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Innovative Fashion, Smørrebrød, & Cold Plunges

Inside Copenhagen Fashion Week with a creative director and a sustainability expert.

Fashion Week
Innovative Fashion, Smørrebrød, & Cold Plunges
Courtesy of Clémence Polès and Erin Allweiss

In stark contrast to the energy surrounding the excess of most fashion weeks, Copenhagen has its priorities ordered differently. They’ve imposed strict sustainability requirements on each brand that participates; it colors the entire thing a little differently. Last Monday, Erin Allweiss, co-founder of impact-oriented The No. 29 Communications, jetted in from New York, and friend Clémence Polès, photographer, creative director, and founder of passerby magazine, zipped in from Paris. Their goal? To assess the market and creatives participating in the stylish charade. Between Polès, there to assess the lay of the Danish fashion landscape, and Allweiss, an expert in all things sustainability, they gleaned all the interesting information from the shows and brand meetings—in addition to their expansive sampling of local restaurants. Ahead, discover all their triumphs and tribulations from Copenhagen’s Spring ‘24 fashion week.

Day 1 - Monday

Puffer: Uniqlo x Jil Sander, Shirt: Pradegal , Cardigan: Vintage Max Mara, Skirt: Jil Sander Wool, Boots: Charles Kammer

Courtesy of Clemence Poles

Shirt: Chava, Pants: Mark Kenly Domino Tan, Shoes: Rothy’s

Courtesy of Erin Allweiss

Clémence Polès: “‘Are you going to Copenhagen,’ I hear one content creator asking another on my flight from Paris to… Copenhagen.

“As soon as I land, I meet Erin (who flew from NYC) at the hotel, and we head straight to lunch at Selma, a creative and delicious take on the open-faced toasts, smørrebrød. The decadent cod roe bergamot with cime de rapa and horseradish was a stark contrast to the unfussy space and service.

“From there, we head to the mfpen showroom and meet the founder, Sigurd Bank, who was surprisingly calm and accommodating despite preparing for their Wednesday show. I understand why when the founder tells me that this will probably be their first and last show, and that it's a way for them to see the whole team together and celebrate their almost ten years of existence. I like their no-bullshit attitude when it comes to sustainability: they share that they consider themselves responsible rather than sustainable because if you truly want to be sustainable, you don’t start a fashion brand. I try on the clothes—feeling the quality and tailored fit right away—and a playlist of Tirzah, Dean Blunt, and Dry Cleaning makes me feel completely at home. I fell for the brand right away. It reminds me of Lemaire, but there's an irreverence to it—even in the suits—that makes them instantly more edgy.”

Erin Allweis: “While Clémence had the benefit of being in the same time zone, I had that floating feeling of jet lag but powered through lunch (not hard!), and read up on CPHFW’s sustainability requirements. All brands have to meet 18 minimum requirements from material choices to working conditions. If only every fashion week had the same baseline requirements. I was equally impressed with mfpen, their use of deadstock, and the fact that they refrain from offensively marking things up just because one can. It was clear they cared about their work, and not simply about making money. We then made our way to our first show of the week, Won Hundred. Then I gave into the jet lag and exhaustion. I skipped dinner and took advantage of the Nobis Hotels’ cold plunge before plunging into bed—while Clémence met a local friend at Jah Izakaya & Sake Bar, which works with biodynamic farms.”

Day 2 - Tuesday

Dress: Babaà , Scarf: Baserange, Hood: Lemaire, Boots: Miista, Bag: Vintage Furla

Courtesy of Clemence Poles

Shirt: Baserange, Shoes: Rejina Pyo , Sweater: ONE OF, Jacket: Maria McManus , Skirt: Kallmeyer

Courtesy of Erin Allweiss

EA: “Passing out early proved helpful because we got up and went straight to Baserange’s stunning and meditative 9 a.m. presentation in their airy, light-filled corner store. The morning set the tone for the entire week. Ilinx, a group of performers, wore the new Baserange collection; their otherworldly sounds matched the brand’s distinct styling. Ilinx describes themselves as a ‘performative environment for the general public, provoking an intense bodily experience that blurs the senses of sight, sound, and touch.’ It worked. Clémence, reminded of the works of Mabe Fratti, was equally moved. There was a breakfast spread so beautiful we didn’t want to touch it (but indulged anyway).

“From there, we quickly changed and walked to the Rolf Ekroth show, which featured oversized pillow backpacks and offbeat patterns. I fell hard for a roomy brown sweater covered in what reminded me of puffy snowballs. From there, it was a quick walk to meet the delightful Faith Robinson, who oversees content for the Global Fashion Agenda. We could’ve talked for hours, but it was refreshing to hear about the work underway to actually change the industry’s worst practices. She also served as my Copenhagen metro sensei, and damn, it’s the best public transportation I’ve ever taken!”

Sweater & Pant: Maria McManus, Top: Baserange, Boots: Acne, Trench Coat Rodebjer

Courtesy of Erin Allweiss

CP: “While Erin met Faith, I went to the Aeron show, a brand I was introduced to by Alexis Badiyi’s feed. The deep dark lip, balaclavas (still going strong), and new combinations of texture and color—especially burgundies and grays—stood out and officially made me a convert.

“I met Erin back for lunch at Apotek 57, in the FRAMA space, which I’ve long wanted to see after getting one of their chairs for my home. It’s in one of CPH’s oldest pharmacies, and I appreciated that they left the space mostly untouched, respecting its origins. Paulina, their head of global PR (who happens to be one of the most stylish women I’ve met) explained to us that the space is what inspired the brand’s apothecary line. Touring their office, we also found out about CPHFW's partnership with the fashion week of Paulina’s native Ukraine. We could have stayed all afternoon, but left to join the Baserange team for drinks at a "bodega," the Danish equivalent of a pub. Think: low ceilings, dim lighting, and a heavy tobacco fog, which made for an intimate first meeting that stayed with me all week.

“After a peaceful walk along the water, beyond the buzz of the city center, we made our way to dinner at Restaurant Barr, which was the original site of NOMA and is still owned by them. We watched the chefs prepare each dish through the glass-encased open kitchen. The highly recommended herb-coated sea bass and fluffy chocolate mousse were standouts.”

Day 3 - Wednesday

Coat, top, skirt: mfpen, Boots: Charles Kammer, Scarf/Sweater: ASKET

Courtesy of Clemence Poles

Pants: Henrik Vibskov, Shirt: Maria McManus , and Bra: Araks

Courtesy of Erin Allweiss

CP: “We got dressed (me in head-to-toe mfpen and Erin in head-to-toe Maria McManus with old Rejina Pyo shoes) and headed straight to Hart Bageri, a bakery that’s also seemingly on everyone’s list. While Erin was unmoved by their blackcurrant fastelavnsboller, I was glad because it meant I didn’t have to share.

“We did a brief vintage stroll to the Von Eco Store and Jerome Vintage, where Erin found a white vintage lace dress that turned her into the hottest bride.”

EA: “It really was a perfect dress, but I have a rule: if it’s above a certain price point, I walk away so I can really think about it. If it stays on my mind, I know for sure that I’ll wear it. Otherwise, it’s not meant to be (spoiler: I went back for the dress days later, and it’s now in my Brooklyn closet).”

CP: “Time flies here. We sprinted to the Muuto showroom to meet Mikkel and Thea from the brand for lunch (more smørrebrød) and to see the furniture. Surprisingly, we spoke about everything but fashion and design. We learned that Denmark allows paid parental leave for a total of 52 weeks. Although the popularity of their welfare model sadly seems to be declining, to say that America could learn from it would be an understatement—let’s just say we all want to defect to Denmark. I had to cut the lunch short to see the mfpen show, which was the highlight of my CPHFW—soundtracked by the likes of Fugazi and Black Flag. It felt chaotic, but in the best way possible.”

EA: “That evening, we went to the Henrik Vibskov show. He’s made some of my favorite pieces over the years, so I was particularly excited to see the collection. It was as wacky and eccentric as I’d hoped it would be, but with undertones of darkness—which felt like an obvious and necessary nod to the state of the world. It was clearly a hot-ticket show; the venue was packed. It was in the same main hall as the Rolf Ekroth show; we learned that the shows themselves must be sustainable. Namely, no carpets to walk on that just get tossed out, and if there are any props, they must be reused. We walked through the wind to dinner at Italo Disco, joined by Keel Labs co-founder Aleks Gosiewski. Italo Disco is a restaurant I wish existed in New York. The food was exceptional and homey, like being in a friend’s apartment (but sadly none of my friends cook like this). There was pasta that resembled green beans in shape and color, and a server with slicked-back hair who told us it was just her weekly treatment—but she could’ve come straight off the mfpen runway. At the end, the chef poured us a complementary digestif to accompany dessert. Everyone was so nice, but not in a cloying way. Maybe if New York also had universal healthcare and 52 weeks of paternity leave (or even, like, 12 weeks?), we could all be this content.”

Day 4 - Thursday

Full look: Mark Kenly Domino Tan. Shoes: Miista, Coat: Acne Studio

Courtesy of Clemence Poles

Coat: Mark Kenly Domino Tan,Skirt: Caron Callahan, Shoes: Caron Callahan, Stocking: Von Eco Store,Shirt: Maria McManus

Courtesy of Erin Allweiss

CP: “I forced myself to go to the gym (I hadn’t worked out in three months), and checked out the sauna and cold plunge for the first time (I still don’t get what the fuss is all about). Despite not being jet-lagged, I blame Erin for putting me on her New York hours. The cold plunge helped with exhaustion—as did the Nobis Hotel’s breakfast. I am a sucker for buffets, which were my weekend ritual as a child. I have a hard time getting rid of my immigrant mentality, so I still revel in the fact that you just get all this food (I think the waiter somehow understood, and I felt her tenderness each morning).

“While Erin continued her store visits, I went to meet the Birrot founders—two best friends from Korea who make versatile, functional, sophisticated garments. Because sometimes we want to bike to work AND go to the cocktail party. Think Jil Sander meets Agnes B, with extremely comfortable and flattering materials.”

EA: “While Clémence met with Birrot, I popped into secondhand stores (such good offerings) before we reconvened at the Mark Kenly Domino Tan show, which was my absolute favorite discovery of the week. Insiders noted this was their comeback, and from my vantage point, they succeeded. The presentation made me rethink my approach to layering—and my entire wardrobe, to be honest. There was a white suit made from a combination of woven knit (the skirt) and wool (the jacket) that remains on my mind.

“We had lunch at the quirky plant-based Baka d'Busk, with a notably kind owner who was also our server. The entire space felt like someone’s creative vision instead of a copy-and-paste Instagram visual landscape. My coffee mug was an aged hobbit of sorts, and it worked with the vibe. The bathroom was covered in a collage, and when he asked my opinion (it was great!), he explained it’s not yet finished. As we paid the bill and walked out the door, he was painting his new Baka d’Busk sign outside.

“I then made my way to a brilliant conversation, moderated by Vogue’s Emily Chan—with Beth Esponnette from unspun and Aleks from Keel Labs. They collectively made what could’ve been a boring conversation—about innovating supply chains and materials—a riveting discussion about upending the industry. (Not surprising that a panel about leading change was almost all women.) Keel Labs just launched “The Shirt,” made of seaweed-based kelsun, which Aleks wore on the panel. And unspun has collaborated with Eckhaus Latta, Collina Strada, and others to lead on zero-waste, made-to-order garments.

“I then went to Atelier September and caught up on New York work over fresh mint tea. I’m also one of The David Prize advisors, so I spent hours reviewing deeply inspiring applications from New Yorkers who are building and improving the garment industry and local fashion landscape.”

CP: “I went to the Marimekko show at the National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst). DJ Kaddi Sawaneh’s set was a highlight, playing early aughts classics like Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott, with a floor-to-ceiling window over a lush green field. I was seated next to a woman in her 70s, and we talked about the brand’s many decades. Her brother has been with Marimeko for 40 years, and I had previously known very little about its heritage.

“I got a ride from my friend Matthieu, and we went straight to Soulland’s showroom (the brand Paulina from FRAMA was wearing) to meet founder Silas Adler. He explained their analog approach—where they use computers as little as possible in their process. They get their inspiration from seeing factories’ deadstock materials and browsing museum and library archives.

“From there, I made my way to the Han Kjøbenhavn show, called Silence—ironic, since the show was loud. Loud pieces, loud music, but I had the most fun. A pornographic version of Prometheus, or Alien versus Predator. Quite the finale.

“We ended the evening with dinner at HØST (a very excellent recommendation from Danya Issawi) with another New York writer who was in town, Alison Syrett.”

Day 5 - Friday

Full Outfit: Birrot

CP: “I had a very different morning photographing and interviewing (for passerby) one of the original inhabitants of Christiania, the world-famous anarchist commune. An architect in her late 50s, she explained the political vision as well as the practical: after divorce, when traditional family arrangements get upended, the lack of available homes means the potential loss of community.

“I then met up with Erin and Mini Rodini’s head of PR, Catherina at Kødbyens Fiskebar, set up in an industrial aquarium, but with more of the vibe of the fish market. And the freshness didn’t disappoint.

“We made a last-minute visit to the Saks Potts store and showroom to meet with Jeppe, who my friend Ana connected us with. Fun to see a collection inspired by early Aughts music festivals (I guess it’s a theme this season?) backdropped with Ana’s Frame Curtain.”

EA: “I took the morning to stroll and finally see the stores and smaller brands we’d missed. Sabine Poupinel was a standout, recommended by Dale Arden Chong. Her eponymous corner shop carries the best emerging independent brands, and what an eye she has! And after being blown away by the Mark Kenly Domino Tan show, I was also excited to see their store. Located on a tiny cobblestone street right off the canal, I found a gorgeous long gray coat (half-off) that I’ll undoubtedly wear forever. I’m living in that and my ONE OF sweater, which was my most-worn garment of the week. We then ended the night at Apollo Bar (the people behind Atelier September), which had reopened just the week prior. The exceptionally kind and dynamic owner, who insisted I try five types of wine before deciding (hard work, I know), knew everyone in the room. Emily Chan, whose writing on sustainable fashion is some of the best around, joined me—along with the indefatigable force behind Copenhagen Fashion Week, Isabella Rose. Drinks turned into dinner with more friends, and it was the perfect end to a full and fulfilling week in a beautiful, intimate space.”

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