With its unmistakable cool girl ethos and rock and roll-inspired aesthetic, Danish fashion label Gestuz has long been a fixture of the Copenhagen Fashion Week scene. According to its current creative director, Sanne Sehested, the Scandi brand is just getting started though. “We are more true to who we are now than ever before,” Sehested tells me over lunch a few days before the fall 2024 season show.
“When you first start up your business, it can be difficult. Sometimes you make a wider selection and a collection to please everybody, and maybe lose a part of who you really, really are because of all the demands,” she says of the last 16 years. “[Today,] we feel good about and confident in who we are, and we’re not trying to please anybody other than ourselves… Maybe it’s about getting older, believing more in what you believe in.”
For Gestuz, growing up means returning to its DNA and the kind of timeless classics the brand first became known for after launching in 2008. “I got a message the other day from a customer. She bought a wool jacket, and she’s been using it again and again for 15 years. She thought we should reproduce it because it was her favorite,” says Sehested. “[I was like,] Oh, yeah, I remember that one. Maybe I should do that again.”
Inspired by her love of vintage, Sehested launched Gestuz with a simple mission: to create high-quality clothing that didn’t go out of style. “My mom had a special style in the late ‘70s — very chic and effortless. I have a lot of her pieces in my closet, and they have been a big inspiration for starting Gestuz,” says Sehested, who says that she has collected vintage clothing since the late ‘80s. “I dreamt of creating a brand full of pieces I was missing in my wardrobe.”
The result has been a delectable selection of leather and denim pieces that look perfectly worn in, sexy matching sets, and the types of dresses that you reach for over and over again. In addition to straddling the line between modern and retro, Gestuz’s clothes also capture the middle ground between cool and wearable, with high-shoulder blazers and sharp pencil maxi skirts that fit just as well in the boardroom as the club. “I always dream of creating pieces that are so versatile that they can be used by different people,” says Sehested. “They are meant to come alive with the wearer. I don’t want to create pieces or looks that can only be worn in one way or by one type of person or age group. It is meant to make you feel strong however you might choose to style it.”
For the most recent collection — which Sehested called “the best collection we ever have made” — Gestuz doubled down on the sentiment, blurring the line between going-out wear and business-core because, as the press release read: “Why save the fun for rare occasions?” This translated into rebellious pieces like a denim set with a cinched waist, blazers worn over sheer skirts and briefs, and pinstripe pants paired with a chainmail top, an aesthetic that Sehested, who is constantly inspired by the ‘70s and ‘80s music, describes as “eternal rock and roll but in a more mature way.”
While Gestuz always had sustainability at the forefront, with quality materials and seasonless silhouettes that can withstand many years of wear, in recent years, thanks to Copenhagen Fashion Week’s Sustainability Requirements that brands must conform to in order to participate on the official schedule, the brand has ramped up its environmental efforts even more. Not only does Gestuz use 80% sustainable fabrics now but it introduced its own resale platform in Denmark to help keep its clothing outside of landfills as long as possible.
“It’s really nice to know that the brands that we are on the show schedule with are all living up to these requirements. We are proud to be able to live up to them. And [Copenhagen Fashion Week is] going to add more requirements and more requirements. It’s a great way of also forcing us all to do the best that we can. And to always do better and improve,” says Sehested.
And just as, 16 years after its launch, Sehested sees the Gestuz Fall 2024 collection as a true expression of the brand, she views these steps as just the beginning of their sustainability efforts: “It’s an ongoing journey.”
Below, more on Gestuz’s social responsibility efforts and future plans.
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How would you describe Gestuz’s aesthetic?
As being very rooted in Scandinavian design with a focus on great quality, timeless design, and simplicity. But we are at the same time rebelling against it by being extremely inspired by earlier decades and a general rock and roll [aesthetic]. The ‘70s and the ‘80s are a big inspiration to me together with music, travels, and vintage.
Has the brand changed from when you first started out?
A lot has changed in 15 years, but the root of Gestuz is still the same. The rock and roll vintage inspiration is eternal, but we have grown more mature and secure in who we are, and how to do what we do, well.
I had to learn to listen to my own gut first and not everyone else’s opinion on what Gestuz should be. With each season, each collection, there is a much stronger sense of what we stand for and who we are designing for. That is such a representation of life in general: The more you grow and the older you get, the easier it is to get to the core of what you love. I am embracing my love for big shoulders and rock and roll.
What is the inspiration behind the new collection?
We wanted to create a collection where festive moments merge seamlessly with everyday; not caring about being over or underdressed, but rather embracing a certain je ne sais quoi and indifference towards what other people might deem appropriate or not. The partywear is reimagined, with a multifaceted take on festive clothing with a nod to the disco of the late ’70s and early ‘80s.
What are some of the brand’s sustainability efforts?
At Gestuz we have focused on responsibility for years, not only when it comes to the materials, we use but also when it comes to responsible production and the well-being of the people working with us. We believe strongly in continuously integrating responsible initiatives that can lower our impact on the planet. CPHFW has ambitious requirements to the brands showing, and we are really proud to be able to live up to them. Together with our talented Corporate Social Responsibility department and CPHFW, we are continuing to do better and push how we do our collections and how we do a show in a more responsible way.
How would you describe the Scandi aesthetic and do you think it has evolved as Copenhagen has become more of a fashion destination?Wearable, cool, full of contrast and ease. It is a lot about great materials and really high standards. I think we Scandis are very fortunate to be used to great design, so we also expect that from our fashion.
There is definitely a certain minimalism, but I would say that it’s more a certain state of mind, an idea of not trying too hard and being able to live in your look. I love to keep our designs rooted in this effortless ease of the Scandinavian design heritage, but I want to simultaneously rebel against it by disrupting and updating the classics.
I think the Scandinavian brands have become more distinctive, finding their own voices, and really showing the many ways Scandi fashion can be done. There is definitely more color and spectacle happening, but I feel like it is still rooted in effortlessness.
What is next for Gestuz?
I want to keep growing and expanding the brand across new markets. And I want to do that while staying true to the Gestuz DNA and our values. With my team behind me, I see no limit to where we can go, and it is just all about believing in what we see Gestuz truly being. There are so many opportunities. I think we just started now, for real.
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