draws direct design inspiration from the early work of Danish avant-garde architects Friis & Moltke, whose heritage is very visible in Aarhus (Rodtnes lives in one of their houses): the boxy calf leather bags’ clap is in the shape of a miniature Friis & Moltke villa. Rodtnes bags retail between €119 for a pouch to €660 for a weekend bag.
The young founders behind the Ackite brand started their company in the late spring of 2016 with the aim to create high value unisex fashion. Its black-and-white sportswear is partly produced in Denmark and details such as marble buttons and zippers are custom-made locally. Selling from its own webshop, Ackite also currently delivers to seven retailers in Denmark such as the newly founded Onkel P store in Odense. Retail prices range between €47 for a print shirt to €242 for a fleece jacket. The brand also offers a jewelry range.