Over the last decade, the dapper Danish designer (and unwavering aficionado of knee socks) has garnered quite a reputation with his colorful creations and fanciful presentations that more often than not resemble installation art rather than run-of-the-mill runway shows. Along the way, he’s built himself an impressive empire of sorts, with standalone stores in Oslo and his home base of Copenhagen, a growing list of global retailers, and an online emporium. Clearly, there’s a method to the whimsical madness.
A man of many hats, literally and figuratively, the Scandinavian wunderkind has had to hang one up, at least temporarily, to attend to his latest project, the unveiling of his first U.S. store (456 Broome Street, NYC). We caught up with him on the eve of the grand opening…
Are you bummed out to be missing Coachella and performing with your band, Trentemøller, this weekend?
Well, I had to attend to the shop and hang out in New York, so there’s another drummer playing. But I’ve been playing drums for 28 years, even before I got my shoes on. I have been with Trentemøller for six years and they’re on tour now, but I’ll rejoin in May. I’m also playing with another project that is completely the opposite, with a 75-year-old poet type. He reads from his work and we do a bit of this Scandinavian thing. That’s just some of the other stuff going on. I just became a dad, so I’m trying to just pick the good projects.
Is there a difference between the design world and the music world?
Not really. For me, it’s the same attitude, just playing with identity. Dressing up, less fashion, more costume, but I’m still trying to build a something that people respond to.
How did the New York store come about?
We were looking for a few years. But recently, Rune, who had worked with me for a number of years, decided to move to New York. And we thought, hey, maybe this is a chance for us to start something. And that’s really how it got going on the fast track. But also America has been really good to me and we’ve been selling across the country at some great retailers, so I wanted to give something back.
How is this new store different?
Well, it’s always the same attitude that I build into my work, my world, my universe. It’s on the same wave. But how people will approach it, I guess we’ll find out. It’s a little bit inspired by my kitchen and my bedroom. We had this installation prepared in Denmark, but it got stuck in customs. It arrived too late on Tuesday, so now we’re just trying to sell it. Maybe that will be a new business.
How conscious are you of growing your business, your brand?
Sometimes, I think maybe I should do something else. But I don’t think they would ever give me a job at the bank, even though I’m very good at mathematics. I’ve also thought about changing my name, but people might recognize me in the streets, so I might trim a few centimeters off my legs [he’s quite tall]. It is getting bigger, but nothing has ever really been planned out.
Would you ever do a fast-fashion collaboration?
No. I love collaborating, but not on anything too obvious. I have become much more interested in product design. I’ve been working with a Dutch-Canadian company on baby hardware, like strollers.
Do you have any favorite New York hangouts?
I haven’t had time, but maybe on Saturday I’ll go to Marlow & Sons in Brooklyn. They have lovely food that you can eat outside while looking at the bridge. We’ve also been doing a lot of building, so I’ve discovered that New York has a lot of really nice hardware stores that have been very useful. And I love to go up the road here, from Broome Street into Chinatown and get a twenty-minute foot massage. That’s pretty nice!