Danish designers are naturals when it comes to creating winter attire. Whereas some international brands from warmer climates lack experience when it comes to designing clothing for the challenging weather, relying on separates season after season or creating pieces that are inappropriate, the Danes know exactly which staples you need to stay stylish in the snow.
A standout winter coat should always be at the top of your new season shopping list and By Malene Birger has produced an excellent range of belted and buttoned options for this autumn and winter, from androgynous grey check tweed styles to textured navy blue options. ‘An amazing coat is an essential item for a Dane,’ says the brand’s head of design Christina Exsteen. ‘There is the obvious practical side to it, because winter here gets very cold and we wear coats for quite a long period of time every year. A gorgeous winter coat is part of keeping stylish in everyday life for Danish women.’
Exsteen aims to make garments which, as well as looking beautiful on the catwalk, are practical as well as. Metallic dresses have turtlenecks for added winter warmth and jumper dresses are rendered in stunning animal print. ‘When I work I think about real women,’ Exsteen continues. ‘Women in the modern world have a lot on their plates, being hard working, wives, mums and everything else. In their everyday lives they need beautiful quality. I’d like to think I contribute to that.’ As part of this, she considers each piece’s wearability when taken outside of her studio.
Face the elements
Hansen is another Scandinavian brand with an aptitude for creating garments for cold weather. Its collections feature structured suiting for men alongside retro-inspired layers in earth-toned shades, which are all made to endure abrasive weather. ‘I hail from Norway, so I am very connected to the elements,’ says Aase Helena Hansen, the label’s creative director. ‘The Danish winters are some of the coldest and windiest I have ever experienced. The temperatures might not be that low but the wind and the chill factor are most profound.’
‘Our collections are functional throughout the year, but some pieces are definitely made with the harsher Danish months in mind,’ Hansen continues. ‘The fabric is carefully chosen to keep you comfortable, warm, cosy and well protected from the weather. Wool cashmere blends or heavy windproof water-repellant cottons are key fabrics we work with.’
In addition to designing tailoring that looks sharp while keeping the wearer warm, Hansen also creates garments that are perfectly suited to the urban guy on the go. ‘Hansen works with clothes that can move. Danes use their bicycles a lot and we like to cater for this, by crafting practical solutions that last and age well.’
With his latest autumn/winter collection, Danish designer Henrik Vibskov has also considered functionality. The label’s Around Down coat, for men and women, has been constructed with removable sections that allow it to be transformed from a padded overcoat to a short jacket or gilet with just a few zips. ‘The Danish winter is ever changing – one day snow, another sun and then windy – and this demands multifunctional and adjustable garments,’ says Rune Park, buyer for Henrik Vibskov boutiques. ‘The Around Down coat is a perfect example of this.’
In addition to its more functional garments, the brand has created a range of easily layered pieces for the new season, from oversized maxidresses such as the Pulse, with its red and white line drawing-style print, to textured oversized knits for men. ‘In Denmark we have always been used to our clothing having to be functional due to the weather but we still want to look refined,’ Park continues. ‘It’s an essential part of who we are, and is therefore often reflected in Scandinavian designs.’
If looking for further winter wardrobe inspiration, Wood Wood’s innovative knits, Ganni’s blue blanket cover-ups and Baum und Pferdgarten’s textured separates are perennial favourites.
The Danes’ passion for such clothing could relate to the country’s obsession with hygge, which roughly translates as ‘cosiness’, and every garment by these brands taps into this culturally important concept. Exsteen agrees that winter is the most fun season to design for: ‘Maybe it’s because of my heritage, but designing that perfect coat or creating elegant layering is always a pleasure.’
Thankfully, with their innate sense of hygge, it’s just as pleasing to wear Danish winter garments as it is for labels to design them.