Setting our sights to Northern Europe, we take a look at the 20 Danish brands every Highsnob reader should know.
In more ways than one, Denmark is a bastion of well-designed products. For such a compact Nordic country, Denmark has birthed an unprecedented number of design successes, not limited to the fields of furniture and architecture, while the scope of Danish fashion has also come crisply into focus in recent years. However, the region’s famously minimalist and tasteful approach to menswear is no secret these days and brands like Norse Projects and Soulland are widely fetishized. In our continuing efforts to divulge the best names in fashion from all corners of the globe, we take a look at 20 Danish brands every Highsnob reader should know.
For more recommended reading, check out 20 Canadian Brands Every Highsnob Reader Should Know.
Designer Karl-Oskar Olsen has been at the helm of Wood Wood since day one, and few would debate the brand’s stature as synonymous with Danish streetwear. Wood Wood’s design philosophy is remarkably flexible from season to season, marrying a fresh set of inspirational cues with each new collection. Recently, Wood Wood unexpectedly partnered with Disney to great effect, delivering a series of illustrated pieces that drew from the 1920s and ’30s era of the American animation company. The lifestyle brand currently enjoys flagship spaces in Berlin, Moscow and Copenhagen.
Shop Wood Wood.
The Armoire d’Homme manifesto is relatively clear cut. Quintessentially minimalist, the brand twists timeless designs into garments that fit seamlessly into the current menswear landscape. Armoire d’Homme is respecting the classics and in doing so, elevating them into the definition of classic elegance. All the while, the brand pays heed to sustainable practices, viewing ecologically friendly customs an attitude that underscores all design.
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Currently one of the best examples of high fashion colliding and even embracing with street culture, Astrid Andersen’s poignant creations certainly merit the fascination they have drawn thus far. The Danish designer excels at recognizing boundaries and subsequently smashing them to bits by challenging accepted notions on masculinity, branding and proportions. Recently Andersen’s creations for Fall/Winter 2015 were unveiled on a runway in London for London Collections: Men.
Shop Astrid Andersen.
In recent seasons, streetwear label Rascals has surfaced through its signature ’90s sportswear aesthetic. Rascal’s tastefully nostalgic designs benefit from consistently well-appointed visual communication each season, turning to film photography to fully reinforce the palpable pre-millenium ambiance. Obscure references also work their way into each collection, with Fall/Winter 2014 containing nods to Jamirquai lead singer Jay Kay. Rascals is certainly a newcomer to the Danish roster, but one that has already shown great promise.
Danish functional minimalists Norse Projects are a hallmark of the notedly stylish Nordic country. One of the first within the menswear sphere to appropriate military-style branding, the Copenhagen-based label possesses an acute sense for gear that is “good for all seasons.” By re-tooling cues from architecture, design and outerwear, Norse Projects continues to establish itself as a first-mover, setting trends both regionally and on a global scale. Norse isn’t making an overt effort to lead but people are still following.
Shop Norse Projects.
Asger Juel Larsen
Sometimes fashion needs to be forcibly extracted from its comfort zone. Asger Juel Larsen’s dystopian, experimentally charged creations draw upon music, performance and propaganda to create a decidedly modern and unabashed breed of tailoring. The brand also comprises a diffusion line titled A.J.L Madhouse that operates outside the confines of seasonal releases, delivering gender neutral apparel.
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Favored for decades by Danish fishermen toiling in the frigid Baltic, the Elka clientele shifted drastically when Norse Projects first collaborated with the brand in 2009. Since then, the Elka Regntøj brand has been radically repositioned towards menswear and streetwear, while receiving praise for its ultra-waterproof PVC construction, and the subsequent utility-based benefits. Frankly, very few products marketed as rainwear can compete with the raw function that Elka effortlessly delivers.
Shop Elka Regntøj.
Soulland began with hand-printed T-shirts back in 2002, and founder Silas Adler has since lofted the name into full-sized menswear imprint. The apparel offers a distinctly minimalist European look mixed with playful graphics, which have debuted at fashion weeks around Europe, including London, Paris and, of course, Copenhagen. Soulland continues to prosper in the European market and by ushering in a new capsule collection, Adler recently added Parisian boutique colette to the growing list of collaborative partners.
Formally trained at famed London design school Central Saint Martins, Henrik Vibskov is one of only a handful of Danish designers associated with runway fashion. His avant-garde and forward-thinking expressions in the fields of clothing, as well as furniture, art and music, have drawn considerable praise from around the world. Vibskov is commonly associated with the “New Nordic Movement” of young creatives.
Shop Henrik Vibskov.
ALIS is a pillar in the Copenhagen skateboarding community. Started in 1996, skateboarding is the main ideological discourse of the brand, although it is linked to other Danish subcultures in a broader sense. Closely tied with the notorious free state of Christiania, ALIS offers its own variation of the box logo T-shirt, which is widely popular amongst Danish skaters. Whether walking or kick-pushing through the streets of Copenhagen, you’re bound to spot a group of locals ‘repping ALIS.
Established in 2009, Libertine Libertine straddles the fence between skate culture, streetwear and conventional menswear; best described as an existentialist fashion entity at its core. As both seasonal collections and the label’s fan base have grown steadily since its humble beginnings, Libertine Libertine can certainly be counted amongst Copenhagen’s most visible apparel companies. What once consisted solely of a handful of shirts, now is complimented by a full women’s line in addition to their popular men’s line. The brand’s catalog contains confident and effortless designs that simultaneously represent Scandinavian sensibilities as well as a flair for the new and funky.
Shop Libertine Libertine.
Known for its eyewear offerings in the early days, Han Kjøbenhavn quickly expanded to encompass a full line of men’s ready-to-wear. The clothing retains a penchant for adventurous design, without abandoning the brand’s keen sense of timelessness. Crafted for the Danish gentleman, the brand’s laurels are fundamentally tied with Danish design principles, down to the silhouettes and materials of each collection. December 2014 brought fans an off-beat but arresting three-minute short film, narrating the story of an underdog.
Shop Han Kjøbenhavn.
Mismo specializes in beautifully pared-down accessories and leather goods that embrace Dieter Rams’ truism “Form follows function.” The Nordic atelier has certainly found its center by adhering to purist principles and remaining passionate about design. Driven by pragmatism, Mismo looks to equip modern wayfarers with the ultimate travel companion in luggage form.
Menswear label Avec Index is certainly a rising entity in the Copenhagen scene. The emergent brand embodies Scandinavian minimalism, adding a discernibly contemporary awareness to the clothing itself. Borrowing signifiers from Japanese streetwear, Avec Index also reflects elements of Copenhagen graffiti culture, resulting in a superb crossover that is smartly executed. Browse the Fall/Winter 2015 “Paradigme” collection.
Shop Avec Index.
Designer Mads Nørgaard founded his eponymous clothing brand in 1986 and today the imprint operates a number of brick & mortar locations in Denmark, proffering both men’s and women’s ready-to-wear. A ubiquitous style choice for Danes, Mads Nørgaard isn’t entirely a fast fashion enterprise, but certainly bears some similarities to its big box counterparts like H&M or Uniqlo. After 29 years, the franchise of boutiques is still sticking to its guns, under the motto “What you wear should support your ways and beliefs.”
Shop Mads Nørgaard.
Casual menswear label Brand8 is quite characteristic of Danish labels in general and we’re not complaining. The focal points of the brand are quality, functionality and simplicity, while each collection unites a minimal yet utilitarian-inspired look framed by clean silhouettes. Headed up by Danish Design School alumnus Kristina Søndergaard, Brand8 excels in mixing sporty accents with classic menswear styles.
The ascent of Danish company RAINS to the top of the rainwear market has been relatively swift. Given Denmark’s maritime climate and purported 121 days of rainfall per year, it’s not a shock to see this brand emerge from Scandinavia. Merging fashionable cuts and silhouettes with technically-savvy materials, RAINS initially broke into the market with simplistic and basic rain jackets, but recently the brand began diversifying into the areas of waterproof pants and accessories. Check out the Spring/Summer 2015 collection.
Samsøe & Samsøe
In 1993, brothers Klaus and Preben Samsøe opened a jewelry store in downtown Copenhagen. It wasn’t long before the siblings began making basic T-shirts, which are now seen as a trademark article of the Samsøe & Samsøe brand. Chief designer for the men’s line Gitte Wetter Olufsen describes the brand’s early creations as “stylish and democratic.” Recently, a nicely balanced catalog of essential and trend-inspired design have allowed the brand to be heard within the international scene.
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Before embarking on Won Hundred, designer Nikolaj Nielsen was an industry veteran with a considerable background in denim. 2004 heralded the beginning of the brand and Won Hundred was established with the ambition of challenging the way fashion was grasped in Denmark. Never shying from the opportunity to take risks, Nielsen and the team at Won Hundred draw upon music, cinema and art to serve as a foundation for the goal of defining modern style.
Shop Won Hundred.
After graduating from Central Saint Martins, Malte Flagstad first cut his nails at Maison Margiela before spearheading Tonsure. Slowly but surely etching his name into the fashion sphere, Flagstad is not fixated on a certain aesthetic, rather he prefers to organically grow the brand from one collection to the next. Tonsure’s catalog remains largely wearable, yet the apparel – and of course the seasonal lookbooks – are far from boring. For Fall/Winter 2015, the label enlisted the help of German toy manufacturer Steiff in creating several teddy bear-inspired pieces and then capped the images off with oversized ursus heads.
Once you’ve read through the above, check out our overview of Canadian brands.
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