Meet the woman behind the Danish label
Chances are you laid eyes on a Cecilie Copenhagen piece before you knew the name. Stocked at cool boutiques the world over, the signature Keffiyeh scarf-inspired designs are instantly recognisable; a favourite among It-girls and influencers including Australia’s Margaret Zhang and Britain’s Pandora Sykes. The epitome of cool herself, designer Cecilie Jørgensen was remarkably just 17 years old when the classic dilemma of having nothing to wear saw her fashion her first shirt out of two scarves from her parents’ basement.
“It was pure impulse and instinct,” says Cecilie, now 22 years old and speaking from her home in Copenhagen.
Her instincts were of course spot on. Requests for the shirt she wore that night came rushing in, and after the initial 15 shirts she made sold out, the accidentaldesigner knew she was onto something.
Fast-forward five years and Cecilie’s brand has gone from being a Copenhagen success story to gaining traction around the globe. Street-style bait from day one, social media exposure has given the
Olivia first came across the brand on a buying trip in Paris. She saw a friend wearing it and instantly knew it would be something that would resonate with other Kiwis. “Right now, the global fashion arena is saturated with high-end contemporary brands, and fast fashion giants. However there’s not a lot catering to girls in the middle who want something special, but don’t want to see everyone else wearing it down the street,” says Olivia. “Cecilie’s honed in on that gap with great pieces that are easy to wear, and aren’t too expensive. It’s a statement basic that feels luxe.”
Taught to sew by her grandmother at a young age, making her own clothes became second nature to Cecilie. It was then a very natural evolution to enroll in the Danish Fashion Design Academy — she was in her final year when she created her brand. Now the designer has a studio located in the heart of Copenhagen, in what is known as the old part of town. Hidden on the third floor of the building, the space is shared between the design and creative studio, and a boutique. It’s from there that Cecilie spends her days doing a bit of everything.
“I’m involved in all aspects of the label including styling and photoshoots,” says Cecilie. “So I’m always working on the imagery and branding part of Cecilie Copenhagen in between collections.”
Her staff is small — a team of just six — but they’re all young, ambitious and according to Cecilie, “guided by their intuition”. With Cecilie at the helm, they won’t compromise on what doesn’t feel right for the brand, either.
“I’m always open to listening to ideas and looking to the designers and artists I admire,” says Cecilie. “But I still keep my core brand values in my mind in everything I do, especially design. If I started compromising on design, I’d lose that personality and my brand DNA.”
This isn’t to say that Cecilie — or her brand — has stopped evolving. But she says believing in herself and her product has been the key to her success. Asked what advice she has for other young people wanting to go into business, she cites this, and a healthy dose of resilience.
“Go for it and don’t be afraid to fail. That’s where you learn. Stay true to the dream you want to become a reality, and work a lot,” she says. “As long as it’s your dream it doesn’t feel like work anyway!” startup a boost. But credit must also be given to the brand’s Scandi-chic aesthetic — think long-sleeved shirts and blouses, matching shorts and flowing dresses in muted colours — and its wearability.
“My silhouettes aren’t complicated,” confirms Cecilie, who from the beginning vowed to only make pieces she could see in her own wardrobe. Add to that the fact she’s not concerned with mass market appeal and you’ve got a winning formula. Indeed, the savvy designer has always been very particular about who stocks her range. Despite receiving requests from over 500 stores around the world, Cecilie has handpicked just 60 to date; among them, landmark London department store Liberty, luxury online retailer Matches Fashion, and Auckland’s Muse Boutique — the exclusive stockist of the brand in New Zealand.
“I prefer to work with like-minded, design-lead retailers, and when [Muse’s owner] Olivia Vincent reached out, right away I could see her love for fashion,” says Cecilie. “Her business and our brand share the same values, so we’re a perfect fit.” #
Meet the designer behind the Danish brand with the cult following