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My fashion life - Sanne Sehested

The founder of Danish womenswear label Gestuz talks Scandinavian trends and reveals plans for its first store.

Sanne Sehested

Sanne Sehested

After five years working as a womenswear buyer for Bestseller Group, Danish designer Sanne Sehested left to found women’s contemporary label Gestuz. With 50 UK stockists including Flannels and etailers Coggles and Atterley Road, it has gone from strength to strength, with celebrities such as singer Taylor Swift and model Olivia Palermo giving it the thumbs up.

What sparked your interest in fashion?
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to have my own brand, one which is based on my personal style. When I founded Gestuz in 2008, it was a dream come true and all of my favourite pieces, such as leather jackets, high-waisted pencil skirts and blazers can be seen within the collections. Since 2008, Gestuz has grown from a girl into a woman. It almost mirrors my own style journey. Our collections have matured throughout the years and now have a more sophisticated undertone - slightly more classic, yet maintaining that edgy, contemporary finish.

How does the UK shopper differ from the Scandinavian customer?
That’s a good question, and one I pay particular attention to when creating my designs. I would say the UK shopper opts for a more standout look, choosing eye-catching colours and prints. The Scandinavian customer tends to have a more minimalist laid-back style: functional, monochromatic and clean-cut. Gestuz has created the perfect juxtaposition by combining femininity and elegance with a nonchalant rock ‘n’ roll edge.

With Scandinavian fashion growing more prominent, how do you capture the essence of the Scandinavian woman?
I am the Scandinavian woman and this is reflected in my style. As a Danish brand based in Ikast, it’s in-built into our design ethic and androgynous collections. All of my team are Scandinavian, so this is inevitably a core part of Gestuz.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your company?
Stick to your DNA. Many years ago, I tried to please everyone by making collections that suited all different tastes in all different countries. Needless to say, this didn’t work. You can’t make everyone happy, so stay true to yourself and design the way you want to.

What has been your career highlight so far?
Creating our autumn 15 collection. This time around, we have incorporated more directional pieces with masculine tailoring, such as flared trousers, chunky knits and cropped wide culottes. We have placed a heavy focus on clean lines, high-quality fabrics and practicality. As a brand, we want to provide timeless pieces that last season after season.

What’s in the pipeline for 2015?
A store in Copenhagen by the autumn. It’s going to be the first Gestuz standalone store. We chose Copenhagen because, being Danish, we feel it’s the heart of the brand.

What’s the best thing about your job?
I am extremely lucky as my job is my passion. I have a small team of nine people and each one I can call a friend. I don’t think many people can say that.

And the worst?
Time pressures. My team is very small and this often means early starts and late finishes, especially during January, which is always our busiest time of year with sales for the latest season and developing new collections. This year, I hope to employ three extra people within the buying and design teams, which should ease the workload slightly.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Travelling. My favourite places are London, Paris and New York. I find inspiration everywhere, from people walking in the street to markets and vintage stores.

Describe Gestuz in three words.
Sexy, edgy and understated. When asked what Gestuz embodies, I always say: “Passion and power.” Gestuz is for the strong, fashion-conscious woman who keeps a strong focus on the trends but wants to discover her own personal style.

What celebrities would you most like to see wearing Gestuz?
[Actress] Diane Kruger and [model] Miranda Kerr - I love both of their styles. They always look so effortless.

What’s the one piece in your wardrobe you couldn’t live without?
My leather jacket. I have more than 20 in my wardrobe and you will never find a Gestuz collection without one. My current favourite is the Melanie jacket from our spring 15 range (wholesaling at £135.99). It’s a piece that can complement any wardrobe, giving a masculine touch to what would otherwise be a feminine outfit. My team and I loved this particular piece so much we created the same style in olive suede for autumn 15.

What’s your most used hashtag on Instagram?
#Gestuz #Love. I’m usually posting about people wearing Gestuz, whether that’s customers, fashion bloggers or celebrities. I love to see our designs being photographed.

What’s your motto in life?
Be happy, work hard and be nice to people.

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