Rosa Bryndis

…thrown into the deep end of the fashion world, Danish / Icelandic design duo Rosa Bryndis are working hard to hold their ground with a unique take on dressing the modern woman.

Although the pair are currently completing their studies, this hasn’t stopped Rosa Winther Denison & Bryndis Thorsteinsdottir from launching their debut collection following an invitation to Copenhagen Fashion Week in 2011. Not from a traditional fashion background, Denison is studying Design and Thorsteinsdottir, Architecture. A mutual appreciation of architecture, combined with their differing fashion tastes, informs their designs; uniquely subtle, carefully considered and perfectly befitting a sophisticated modern woman. Inspiration comes from the unexpected lightness found in a building and its sculptural, three-dimensional quality. The duo share a love for Paris – having been seduced by its charm and charisma. However, they are still adamant on calling Copenhagen home, finding value and international appeal in the Danish seaside capital.

How did you get into fashion?
We must admit that we have been quite lucky. It all began when a friend introduced us to an event manager from San Francisco, who planned on having a joint event during Copenhagen Fashion Week 2011. The event contained guerilla dining, music and fashion, a whole new concept that aimed to open Copenhagen’s eyes to new concepts. We were picked to show our collection, which was almost non-existent at that time, and spent all summer producing and learning. We were practically getting our dream served on a silver platter and were quickly tossed into the hectic world of fashion.

Where are you from? School? Culture? Region?
Bryndis is Icelandic but moved to Copenhagen when she was accepted to The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture. Rosa lived in the suburbs before moving to Copenhagen with her parents during Sixth Form College. We are definitely city girls, and love the atmosphere and energy in Copenhagen. Regarding culture, the thought about a god is very comforting, but actually not a subject we have discussed that much.

How did you define your particular style or approach to fashion?
We are actually two very different people - also regarding fashion. We however share a common fascination in architecture and admire how massive constructions can seem light and sculptural. These are the main keys words in our process of designing, and we enjoy working with lines, shapes and dimensions.

What has influenced your approach? (Books, films, people, events)
We like finding inspiration in elements that lay far from fashion, in order to create collections that are unique and 100% our own. We always use a different architect’s work to influence each collection, and then carry over key trims and signature details.

What problems have you faced as an up & coming designer?
One of the toughest things in Denmark at the moment is to get our favorite stores to take on our collections. We have received a dozen rejections, and simply do not understand why the stores are not willing to give new brands a chance. Off course we understand the economic and logical arguments for having well known brands in stores, but we would just wish that more of them would try us out.

Tell us about how you run your business.
In order to run Rosa Bryndis while we are still studying, we work at the same time at a home for old people and take on other small jobs on the side. We both used to work in fashion stores, but wished for jobs where the relation between people went beyond salesperson to customer.

The old peoples' home, called 'The Castle', in many ways offered us a job with meaning and suited our schedule well. It is indeed at hard job; we love and hate it at the same time, but the people we work with are warm and appreciative, and we never go from the Castle without smiles on our faces. There's something very life-affirming about working with old people, and their histories and stories are always interesting.

With our company we basically do everything ourselves from accounting to pack shots, and accept any help we can get pro bono. Rosa does the business part which Bryndis is not that interested in, and Bryndis makes all the pack shots, which Rosa thinks is really boring. We both design and handle most of the pratical tasks individually but in collaboration. We always help each other and can take over one anothers tasks if needed.

Luckily people around us are always willing to help, and in return our philosophy is to help those who once were in our position when we were brand new in the industry. We work hard, many hours a day and are driven by all of our successes.

What makes the high-street/fast fashion brands so powerful, what are your thoughts?
The thing with fast fashion brands is that they follow exactly the same fashion tendencies that the big brands develop, copy them and sell them at 1/5 of the price. Sometimes you cannot even see the difference, because they might be manufactured at the same place.

In these times a general consumer pattern is to purchase cheap basic items, such as skinny jeans from Cheap Monday, and then combine those with more exclusive items. Students especially cannot afford only designer items, and the fast fashion brands are a very compatible alternative. This off course makes the world a lot harder for smaller brands such as ourselves, and high street stores are no longer a bummer to wear, because some of the items are actually incredibly fashionable and well made.

Do you think it would be easier being a designer in another country? Why is that and where would be easier?
This is an interesting question. In terms of size, Denmark is a small country where words travel fast. The selection of good quality Danish fashion magazines is small, so it might be easier to get a small feature. However, Denmark may be too small? Maybe designers in larger contries, such as the UK, have a better opportunity to capture a larger flow of customers? But then, there would also be more competition. We really don’t have a certain answer, but we love being designers in Denmark, and our items have been very popular abroad.

If you had to move to an up-and-coming fashion capital, what would it be and why?
We both fell we love with Paris during an inspirational trip and have been in love since. That city just oozes of charisma and charm, with a culture that lays far from ours. Dining out and having a beer on weekdays is a common thing, which is very expensive in Copenhagen. The energy just seems very different from what we are used to, it can be hard to describe. We guess one can recognize that feeling if they have been to lovely Paris.

What is the style of the city you live in?
The style in Copenhagen is very diverse, yet very alike, if this makes sense. We have all kinds of different types, from the punks with black boots and mohawks, to the fashionable ladies in fur and black Louboutin stilettoes. At the moment, a common trend is to combine old with new - cheap with expensive - and when a trend sets in almost everybody follows the beat.

Do you feel that the school you study at dictates your style?
In sixth form college yes, but not currently. We wear what we want and are not really bothered if people fancy it or not, as long as we feel stylish and comfortable - and sometimes only comfortable. We guess our personal style is always under development, and influenced by the fashion tendencies surrounding us, but we do not let others dictate what we should wear… unless we really think one another is wearing something hideous!