Copenhagen Fashion Week leans on sustainability and TikTokers for revival

Copenhagen Fashion Week opened the same day as “freedom day” in Denmark, when the Danish government lifted all Covid restrictions. Backed with a return to physical shows, its continued sustainability focus and local TikTokers front-row, the revival was on.

“There was so much to celebrate this season,” says Copenhagen Fashion Week (CPHFW) CEO Cecilie Thorsmark. “From our partnership with Swedish Fashion Council to nurture and promote all the talent from our region to our Zalando Sustainability Award once more reminding us how important it is to uplift designers that are exploring fashion with a future-mindset.”

Featuring 21 live showcases, two digital screening events and seven digital premieres, Copenhagen designers favoured a physical schedule this season, with strong digital communications strategies to keep a connection with audiences at home. This is up on 2020, but still slightly down on pre-pandemic, the organisers say.

Its firm focus on sustainability and often minimalist, easy to wear clothes continued, but this year TikTok was a new addition to the multi-channel mix. After partnering with YouTube for Spring/Summer 2022 and getting 3.4 million impressions, CPFW this season added TikTok, with leading Nordic TikTok creators Richard Ntege (@monsiuerrichy), Julia Dang (@dang.julia), André Ward (@andreward) and Astrid Olsen (@astridaeroe) tapped to “host” the fashion week on their accounts. Posting reviews, outfit reveals and front row perspectives, the TikTok talents pulled in a young audience, including those who wouldn’t typically engage with fashion week content online, says Swedish digital creator Julia Dang.

“Copenhagen Fashion Week is very wearable ready-to-wear. I think it’s more approachable for my young audience,” she says. Dang was originally going to stream content on YouTube around CPHFW but she’s prioritising TikTok right now, so this new partnership made sense.

“Instagram still acts as a key visual medium for live updates from behind-the-scenes to live from the front row, while street style photography still reigns as a vital communication tool to publications on a global scale,” says Thorsten. The global scale is crucial for brands in Copenhagen to win international wholesale accounts.

For emerging players and burgeoning brands aiming for global success, a show is still crucial for brand building, says designer Stine Goya’s partner and brand CEO Thomas Hertz.

Tipped as the next big Scandi success story, Stine Goya plans to open a London bureau and store this year, based on “huge” success in the UK. The brand declined to share sales but it grew 30 per cent in 2021, reaching 500 stores. “If you want to show people internationally and say “hey! something is happening over here!”, you need a strong platform,” he adds. “A show is the best way to achieve international growth.”

The absence of big names like Ganni has helped “make space” for emerging names, such as A Roege Hove and Jade Cropper, to shine, says Browns buying director Ida Petersson, who buys a host of Scandi brands for the luxury retailer. “It’s also great to see more menswear the last two seasons in Copenhagen, I’m looking forward to the growth of the Nordic menswear industry,” she says.

This season had more international guests than the last, a reason to be jubilant. However, the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair (CIFF), the biggest trade show in northern Europe that ran in parallel, is taking time to return to normal. “Pre-pandemic, CIFF had 15,000 buyers and guests from around the world attending,” says CIFF’s new CEO Christina Neurstrup. “Now, we’re at about 50 or 60 per cent of that.” CIFF functions as a showroom for local talent and helps local brands, such as Iso Poetism, sell collections internationally.

Leading brands sidestep CPHFW

Some brands might not need the exposure of a show this season. Leading Scandi brand Ganni, a top contender in the Vogue Business Watchlist of growing brands, hit €60 million revenue in 2020. For this season, the brand decided to show a digital music concert with artist Jada for AW22 and host an intimate dinner for select buyers and press at the founders’ home.

“We have an optimistic but realistic outlook on the future and we know that our current situation calls for a complete rethinking of old structures to create more sustainable solutions,” says creative director Ditte Reffstrup. “At Ganni we are working hard to be the most responsible version of ourselves and see it as our duty to help push the industry in the right direction.” Cecilie Bahnsen, another market leader, will show in Paris in March instead.

The 21 physical showcases took a lead on how to put on a sustainable show: no paper invites or extravagant set-builds that aren’t reusable, relying instead on music and venues to create buzz. Take Wood Wood, who featured live DJs in a cavernous circular room; Soulland, who had a live soul band in a train repair warehouse; and (Di)vision, who showed in the Tycho Brahe planetarium with a techno soundtrack.

Danish streetwear label Iso Poetism showed in Copenhagen for the first time, following shows in Latvia and Berlin, to try and win northern European stockists. “Our brand has been built largely on international markets, with more than 50 per cent of our sales in Asia, and 30 per cent in south of Europe,” he says. “These markets are stable now, and we are ready to engage with new markets, including Scandinavia.” The brand hit €500,000 in revenue in 2021.

Few brands have dipped their toe into technological innovations like the metaverse. A rare example: (Di)vision released an NFT of an alien named Ozzy, in collaboration with Brand New Vision and Adidas. The NFT was available to purchase with cryptocurrency directly or by emailing the brand, with new elements being released when the AW22 collection drops in stores.

Other brands are still mulling it over. “Maybe [the metaverse] is something to consider for the future, it’s going to come around sooner than we think,” said Stine Goya’s Hertz, turning to his colleague, “Let’s put in a meeting to talk about it.”

Source: Vogue Business