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Copenhagen Fashion Week FW23 Highlights

In 2020 Copenhagen made headlines by sharing a Sustainability Action Plan that covered 6 key areas from smart material choices to working conditions. This season was the first time that all the requirements were fully implemented. And going forward they’re going to introduce one new standard a year according to CPHFW’s CEO Cecilie Thorsmark. It makes you wonder, if Copenhagen can demand responsibility from the brands featured why not everywhere else? Are other cities afraid of “boring” fashion? If so, they’re not paying attention. Everyone knows that limitations breed creativity. And if you don’t believe me keep scrolling. We’ve picked eight of our favorite shows to highlight. Displayed in show order. Check out the CPHFW website though to see them all.

5 knitwear looks from AERON at Copenhagen Fashion Week FW23

AERON

Founded in Budapest by Eszter Áron, AERON is a brand built for the modern woman. AERON’s Fall/Winter 2023 was inspired by women returning to the office post-pandemic. With a strong base in knitwear, this collection has the rare ability to be both sophisticated and relaxed. The sort of clothes that breed confidence.

While there was some strong tailoring shown in coats, very “of the moment” blazers and shirting, we found ourselves gravitating towards the knitwear. Their mission is to become the responsible industry leader in the new luxury knitwear segment, without compromising on the impeccable quality of their garments. The draped cuts, trumpet sleeves and other small details make these pieces you’ll want to live in while still being appropriate for any occasion –an office meeting, art opening or at home curled up with a book.

The collection shows what the best of sustainability can be: which is something with a sense of timelessness that you’ll want to keep forever. Our rule for new clothes is “is this something we can see ourselves wearing at 80?” This can be a challenge and it’s a credit to Áron that with her entire collection, this seems possible.

Notes on Sustainability
At AERON, acting responsibly is always at our core. Sustainability is deeply ingrained into our company culture, in our daily decisions, processes and practices. Our approach is built on purposeful thinking and interconnectedness of all that exists. Our sustainability strategy is built on best-in-class social and environmental processes and practices, which are continuously developing to meet the needs of our planet and global communities. We aim to shape a new fashion industry through innovation that fast-tracks us from climate awareness to climate beneficial and builds prosperity for all.


5 looks from PLN at Copenhagen Fashion Week FW23

P.L.N.

P.L.N. is “a very personal project based on exploring a raw and uncompromising visual expression.”

A mash up of European punk culture and Goth meets workwear and antique religious attire. With experimental silhouettes and masterful construction, P.L.N. reinterprets how clothes are worn – with an edgy, in-your-face take on gender fluidity. It may be a bit dark but it’s all rather sexy. Using handmade oilskin and distressed canvas with a craftsman attention to details, it’s worth a look.   

Notes on Sustainability
The joy of the garment, and what it can do to the one who wears it, is what drives P.L.N. From day one, P.L.N. has been a brand that is based on sustainable ideas as it also goes hand in hand with its aesthetics and thoughts about the future. Right now the brand only works in “Made to order” method and will continue to work that way as it is good for the environment, but also because P.L.N. loves the craft of sewing clothes.

They continue to dive into the recycling of clothes and people will also see this in the brand’s future collections. P.L.N looks at old clothing materials, silhouettes and uses and utilizes it to advantage.


5 looks from (di)vision at Copenhagen Fashion Week FW23

(DI)VISION

“Making fashion isn’t just about making beautiful clothes, but we also have to have a commercial point of view on it.” Says Simon Wick, one of the founders of (di)vision, a brand that lives up to its mission of “creating from what already is. (di)vision works in multiple forms of sustainable fashion design and production, mainly in reconstructing, upcycling, cut and sew production and creative sourcing.

Playing with (re)imagined classic silhouettes through a multifunctional DIY aesthetic and an anti-fashion grunge ethos, the result is a playfully subversive vision. The latest collection, fittingly titled “Dressed for Disaster” continues where they began –upcycling vintage and other surplus or discarded material. They’ve added knits (punctured sweater vests paired with tattered plaid skirts) to the reconstructed, asymmetrical bombers, over-printed flannels and shredded nightwear. Neo-grunge it might be, but with an edge born of the climate crisis.

Notes on Sustainability
(di)vision has continued to expand and explore new products and production methods – now under the line called (di)construct by (di)vision – including the use of vintage workwear, bandanas, flannel shirts.

Two major milestones have been reached regarding (di)vision ambition towards upcycling: Introduced in their AW22 collection, a scalable cut-and-sew production using vintage t-shirts and introduced in their SS23 collection a denim product line upcycling surplus leg tubes from major fast-fashion brands transforming discarded fabric into new garments.


5 looks from A. Roege Hove at Copenhagen Fashion Week FW23

A. Roege Hove

A. Roege Hove is a conceptual knitwear brand that challenges traditions with a modern and artistic approach to original craftsmanship.The unique designs are created each season by founder Amalie Røge Hove. With a master’s in textile design from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, and years of experience as a knitwear designer for Danish brands such as Cecilie Bahnsen and Mark Tan, she created the brand in 2019 as a way of bringing her own visions of knitwear to life.

Defined by experimentation and working intuitively with traditional knitwear techniques, the pieces push against how the materials should behave. The opening look, underwear and boots, set the stage for how to think about the material encasing the body. Delicate gauze knitwear in certain pieces gave way to heavier ribbed knits –the body and materials converse in an altered language. Layer upon layer, never-ending, revealing a delicacy of form, then concealing, as if inviting us into unexpected dimensions of form and space all girded by exquisite construction.
A. Roege Hove was awarded winner of the Wessel & Vett Fashion Prize 2021 and a finalist of the 2023 Woolmark Prize.

Notes on Sustainability
Drawing on a rich culture of Danish design and craftsmanship, each piece is developed in our studio in Copenhagen and carefully produced by our cooperative knit factories located in Umbria, Italy and Kildare, Ireland, under fair working conditions.

All A. Roege Hove designs are knitted directly into shape, having little waste. It can be difficult not to have any waste in terms of leftover yarn, but each A. Roege Hove piece employs  “no waste” production model. This model has a material waste close to zero by having a +/- 10% tolerance in terms of delivered quantities – a tolerance we are willing to risk to ensure less production waste. We only use multi-certified organic cotton from Emilcotoni and Iafil – certifications.


5 looks from Selam Fessahaye at Copenhagen Fashion Week FW23

Selam Fessahaye

This was one of our favorite shows: Swedish-Eritrean designer Selam Fessahaye brings a more inclusive sensibility to the Nordic catwalk with glitz and glamour galore.

Eye-catching patterns, color blocking, asymmetry, result in a welcome extravagance. The colors alone set a tone of joy. Her background as a costume designer and stylist is evident in work that comes across as a “wearable language”. There’s no wondering why Beyonce´, along with Swedish Crown Princess Victoria, wear her clothes.  Fessahaye says that each piece “has its own identity…complexity which shows many dimensions, (leading) to diverse connections and experiences by viewing and wearing it.” 

Selam’s voice is shaping what is now and what is to come. And it is strong and powerful: “Our countries, our culture and our people suffered the stigma of a horrid and exploitative past for too long so by taking change of our own instruments we create opportunities for Africans to shape the future. Not just within fashion but in all aspects of African relevancy.”

Sustainability Notes
One of three Zalando Sustainability Award finalists at Copenhagen Fashion Week, Selam Fessahaye is developing her own textile made from recycled material which she aims to incorporate in her future collections. In addition almost each piece was crafted from upcycled, remade and leftover materials


5 looks from TG Botanical at Copenhagen Fashion Week FW23

TG Botanical

We spend a lot of time researching, talking about, exploring the intersection of fashion, nature and technology. The very first interview on No Kill with our pals Vin & Omi offered insight into the world of nettles as a sustainable material. This was our own doorway into a world beyond mycelium and bacteria. Every opportunity to feature a designer working in this space was welcome. So it seems fitting that TG Botanical is part of our CFW coverage.

Tatyana Chumak had a thriving fashion business in Kiev with her brand Tago. But during the pandemic, she went back home to the family farm. Inspired by time spent with there, she did a deep dive into ecologically conscious production possibilities.

She researched fabrics made from nettle, hemp and flax. She also experimented with natural dying using acorns, onion husks, tansy flowers and coffee beans.  Tatyana speaks of “live clothing”. Each piece embodies the connection. From the first sprouts appearing in the Ukrainian fields to the finished garment, becoming a way to embrace nature.

The Russian invasion into Ukraine, which has destroyed so many lives and livelihoods, has also gravely impacted the business. The Chumak family farm’s fields were burnt down; the crops that make the fabrics lost. And with a war raging, fashion is not the first thing that she’s thinking about – Other than as a way to flash a bright light on how we need to “cherish what we have” and consciously consume.

Yet, Tatyana Chumak continues to find ways around these horrific times. She believes that “creativity and labor can change the world.” In addition to a conscious approach to production and packaging, the team is comprised of 30 talented women. Their tenacity and dedication are reflected in the brand.

Chumak believes the new collection, “logos” –which means the ground– activates new energies. With seemingly simple construction –an unexpected cut out here, an exaggerated sleeve there– the subtle, earthy palette walking down the runway exudes hope and future possibilities.  


Holzweiler

Holzweiler’s AW 23 collection looked to the oceans. It forges “a sea of patterns and shapes inspired by the Earth’s largest and most mysterious natural habitat”

It’s a tribute to nature and the lifeforms that thrive beneath the surface, even in the harshest environments. The clothes evince the joy of a deep dive where the diverse possibilities of living systems thrive in collaboration. Models walked in and around a set of “coral reefs”, carrying bags that streamed like seaweed. Voluminous puffers seemed as effervescent as seafoam, colorful knits “popped” and tailored suits walked next to slouchy silhouettes.  The collection embodies the playful and contemporary ethos of a serious brand with a huge upside. It reflects the moment we are currently in and offers a clear direction as to how to embrace the future. Reduce, reuse, repair, while producing pieces that can stand the test of time.  

Sustainability Notes


 Iso.Poetism by Tobias Birk Nielsen

Every once in a red moon, you encounter something poetic, something that speaks of substance and fragility. Something that feels damaged but in a way that points towards new understandings. This happened when I went to the website of Iso Poetisism and instead of being met by fashion with a capital F, there was a series of sentences, one after the other

An environment dictated by chaos changes your sensitivity and approach to life
Gradually it affects your mental balance, your capacity to navigate – by slowly making you blind day by day.
For how long can you stay present in a state of no before, no after?
When will your mind and body react?
When will it be too late to separate yourself from the condition?

We design and produce in tribute to our manifesto – a paradigm of ‘bricolage’; using what we have available already, and create impeccable quality garments with the lowest impact possible. We remain open minded, humble and curious, and we welcome the innovation within our industry that allows us to continue to design, manufacture and distribute qualitative artifacts, made to last.

It made me take a closer look at the clothes, which already moved me in their haunted loneliness. Set amidst a wasteland of deadstock, boxes, and newspapers, humans walked about. Their gear a reinterpretation of hoodies, ski masks, puffer vests also made of bricolage  in rusty browns, ashen greys, and burnt camels. According to Birk Neilsen, the creative behind all of this, it’s “an exploration of finding meaning, belief and substance through the knowledge of nature and its power of giving.” The commitment to a sustainable way of living and dressing is supreme. I really recommend traveling about their site. For every seasonal collection, Creative Director Tobias Birk Nielsen masters a delicate balance between visual, sculptural and poetic expression, leaving small messages and captivating statements. With graphical prints, such as ‘ALTRUISM’ (AW21), ‘You are not alone’ (SS21) and ‘We didn’t come this far to only come this far’ (AW20), that serves as a tribute to collectivism and putting the higher purpose ahead of your own needs – the holistic perspective of sustainability and humanity is carefully communicated season after season, leaving the reader empowered to make a difference. “We aim to inspire people around us, to reconsider how they consume and contribute, not only in their personal relations, but as well through their personal expression.”


GANNI

Based in Copenhagen and owned and run by husband-and-wife team Creative Director Ditte Reffstrup and Founder Nicolaj Reffstrup, Ganni has recently spread its wings. A new butterfly logo reflecting the insect’s metamorphosing cycles, Ganni has elevated into a more sophisticated state. While keeping inclusivity at the fore, models moved in and out of focus, wearing slouchy distressed denim to party-ready bodycon dresses. Sequins and knits kept company with snakeskin corsets and embellished cowboy boots. There was a modern hippie vibe, for sure, but a structured tailoring has snuck in. All this is to say that Ganni is taking flight and it’s intoxicating. 

Notes on Sustainability
Ganni is on a journey to become a more responsible version of themselves. They believe it’s a moral obligation to do better every day. In 2020, the brand launched its Responsibility Game Plan, which comprises 44 Goals across People, Planet, Product, and Prosperity to reach by 2023. This helps Ganni in taking a holistic and results-driven approach to responsibility. The brand publishes an annual Responsibility Report to publicly share their progress and put their commitments out there.

For the brand’s newest collection. 92% of the production volume comes from responsible styles, meaning at least 50% of the composition is certified recycled, lower-impact, or organic. Ganni is committed to having 100% responsible styles in the future. Ganni currently has 100% traceability on Stage 1-4 of their supply chain and has published all Stage 1 and 2 suppliers with the Open Apparel Registry to drive transparency.

–KL Dunn + Katya Moorman


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