Long before Danish fashion was in the spotlight, twenty years in particular, Helle Hestehave and Rikke Baumgarten met at the Royal Danish Academy of Design, where they started their creative partnership, and soon after created Baum und Pferdgarten and began designing their collections as newly graduated designers in Copenhagen’s multicultural neighbourhood Nørrebro. Today, with an office and a flagship store located in central Copenhagen, being one of the most representative brands of the new ‘Scandinavian girl’, and a long-lasting friendship, they continue creating timeless pieces that are coveted around the globe.
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This 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of Baum und Pferdgarten. Congratulations! What makes you both keep creating new pieces together after so many years? How is your personal and professional relationship now and how has it evolved through these two decades?
We have known each other for more than twenty years now, which means we have experienced so many different things together on a personal level but of course also in our business. Because of this, we have become even closer over the years: we have seen our kids grow up, we have been travelling around the world for over two decades and have experienced both ups and downs together. That makes you a very strong team. We have a lot of respect for each other’s creativity and work, which makes everything much easier.
Baum und Pferdgarten’s pieces have a very particular style that is difficult to typecast. How would you describe it?
We have a very eclectic style. We like the very minimal masculine universe and, at the same time, really enjoy prints, colours and feminine details. We often think the mix is interesting.
How do you approach each new season? How is the process of creating a Baum und Pferdgarten collection?
In our design team, we always discuss what we find interesting, what is going on, what we have been inspired by from the last half year. Then, we leave the office and go to exhibitions, watch movies, look at people, listen to music… And from there, we try to settle a theme. When the theme is settled, we begin to work on colours, fabrics, prints and shapes.
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What is the relationship of the brand with trends?
Some we follow, some we don’t.
In addition to your seasonal collections, there is another special one called Needs. You say it’s “inspired by the everyday women” and that it “wants to accommodate the normal life”, creating the “ultimate classics that contribute to any kind of style.” When and why was this collection born? What role does it play within your commercial offer?
It is an attempt to make some long-lasting classical favourites so that when your old wool cardigan is done, you will buy exactly the same again.
Your dresses – especially the models Adalaide and Aretha – were a huge success last summer. What did that mean for the brand? Are they really your ‘star’ garments?
Those dresses really owned the DNA of Baum. They were playful, feminine styles and looked cool on so many women. And yes, of course, it means a lot for our brand when dresses like this perform super well. It is crucial for a brand to make these statement pieces.
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How important is the styling in Baum und Pferdgarten? Do you take care of it yourselves or do you work with someone else?
The styling is one of the most important tools when you are designing a collection and branding your company. It can raise the level of a collection if you have the talent to style it in a personal and cool way. Danish stylist Rikke Wackerhausen has styled the last four shows and we are working on the Fall/Winter 2020 show right now with her.
In recent years, Danish women have become a myth in fashion, followed throughout the world for their unique style. How have you experienced the Scandinavian fashion boom personally (as Danish women yourselves) and as Baum und Pferdgarten as a Danish brand? What has changed?
Copenhagen has become an influential city with many cool girls and many interesting art, fashion, food and architecture scenes. A lot of Danish brands have found their own particular style. We are known for our super-good prices and high quality. In Baum und Pferdgarten, we feel this humongous interest because of all this.
You currently own a flagship store in Copenhagen. Do you consider opening stores in other cities around the world?
Not at the moment, but next year, we will renovate it to make it even more unique and give our loyal costumers a great experience.
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I’d like to delve a bit into the company. How many people make up the Baum und Pferdgarten team and how are you organized?
In our main office here in the heart of Copenhagen, we are around forty people. But out in the big world, we have a great press and sales team working in cities like London, New York, Oslo, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Berlin, etc. When we present the collections in Copenhagen, our sales team comes to get to know the clothes better. Everybody in the team is always gathered for the presentations so everybody knows what is going on in the company. Many of us have been working together for many years and we share a lot of ideas with each other. The design team often talks with the sales team in order to make the best collections.
On your website, you present a very clear roadmap in terms of sustainability aligned with your commitment to the planet, human rights and animals welfare. Do you work with experts in the field? How do you plan to achieve your goals for 2020?
Yes, we have been working closely with a Danish company called Closed Loop to find our way in this very difficult field. We have ensured that what we aimed for 2024 is also something that is realistic. And if we don’t achieve our very ambitious goals, we will also tell you about it. There is a hundred per cent transparency from our side.
Let’s talk about fabrics: which ones do you currently work with, would like to work with and would never work with?
We will never work with fur again for sure. At the moment, we find fabrics with structure and tactile surfaces very interesting. A structure can almost work as a print. Fabrics that have a long life and fabrics that have a sustainable approach are interesting and work for us.
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What are your main sources of inspiration? Do you look at other sectors/industries? What are your references in fashion and business?
We are both very interested in art, so that is a big deal for us. In general, we get inspired by travelling, listening to music, watching a great movie… Once a year, we go to the furniture fair Salone del Mobile in Milan to get inspiration from other design fields. That is a must-see for us every year.
On an individual basis, who are you most grateful for on the path that has taken you to the time being?
If we didn’t meet at the Royal Danish Academy of Design twenty-five years ago, Baum und Pferdgarten would have never existed, so we are both very grateful to have met each other.
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