In 2013, the United Nations released the World Happiness Report, which ranked the overall well-being of citizens in countries around the globe, and Denmark topped the list. We aren’t sure if all the Danes are walking around singing Pharrell’s “Happy” all day long (that would probably make people rather unhappy actually), but the report ranked nations based on healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices and social support.
Even though it wasn’t an explicit category in the UN’s report, style very well could have been. After all, the old adage “look good, feel good” seems to be holding true for the Danes. The country’s capital, Copenhagen, is home to an emerging scene of designers making clothes that are well-considered, innovative and functional.
So even if you don’t know that the prime minister of Denmark is Helle Thorning-Schmidt or that Copenhagen is a former Viking fishing village, you should familiarize yourself with these five brands to keep your style on point.
Using the traditional spelling of Copenhagen, Han Kjobenhavn started out making sunglasses in 2008. The shades blended the simplicity of traditional Danish design with modern styling. (J.Crew partnered with the brand to sell some of the sunglasses.) That same approach extends into Han Kjobenhavn’s line of clothes. Even a basic logo sweatshirt gets elevated with the use of creative typography and printing.
Norse Projects opened in 2004 and its well-curated flagship store in Copenhagen is a must-stop for stylish visitors. The brand’s own line started in 2009 and does an amazing job of combining streetwear and workwear with just the right amount of capital F fashion to create garments that are highly wearable and seem to go with everything. Something as simple as a beanie become something more with Norse Projects’ fabrics and minimal branding. And the brand’s pants and button downs are staples season after season.
Wood Wood started in 2002 as the brainchild of Karl-Oskar Olsen and Brian SS Jensen. Its line of streetwear successfully manages to be youthful without being juvenile, loud without being tacky. In the past, Wood Wood has collaborated with brands like Clarks and Disney and its recent capsule collection with Champion Select showed how great it can be when American sportswear merges with Danish design.
Designer Silas Adler created Soulland in 2002 in partnership with Jacob Kampp Berliner. The brand’s styles give off a vibe that is effortlessly casual, with witty T-shirts, including a great Gordon Gekko one, and chill jogger pants. What “Easy Like Sunday Morning,” captures in song form, Soulland accomplishes sartorially.
With roots in fixed gear bike culture, Rascals’ began in 2008 with a small line of track pants and hoodies designed for riding. The brand’s offerings have expanded, but its commitment to making clothes that bridge the worlds of sports and streetwear remains unchanged. And since it’s so closely aligned with cycling, Rascals’ designs always feature a high level of performance and functionality.