When Peter Sextus, the CEO of Copenhagen’s Samsøe & Samsøe, bought the label with his business partner, Per Ulrik Andersen, at the turn of the millennium, he knew the brand had potential. Founded by two brothers in the Danish capital’s Latin Quarter in 1993, Samsøe & Samsøe developed a look that was in every way its own, while still being grounded in the simple, sleek, and yet instantly recognizable Scandinavian aesthetic.
Sextus then started the operations in an old industrial building in Nørrebro – the culturally rich and vibrant heart of Copenhagen – where Samsøe & Samsøe continues to this day. The label has since expanded its focus on menswear basics, like Tees and knitwear, expanding their collections to include more indulgent fabrics: materials like silk, suede, cashmere and mohair, which now pepper the men’s and womenswear collections.
However the label stays true to its roots completely, with Nordic references littering their SS16 Locals collection for instance, while their FW16 Everyday Journey, Everyday Uniform embraces the darkening winter skies with classic materials, while lacing it with sportswear influences. We caught up with Sextus to talk Scandinavian design, the journey the brand has been on since he took to the helm, and what we can expect in the future.
First off, explain the ethos behind Samsøe & Samsøe.
Simple, functional and timeless. Our approach is classic Scandinavian design with an honest craftsmanship, alongside high-quality fabrics that generate a quiet sense of luxury.
What has been the journey to reach this point? How have you evolved the brand to become the fashion house it is today?
It has been an incredible journey with a great team who are committed to taking the company even further. We continuously make the brand DNA stronger, as we collect inspiration from iconic architectural shapes, timeless interior design, and modern art. The key is authenticity, together with passionate ideas and hard work.
Explain the design ethos of Samsøe & Samsøe. It seems to stand firmly within Danish and, by extension, Scandinavian design, yet also slightly apart. Would you say you’re keen to present yourself to the world as a proud and profoundly Danish label?
We work with a contemporary design, based on our core values that we share with classic Scandinavian design traditions. It’s sophisticated, yet always wearable. Our ideal is democratic, approachable and graceful, with a simple-living, Copenhagen edge to it.
How would you say the Danish scene differs from fashion/streetwear scenes around the globe?
We are loyal to our customers, sincere and curious. At Samsøe & Samsøe, we aim to work with the most premium qualities such as silk, suede, cashmere and Japanese shirt fabrics to name a few, in addition to always being well-tailored and reasonably priced. Through this way, we satisfy our international and well-informed clientele.
Talk us through your past experiences. How has that informed what you’ve been doing at Samsøe & Samsøe?
At the very start, the brand had eight employees, today we have a workforce of 800 passionate colleagues. We see a steady and continuous growth of Samsøe & Samsøe, as our success continues throughout Europe, Asia, and the U.S.
What led you to purchase the company in 2000? Where had the brand been and where did you want to take it? Have you taken it there?
The strong brand DNA, with roots in the urban neighborhood of Copenhagen – it was clear that the international potential was there. Our atelier and the creative studio is still located in the same beautiful warehouse, in the heart of Copenhagen.
After opening several standalone stores in the main cities of Scandinavia and northern Europe, and numerous shop-in-shops in renowned department stores, we’re excited about our coming flagship openings in prime locations in Paris, London, Berlin, Antwerp and Amsterdam.
What has been Samsøe & Samsøe’s greatest accomplishment? Alternatively, what has been your highest point with the company?
We have taken many steps over time so that we “grow slow fast.” We’re proud to work as a democratic brand – our values are appreciated as we exude openness and equality. We work creatively and dynamically, and depend on the people who work with us to uphold the trademark.
Who is the Samsøe & Samsøe customer?
An urban and skillful creative, with an eye for timeless, quality classics. A person who appreciates and wants the ability to reflect their personality, their uniqueness, as well as a modern way of living – just like us.
Tell us a little about the latest collection. What’s the story this time around?
Samsøe & Samsøe’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection is inspired by the uncomplicated beauty and aesthetics of classic Danish design. The collection is driven by utilitarian needs yet it remains elegant: a casual and uncomplicated look for both day and night, work and play – because this is how we live as locals.
What was the biggest challenge to produce?
We have a passion for working with premium qualities, and are proud of our locally produced styles such as our wool felt hats, that are handcrafted by Copenhagen hat maker Andersen & Berner. The hat speaks of proud family traditions and craftsmanship, which is very much in line with our own values.