By Daisy Wallis
This week I joined the fashion community, from my laptop in London, to attend the fully digitised Copenhagen Fashion Week to investigate just how the many iconic brands were embracing the format.
Continuing the sustainable vision for Copenhagen Fashion Week
Copenhagen has become a hub for sustainable style, with many Scandinavian designers leading the way for a greener future for fashion. And although the conversation on sustainability has increased during the pandemic, a vision for creating a more sustainable Copenhagen Fashion Week was in the works before COVID-19.
A semi-finalist in the European Social Innovation Competition, the Copenhagen Fashion Week Sustainability Action Plan 2020 looked to establish a three-year action plan to reinforce the importance of sustainability within the industry. The plan included guidelines on everything from reducing CO2 emissions to minimum sustainability standards each brand would have to adhere to.
Ahead of last week’s event, CPHFW released the first Sustainability Report for 2020. The report included detailed findings from the summer showcase, including a 50% decrease in CO2 emissions compared to the previous year. The report also identified the areas the team hope to work on this year despite the pandemic. While the pandemic has put a halt to the sustainability point system, made in collaboration with Rambøll, the report did shine a light on some impressive collaborations and partnerships with trade fair CIFF and Zalando.
Despite the pandemic, the overall message of the report was one of hope and shared learning. In presenting their findings, CPHFW hopes to inspire more brands, designers and even other fashion weeks to embrace more sustainable practices.
“The pandemic has increased the focus on shared learning, knowledge sharing and helping each other; it is our wish to harness this momentum even more in the future to foster change.” – Copenhagen Fashion Week Annual Sustainability Report
The digital platform – a new normal for creating in a pandemic?
The concept of a digital fashion week is not an alien one. In 2020, I attended digital fashion weeks from London to Helsinki, each having their own unique methods of bringing fashion to an international audience. Following a slight easing of restrictions, Copenhagen’s SS21 event was able to take a hybrid approach to the showcase. A combination of live-streamed physical catwalk shows and immersive digital films brought together the glamour of the traditional with the excitement of new technologies and innovations.
However, as restrictions in Copenhagen were reintroduced, the event had to abandon any physical plans and show exclusively on their digital platform. The impressive platform became a hub for fashion lovers to come together virtually and safely from their homes across the world.
Despite the distance from Copenhagen, we were still able to experience the latest collections through cinematic and immersive shows. Possibly the most exciting part of the week was of course the many different ways designers and brands chose to show their latest collections. Each show had its own unique way of combining their brand’s visions and values with technology.
But how did the designers feel about creating a digital show? Ahead of Copenhagen Fashion Week, NYNNE designer and founder, Nynne Kunde, spoke with us about the importance of storytelling when it comes to digital;
“… in Couture Week, there were so many different approaches to how you do a digital show. There’s also more storytelling than there has been, which is really nice… everybody has a different point of view on new aspects of digital… So we all learn from each other on how to make it as accessible as possible.”
The digital platform also saw the return of the Small Talks, Big Conversations discussions. Each discussion covered important topics such as sustainability, diversity and inclusivity within the industry. The discussions, which I would definitely recommend, demonstrate the event’s commitments to inspiring change within the industry.
With so many incredible designers and brands on the schedule, let’s take a look at just how some of my favourites embraced the digital format for Copenhagen Fashion Week!
Bringing the traditional catwalk to the digital stage, Skall Studio wowed with their latest sophisticated collection. Bringing the international virtual audience to their very own catwalk, the presentation beautifully merged the feelings of a physical and digital show. With the audience situated at the end of the catwalk, we were able to see every cut, texture and colour up close.
Skall Studio, established by sisters Julie and Marie, has had sustainability at its heart from the very beginning;
“Sustainability has been the core value of Skall Studio since we launched in 2014 so actually the pandemic has not affected the way we work. It has only convinced us that we are on the right path.”
The brand has a particular emphasis on using natural materials, including, organic wool and cotton. As Julie and Marie told us, their organic wool is sourced from one of the last remaining mills in Demark. With an emphasis on using natural materials, Skall Studio has become known for its timeless and sophisticated styles in beautiful neutral colour palettes.
Faced with the current situation, their latest collection took inspiration from music and in particular Leonard Cohen’s self-titled debut album. Inspired by melodies of love and religion and the mood of New York in the late 1960s, the collection is a tribute to Julie and Marie’s love of creating their natural collections.
The timeless collection presented the designer duo’s vision for a much slower pace within the industry. Speaking to us after their show, Julie and Marie shared their hope of what viewers should take away from their latest collection;
“We really wish for people to slow down. On a personal level and as consumers. Take a deep breath and sense the world around you, take two minutes to look up in the sky. Take a waltz, instead of rushing through life. We also want people to consider how they consume. Less is definitely more.”
NYNNE has become well known for its timeless collections celebrating female empowerment. This season NYNNE presented their latest collection in a film that features nine inspiring women and celebrates their differences. From comedian Sofia Flykt to the co-founders of tech start-up, Female Invest, Anna-Sophie Hartvigsen, Camilla Cloëtta, Falkenberg and Emma Bitz to the 87-year-old grandmother, Eva Hougaard Lauridsen, each woman has their own incredible story and represents the many different women NYNNE hopes to represent.
As Nynne Kunde told us in her studio ahead of CPHFW, the collection was inspired by a desire to make clothes for women in a pandemic. Designing clothes that were not only comfortable but would also give women the feeling of empowerment and strength.
This emphasis could be seen in every detail of the collection in hues inspired by Mother Earth. Classic styles were given a more relaxed and comfortable fit or fabric and finished with details that accentuate the beauty of the female form. The brand’s Diana dress, which Kunde tells us was designed originally to be a comfortable and versatile day-to-night piece, was reimagined into a dark green speckled knit.
“The whole idea of the Diana dress as a concept was the fact that it’s a comfortable dress. It gives you a shape. You can wear daily but with sneakers [and] you could dress up with a heel in the evening [and] wear lipstick…” – Nynne Kunde
Elsewhere, inspired by Riccardo Bofill’s architecture, intricate jacquard dresses introduced a new texture into the collection and was worn both alone and is layered with a white shirt to demonstrate the versatility of the design. Velvet is also added to the collection for the very first time for the brand. A high-necked velvet dress with voluminous sleeves and intricate gathered details features the signature NYNNE form.
Presenting these intricate details and the movement of the fabrics was one of the biggest tasks when coming up with the digital show. As Kunde chatted with us through the collection, she told us that they were extending their show time to 9 minutes to showcase every detail.
“I do like the digital format because it almost makes me a bit of a storyteller.”
With 65% of the collection made from recycled materials, sustainability is also an essential part of the latest collection. Recycled wools and polyesters, as well as organic cotton and silk, are used to create the timeless pieces. Natural leather skins are also used to create a sleek pair of wide-leg trousers – a perfect versatile essential for any woman’s wardrobe. Each piece in the collection is designed to be a part of a timeless capsule wardrobe that makes the wearer feel both comfortable and confident.
Stine Goya’s latest presentation stood as a celebration of the energy and life that lives inside of us. To showcase the latest vibrant collection, the digital film followed three women in Cape Town exploring the importance of self-belief and confidence. Each woman has their own story to tell. From rapper Yoyo Bonya’s struggles with mental health and rediscovering her art, to dancer Kara H’s experiences as a Zulu woman in the world of dance to marine conservationist Hanli Prinsloo’s work on educating communities, each woman upholds the core values of the Stine Goya brand.
“We want to empower the women wearing our clothes, there is such an affirming feeling to wearing bright colours and prints. Although our pieces are a bold celebration of individuality and self-expression they are also timeless and wearable designs. We want to extend our universe by adding playfulness to the wardrobe.” – Stine Goya, Creative Director
The collection itself is full of the signature Stine Goya vibrancy and fun. Inspired by the carefree energy of the 1980s and 1990s nightclub scenes, the collection injects a moment of fun and positivity in today’s world. Once again Stine Goya’s collection is packed with bright colours and bold prints, each exuding confidence and elegance.
The brand’s talent at contrasting colour and print can be seen in every look. A bright orange knit vest is paired with pleated trousers in a bold and vibrant floral print and lilac gloves, a nod to the glamour of the 1920’s speakeasies. Contrasting patterns are also brought together to create a simple yet chic 1920’s inspired sleeveless dress. Just like the women in the film, behind each print and pattern is a unique story, from the green and black grid-like check to the florals inspired by Japanese artist Tetsumi Kudo.
‘Grunge Euphoria’ offers a moment of positivity and light during these uncertain times. Much like past collections, the collection offers women a chance to discover their own sense of style through print and colour. While Scandi fashion can often be associated with a more neutral palette, we love how Stine Goya offers a vibrant take on our favourite Scandi styles!
Winner of the Zalando Sustainability Award
One of our favourite sustainable brands, House of Dagmar presented a truly immersive experience that brought the Dagmar designs to Copenhagen virtually. The Swedish fashion brand works to design timeless styles that last. Their work on sustainability is built on the three pillars of Design, Ethics and Longevity and they aim to become carbon neutral by 2025.
Their commitment to finding new sustainable innovations in design was even transferred to their presentation. Using Augmented Reality, a singular model wearing the latest collection was virtually transported to the streets of Copenhagen. The immersive experience allowed viewers to see the latest collection in action and travel with the model to Copenhagen. The presentation will also be reused for the release of the collections in stores and will even give customers the chance to experience the designs in their own cities. An impressive example of how presentations can be made more sustainable with the help of technology.
The collection itself, however, was the real show. Well known for their contemporary and urban twists to classic styles, the collection brought together androgynous tailoring, timeless outerwear and sophisticated knits. Mixing shades of lemon, blue and rust with a more classic neutral palette, the collection had everything a capsule wardrobe needed. A tonal look featuring an oversized turtleneck knit with a fringe knit skirt offered a new take to minimalist knitwear.
When talking about the collection in the live Q&A, Sofia Wallenstam, co-founder of House Dagmar, offered an insight into the design process for their latest collection;
“Its quite difficult, of course, to create a collection that needs to be sustainable but also, at the same time, modern and inspiring to the consumer. So we really went into looking at the Dagmar wardrobe and what does the Dagmar woman really want? And what does she really need? And when doing this we also really wanted to create a collection that had a purpose. It is super important to us to create a collection that has long-lasting design and long-lasting materials but has to feel modern and interesting enough.”
House of Dagmar’s commitment to sustainability and timeless design with an edge makes them an exciting brand for the future of sustainable fashion. With their latest collection and their impressive plans for securing a more sustainable future, I am excited to see what House of Dagmar does next!
Celebrating the brand’s 70-year history of printmaking, Marimekko presented a short yet creative film. ‘The Art of Print and Shape’ revisited some of the brand’s most iconic prints from the past whilst emphasising their commitment to reducing their environmental impact.
The presentation, unlike any other on the schedule, took a simple yet incredibly poignant approach. Projected some of their brightest prints from the brand’s history onto the models, Marimekko’s presentation became an immersive art installation. The models, dressed in blank dresses became the perfect canvases for nine bright and bold prints from the Marimekko archive.
Instead of showcasing an entirely new collection, the show represented a moment of reflection and celebration for the brand. The fun and celebratory film was a chance for Marimekko to look back on the amazing prints in their archive and to look to the future. The show’s simplicity also beautifully reflected the brand’s newly released sustainability targets for 2025 to reduce their environmental impact.
As Rebekka Bay, Creative Director of Marimekko, explained in the live Q&A following the show, this season was a moment of reflection for the brand;
“I think what’s important to put out there is that the presentation that we have just shared is more of a conceptual take on our collections. Both thinking and looking at the past, the present and the future. I think it was important for us to pause and sort of look back and celebrate our 70 years of printmaking. To focus on what’s important right now in the present. The need for diversity, inclusivity, sustainability and then also look to the future of Marimekko.”
Keeping true to their history as an anti-fashion and seasonless brand, Marimekko’s presentation featured the classic relaxed and timeless fits. The heart-warming film offered a moment in the CPHFW schedule of reflection and served as a reminder that the best approach to fashion is to create less. The presentations simplicity and positive outlook towards the future of the industry made it one of my personal favourites.
Interesting prints inspired by the twisting form of the museum were translated into beautiful fine knit dresses and trousers. The pops of blue throughout the collection stood out beautifully against the water and made us long for trips away. While rippled prints inspired by natural movement formed the basis of a statement greyscale tailored suit, a print which worked seamlessly with the more neutral elements of the collection.
Maria Holzweiler, Head of Design at Holzweiler, revealed in the live Q&A that the building’s twisted structure influenced the contrasts in the collection;
“… we have dedicated this whole collection to the gesture of twisting something and to turn something on its head… We have been working so much on basics and fits we have been using before and twisting them by changing qualities, workmanship and adding details and structures.”
Even the show, which was initially scheduled to be shot at The Twist, had to be quickly redesigned. Shot instead at the beautiful Holzweiler HQ, the water proved to be a beautiful backdrop for the many different tones seen throughout the collection. The change of venue also reflected the brand’s decision to slow down during the lockdown, and returning to the brand’s roots and home.
Offering contemporary twists with an edge to our favourite Scandi styles, Holzweiler definitely stands out as a brand for the future.
In the live Q&A following the show, Ditte Reffstrup described how her inspiration is the perfect theme for this current time;
“… I grew up in a small fisherman town and at that time there was no window to the outside world. So, I mean, the only source I had was MTV. And for me, music can really set you in a different mood. It can help you, it can comfort you and it can inspire you. And it can give you hope and optimism. And that is what we think we really need right now.”
The presentation, which became the closing number for the brand’s 4-day digital extravaganza, featured covers of iconic love songs as well as original numbers. Each performer, from the singers to the members of the bands, wore the latest collection. New York-based singer ZSELA started the livestream with a beautiful cover of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ wearing a monochromatic look of a knit white shirt and balloon trousers.
Deb Never, an LA-based singer, wore a more grunge-inspired look. Wearing the classic oversized Ganni tailoring over a graphic tee and paired with Ganni trainers, Deb Never’s look emphasised the versatility of the brand’s contemporary styles.
The performances proved to be a moment of pure joy and fun for the Copenhagen Fashion Week viewers and reflected the incredible music-inspired collection perfectly. Despite the distance from the event, Ganni was able to unite the audience through music and dance and provided the perfect escape for a Thursday afternoon!
What is the future of the digital format?
The digital format is something that the fashion world has quite quickly become used to. Yet Copenhagen Fashion Week managed to inject the event with a sense of positivity, inclusivity and togetherness.
The live Q&A’s and intriguing Small Conversations, Big Talks discussions offered moments for the community to learn together. Through the Q&A’s, we were able to gain an insight into the designer’s journeys of creating during a pandemic. While the longer discussion panels offered viewers a chance to learn more about the CPHFW’s vision for a more sustainable and inclusive industry.
Despite the setbacks the pandemic has caused, the CPHFW’s commitments to sustainability could also be seen at every touchpoint. Each designer on show had their own insightful takes on sustainability and explained the many different ways they all hope to improve in the coming years. As the Sustainability Report described leading up to the event, CPHFW very much became a platform for shared learning.
A collaborative space for designers, creatives and fashion lovers to come together to share their hopes for the future of the industry.
With such a wide range of designers and brands on offer, Copenhagen Fashion Week once again represented a better future for the industry. Gone are the days of trend-led fashions, instead the digital platform became the perfect stage for a whole host of incredible seasonless, timeless and inclusive fashions. As the world will hopefully return to normalcy soon, I’m very excited to see how the sustainable plans of the CPHFW will be furthered and developed!