Danish style has had a long-standing reputation for being minimal and— considering the popular use of bicycles for transportation in Denmark — practical. But anyone who’s been following fashion trends and influencers closely over the past several years knows this generalization has become merely part of what makes Scandi style so appealing. Today, the most in-the-know trendsetters have a list of Scandinavian clothing brands that they wear on a near-daily basis. These brands have played a huge role in the shift of perception that has made Copenhagen Fashion Week an essential stop on the design calendar.
Rikke Baumgarten, creative director of Copenhagen-based ready-to-wear brand Baum und Pferdgarten explains, the elements of Danish design are twofold. “On one side, we have a great love for the simple and minimalistic in great quality; and on the other side, there's a playfulness and courage in the way we dress that is very unique.” If Instagram is any indication, it’s those brands who lean into the latter element — much like Baum does with its use of prints — that have most recently earned attention.
“Before, everything was very minimalistic and simple however today everything is allowed,” says Thora Valdimars, creative director of Rotate Birger Christensen, a brand whose bubblegum-pink, puff-sleeved dresses made a huge impact in street style photos last Copenhagen Fashion Week. To her point, look to the popularity of brands like Ganni and its masterful use of ruffles and flourishes, Stine Goya and its bold colors; or Rotate, which Valdimars explains, opts for "sexy" designs and therefore “differentiates quite a lot” from other designers in the same space.
Ahead are eight examples of Danish fashion brands that are not only upholding the culture’s reputation for a clean, beautiful aesthetics, but also creating some of the most joy-inducing pieces available right now.
Baum und Pferdgarten
A quick scroll through the Copenhagen-based brand's Instagram and you’ll be able to tell what it excels in: contrast. There are high-neck, ruffled collars; leopard-and-mixed-print dresses; and some truly unique takes on classic cardigans. “Baum und Pferdgarten is created by two creative designers with a very different sense of personal style, and this is a very important part of the brand," Baumgarten says. Clearly there's something to be said for opposites attracting.
Rotate Birger Christensen
Rotate is the newest brand on this list as its first collection arrived in November, following the previously mentioned popularity of its puffy-sleeved dress spotted on the streets during Copenhagen Fashion Week. “Our customers expect something with a wow factor and for this collection the ‘80s puff shoulders was very popular,” says Valdimars. The other pieces that round out the debut designs include halter neck jumpsuits, sleek wrap dresses, and embellished blazers. In short, they've come to party.
Even though Ganni has been a fixture of Scandinavian style since the early '00s, its stateside popularity took a meteoric rise over the past few years. Now you'd be hard press to find a major retailer who doesn't offer the brand or fashion editors who don't proudly own a few pieces from the label. Perhaps this is because the designs balance the perfect amount of structure and timelessness with statement prints, textures, and details. It's the kind of brand that inspires customers to be creative and playful, but also helps her build a wardrobe of unique staples.
By Malene Birger
Since the ‘90s, By Malene Birger has been a brand that embodies the ease, sophistication, and effortless cool of Danish style. “The Scandinavian woman is an independent modern women, who is balancing family, work and her social life,” says Mathilde Torp Mader, the brand's creative director. “She needs to be dressed both functional and fashionable to accommodates all her daily activities.” This perhaps explains why By Malene Birger is such a go-to source of dresses for all occasions, knits, tailored separates...essentially the kind of pieces that make up a polished, but never stuffy daily uniform.
Stine Goya launched in 2006 by a former-model-turned-designer of the same name. Signature to the brand is its use of colors which are often found in bold paring, geometric patterns, and artful prints. These especially complement the more classic and often modest silhouettes of the designs, making each item feel unique and special but also easy to wear.
Some of the most impressive brands out of Copenhagen aren’t just the ones making statement items, but those making impact outside of design, like Carcel. Its collection of beautiful knits and basics speak to its heritage of “using the best quality materials and producing simple shapes with meticulous focus on perfect finish,” as CEO Veronica D'Souza says. But what truly sets the brand apart is its commitment to hiring and working with incarcerated women across the world, providing them with training, tools, and opportunity to earn a fare wage.
Cecilie Bahnsen’s eponymous line is only a few years old but is already a brand whose pieces can be spotted a mile away: Blame it on the dreamy, floats-away-from-the-body shapes, and childlike playfulness delivered via puffy sleeves and tiered hemlines. Plus, the ubiquity of the dresses at Copenhagen Fashion Week also earned the label plenty of new fans and likely may more to come.
Created by Copenhagen-based Barbara Potts and Cathrine Saks, Saks Potts has become a bit of an It-brand in terms of outwear thanks to its vintage-inspired styles and wildly creative, bold use of colors. Plus, this past Copenhagen Fashion Week, the design duo charmed the crowd even further with its logo-covered pieces, iridescent colors, and statement puffer. And for what it’s worth, North West is a fan.