Copenhagen leads the way for sustainable fashion

GANNI repeat is Scandinavia’s pioneer when it comes to combining rental options with the concept of sustainable fashion. As one of the first Scandinavian brands to have experimented the concept of a rental app, now many other shops are following the initiative.

By Alessandra Iellamo

| Evelyn hopes others will be inspired to shop second-handPhoto by Alessandra Iellamo

Forget buying new pieces every year just to keep up with trends; The real fashion trend now is resale.

As thrifting second hand clothes have become incredibly popular, many fashion brands have started to rethink about their business model, shifting to a more sustainable approach and implementing initiatives to prove that circular fashion economy never goes out of style.

Among the big capitals in Europe, Copenhagen, also known as the capital of sustainable fashion, is definitely ahead of the curve. At the moment, GANNI, a Copenhagen based brand seems to be people’s favourite. 

Isabella, 25, wants to reduce her carbon footprint by buying second hand. She has been a loyal Ganni customer since 2020.

She says “What I like about Ganni apart from their design, is their way of communicating what they can and can’t do and how they inspire people to pay more attention to where your clothes come from ”. “They have always been very transparent that’s why I prefer buying here instead of other shops”.

But what makes it so unique?

Founded by Copenhagen designer Nicolaj Reffstrup, GANNI has been one of the earliest examples of sustainable fashion brands in the Danish landscape.

But beyond that, the most surprising initiative from the brand has been in 2019 with GANNI Repeat – a peer-to-peer reseller platform designed to make pre-owned purchases a seamless experience. Introduced to reduce clothing waste and extend the clothes’ lifecycle, the initiative has been appreciated by many and keeps inspiring other brands to rethink about their environmental impact.

A report from Geneva Environment Network showed fashion as the third-largest manufacturing industry in the world, producing up to 10% of global carbon emissions.

| Customers inside Postmodern GanniPhoto by Alessandra Iellamo

The brand has also recently started its mission to phase out leather from their collections by 2023, opting for plant based alternatives such as the recent the release of grape leather shoes.

Yes, grape leather shoes. And they are also curating the design of their store to be as carbon neutral as possible – shelves, hangers, mannequins and chairs are made using recycled plastic – from yogurt packaging to water bottles and even chopping boards.

Nevertheless, the company doesn’t identify as a ‘sustainable brand’, claiming that ‘fashion thrives off newness and consumption, a contradiction to the concept of sustainability. Instead they focus on becoming more responsible and transparent with what they do. 

Located in the heart of Christianshavn in Copenhagen, the shop has noticed an increase in its customers after opening the rental section in store.

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| Ganni Postmodern shop in Christianshavn, CopenhagenPhoto by Alessandra Iellamo

“I think now people are more aware of what they have in their closet, and they try to go away from fast fashion” says Evelyn Nerona, assistant store manager at Ganni Postmodern. “The results from the circular business model are very good, and that’s why there are potential benefits and I see it as one of the biggest business opportunities the world has ever seen”.

When the concept of second hand first entered in the fashion scene and public’s consciousness in Europe, it seemed like a trend that would not last for long. Back then, buying a piece of clothing that had already been worn and enjoyed by another person was considered inferior to brand new clothes from the store.

How will the future of fashion look like? 

Looking at other fashion brands initiatives, it looks like the fashion industry is leading towards a more ecological and conscious way of producing and sourcing materials, but also a more transparent communication with customers and companies. 

Morten Lehmann, CEO of Tailwind and ex chief sustainability officer at Global Fashion Agenda thinks that will be fewer collections and they will be more focused on longevity with some more circular business models and with customers also being part of the solution.

“Hopefully brands will evolve their business models and see that actually, they can make as much money as they did before on the bottom line perhaps not on the top line, and they can still sell products without needing to have sales so often or destroy their products because they were never sold” says Morten.

He added “We will too need to change our way of consuming and adapt to a reality of scarce resources, climate change and a larger circular economy”.