Representing the creative future

Is Copenhagen the newest hotspot for young designers?

CPHFW NEWTALENT’s new cohort of emerging brands on sustainability and success

If you’ve been following 1 Granary for a while, you’ll have seen us travel to Copenhagen twice a year and post enthusiastically about our voyage on Instagram. Copenhagen Fashion Week deserves a lot of credit for the way they support young talent and how they approach sustainability. On the latter, they certainly don’t mess around; they set industry-leading standards. From January 2023, only show and presentation schedule applicants whose sustainability efforts meet their ‘minimum standards’ were considered for the official schedule. For any brand serious about sustainability, their framework can be a really helpful guide to check where you might already be doing well, where you can level up, and where you can disrupt within your own business model. Their AW25 Sustainability Requirements PDF has an excellent list that you can view and draw reference from.

When it comes to supporting young talent, CPHFW NEWTALENT is an initiative that is comparable to the British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN. It supports emerging brands with less than five years in business; nurturing, developing and promoting Nordic talent on a global scale. Three to five emerging designers are part of the platform for three consecutive seasons. During this time, they receive monetary support, mentorships, partnership offerings, professional advisors, onboarding to the official Copenhagen Fashion Week Show and Presentation Schedule, event participation, showroom activations, alumni network, and PR. When their time is up, the designers become part of the alumni club and continue to receive different kinds of support and opportunities.

We are excited to announce this season’s line-up of four NEWTALENT brands: Berner Kühl will join for this first season, Stamm and Alectra Rothschild / MASCULINA will present their second showcase, and Rolf Ekroth will present his third and final showcase as part of the scheme. Furthermore, Bonnetje, Sól Hansdóttir and Stem will be awarded One To Watch for SS25, and will showcase through a presentation on the official show and presentation schedule. We had a little catch-up with the designers to learn about how they view sustainability and success.


Have the sustainability requirements of Copenhagen Fashion Week been challenging for your brand as a newcomer?

Alectra Rothschild: As a young label, I actually think it’s a bit easier to adhere to the requirements. Because you can take them with you while expanding the company compared to having to restructure a big company. But I naturally work quite responsibly, so it’s not been very challenging this far, but let’s see!

Berner Kühl: Being a young brand is both a good and bad thing when looking at the sustainability requirements. We got the opportunity to do things right from the beginning and we don’t have a huge supplier network that needs a complete overhaul. That said, being such a small team, it’s really tricky complying with all the reporting, and making sure your suppliers are on par with what you expect.

Rolf Ekroth: Not at all. Ever since I restarted my brand independently during the pandemic, I set goals to aspire to and they matched easily with what the sustainability requirements are for CPHFW. A few of the questions regarding the requirements may be meant for bigger brands rather than one-man-bands like mine, but all in all, I had no problems with them.

Stamm: Yes, no doubt about it. But working in more sustainable ways will be a given when you launch a brand during these times. I try to see it as a staircase and I don’t demand of myself to have all the right answers; I strive to make the most of the step I’m at, and become better at the next step. There are many documents, certificates, surveys and protocols. Entering the ‘CPHFW x Zalando Sustainability & Visionary Award’ and winning it in January 2023 was – besides the show itself – also quite a process of criteria and documentation.

What does success look like for you personally and as a business?

Alectra Rothschild: I find success in being able to survive by doing creative work. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, so making it this far as a working class trans woman is a success in itself and extremely affirming.

Berner Kühl: Personally, success is getting the opportunity to build the brand you dreamt of, one small step at a time. As a business we are just trying to survive, and it’s getting better every season. It’s a long haul, but I am sure we will make it somehow. So, not sure what real success looks like yet!

Rolf Ekroth: I’m not really sure anymore. The goal keeps moving further and further with each little step forward that I take as a brand. A hopefully realistic goal would be to have some kind of financial stability, but I’ve managed to keep things going so far without it. I guess a form of success would be for me to be able to just focus on the design part of the label; at the moment I have to handle a bit of everything.

Stamm: Doing three fashion shows within the first 1.5 years after launching a brand – driven by private investment and with the headquarters in my living room – I have told myself that success is if I can feel present and somewhat at ease on the show day. That is success. Going onwards, balance will be my measurement of success. As a brand I think the success is that we have created a unified thing while being such a small organization. More than that, success for the brand will be to not only be celebrated for our sustainable methods, but to actually be able to sustain a business that is in flow.

What does it mean for you to be part of the CPHFW NEWTALENT scheme?

Alectra Rothschild: It means the world to be able to showcase the culture and the people connected to my practice on a larger scale! It’s a blessing.

Berner Kühl: To be part of NEWTALENT means we can show the world what Berner Kühl is. Full universe, beyond just clothing. It’s a huge pat on the back and credits the work we put in every day.

Rolf Ekroth: It has meant the world to me and my brand to be a part of NEWTALENT. The exposure you get from the programme is huge. It all runs so smoothly and you can actually just concentrate on doing the best collection you can. I’ve met so many new lovely people, gotten so many new contacts and learned so many invaluable lessons these past seasons. It has given me hope and at least a fighting chance to get the brand where I want it to be some day.

Stamm: Being part of NEWTALENT is a great way to meet other emerging designers, and I have enjoyed meeting with the advisory board. The support and platform is both something to live up to and a chance to present work to more people.

For those visiting Copenhagen this year, what are your 3 culture tips?

Alectra Rothschild: I’d go to Mayhem for interesting underground music of many genres. Then I would go to Det Grønne Loppemarked (a flea market) for some ethical shopping while getting great snacks. I’d also go to Dzidra for amazing coffee and food.

Berner Kühl: Place to hang for food and drinks: Dzidra (best people, best scone). Best food: Mangia (always ask for the bar if possible). Culture: go to V1 Gallery.

Rolf Ekroth: I have the worst tips, I recently only visited Copenhagen for work and when I’m on a work trip, I’m the most boring person ever. I really like hotdogs and Copenhagen has the best ones, so I guess that’s a start. Basically be the opposite of me, enjoy hanging out with people. The city is really beautiful, especially during the summer, so anything you choose to do shouldn’t be that bad.

Stamm: August is amazing in Copenhagen, so any spot you pick will be great! Go to La Banchina (Refshaleøen), drink something cold and jump into the water. Personally I would pause the fashion-buzz and pick up a shawarma at ‘Ankara’ Istedgade, bike to the harbor and take a swim. Check out the Louisiana Art Museum also. The best bar I’ve recently discovered is called ‘bird.’, located at Gammel Kongevej.

For more information on the NEWTALENT scheme including the framework and mentors, check out their website.