Designer Profile

3 Rising Brands Set To Shake Up Copenhagen Fashion Week

Courtesy of Nicklas Skovgaard

There’s been no shortage of Scandinavian brands making it global in recent years, from Ganni to Cecilie Bahnsen to Totême. Happily, there’s a whole host of up-and-coming talent from the Nordics on the way up, from A Røge Hove, winner of the International Woolmark Company’s Karl Lagerfeld Prize for Innovation, to Jade Cropper, which has been spotted on the likes of Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Kim Kardashian.

At Copenhagen Fashion Week, there has been a renewed focus on supporting rising designers in recent seasons, thanks to its NewTalent initiative that was launched last year. Below, see three new names on the spring/summer 2024 schedule to look out for this season.

One of Nicklas Skovgaard’s designs. Courtesy of Nicklas Skovgaard

Nicklas Skovgaard

Since posting his first designs to Instagram in 2020, Nicklas Skovgaard has quickly gained a loyal fashion following for his one-of-a-kind creations that blend handwoven textiles with thrifted fabrics. The former interiors stylist is one of the designers selected as part of Copenhagen Fashion Week’s NewTalent initiative this season.

How did your brand first come about?

I would say it was quite an unorthodox start. It all started out during a summer holiday where I bought a small loom in a thrift store for me to practice weaving on. At this time, I’d never tried weaving before and did not at all intend to start a fashion brand. Quite quickly I realized I was actually able to craft my own fabrics that I could use for making coats, jackets and hats. As time went by, and as I refined the garments and the fabrics by working with them, I decided to turn these fabrics into a first collection.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I like to describe my aesthetic as awkward-sophisticated. I think my collections, the garments and also my imagery hold a certain duality in them. An example of this could be a big puffy evening gown-like dress that is made from a basic grey melange stretch-jersey fabric. I like working with contrast!

How are you feeling ahead of your debut show?

I’m feeling really proud and super excited to be doing my first show here in Copenhagen, which is the place the brand grew from and where I live and feel at home. My dream is that when people leave the show they will feel enriched with a beautiful experience.

Paolina Russo

Co-founded by Central Saint Martins alumni Paolina Russo and Lucile Guilmard in 2021, Paolina Russo has had quite the year. First, the London-based brand was selected as an International Woolmark Prize finalist, before being shortlisted for the LVMH Prize. Now, the label—which has quickly become known for its colorful, sports-infused knitwear—has won the newly created Zalando Visionary Award at Copenhagen Fashion Week.

Paolina Russo autumn/winter 2023.

How would you describe your brand ethos?

Paolina Russo merges futurism and nostalgia through community-driven craft and innovation.

What was the inspiration behind your spring/summer 2024 show?

Like always, the collections we create are a nod to our escapist teenage daydreams. This time around, we’re pairing the athletic aesthetic that is intrinsic to Paolina Russo with the folkloric fantasies and mystique of stone circles. Think of carved rainbow floors, pastel-chalk frescoes, echoes of prehistoric cave etchings, ancient stone circles and futuristic Earthship structures, all to [the soundtrack of] angsty bedroom punk and the blares of car horns. The collection will be a bold clash of earthy hues and Crayola classics, marrying the themes of mysticism and futurism.

How do you incorporate sustainable practices into your designs?

We aim to push and rethink what sustainability is for a contemporary fashion brand. For us, it’s about involving our manufacturers in the design process to constantly improve our ways of making. When it comes to reducing the environmental footprint, we use dead stock materials and low water-intensity fabrics and production processes; prioritize transparency and traceability of raw materials; and partner only with certified manufacturers. We really care about the post-consumer journey of our products, so we develop many of our pieces using single natural fibers [that are] biodegradable. It’s not just about making beautiful clothes, but about shaping a future where fashion and environmental responsibility can coexist seamlessly.

Rolf Ekroth

Finnish designer Rolf Ekroth founded his brand in 2016, after graduating from Aalto University and winning the prestigious Designer’s Nest competition. Since then, the former pro poker player has become known for his upcycled designs— including, memorably, a jacket made from friendship bracelets—that are imbued with reflections on the past.

Rolf Ekroth spring/summer 2024. Otto Virtanen

What’s your brand aesthetic?

A mixture of sports, the ’90s and high-end streetwear. We have been working a lot with old crafting traditions lately, trying to reimagine them into something new, but never letting go of the nostalgia.

How do you approach sustainability when designing?

Our last two seasons have been 80 per cent recycled or dead stock materials. We didn’t quite get to that level this season—I think the final number is somewhere around 65 to 70 per cent—but for a smaller brand with limited funds I think it’s good. My basic plan of action is always to choose the most ethical materials and produce as locally as possible, which is in our case Estonia and Lithuania.

What does it feel like to be part of Copenhagen Fashion Week’s NewTalent programme?

It means the world to me at this point with the brand. It’s an opportunity that I will definitely make the most of.

This article was originally published on British Vogue.

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