One of the longest pedestrianised streets in Europe, and one of the world’s largest, Strøget and its surrounding shopping streets enjoy international acclaim. The area became car-free in 1962 and the latest figures suggest that 250,000 people visit the six streets that make up the Strøget district every day. The area boasts an array of stores that invite exploration; from Danish homeware giants and luxurious department stores to cutting-edge fashion design talent, Strøget is one of Copenhagen’s must-visit shopping spots.
Illums Bolighus is a world-famous interior design and furniture emporium known for its selection of Danish design greats and its royal warrant from Queen Margrethe II. The store has been open since the 1950s – its current building was designed in 1961 by architect Kay Kørbing and has a sought-after location at the heart of Strøget. ‘Strøget offers a combination of low-budget stores, high-end fashion houses and relaxed dining,’ explains Sofie Molls, the store’s head of marketing. ‘The architecture of Strøget is also quite stunning. The old Copenhagen architecture, fountains and historical squares have been maintained, giving the street a cosiness that a mall, outlet or newly built shopping centre can’t offer.’
An architectural legacy
Unlike a newly built shopping centre, Strøget has a rich heritage and plays host to stores with hard-won reputations. Illums Bolighus at Amagertorv 10 is a prime example. ‘The store’s location was based on the idea that a Danish design store should be positioned in the very centre of Copenhagen, with surroundings that complement Illums Bolighus’s product range,’ Molls explains. ‘Since tradition is highly valued by our brand, the history of Strøget, and more specifically of Amagertorv 10, was appealing. We wanted to take part in conveying the architectural legacy of Copenhagen.’
Luxury multi-brand boutique Birger Christensen is another Strøget attraction. The store, which has occupied the same location since 1869, came to prominence when Grace Kelly wore some of its pieces, and it subsequently offered a range of high-end designer brands to both men and women. Birger Christensen now plays host to an array of internationally renowned designer labels as well as containing concept stores by Lanvin and Ralph Lauren. ‘Birger Christensen has always taken a lead, offering major brands throughout the store. Our best-selling brands are Céline, Lanvin, Saint Laurent and Valentino,’ says company CEO Jens Birger Christensen.
Copenhagen’s reputation for fine dining has also helped to raise the profile of the Strøget area. ‘Copenhagen is known for exceptional shopping and dining. Restaurants such as Noma, voted the world’s number one place to eat, have drawn this focus, which has then impacted on the future development of Strøget,’ explains Birger Christensen. ‘The area has a very positive feel, which we believe will continue throughout 2015.’
Charlotte Eskildsen, creative director of fashion brand Designers Remix, opened her flagship store on a side street off Strøget, and chose the site due to the variety of the surrounding stores. ‘There’s a great mix of high street, luxury and designer fashion boutiques as well as interiors stores, on and around Strøget, which means you get a pretty good feeling of what Denmark has to offer design-wise here,’ says Eskildsen. ‘If you venture down the side streets you’ll find a lot of cool cafés too.’
Denmark’s increasing popularity among overseas visitors is helping Strøget gain international attention. ‘Danish brands and Danish designs are becoming popular in most countries. We have customers from the US, Japan, from all over the world. Everybody is fascinated by Danish brands and design,’ says Søs Hoffmeyer, retail manager at fashion label Noa Noa. ‘I think that is why Strøget is a popular area for shopping.’
Even so, customer service remains key to attracting visitors. ‘Customer service in store has to be unique and I think Noa Noa is the best in the market; we care about the customers coming into the store and making sure they visit us again and again,’ Hoffmeyer says. ‘Today you can sit by a computer and get anything in the world so why go into a shop on Strøget? The staff have to be the very best because that’s what you can’t get when you sit by the computer and buy clothes.’
Whether it’s a result of its close proximity to the world’s best restaurants, its exciting brand mix or the enduring appeal of Danish design, Strøget has definitely taken its place among Copenhagen’s most alluring attractions.