Women’s and men’s wear brand Samsøe & Samsøe is the latest Nordic brand to land in central London’s Soho.
The second wave of the Scandinavian retail invasion is taking shape in London this summer, as more of the region’s biggest brands set up shop on British shores, joining established high street names such as H&M group’s Arket and Weekday.
Danish brand Samsøe & Samsøe is the latest to arrive. It opened its first UK store at 47 Beak Street in London’s Soho on 25 June.
Next month it will be joined by Nordic neighbours Danish womenswear brand Ganni, which is opening its first UK store on the other side of the street, and fellow Copenhagen native men’s and women’s label Wood Wood, which will open around the corner at 33-35 Brewer Street.
Brothers Klaus and Preben Samsøe opened a menswear store in Copenhagen in 1993, and launched Samsøe & Samsøe own-brand menswear in 1995, followed by womenswear in 2004.
It rapidly established itself as a one of the leading names across the region with its elevated wardrobe staples and contemporary classics, which focus on colour, print and affordable quality – what creative director Mia Kappelgaard describes as a “playful and unpretentious take on the Scandi minimalist approach”.
Although it is largely regarded as an emerging label in the UK, Samsøe & Samsøe has 20 monobrand and 22 multibrand stores – where it also sells Acne Studios, Ganni, Wood Wood and Holzweiler – across Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. It wholesales through more than 1,500 points of sale in more than 30 countries.
The London store is the pinnacle of Samsøe & Samsøe’s strategic UK focus. It has taken UK sales and distribution in house, and established its first dedicated wholesale showroom in London’s Shoreditch in February 2018.
It now has around 80 UK wholesale accounts, including department stores Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, and independents The Mercantile, Hub and The Dressing Room. Sales are split 60% womenswear to 40% menswear.
Wholesale prices for the new spring 20 collection range from £7.70 for socks to £162.97 for a jacket.
The new 1,075 sq ft London monobrand store is located close to bustling Oxford Street, Regent Street and Covent Garden shopping hubs, but among a set of quieter Soho streets that have established themselves as more of a premium destination (Paul Smith, and beauty brands Le Labo and Aesop are neighbours).
“Soho is such a vibrant and diverse part of London,” says Kappelgaard. “You have all the tourists and chic shoppers mixed with all the creative locals.” She highlights the importance of London to the business by pointing out that there are “twice as many people living in London as in the entire country of Denmark, so there’s a huge potential [here] on so many levels”. She adds: “At some point, we would love to open in other parts of London, too – maybe Notting Hill or Shoreditch.”
The first London store has been designed by Danish architect Morten Hedegaard, who has designed all Samsøe & Samsøe’s stores, and is stocked with men’s and women’s wear, footwear and accessories. It is also the debut of the brand’s new logo and visual identity.
In typical contemporary Scandinavian style, the store blends a light, pared-back, minimalist look with elegant elements and interesting design quirks.
For instance, the front half of the store’s floor is poured concrete, painted a cool grey to match the walls, while the back of the store features a contrasting restored wooden parquet.
A large central desk acts as a display table and till point, and is complete with drinks fridge, crafted in slick metal, which contrasts with potted plants and comfortable, modern furniture, made in collaboration with Ox Denmarq specially for the London store.
Large light panels act as sculptures around the space, framing the regimented silver clothing rails that line the edge of the store. Transparent plastic display tables and iridescent hanging panels help to divide the store, while maintaining the sense of space and openness.
Samsøe & Samsøe’s ongoing international expansion extends to Paris, where it plans to open its first store in September, and Belgium, where a second store will open in the same month. A dedicated push into the US has also been put into action by the brand’s first American country manager and its first US stockist – Intermix – for autumn 19.
“We have a long list of places where we’d like to open stores,” concludes the brand’s creative director. “And slowly we are getting there.”
Fashion shoppers’ love affair with Scandi style shows no signs of abating, and Samsøe & Samsøe looks like one of the region’s strongest exports.