August 14, 2020 – By Daisy Wallis
As the world adjusts to a new normal, fashion weeks have been forced to find new and exciting ways to present globally. One fashion capital that has embraced this new normal is, of course, Copenhagen. Opting to showcase both digitally and physically, Copenhagen Fashion Week is one of the first hybrid fashion weeks of the year.
Reinventing Copenhagen Fashion Week
The prospect of reimagining Copenhagen Fashion Week had been in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic. The Copenhagen Fashion Week Sustainability Action Plan 2020 published earlier this year, and a semi-finalist in the European Social Innovation Competition, looked to set actions and guidelines to push sustainability efforts within the industry.
From January 2023, brands wanting to showcase their latest collections at the event will have to meet 17 minimum sustainable standards. These include commitments to use at least 50% certified organic upcycled or recycled materials as well as using sustainable packaging and zero-waste set designs for presentations.
Spearheaded by CPHFW’s CEO Cecilie Thorsmark, the vision of the plan is to advance the sustainability efforts within the fashion industry and create a meaningful platform that inspires more extensive systemic change.
With such a hopeful and sustainable future for the event, the conversation of sustainability and change became an integral part of this season’s hybrid format.
The Hybrid Format
The effects of the pandemic have, of course, forced the industry to adapt quickly. And Copenhagen Fashion Week was no exception. Despite a slight easing of the lockdown measures in Copenhagen, the event took on a hybrid format. Offering both physical and digital hubs for designers and fashion lovers to come together and celebrate the SS21 season.
Showcasing over 30 incredible designers from Europe, the hybrid format offered designers endless possibilities on how they could present their latest collections and shows to a more global audience. From traditional intimate catwalk shows to the more cinematic, immersive digital experiences, CPHFW was unlike anything before.
In particular, a talk with Mona Mohammed Ali, founder of the first black-owned all-inclusive modelling agency in Scandinavia, the FIIRI Agency, raised a much-needed discussion on the lack of diversity within the industry. In another interesting talk, Moussa Mchangama, In Futurum co-founder, spoke with sustainable fashion professor Kate Fletcher about the need for a new approach to governance within the industry to achieve a sustainable future.
As well as these informative and inspirational talks, on the specially created CPHFW digital platform, each show was followed by a short 5-minute Q&A with the designers, centred on sustainability. The Q&A’s offered a unique and transparent experience and gave consumers, press and fashion lovers alike a chance to learn more about their favourite collections and presentations.
‘Summer of Love’ is the second part of Whyred’s new creative director’s, Jessy Heuvelink, debut collection. Set against the backdrop of an idyllic woodland, the fashion show took the form of a music video and presented a dreamy Scandinavian love story.
Whyred’s emphasis on creating classic staples for the modern wardrobe was clear across the entire collection. Classic shirts and wrap dresses are imbued with Heuvelink’s passion for the styles of the 60s and 70s in wearable and chic ways.
From bootcut jeans to vintage print bohemian dresses and peasant blouses, the collection evokes a nostalgia for the hippie movement and calls for fashion lovers to awaken their inner ‘Flower Child.’
The sustainable Danish brand presented a powerful presentation documenting the process of creating an upcycled collection. At the heart of this presentation was an important message on the brand’s vision for a more circular and slower fashion industry.
The hybrid presentation took the form of a performative art installation, with Designers Remix designer Charlotte Eskildsen returning to her roots – remixing deadstock into chic, cutting-edge sustainable fashion. Exaggerated, tent-like dresses in neutral shades became the centrepieces of the presentation. Each simple dress was marked with the short yet powerful note of “I used to be a …” detailing where the fabric had come from.
The presentation continued into a blue space with seamstresses and designers measuring, cutting and sewing patterns. Weaving in and out of these rooms were models wearing the latest upcycled collection from Designers Remix.
For their SS21 collection, GANNI continued with their question of what are the 20s going to be like. Bringing together their community of creatives, the GANNI show took the form of an interactive art installation that spanned the physical and digital realms.
As part of the installation broadcast on the CPHFW online platform, GANNI worked with Maria “Decida” Wahlberg to create a short dance film featuring looks from the latest SS21 collection. The film was imbued with GANNI’s playful and fun mantra as models danced in their separate spheres.
Alongside the film, GANNI presented a series of portraits shot by Jakob Landvik, showcasing more of the collection, including Ditte Reffstrup’s latest edition of the GANNI summer dress. Adding long voluminous sleeves and an intricate smocking bodice, the latest adaptation of the GANNI summer dress was definitely one of my favourite designs of the collection.
If that wasn’t enough, GANNI also announced a collaboration with Levi’s. The capsule collection, which will launch in spring 2021, reworks classic Levi designs into playful and most importantly responsible pieces. The best part of the collaboration? The upcycled pieces will only be available on GANNI Repeat – a capsule collection designed to be worn by many, owned by none!
Presenting with a more traditional catwalk show, Mark Kenly Domino Tan offered an incredible collection of contemporary yet timeless pieces. Alongside its latest spring collection, the label also presented its first-ever menswear collection.
Featuring creams, whites and beiges, the collection had an ethereal feel. Oversized suiting and light and airy dresses formed the basis of the collection in styles that were both functional and luxurious.
Layering became a recurring style choice for both the mens and womenswear looks and created beautiful contrasts between fabrics and styles. Light dresses paired with oversized, structured waistcoats offered a contemporary and modern spin on classic styles.
The Danish designer is known for his focus on old school tailoring and a rock-inspired image. Soeren Le Schmidt has sustainability at the core of his designing processes. As well as striving towards using 100% sustainable materials in his collections, the designer also has a minimal waste philosophy, making his designs on order to create truly unique and personalised designs.
For this season, Soeren Le Schmidt presented a physical catwalk show of experimental mens and womenswear designs using a 100% sustainable furniture fabric. The designer’s trademark of sharp tailoring took centre stage at the show, with stylish oversized suiting for both men and women in incredible shades of blue and grey. Exaggerated collars and lapels in contrasting colours added a rock edge to the looks which were also carried through to the chunky accessories.
Asymmetric hems and oversized ruffles on his stunning dresses demonstrated Soeren Le Schmidt’s flair at creating show-stopping red carpet dresses while still maintaining the 90’s-inspired vibe of the collection.
Soeren Le Schmidt SS21 collection offers an incredible sustainable experimentation that playfully reinterprets classic designs into contemporary and cutting-edge styles.
‘United in Diversity’ is a celebration of the many women that have inspired designer Malaika Raiss. In their debut show for CPHFW, and to celebrate their 10th anniversary, the collection was brought to life in both the digital and physical realms.
As well as a beautiful showroom and pop up, the collection was showcased in a short film modelled by the women that had inspired the looks. In the Q&A with the designer following the show, Raiss emphasised the importance of creating a relationship between the industry and the consumer.
At every touchpoint, whether viewed digitally or physically in the brand’s showroom, the show gave the consumer a chance to enter the Malaikaraiss universe.
Instead of presenting a catwalk show, Holzweiler presented a short film giving a voice to a group of inspirational activists working to inspire change in areas which include climate change, gender equality and racial equality.
The powerful film featuring Ayisha Siddiqa, Fiona Jarvis, Ariel Nicholson, Jari Jones, Chi Ossè and Myha’la Herrold sees each activist speak openly about why they are an activist and emphasises the importance of participating in change.
“The reason that I am an activist is because I have a vision for the possibilities of our future.” – Fiona Jarvis
In a Q&A following the release of the short film, co-founder Susanne Holzweiler emphasised the importance for the brand of using this unique platform to discuss the important issues facing the world right now. Holzweiler also revealed that they have donated 30,000 euros to the organisations chosen by the 6 activists in the film.
Based in London, Brøgger offers a bold and playful take on luxury fashion. Designer, Julie Brøgger, brings together the styles of London and her hometown of Copenhagen to create collections that are functional and chic.
The collection and film were inspired by Danish feminist Suzanne Brøgger’s essay collection ‘Deliver Us From Love.’ Exploring Suzanne Brøgger’s work on the limitations of the female role, the collection offers a challenge to the gender constructs of what it means to be a “natural woman.” The film features spoken extracts from Suzanne Brøgger’s essay ‘Just Be Natural’ and gender-diverse models to highlight the contrasts within the collection.
Brøgger’s presentation and collection offer a true celebration of identity. Emphasising the notion that there is no natural woman in a collection of chic pieces that break all gender norms.
Inspired by the culturally diverse district of Copenhagen’s Nørrebro, the home of Samsøe Samsøe, the brand presented a digital film and collection entitled ‘Local Love’. The film offered a glimpse into the neighbourhood and people that inspired the collection.
At the heart of the film was not just a fashion film but a real feeling of love and community for their incredible neighbourhood.
This story of local love and element of storytelling is translated into the collection itself. Inspired by the cultural hub of Nørrebro, the brand’s classic soft tailoring and styles are combined with geometric prints, stripes and florals.
The oversized and relaxed fits seen across the collection are not only versatile but accessible too. Light, airy dresses and relaxed suiting in a gorgeous palette of earthy tones tell the story of Nørrebro whilst providing a range of versatile and timeless pieces.
Stine Goya is the home of vibrant, contemporary Scandinavian designs and styles. Through their playful and colourful collections, the brand aims to empower women to find joy in discovering their own sense of style.
For their hybrid presentation, Stine Goya presented a collection celebrating the joyful and creative spirit of the Stine Goya family and community. Bright and bold colours are teamed with intriguing prints and motifs to encapsulate the fun energy behind the brand.
The vibrancy and playful nature of the collection was brought to the digital sphere in an exciting film entitled ‘House of Goya.’ The short film, which saw models and Stine Goya employees dance around the colourful Stine Goya HQ, offered a glimpse into the world and community behind the brand.
In a time of uncertainty, the Stine Goya offered a joyful collection and presentation which united a global network of fashion lovers.
Inspired by the current global situation, the Gestuz ‘The Journey’ collection and presentation is all about being on a journey when you cannot travel the world. In the digital film, the women prepare for journeys of change.
The message behind ‘The Journey’ is clearly rooted in the desperate need and desire for change not just in the industry but across society as a whole.
In their first show for CPHFW, NYNNE wowed with an incredible collection of confident yet functional minimalist pieces. NYNNE is a contemporary luxury brand focused on slow fashion. The brand is also devoted to UN Sustainable Development Goals 8 (decent working conditions) and 12 (responsible consumption and production).
For their first show ‘Walking Soft Sculpture’, NYNNE designer, Nynne Kunde, drew on her Scandinavian roots and time in London to create a truly beautiful summer-inspired collection. Her signature minimalist fits and styles are injected with soft yellows and blues as well as classic neutrals. Subtle prints on Kunde’s dresses depict the landscape of the seaside adding a contemporary art feel to her minimalist styles.
NYNNE’s debut presentation at CPHFW offered a gorgeous minimalist collection that was as empowering as it was elegant.
The Danish fashion house, Baum Und Pferdgarten presented their latest collection featuring their iconic timeless and contrasting designs. Creative Directors, Rikke Baumgarten and Helle Hestehave use their differing styles to create collections inspired by the contrasts between their own styles.
Their latest collection, The Woman Who Fell To Earth, is inspired by the 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth starring David Bowie. Featuring a 70’s inspired earth-toned palette and florals contrasted with graphic space prints, the collection brings together the natural world with the futuristic, digital realm.
Baum Und Pferdgarten chose to present their impressive collection in a traditional catwalk show in their Copenhagen showroom to a small intimate audience. The show was also live-streamed on the CPHFW platform – a hybrid experience much like the contrasts within the collection.
The Baum Und Pferdgarten show offered a unique look into how the natural and digital worlds can collide in a sophisticated and elegant unison. The gorgeous pieces each offer a playful approach to contemporary and timeless Scandinavian fashion.
The brand is also very much focused on their social and environmental impact, investing time to work on actions and plans to promote circularity in the fashion industry. As well as using leftover fabric in their collections, the HOPE Reclaim initiative combines preloved pieces from past HOPE collections to be resold in their Stockholm store.
The latest collection combines their passion for individual style with sustainability and is part of ‘A New Standard’ – a thesis dedicated to prioritising style over gender. This is a recurring theme across the collection, with double-breasted blazers and high waist trousers being made to adjust to all body types.
In an industry that has historically been obsessed with perfection, HOPE’s latest collection focuses on the imperfections of the summertime. The parts of the summertime that often are lost in the highly romanticised image of the summer.
Neutral linen fabrics are brought together with pops of baby blue and cerise pink to create a functional and playful collection designed for all. The timeless styles are designed to be worn every summer regardless of gender.
Are hybrid shows the future?
Having watched both the digital London and Helsinki Fashion Weeks during this unprecedented time, the concept of a hybrid show was definitely an exciting one. While I was watching the events from London digitally, the incredible CPHFW platform offered an accessible and enjoyable way to feel a part of the physical hub in Copenhagen.
The CPHFW digital hub became not only a place to watch the latest digital presentations and live streams of physical shows but an incredible hub of discussion, innovation and community. The unique live Q&A’s, for instance, gave a unique insight into the designer’s collections and gave digital viewers, like myself, a chance to feel a part of the physical event.
While the digital innovations were not as advanced and complex as Helsinki Fashion Week, the interactive CPHFW platform allowed for digital viewers to access behind-the-scenes exclusives and intriguing discussions on key issues in between shows.
The emphasis on sustainability and key issues facing the industry and society today was also incredibly important and poignant. Despite the Sustainability Requirements for designers and brands not being enforced until 2023, the focus on sustainability was echoed across the entire event. Conversations on the future of the industry as well as the exclusive insights from the designer Q&A’s offered a hopeful image for the sustainable future of the industry.
Copenhagen Fashion Week represented a hopeful look into the future. The hybrid format allowed for both traditional intimate catwalk shows and digital innovations in presentations to come together in an event that was inclusive and hopeful. While there is definitely room for improvement in terms of both the digital and sustainable aspects of the event, the action plan demonstrates that Copenhagen Fashion Week will definitely be one to watch in the years to come.