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HAN Kjøbenhavn, Copenhagen. Signals of antifashion approach and social norms

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

HAN Kjøbenhavn in Copenhagen

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 also to authenticate beauty standards as plastic procedures become the norm. «Today everybody is inventing their lives. It’s all embellishment and upgrading. No one tells the truth» – 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 are 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 as an indirect comment on the grittier side of the country. Advertiser by background, Davidsen solidifies his narrative through fashion films. The aim is to connect with the audience on a deeper level. 

Han Kjøbenhav, interior view of the store

Lampoon review: the brand’s online store

The brand’s fashion film received the 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. Nevertheless, 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 from the streets (one was homeless), others online.

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. The current collection explored connections and distinctions between the natural world and the digital realm, featuring floral artworks and computer generated images 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.

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, in fact, 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.

Denmark’s signals of antifashion

Davidsen’s representation of Denmark signals an antifashion approach. Refusing fashion frivolity in favor of timeless as well as functional designs. The shape of antifashion evolves in accordance with what is 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. 

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 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.

HAN Kjøbenhavn

Vognmagergade 7, 1120 Copenhagen, Denmark

Han Kjøbenhavn is a Danish menswear brand based in Copenhagen. Timeless Danish design and workwear inspire the brand.

Matteo Mammoli

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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