Scandinavian fashion had essentially been synonymous with minimalism until Stine Goya arrived. Through a pioneering use of colour and print, the Danish designer proposes artistically driven designs and unexpected combinations alongside silhouettes that feel effortless. A celebration of self-expression, while being timeless and wearable.
Let’s start from the beginning: how did you become interested in fashion?
I have been curious about fashion ever since I was young. I think I was about 9 years old when I sewed my first dress. My passion for creativity and colours has been present for as long as I can remember honestly.
You moved to London in 1999 to study Fashion Print at Central Saint Martins. How did London influence your aesthetics?
There was always a hunger to leave Copenhagen and Denmark for a new experience and I always felt that London held such intrigue as an epicentre of culture and fashion. CSM represented an education unlike any other, and I knew that if I wanted to receive the right training, the right exposure etc. – this was the place to cut my teeth.
I feel like aesthetics are influenced by wherever I travel. New surroundings change your perception of the world in an unconscious way. I spent a lot of time at galleries, music venues and flea markets at that time. So, without being able to tell exactly how it influenced my aesthetic, I know it most definitely did!
You have experienced different roles in the industry. You started out working as a model, later as a stylist and finally as a fashion editor at the renowned Danish magazine Cover. I am sure every facet has significantly influenced your designs. Were you convinced from the beginning that you would end up creating your own brand?
Designing for myself and establishing a brand was always my end game. I knew I wanted to establish a brand that set itself apart – injecting colour and print into the Scandinavian design scene. It’s been a real privilege to be able to gain knowledge from so many areas of the industry and feel that I owe the success of Stine Goya to my comprehensive career path towards establishing myself as a designer. From studying at CSM – delving into the history of design and exploring my own aesthetic, modelling and understanding how clothes move and feel on the body, to pulling together trends and looks as an editor – every step of this journey has informed my vision and enhanced my intuition. I don’t believe it is possible to design in complete isolation – designing is a process woven into my everyday life.
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How was the journey of creating Stine Goya the fashion studio?
It is never easy to start a small independent company – but I can now say that it is all worth it. It is such a pleasure to grow and succeed in what you’re – meeting and working with so many talented and inspiring people along the way. It is a journey with many obstacles but also with much joy – and besides, an obstacle is always an opportunity to learn and grow.
You’re not the typical Scandinavian designer, with the identity of Stine Goya and your style proposals, you have separated yourself from the purest Scandinavian style, so to speak. Is it something that has always set you apart, your passion for colour and playful designs?
It was definitely a conscious decision to establish a brand wherein my audience could unabashedly express themselves. I recognised that there was a hunger for more playful, artistically driven design with silhouettes that felt effortless giving the wearer a certain confidence. When I founded my brand in 2006, it was a point of difference. Scandinavian fashion had essentially been synonymous with minimalism – muted palettes, slick shapes and classic finishes – and I believe, print and colour were and still are to this day an invigorating vehicle to joy. Stine Goya is a universe of colour that is born of and rooted in the sheer joy of creativity and confident individuality. It is the foundation of our brand DNA and we want to spread our message of happiness around the world.
The brand is every year more and more international. What do you want to convey with your designs to women around the world?
I want my customers and followers to feel like themselves. Not a better version, just them. Fashion boils down to exploring yourself – the colours you like, the fit you like, the styles – free from judgement. My collections are not beholden to trends and more and more, I have realised they do not need to be prescribed to a particular gender – which has been so empowering and freeing. I design for what just feels right. Being distinctly comfortable and more importantly confident in expressing that is what drives me.
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You already have 15 years of experience, congratulations to the whole team! How has Stine Goya evolved? What does the brand have in 2021 that didn't when you presented your first collection in 2007?
Thank you so much! As my company has grown, it’s become more collaborative. When you launch your own brand, it really is just you driving everything forward, with the control and vision centralised in one person. Now, I have a team of super-talented individuals that I trust to make decisions and support me in pushing the Stine Goya brand in a universally understood direction. I am happier to delegate now and I am definitely more trusting. There is this really amazing moment when you reach a certain stage of development when you can actually afford to refocus your attention on a more specific task. I started this company to design and it’s come full circle now to where I am able to confidently do just that.
In 2019, Michelle Obama wore one of your wonderful suits in her visit to Denmark while promoting her memoir, Becoming. I can imagine it was a turning point for the brand. What have been Stine Goya's milestones to date?
Michelle Obama wearing our suit 2 years ago was a massive game-changer for us – and a moment where I really felt that the years of work and development had led to this precise moment. Another recent highlight was seeing Helene Neumann at the Oscars in the dress we created especially for her, reflecting the themes of her husband’s film Another Round – imbued with the joy of life, taking it as it comes. And there were so many more fantastic moments.
Our fashion shows are always very special with a very exceptional atmosphere backstage and a great team in the background. I think our Ballroom runway show for Spring Summer 2020 was one that was really unprecedented and set us apart from other Scandi brands. It was the first show ever seen on the Copenhagen Fashion Week calendar where a brand cast voguers and real people on Bumble – and the show itself was just a whirlwind of a party!
In the new Pre-Fall 2021 collection, we met again with a delicious explosion of colours and your other great speciality, prints. What has inspired the collection?
The starting point for this collection came from our longing to escape and dream ourselves away from the reality of the pandemic. We were inspired by the infamous Copenhagen cocktail bar and nightclub, Babylon, and their legendary parties, and created a collection that transports you to an all day and night long party. Starting in bed with a couple of perfect pyjama-party pieces, travelling throughout the day to a rave with bold 60s inspired flower prints on dresses, pants and tops, then to the club in shimmering colour-blocking pieces, ending at sunrise when it’s ready to go home in colour-pop florals and cityscape prints, with the music from the club still pumping through your bones.
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Like many other fashion brands, you’ve had to reinvent your way of presenting the collections and, in your case, you have done so via a fantastic film. House of Goya is starred, not only by the Danish-American TV personality and activist Amelia Hoy but also by Stine Goya employees. What did you want to transmit with this film?
Given the new digital format of Fashion Week and the evolving expectations of the industry worldwide, this season was the perfect opportunity for us to truly celebrate our community and refocus our message on the many faces behind the brand. In 15 years of business, we have collaborated and partnered with so many amazing creatives – through dance, music, art, design, food and more – but we realised that our audience hasn’t had the opportunity to learn and know more about each individual’s work or projects.
We had the same concept for our Fall/Winter 2021 film that we presented at CPHFW in February – rather than making it all just about the clothes, we wanted to leave the stage for inspirational personalities and topics like sustainability, racism and mental health. It was important to us as a brand to use this platform to speak up to our values rather than just show nice clothes.
How has the pandemic affected you on a professional level and, if we may ask, on a personal level?
As the situation evolved in early 2020, our business has been impacted in many different ways. First came the cancelled orders, the delayed shipments, the factories shut down and the downsizing of business – which led to a moment where we completely overhauled our business practices. This actually injected a new spirit into myself and the team. We were able to take a step back and focus on what really matters to us, expanding our sustainability and diversity targets and bringing in fresh ideas in terms of content and design.
Until recently, the fashion industry has been built on relationships and partnerships based on physicality (meetings, shows, press days, opening, launches etc.) but the past year has driven all of us to pause and reconsider what we can do differently in this new age of consumption. On a personal level, being focused on staying home and staying local has meant I’ve refocused my attention on my immediate environment. Copenhagen has always been a key source of inspiration for me, but over the past year, I have been discovering new areas of Denmark that has in turn led me to consider new colour palettes, new ideas, new subjects.
Eco-consciousness is one of Stine Goya's priorities. How do you approach this matter? What decisions do you make in favour of sustainability and how do you guarantee their impact on the planet and on your clientele?
Sustainability is a top priority for our brand and we incorporate it into every action we take. Our Sustainability Policy is focused on three key focus points: product, planet, people. We have identified five main goals in our updated Sustainability Policy for 2021, which are actually more ambitious than ever before. First and foremost, we aim to use ninety per cent of sustainable and/or recycled material across our collections by 2025.
This year we will also launch an online rental concept to implement circularity into the Goya experience, and aim for our top five suppliers to equate to approximately seventy-five per cent of our total order value. Last but not least, we are investing in Diversity & Inclusion programmes such as a series with Mentoring Matters – connecting candidates with mentors across the fashion industry creating first-hand learning opportunities to increase diversity in the creative labour market.
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Danish fashion has experienced a strong boom in the latest years and more recently Copenhagen has been listed as the capital of sustainable fashion. What future do you think Danish fashion stands by?
Copenhagen Fashion Week is now a major part of the fashion calendar and our approach to shows and our collective nature has meant that we (the designers, brands and organisers) work closely together for the benefit of all. There has been a certain momentum for quite some time in Copenhagen and in Scandinavia as a whole, both in terms of interest but also creative output.
There is a synergy created between the creative industries that help to build the entire scene across all disciplines.
Sustainability shouldn’t be the thing you invest in when everything is going right, it should be the thing you integrate into your operations when everything is on fire – because, let’s face it, it will be what keeps you going in the end. I commend the goals and stipulations CPHFW set out for 2023 – they’re ambitious but it has spurred everyone in the right direction. So, in conclusion, I would say that the future of Danish fashion is looking bright and hopeful.
What will we see next at Stine Goya?
Our focus will definitely be building and growing our Stine Goya community. We realise now more than ever that we have to be more than just clothes. We have to form and support a value system dedicated to creating a more ethical and diverse world. Our community is what keeps me going.
When I see Stine Goya being worn on the street, when I meet a new artist who wants to collaborate, when we host events bringing together a group of talents from across the industry – there is a flurry of activity and energy and ideas that drives me. During the time of global crisis, the community is also what provides support. Seeing that our vision is valued, that our designs are cherished, that our company can go on – doesn’t happen without the people you care about by your side.
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