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Hansen Garments Store

Hansen Garments Store

Not all fashion shouts loud. Some of the most popular brands prefer to do things quietly both in their designs and in their approach to the business, often finding this softly-softly approach leads to longevity. One such whisperer is Copenhagen based Hansen Garments who, for the past thirteen years, despite staying somewhat under the media radar, have built a loyal following of men (and women) who buy into the understated aesthetic and gentle charm of their clothes. I sat down with designer and co-founder Åse Helena Hansen to discover how her peripatetic upbringing is the perfect foundation for successful slow fashion.
Fresh out of college, Åse worked with a friend on a highly conceptual art-meets-fashion collection that reflected the ‘DOGMA’ philosophy that prevailed in Copenhagen at the time but was then head-hunted to design for womenswear brand Bitte Kai Rand. “This was my introduction to the ‘real’ world” she remembers. “It was a huge insight into how the industry works and a massive learning curve”. After five years there, Åse left with no clear idea of what she wanted to do but, on a motor-cycle vacation with partner Per Chrois Christensen, they both decided it was time to set up on their own. But why menswear? “The initial idea (soon abandoned) was to do a denim collection so it felt natural to do that for men. Also I needed to put a gap between what I had done before and the present. And I was always a tomboy and my womenswear always had a menswear vibe anyway.”

The eponymously named Hansen was started with certain core values that were central to how the collections were to be designed and the company run. “We wanted it to be our take on being Scandinavian. We had roots in Norway, Sweden and Denmark and being based in Northern Europe was very important to us” she states. “We stood for democratic and egalitarian ideals both in the product and in how we worked.”
The first collections were very strong on Scandinavian design motifs and materials, with Norwegian embroidery and yak hair making their appearance but as time passed, this softened with details and fabrics becoming riffs on traditional menswear rather than localised craft. Influences from Asia and Africa occasionally appear, undoubtedly reflecting Åse’s love of travel and exploration but mostly, the collections are full of (as the company motto states) ‘high quality everyday clothes’. It’s an intention that seems to be working as the brand’s legions of fans appreciate garments that have a nerdish attention to quality and fabric and have just that little bit of extra of something that separates them from the crowd. “Menswear has lots of rules but I like to push the boundaries a little, especially with fabric and colour” she explains. “The clothes are traditional but I’ve bent it a bit. I like guys to look friendly and approachable, to be comfortable in their own skin and not look like they are trying too hard. If they look good, they will feel good and maybe they will do good. Hopefully they are clothes that people will wear for a long time and become favorites.” In other words, form and function but in your wardrobe. What could possibly be more Scandinavian – and
understated – than that?