The Reffstrups took over the small cashmere brand, founded by Frans Truelsen, in 2009. At the time, Ms. Reffstrup was a buyer in Copenhagen and felt boxed in by the stereotypes of cold androgyny or flower-crown-wearing bohemian that defined Scandinavian style. Mr. Reffstrup was a former tech executive who had raised capital to introduce artificial intelligence software similar to Apple’s Siri assistant.
Ms. Reffstrup, who loved to wear Isabel Marant and Adidas, wanted a new way of dressing. Mr. Reffstrup had his tech ideals. “If you have a product that’s 3 percent better than the other guy’s, it will end up dominating,” he said.
Well-being and the common good are central to Denmark’s socialist society. It’s no coincidence that Copenhagen, home of the Global Fashion Summit, emerged as the nucleus of fashion’s climate awakening. “When I met Nicolaj 18 years ago, he was talking about global warming and climate change,” Ms. Reffstrup said. Ganni hired its first responsibility manager in 2013 and started mapping its carbon footprint in 2016.
“I felt that that was way too late, but looking back now, it feels very progressive,” Mr. Reffstrup said.
Sourcing responsible fabrics has always been part of Ganni’s mission. In its spring 2022 collection, at least 50 percent of the styles’ composition materials are made from certified organic, recycled or lower-impact fabrics. By next year, it plans to be rid of virgin leather; the company is testing out leather alternatives made from grape skin waste, mushroom-like materials and a cotton alternative made from bananas.
Resale is being tested in British and Scandinavian markets, and Ganni’s re-cut collection, designed from deadstock and upcycled materials, is now among the best-selling products on its website. The company has committed to reducing its greenhouse emissions by 50 percent by 2027.
If all this responsibility sounds incredibly ambitious, the Reffstrups say it is and it isn’t.
“A lot of brands or businesses are hiding behind the fact that it sounds complex and esoteric and abstract,” Mr. Reffstrup said. “There are so many things you can do. There’s only one problem: It’s going to cost you money.”