There's something undeniably exciting about meeting a designer or brand at the beginning of its journey. Spurred on by the anticipation of success and the evolution of aesthetics, the first few collections are where the seeds of style are initially sown, and the reputation nourished.
About the coolest thing to come out of Copenhagen recently (and that's going some!), Brøgger caught our attention with its retinae-searing palette, modernist prints and designer power-pairing of Julie Brøgger and Linn Norström Weile. So, in advance of Copenhagen Fashion Week, we sat down with the duo to discover more...
Let’s start at the beginning… How did this all come about?
J: The way a woman shops now is completely different; she might have used to have been the woman that buys designer brands only, but now she buys across the board. From high street to designer, she cherry-picks a little bit more what she invests in and the categories. There are the obvious – you know – the shoes and bags, we all get that; but then, another category that we thought was super cool, was outerwear. It sounds very ‘outdoorsy’, but really we just mean the ‘top layer’.
L: Depending on where on the globe you live of course, but – being Scandinavian and living in London – everyone needs a jacket, or a coat or a cardigan, or a blazer… Whatever it might be!
J: That was the core starting point; a focus to try and communicate what we are doing.
L: Dresses, for instance, we know are a huge category, but – unless that is your ‘thing’ – don’t enter that market because it’s so competitive. So it was about thinking, what product means the most to us? When we looked back, we always bought coats, jackets, blazers…
J: Obviously, we do suits with trousers and have a few dresses and tops that come into it, but our main focus is that top layer. It’s an introduction, or a statement that sets the tone of your outfits; it’s the things you wear fifty times, not three times.
You seem to have railed against the stereotype of ‘Scandinavian minimalism’ – was that intentional?
J: I have a great love of prints and I enjoy doing that; everything has printed linings and details, and also a bit of functionality with it. All of these ruffles can be taken off and put back on.
L: It’s a hybrid.
J: It’s a juxtaposition of influences. I’ve got a Scandinavian background and aesthetics, but I’ve only worked in London. I’ve grown up in fashion in London. I like to see that woman on the street who’s like, “Oh, I’m into florals; I have everything floral, even my socks are floral.”
L: The silhouettes I think you’ll see – the oversized wool coat, which is kind of clean in its shape – feel Scandinavian… There are definitely strong Scandinavian references, but then they’re boosted by Julie’s amazing prints and the use of colour. It’s refreshing – a little bit of a different combination.
J: Functionality is an essence of the Scandinavian approach to design and fashion. Having a pocket that doesn’t function would be blasphemy.
We couldn’t agree more!
J: For me, bringing that ethos into it, but doing it in a context so you still have something that excites people and moves people to feel like they’re wearing a statement, that’s what it’s about.
So, do you think that the woman who is buying clothes now is more discerning? Is she really considering what she’s buying and why, because there’s so much on offer?
J: The woman we’d like to approach – yes, she is. Those conversations are becoming stronger, and that will hopefully educate younger consumers. If you want to have something that’s made well and with good fabrics, it comes with a price. You can’t expect to get a really well-made designer product for high-street costs. It’s impossible! Hopefully, it is changing...
L: I think this is the way forward – less is more. There’s a romantic ideal of passing things on, even if it isn’t to a sibling or a daughter or a friend. Some of the pieces I’ve cherished the most are the things I’ve taken from my mother or grandmothers. I still have them.
Are you then going to maintain outerwear as your primary focus? Or, what direction do you see the development of the brand going in?
J: We envision it evolving, but it’s not something that’s going to happen next season or the season after. An outerwear focus is a good starting point for now – something to help people get to know us a bit and get comfortable with our aesthetics within that. Then we can present new things; the next step could be knitwear, since it lends itself to the same kind of idea. It has functionality and is something you wear quite a lot.
L: For us, it’s let’s choose one thing and champion that, and become known for that – and then, we’ll branch out.
You seem to be on a very similar wavelength to each other; has that always been the case? How do you find working together and balancing the professional-friendship relationship?
J: Danish people are very straightforward. It’s not like you don’t understand what the other person is saying, because the other person is saying it straight. That helps.
L: We don’t really do the passive aggressive thing.
British people do the passive aggressive thing…
L: We respect each other’s feelings. I love that Julie asks me for advice. We want to be an approachable brand, so I do feed in and come up with ideas, but I also let Julie do her thing. I’m not trying to be a designer – that’s not my vision.
J: You have your areas of expertise and you respect the other person’s. There’s room for the other person to be, “OK, I had no idea about this. Tell me about it. Explain it to me.” You can make things stronger by having different points.
L: That’s the whole reason we came together. The synergy, the complementing.
This learning from each other… What would you say you learned from your debut collection to this one for Spring/Summer?
J: I didn’t do much print for the first collection; I was testing things out. I was missing something on a personal level – now, OK, I’m not going to try to please anyone, I’m going to do the crazy colours I think it should be and trust that people are ready to see something that’s a little bit crazier than you think.
L: You can’t take everybody’s feedback. This is what you learn – to filter, and to say enough is enough, otherwise, it will really put you down. And patience!
J: Patience… we’re still trying to learn that!
Click here to visit the Brøgger site. All images courtesy of the brand.