Danish fashion brand Ganni has gone from strength to strength under wife-and-husband team Ditte and Nicolaj Reffstrup: theirs is one of the most anticipated shows at Copenhagen Fashion Week every season. Culture Trip speaks to the duo about how Copenhagen influences their designs – and gets their tips for where to go in the city.
Danish label Ganni has quickly become a cult fashion brand, thanks to its playful, contemporary designs. Ditte Reffstrup, Ganni’s creative director, explains that it’s all about creating clothes that make women feel comfortable in their own skin. Thankfully, Copenhagen, where the brand is headquartered, offers plenty of inspiration. “We bike everywhere and mix feminine designs with layers and sneakers, because we need to be practical and easy. I think that way of living shines through in our designs,” she says. Her own life in the city also helps her work out new ideas for the brand: “I always get inspired on my bike ride to work or by a song I hear on the radio. My main guilty pleasure is people-watching everywhere I go.”
While Ditte looks after the creative side, founder Nicolaj Reffstrup concentrates on realising their vision of creating a Copenhagen brand with a global outlook. “In the beginning we were all about establishing the brand. Now we are focussing all resources on creating a sense of purpose for those working with us and to behave responsibly,” he explains.
This is apparent in the role sustainability plays in Ganni’s business strategy: the brand tracks its carbon emissions in an effort to reduce them, for example. “We work in an industry that is the second most polluting to the planet,” he says. “Being more responsible and more aware of our impact on the planet is partly embedded in us as Danes and reflected in the society we’ve built. We’re convinced this will become a prerequisite for running a fashion brand.”
It’s a view that epitomises Copenhagen, which is aiming to become the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025. Denmark, with its focus on sustainable living, is a perennial on the list of the world’s happiest countries, and Ditte believes that’s down to the lifestyle, which is getting more attention. “I think in the past 10 years there has been an explosion of Copenhagen talent, which has meant we’re getting more airtime on the global fashion, architecture and food scene,” she says. “In that sense Copenhagen is undoubtedly happening; however, sometimes we also just succeed in staying true to ourselves, staying grounded and balanced.”
When they’re not working or travelling – Ganni now has 22 branches in Scandinavia and opened its first UK store in 2019 – Ditte and Nicolaj enjoy doing “fairly mundane stuff” in Copenhagen, a city as convenient as it is eco-conscious. “There’s just great food everywhere at reasonable prices,” Nicolaj says. “Although we live in the city centre we can be on a boat with friends in literally five minutes. You can swim in the harbour from numerous city beaches.” Ditte adds that the couple also often have friends over, and take advantage of the city’s many green areas. “I love going to the royal horse stables with the kids. It’s so majestic and fairytale-like.”
Her love for Copenhagen and its style comes through strongly in Ditte’s designs, and as the brand continues to grow, customers all over the world will get the chance to buy into that eclectic Copenhagen spirit. “Even though the core of everything we do is inspired by the Copenhagen way, we are constantly evolving how we mirror and reflect the diversity of our global movement of Ganni girls. That’s what’s so special about the Ganni girl. She could be anyone. It’s more a mindset than a sense of style,” Ditte says.
Ganni’s Guide to Fashion and Culture in Copenhagen
“Might be the most magical place in the city. It’s 175 years old but still enchanting. As soon as I’m inside the gates, it’s as if I’ve stepped into another world. The lights, the rides and the music make me feel instantly like a child again.”
“I am always struck by the beauty of the sculptures of angels inside the Thorvaldsens Museum. They have something unexplainable about them, something you can only sense but maybe not put into words.”
“CPH’s best collection of luxury fashion with an interesting mix of art, beauty, jewellery and carefully curated vintage clothing as well as shoes and accessories.”
“One-of-a-kind interior and lifestyle shop in a former apartment located at Christianshavn. Amazingly atmospheric and captivating. We want to move in.”
“Run by former supermodel Caroline Bille Brahe, the wife of chef Frederik Bille Brahe. She has amazing taste and has spent hundreds of hours finding you the best vintage treasures.”
Ganni’s Guide to Food and Drink in Copenhagen
“The newest restaurant by Frederik Bille Brahe. Housed in one of [the city’s] most legendary landmarks, the [Lake] Pavilion building. Go for oysters and pasta alla vodka and then wander inside to dance at the club @Soepavillonen surrounded by lake views.”
Rosforth & Rosforth
“This is a natural-wine pioneer [run by the former wine director at Noma]. It’s pretty magical, and the wine is superb.”
“Experimental distillery from Noma chef alumni who create botanical spirits from seasonal flavours that will blow your mind and palate.”
“Small café on Refshaleøen, which is the most happening area of Copenhagen at the moment. You see start-ups and new spots popping up everywhere. It’s a great location to drink beers in the sun or enjoy simple dishes served inside while overlooking Copenhagen from the seaside.”
This story appears in Issue 4 of Culture Trip magazine: Art in the City.
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