Copenhagen extends reach of its fashion events
On 2nd February, the Fashion Week in Copenhagen, Denmark, was brought to a close, the trade events shutting up shop after the last catwalk shows the previous evening. This edition set out to establish the Danish capital as an international fashion city, and featured a mix of presentations by Scandinavian labels, closely followed by the local influencers and media, and two well-established trade shows, whose appeal already extends outside Scandinavia.
Copenhagen's main asset is its user-friendly size, and the warmth of the local fashion community, enough to create strong connections between the week's various events. The designers' Fashion Week is not an afterthought of the event, rather, it is strongly linked with the trade shows. Some of the catwalk shows are actually staged at CIFF, while designers who show elsewhere also present their collections at the shows, tapping the commercial tools they have at their disposal. The Fashion Week itself attracts a degree of international media presence, but it is chiefly a magnet for Danish and Scandinavian influencers.
With thirty or so catwalk shows and presentations, and besides labels like By Malene Birger, the Copenhagen Fashion Week's main current focus is to help new talents emerge. Some of them are already available internationally, though still Copenhagen-based, like Astrid Andersen, which showed its womenswear collection in a hotel lobby on 1st February. While last January in Paris Astrid Andersen showed its menswear and womenswear by appointment, in Copenhagen its full focus was the women's Autumn/Winter 2018 collection. Andersen riffed on a luxury street style with increasingly sophisticated fabrics and explosive combinations, the stuff of adventurous fashionistas.
On a wholly different, but equally remarkable register, was the previous day's show by Cécilie Bahnsen, who founded her own label in 2015. It was infused with a breezy, romantic mood, showcasing puffy yet lightweight looks and a soft palette featuring pale pink, khaki, white and black. Softness was the byword for the fabrics too, from cocooning knitwear to velvet to airy quilted materials, at once tender and high-tech.
Astrid Andersen and Cécilie Bahnsen, and a handful of others, like men's label Uniforms for the Dedicated, stood out as Denmark’s already established names, while for the majority of the other brands on show, Copenhagen was a springboard. For fashion academy students too, such as those mentored by Kopenhagen Fur. The fur skin auction company organised a student competition with 23 finalists, the theme being a new approach to fur, and crowned as winner Shangquian Xu, from China, a student at Westminster. The Danish fashion world is clearly keen on attracting new talent, and also on extending beyond its borders via new ambassadors, whether through its expertise in fur or simply its creativity.
The other strong suit Copenhagen is able to play fashion-wise is that of the trade shows, with Revolver and CIFF. The Danish capital can be proud of its business buzz, and now plays a role of some importance on the European trade show scene. Attendance at both events was notable, with visitors coming from Denmark of course, Sweden, Norway and Finland, but also buyers from the UK, Belgium, Russia and even Switzerland made the trip, not to mention some from the main French department store groups.
The shows' friendly atmosphere was conducive to making new contacts. There were more of those than actually orders, said some exhibitors, who were nevertheless satisfied with the results, and observed how the shows are "extending their reach" and are having an undeniable impact in terms of visibility.
Both Revolver and CIFF have become fixture events, the former with an upmarket brand landscape and the latter more of a melting pot, featuring core labels for local buyers, denim brands, formal menswear specialists, footwear brands, directional streetwear labels and the kind of aspirational womenswear labels which Denmark exports Europe-wide. Building on this success, CIFF wants to export its model and is getting ready to land in Paris next June, while Revolver has already made a move on Milan by joining the White show.
The news raised questions among some of the Copenhagen exhibitors. "Why venture out to Paris when business is so good here? Here is where they should be," said a manager for one of the exhibitors. But it is clearly a question of extending the shows' international reach, notably for the summer session. The shows’ recently held winter edition is undeniably well-positioned and popular, but the mid-August one is struggling to make an impact internationally. Hence the willingness to perhaps travel out to meet those who aren't yet ready to make a trip to Copenhagen.
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