Fashion shopping in Copenhagen

by Andrew Stone

In its own quiet way, Copenhagen is turning heads in the global fashion industry

Danish designers and brands are working with some big names these days - such as Bazar line at Christian Lacroix and Roy Krejberg at Kenzo. Hip newcomers are also making waves abroad including denim specialist Won Hundred and model-turned-designer Stine Goya. Womenswear brand Wackerhaus and menswear designer Henrik Vibskov are getting coverage in the world's fashion press too, while Danish brand Bruuns Bazaar now trades beyond its mother country in Paris, Stockholm, London and Oslo.

It's clear that there's plenty of talent emerging from Denmark's vibrant fashion scene and from Copenhagen in particular. There's plenty of this local talent on show in the city's fashion stores. You do need to know where to hunt though. Strøget, the main shopping drag, while pleasant, is lined with mostly unremarkable big, mass-market international retail names. It’s the streets clustering just off it that offer the most interesting targets. Læderstrædet and contiguous Kompanigstræde are worth exploring for independent fashion and jewellery boutiques. Nansensgade near Nørreport station has some independent fashion labels too.

Home-grown designers

In the city centre you'll find many of Copenhagen’s home-grown designer flagship stores including icons, such as Malene Birger's classic, sexy, prêt-a-porter lines (Antonigade 10; +45 3543 2233); Munthe Plus Simonsen (Kronprinsensgade 11; +45 3332 0312) - the celebrated designers of feminine clothes in natural tones with exquisite detailing; and award-winning designer Charlotte Eskildsen’s sophisticated, structured tailoring at Designers Remix (Pilestræde 10; +45 3318 8898; www.designersremix.com).

Baum und Pferdgarten (Vognmagergade) are on sale in major global cities, but this is their home. The marriage of contrasts - classic and innovative, matte and shiny, hard and soft are the defining features of their design approach. Edgy and classic, Bruuns Bazaar (Kronprinsensgade 8; +45 3332 1999) is also selling in Europe and beyond these days to discerning men and women. The home-grown, own-label lines are well worth a look. As well as the main store on Kronprinsensgade you should find them in the two big department stores -  Illum (about halfway along Strøget) and Magasin du Nord (on Kongens Nytorv). There's also a showroom along Silkegade.

Danish designer Mads Nørgaard's avowed aim is to "make women sexier and men rougher". The brand's shop Mads Nørgaard Copenhagen (Amagertorv 15; +45 3332 0139) is well worth a look. Comfortable and feminine yet innovative and with gorgeous detailing are the defining features of the lines by designer Susanne Rützou - another leading local designer expanding sales globally. The shop is Rützou (Store Regndegade 3; +45 3332 6320).

Just off Strøget, leafy, serene Nikolaj Plads is home to a handful of smart boutiques including Ann Wiberg (Nikolaj Plads 9; +45 3314 8181), where you can find exquisitely-cut trouser suits and glamorous evening dresses. Mensch (Peder Hvitfeldts Str 4; +45 3311 5755), meanwhile, offers womenswear in a more urban avant-garde style, much of it from Swedish and Danish designers. Also nearby, more low-key but sumptuous all the same, check out the men's and women's lines at Swedish designer Filippa K (Ny Østergade 13; +45 3393 8000; www.filippa-k.com).

Green fashion

‘Green’ fashion is a big theme in town right now. Peter Ingwersen’s industrial, urban labels Noir and Bllack Noir adhere to tough green sourcing rules. They are on sale in Illum (Østergade 52; +45 3314 4002; www.illum.dk), which competes with Magasin du Nord (Kongens Nytorv 13; +45 3311 4433; www.magasin.dk) as the city's best department store. Close by, Sabine Poupinel (Kronprinsensegade 12; +45 3314 4434) sells classic Gudrun & Gudrun sweaters made from Faroese wool that is untreated and undyed.

Recycle and reuse in style at Times Up, (Krystalgade 4; +45 3332 3930; www.timesupshop.com) a kind of haute-couture vintage specialist. Expect previously loved threads from labels including Chanel, Versace and YSL, plus denim and a range of vintage accessories.

If you're after interesting accessories, Casmose (35 Nansensgade; +45 3313 6163) offers shoes, necklaces and shoulder bags, many from Danish designers as well as sumptuous clothing lines in wools and linens upstairs.

Vintage

One of the best reasons to hit hip little Nansensgade is to visit Ymer Dress (38 Nansensgade; +45 2324 1625; www.ymerdress.dk), where you’ll find vintage clothing plus jeans, bags, belts and shoes in this cosy cellar boutique.

There are several other vintage and second hand clothing outlets in town worth checking out too including RetroSales.dk (Sankt Peders Stræde 47; +45 3316 0061; www.retrosales.dk) and The Second Way (Studiestræde 15; +45 3393 9950), which is small but well worth a look. Kitch Bitch (Læderstræde 30; +45 3313 6313) also offers some gems and, it has to be said some tat, as well as some over the top, Priscilla Queen of the Desert type stuff. Be prepared to rummage though.

If it's unique accessories you're after try the Julie Sandlau (Niels Hemmingsens Gade) flagship store tucked just behind Strøget. It's expecially strong on jewellery with a vintage aesthetic.

International brands

If you prefer out-and-out luxury to second hand rummaging, Copenhagen does have its share of international high-end brand stores. If you want to window shop the world, walk along Østergade where you'll find some familiar international luxury brand stores as well as Birger Christiansen (Østergade 38; +45 3311 5555), something of a global label spotter's shop for womens and menswear as well as a leading furs stockist (so not everyone's cup of tea). Labels stocked include Gaultier, Chanel and Prada, Chanel.

Also check out Burberry's (Østergade, Strøget) flagship store. All the main collections are on show plus sportswear, shoes, handbags, perfumes, sunglasses and watches. Marc by Marc Jacobs (Christian IX's Gade) mens and womenswear can also be found here plus bags and shoes from the gossip magus' favourite designer. You'll find the ultimate bling bag label Louis Vuitton's (Strøget) flagship store close to Kongens Nytorv at the northern end of Strøget, and covetable leather bags and accessories from noted British brand Mulberry at Østergade, Strøget. The flagship store of Bottega Veneta is also at Ny Østergade, where you'll find its signature leather bags, shoes, boots and belts, although it doesn't stock the Bottega Veneta clothing lines.

Finally, at the other end of the price scale, don't forget H&M (Amagertorv 23, Strøget; +45 3318 8800). It's a familiar value brand in many nations, so I'm not sharing any secrets but it's a good place to find inexpensive basics and accessories.

More expert advice on Copenhagen

For suggestions on where to stay in Copenhagen, see my Copenhagen Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Copenhagen page.

Read my overview on Shopping in Copenhagen.

Andrew Stone

A travel journalist for more than ten years, I have been writing about Denmark and Copenhagen ever since my first visit in 2000, writing Lonely Planet's Denmark Guide.

Copenhagen is an amazing city I keep coming back to not least because I have some very good friends there. There are many reasons to love Denmark. Despite its diminutive size (you can cycle across it in a morning) it's a hotspot for amazing food (including Noma - voted the world's best), an amazing sense of design, an incredible heritage, brilliant little bars and chic boutiques. The locals are a handsome bunch and the vibe is easy going.

Over the years I have nosed around most hotels in town, eaten at many of the restaurants and hung out in many of its bars. I also know the wider region around Copenhagen very well.

I have  now worked on three editions of Denmark plus several editions of the Lonely Planet Scandinavian Europe and Europe on a Shoestring. I have also contributed to Time Out's Copenhagen guide and have written numerous features on Europe's most perfectly formed little capital city.

My Copenhagen

My favourite stroll - A wander along the harbour front between Nyhavn and the Little Mermaid takes in the Opera House, warships, cruise ships, parked-up gin palaces, historic dockside buildings, the fairytale Rosenborg castle and in the distance flickering wind turbines. It's wonderfully atmospheric and ends up beside the Little Mermaid statue (something of an anti-climax perhaps).

Where to be seen - Swish new cocktail bar 1105 is a dark, moody spot and the cocktails are the best in town.

Where to grab a coffee - Vinyl & Coffee is a supremely chilled out little cafe down a quiet Vesterbro side street, selling the latest hip cool indie albums on vinyl and spinning said releases on the decks beside the coffee machine. Most importantly of all the coffee is the best I've tasted in town.

Where to eat - You're really spoilt for choice in this foodie's playground, now officially home to the world's best restaurant, Noma. You won't get in, mind. So, try Relæ, home to some ex-Noma chefs busy developing their own amazing and usually successful gastronomic ideas.

Where to go for some peace and quiet - Kongens Have, the gardens beside Rosenborg castle are beautifully manicured and blissfully quiet. The perfect spot for a picnic.

What to shop for - Copenhagen is your town for original design, quirky one-offs and 'up-cycled' furniture. The city is thick with design talent, whether it's interiors, fashion or accessories you're after.

The best views - I still get a kick out of climbing Vor Frelsers Kirke near Christiania with its spire that winds to a dizzying finish right near the top and offers panoramic city views.

Don't leave without... riding through the streets on a bike. You can't come to the greatest cycling city in the world and not get on a bike. It's the best way to feel like a local. Bike hire is cheap, in some cases free, and you can cover lots of ground on its mostly very flat terrain.