As isolated and anxious as the rest of the pandemic-stricken world, Ditte Reffstrup, at her home in Copenhagen, had the song You’re Not Alone by Olive on repeat. Music, she says, was the one constant in a year of disrupted plans. “It has always been something I turned to for comfort or for a change of mindset,” says Ditte, who has been the creative director of the Danish contemporary fashion label Ganni for more than a decade. So for her fall-winter 2021 collection, she staged a three-day online concert in February with performances by local artists Zsela, Deb Never and Coco O that included a version of that hypnotic tune on the setlist. “I just wanted to reach our community with that song, to help them recognise that we’re all feeling the same way.”
Ganni’s community consists of a sizeable fanbase of self-described “Ganni Girls”, whose members include Rihanna, Priyanka Chopra and top Scandi influencers like Pernille Teisbak. They all fell in love with a style Reffstrup made famous: a boyish twist on girly, seersucker frocks grounded in a sense of Danish practicality that always seem to capture the mood of the moment. And Ganni is definitely having a moment.
Despite an unstable economy last year, Ganni ranked among Net-a-Porter’s top five brands of 2020, alongside Gucci and Saint Laurent. Speaking to Reffstrup and her husband, Nicolaj, who acquired a small cashmere apparel company called Ganni in 2009 and turned it into a powerhouse, it becomes clear that they owe their success to their ability to walk a line between cult and mass, to talk neither up nor down to customers, and—unusual for such a large company making relatively affordable clothes—their commitment to sustainability. Ganni has been able to sit comfortably on shelves alongside luxury brands despite the fact that most of its dresses cost about US$250, and the Reffstrups have no intention to hike prices. “We like to call it ‘hacking the fashion industry’, investing in responsible solutions and having a business model that allows us to do that,” says Nicolaj, who hails from a tech background and serves as CEO.
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