In modeling and casting: a rise of ’real’ models has been witnessed. Gucci’s latest beauty campaign — featuring models cast for their imperfect teeth. An aim to not only diversify, but authenticate beauty standards as plastic procedures becomes the norm; ’Today everybody is inventing their lives; it’s all embellishment and upgrading. No one tells the truth, I think that’s why we long for authenticity’ — declared Miuccia Prada to Vestoj. Since launching as a sunglass label in 2008, HAN Kjøbenhavn has become a protruding member of the Danish fashion industry, offering an alternative image of Denmark that clashes with the idealized perception of the nation.
Today, the brand consists of a full apparel collection, two flagship stores and a recent debut at Paris Men’s fashion week, but it’s the brand’s character-driven storytelling — envisioned by the Creative Director and founder Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen — that has granted the brand its authentic image. A narrative rooted in equal parts Danish design and suburban culture is delivered through all aspects of the business, starting with the collections.
The collection for the upcoming Autumn, Fairytale Denmark, doubles as a synthesized description of the brand: an alternative image of Denmark where idyllic towns are swapped for concrete blocks and stories revolve around the working class. A sweatshirt with ’Greetings Denmark’ written across it acts an indirect comment on the grittier side of the country. Advertiser by background. Davidsen solidifies his narrative through fashion film. The aim: to connect with the audience on a deeper level.
The brand’s fashion film was awarded Bronze Lion at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. It centered around a group of middle-aged men engaging in festive activities with two teenage girls. The visuals remain innocent but cryptic sound effects and scenarios filled with double-entendres suggest otherwise. To add to the intricacy, Davidsen chooses his models based on their previously lived experiences. Some models are found on the streets (one was homeless) others, online.
’We use people with no history or even interest in fashion. We need people to come into our world being comfortable, being themselves, and not trying to do stuff for personal gain to make the project work’ declared Davidsen in an interview with Hypebeast. When it comes to diversity, fashion usually focuses on what meets the eye but HAN Kjøbenhavn deepens the discourse, feeding the models’ background into the narrative. The most notable model — 59-year old Steen — has been fronting the brand’s campaigns since the beginning and continues to be the face of its projects.
The online store doubles as an additional outlet for storytelling. Connections and distinctions between the natural world and the digital realm were explored in the brand’s current collection with floral artworks and computer generated images being printed on natural fabrics. Davidsen decided to shoot the collection as an nostalgic homage to the birth of the digital era, ’when kids became spellbound by electronics’. The final result: an interactive channel allowing visitors to flick through models as if they were characters from old-school console games.
In 2013, HAN Kjøbenhavn created a three-piece capsule collection with American textile manufacturer Pendleton Mill. The collection, titled Seawolf, was followed by a second edition in 2016 featuring pieces from the brand’s archives: an anorak, a pant, and a bomber jacket. Since then, the brand has designed a bottle for Carlsberg brewery, interpreted the Grand Prix chair by Arne Jacobsen (both Danish brands) and launched a long-lasting partnership with Puma. The ongoing collaboration fuses elements from both of the brands’ archives: classic Puma silhouettes, told through Davidsen’s storytelling, colors and prints. The latest edition — launched in April — takes inspiration from ’crafted retro’ and features 18 apparel and footwear pieces, including a new take on the Cell Venom sneaker — crafted in materials that represent the visual experience of Copenhagen’s suburbs.
Davidsen’s Copenhagen is based on his own experiences growing up on the outskirts of the city — the antithesis of the cultural phenomenon ‘hygge’. But it offers more than just suburban culture — the flagship store positions the brand as a standout in contemporary design. The foundation: white walls and teal flooring. Empty it, and the store would look like a mid-century factory. But when filled —with elements of oak, marble and Arne Jacobsen — it illustrates the definition of danish design heritage and high-brow taste.
Davidsen’s representation of Denmark signals an antifashion approach: refusing fashion frivolity in favor of timeless and functional designs. The shape of antifashion evolves in accordance with what is considered authentic, past examples include normcore. The normcore movement grew as a resistance towards the glitz of fashion and being ‘on-trend’. Fashion insiders and journalists adapted the concept by wearing khakis and plain t-shirts as a way to distance themselves from their work and validate their credibility.
However, the antifashion of the moment is not only about questioning the overdose of frivolity or spectacle of fashion, but also social norms. HAN Kjøbenhavn utilizes its creative outlets as tools for widespread expression, taking individual elements of Danish identity to form new. It is considered authentic because it blurs divisions, defies social classes and uses its outlets to create a bigger picture of Danish culture and the state of fashion.
Vognmagergade 7, 1120 Copenhagen, Denmark