From its start as an eyewear brand nearly a decade ago, Han Kjøbenhavn has grown to offer a full blown menswear collection with stores not only in its home city but also Paris and New York. Known as much for their avant-garde runway presentations and iconoclastic ad campaigns as their highly personal take on urban sportswear, the company is moving into new exciting times. Whilst waiting for a new CEO to be announced, the remaining founder and creative director Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen talks about the distinctive creative process and the future of the brand.
Describe your design DNA.
“It’s complicated actually! We try to tell stories with our collections and these stories come from my roots in suburban Copenhagen. I always start from that perspective and the design process develops from there. It brings us a different aesthetic from many others – something contemporary but with a cold, grounded energy that is part of life in the outskirts of a big city.”
Who is your muse and how do they influence the collection?
“I don’t have a muse. I am continually bombarded with subliminal images which are then layered over memories of my own childhood and youth. I navigate through all of that in my mind and the end result is therefore very personal. I’d say ninety percent of the collection comes from my own upbringing but of course in reality you need to be flexible as the world is always changing direction. However being confident about your own personality and self leads you to being more daring and experimental.”
How do you move from this conceptual stage to a real life collection of clothes?
“I actually approach it much like a film script. That then allows me to move from the story to reality. I think of the script and then work out how I want to dress the different characters in it. I think its a useful approach as the wide variety of characters leads to a wide variety of clothes to dress them in – it broadens the collection and also can bring surprising elements to play. In the end it helps me focus and provide a clean line through the brand even though the story might change each season.”
What is Han Kjøbenhavn’s plans for the future?
“We are nearly ten years old now and going forward the key thing is to strengthen our foundations – both financially and administratively – and ensure that the structure is capable of supporting our growing business. We have always worked on feelings and that has been good for us but we need to be more tactical whilst still being creative and courageous.”
Will the imminent arrival of a new director change the design process?
“Not at all. We are very excited about the new director as he comes from a big company and we are very happy that we can attract someone like that but he will not influence the collections themselves. I will still be the creative director and the majority owner of Han. The new director will be there to give respect and focus to the financial and structural side of the business and that should give us more time to concentrate on the design process.”
Interview by Graham Addinall