How Ganni’s Ditte Reffstrup Helped Put Copenhagen On the Fashion Map

Life lessons from the brand’s founder.

By: Stephanie Mark
Photography: Oscar Meyer

A few months back, I had the pleasure of attending Copenhagen Fashion Week as a guest of cult brand Ganni. In addition to falling completely in love with the city, I also fell in love with Ganni’s founder, Ditte Reffstrup. Below are her rules for thinking globally and starting a business.

 

Rule #1—Always believe in yourself

In other words, trust your gut. In talking to Ditte, the main lesson was that she listened to what her instincts were telling her—that there wasn’t a brand that was giving people in other markets the Scandanavian style that she and all her friends wore. She hustled and launched a full collection. As time went on, she began to throw away traditional rules of how collections were created in favor of what she felt was right. “So when I started to really say, ‘We don’t use the trend books, let’s not hear about what’s current and fresh. We should just do what feels right. If we want to do yellow two seasons, then we just do yellow two seasons.’ It doesn’t matter. I think no matter what you do, if it’s music, clothes, whatever kind of business, if you believe enough in yourself, and work hard and be nice to people, then you will manage.”

 

Rule #2—Inspiration can come from anywhere

Reffstrup grew up in a tiny fishing village in Copenhagen, and her inspiration ranges from that small town to her friends in Copenhagen to the streets of New York and literally everywhere in between. For her global Citizen collection, she took the notion of combining all sorts of cultures and ways of dressing to create a collection, instead of just focusing on one place that inspired her. “What I really love about Global Citizen is we thought, ‘Oh, maybe we should go an Asian way and use all those beautiful kimono prints. Or maybe we should go the more Russian way where there’s this fashion, [this] very sporty, underground thing going on.’ And then I was like, ‘Why don’t we take all the good stuff from all over the world and mix it all together in a very colorful splash?’”

 

 

Rule #3—Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate

A growing part of Ganni’s DNA is collaborating with other creatives to extend their vision and draw unexpected results. As Reffstrup puts it, “I always work with contrast. That’s the whole idea behind Ganni. I love that you can mix a nice dress with a pair of sneakers or you can mix and match and prints and stuff like that.” For their show, the brand collaborated with artist Ana Kraš for set design and sculptor Jessica Hans. The real standout collaboration was with Bengt Thornefors and Christoffer Svensson of Swedish bed linen brand Magniberg. The duo both have fashion-design backgrounds (think Givenchy and Saint Laurent) and worked with Reffstrup to create the ultimate pair of raver jeans. Instagram basically broke as they walked down the runway.

Having the opportunity to spend the morning with Ditte and her team was nothing short of inspiring. From a woman who grew up in a small fishing village, she has managed to stay true to her roots while taking the fashion world by storm and allowing us to each have a little piece of that inimitable Copenhagen street style in our own closets.

 

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