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Art of Style

Ganni: The inside story of a fashion cult

Photography Ana Kras

GANNI’s new denim collection is set to be as in-demand as its printed dresses, graphic tees and pretty swimwear. EMMA SELLS explains everything you need to know about the Copenhagen label taking the fashion world by storm


Since husband and wife duo Ditte Reffstrup, the label’s Creative Director, and Nicolaj Reffstrup, its CEO, took over the label in 2009 (it was founded by a Copenhagen gallerist nine years earlier), Ganni has steadily grown from an insider’s secret to a global phenomenon. It started out as an antidote to the perception that everyone in Scandinavia was sartorially either androgynous or bohemian, neither of which Ditte could identify with. So she set about creating clothes that she and her friends wanted to wear.

“It’s all about the contrast; wearing something feminine and pairing it with a pair of sneakers or denim,” she explains. “And, of course, effortless style, because we’re from Copenhagen; everything here seems very laid-back and cool – it’s a very easy way of dressing. For example, we use our bikes every day, and you would never see a girl wearing a pair of heels on her bike, she would always be wearing a pair of sneakers and maybe have her heels in her basket.”

The label has an unfailing talent for nailing colorful, fun, just-sophisticated-enough pieces: see the striped sweaters, the banana and cherry print T-shirts and the cowboy boots that have steadily cemented their place as a badge of honor among fashion’s best dressed over the past few seasons. Not that the team set out to create trend-generating clothes. “When we started, I insisted that we were not allowed to do anything that we didn’t want to wear ourselves, and also we were not allowed to do anything trend-led,” says Ditte. “So, for example, I would never, ever do those Crocs shoes. I would never do anything that doesn’t feel right because I don’t think you can fool people; it’s so important that you do what you like and are true to who you are, because people can sense if it’s not from the heart.”

It’s not just the pieces themselves, or their sweet-spot pricing, that’s made Ganni so popular. Its rise to brand mega-stardom – with more than 400 stockists around the world and a recent injection of funding from venture capital firm L Catterton – has been helped by its high-profile fans. There are the fellow Danes, of course, such as Pernille Teisbaek and Helena Christensen, as well as Alexa Chung, Alicia Vikander, Camille Charrière and more. “I remember the first time I discovered Ganni like it was yesterday,” says fashion editor Veronika Heilbrunner. “It was at a show in Copenhagen held outside on a tennis court. We all got frozen vodka lemon drinks, the sun was shining, the music was loud and the clothes were fun – cool, sleek, long and baggy dresses and pants. They were on beautiful girls wearing no makeup, and they looked simply badass. I wanted to be a ‘Ganni Girl’ ASAP and have been ever since.”

Influential fans of the brand include Camille Charrière, Pernille Teisbaek and Veronika Heilbrunner (L-R)
It’s all about the contrast; wearing something feminine and pairing it with a pair of sneakers or denim. And, of course, effortless style, because we’re from Copenhagen; everything here seems very laid-back and cool – it’s a very easy way of dressing
Ditte Reffstrup
Creative Director of Ganni

SS18 marks the latest evolution of the label: the introduction of a denim collection. Yes, they’ve created denim pieces in the past, but this is the first time that they’ve really focused on it. “It has been something that we wanted to do for a long time,” says Ditte. “Denim seems easy because it’s so basic, but you need to have a lot of knowledge and experience to do it right because it’s so complex.”

With that in mind, they enlisted the help of Bengt Thornefors and Christoffer Svensson, founders of Swedish bed linen and interior brand Magniberg, who have spent the past 20 years creating denim for the likes of Givenchy, Acne Studios and Saint Laurent. The result of their partnership? Cropped jackets in pastel shades of lilac and lemon, and swishy jeans with legs so wide they could be mistaken for a skirt – the perfect balance of statement-making flourishes and uncomplicated ease, and ready to make waves in your wardrobe. They’re Ganni through and through. Get them before they go.