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London, Paris and Milan may still be the epicenters of European fashion, but the world is slowly turning to Copenhagen as a source of new direction and inspiration. Already a cultural hotspot for modern architecture, gastronomy and industrial design, Denmark’s fashion industry has been booming in recent years with its pared-down, minimalistic sensibilities, forward-thinking vision and strong relationship with the environment.
In the midst of this movement — and coinciding with Copenhagen Fashion Week — is Copenhagen International Fashion Fair, a progressive trade show that celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. The fair’s new Crystal Hall show space for 2013 showcased a savvy selection of some of the world’s best menswear and lifestyle brands — Mismo, AMI, Damir Doma, Cote&Ciel and Carven, among them — while also providing a platform for up-and-comers like Erik Bjerkesjö, MAB, LaContrie and Marwood. Curated by Pierre Tzenkoff, Arnaud Vanraet and Kristian W. Andersen, the show is held twice yearly in February and August and attracts roughly 40,000 visitors each season. Also commemorating Crystal Hall’s opening this year were one-off collaborations with some of Copenhagen’s leading fashion, lifestyle and design brands. Rasmus Storm’s Storm concept store exhibition and its cutting-edge mix of labels like Astrid Andersen, Pyrex Vision and Common Affairs, exhibited alongside design firm KiBiSi and its groundbreaking, idea-driven designs, while Copenhagen-based The Coffee Collective — a progressive and socially-responsible chain of coffee bars — offered tastings of its award-winning beverages throughout the fair.
We recently sat down with CIFF Fashion & Lifestyle Director, Kristian W. Anderson, to delve deeper into the trade show’s evolution, as well as his thoughts on Scandinavian creativity and the best spots to visit in Copenhagen. Read on for the interview in its entirety and click through for a selection of images from CIFF’s 20th anniversary.
“CIFF operates first and foremost on the same conditions as a fashion brand. We have two seasons annually and we create a high-end newspaper called the CIFF Gazette promoting Scandinavian and international brands, as well as key figures in both the fashion and design industries. We operate like this as we see ourselves more as a co-branding partner for all our brands, rather than a traditional trade fair. “
Can you introduce yourself and your involvement with CIFF?
With over 20 years of professional experience in the fashion industry, I accepted the position of Director for CIFF at the end of 2011. And, having been to more than a hundred trade shows as an exhibitor, it was obvious to me what buyers, press and exhibitors were missing. At CIFF we are deeply involved in creating a platform in Copenhagen to fulfill all these needs.
CIFF celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. How has the fair evolved since its inception?
CIFF started 20 years ago, and before that the company had another fashion fair since 1975. CIFF has always been by far the largest platform. At the new fair, it is not only the size of the show that matters, but also content and creating direct liaisons between relevant buyers and brands. Focusing on the best of Scandianvian design mixed with the best international brands.
How would you describe CIFF’s positioning among the other fashion festivals and trade shows happening around the world?
CIFF has for a long period been a popular commercial trade destination. The new, revamped fair is ready to challenge Berlin, mixing both commercial and high-end brands in all categories. Pitti is another fair we love a lot in another region of Europe.
For readers who may not be so familiar with CIFF, how does the festival operate? What is its business model?
CIFF operates first and foremost on the same conditions as a fashion brand. We have two seasons annually and we create a high-end newspaper called the CIFF Gazette promoting Scandinavian and international brands, as well as key figures in both the fashion and design industries. We operate like this as we see ourselves more as a co-branding partner for all our brands, rather than a traditional trade fair. We have also developed efficient guest management, taking care of VIP brands and buyers around the clock when clients visit Copenhagen.
What was new for the festival this year?
This season we proudly premiered Crystal Hall – Europe and Scandinavia’s newest destination for Scandinavian and international high-end brands.
What did you look for when curating the brands that would be represented at this year’s festival?
Originality. Great people behind the brands. Potential business for both buyers and brands.
What presented the biggest difficulties in organizing a trade show like this?
Due to the size of our business we always need to be very present, in close dialogue with everybody and helpful to any needs. It takes an army of dedicated and passionate people and an extremely well-organized setup.
What were the standouts for you in terms of the brands and collections displayed at CIFF?
Mismo, AMI, Seraphin, SOS Sportswear, Osklen, Les Deux, Maikel Tawadros, along with design products by KiBiSi.
Are there any up-and-coming Danish/Scandinavian labels or designers that readers should take note of now?
Trine Linegaard, MAB, Astrid Andersen, Erik Bjerkesjö, Armoire d’Homme, Asger Juel Larsen, Ron Dorff, Common Affairs.
In your opinion, what are some more recent and exciting developments in Denmark’s other creative fields?
Copenhagen is back on the world map — the city is booming with talented people. The fine dining scene is absolutely amazing and less posh than you see in other capitals. It goes well with the spirit of creative and curious people. The industrial designers like our exhibitor KiBiSi are absolutely inspiring. Check out Cykelmageren, a company that creates the most fascinating bikes. It will be a killer success for people around the world who can pay for expensive cars, but also want a change and to think more about the environment.
“We believe in a bright future for both Copenhagen and CIFF. We need to focus on the core values of the great Scandinavian life style and thinking in every part of our business we do.”
What does the future hold in store for CIFF?
We believe in a bright future for both Copenhagen and CIFF. We need to focus on the core values of the great Scandinavian lifestyle and thinking in every part of our business we do.
What is one thing you hope attendees take away from CIFF?
Optimism for both themselves and for a better world
What are some of the must-hit spots around Copenhagen for future showgoers and festival attendees?
Upon arriving in Copenhagen, get settled in at the Bella Sky Comwell hotel on one of the top floors. You will have an amazing view of the entire city. Grab a bike a take a ride through the protected nature reserves between the hotel and the city centre. Enjoy lunch at Ved Stranden 10 by the canals, check out Storm fashion store and Lot29. Move on to Copenhagen’s best coffee The Coffee Collective and have a snack at Manfred’s wine bar, before returning to an amazing experience of Nordic food at Kadeau. If you are still up for fun, everybody should have a beer at Christiania and meet some of the area’s very, very free-spirited Danes.