Danish brand-of-the-moment Ganni doubles down on Southern California presence
The Copenhagen-based women’s contemporary brand Ganni made its high-profile entrance into the U.S. stand-alone store business last fall by opening boutiques in New York and West Hollywood and having husband-and-wife co-owners Ditte and Nicolaj Reffstrup (Ditte also serves as the label’s creative director) embark on a coast-to-coast road-trip culminating in a barn-burner of a bash at the Dresden Room in Los Feliz.
Now the Danish duo is doubling down on its West Coast presence with a second SoCal store that opened Jan. 24 in downtown Los Angeles across from Acne Studios (which also happens to be Ganni’s Melrose Avenue neighbor as well) and a block from the Ace Hotel.
For the record:
12:31 p.m. Feb. 21, 2020An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Nicolaj Reffstrup as the chief executive of Ganni. Andrea Baldo is the CEO, Nicolaj Reffstrup is a majority co-owner of the brand along with his wife Ditte.
“We really like Echo Park and Silver Lake. I guess those neighborhoods remind us of Copenhagen somehow,” Ditte Reffstrup said of the new space. “And we like to be near some of our favorite spots, like the Broad, Grand Central Market and the Ace.”
“Melrose Avenue is a pretty classic retail location in L.A., which is great,” added Nicolaj Reffstrup. “But we also liked the idea of a more offbeat location. The smaller space allows us to be more experimental with concepts, as we don’t have the same commercial pressure to perform as we do with bigger stores.”
The downtown shop will showcase some of the brand’s experimental efforts, including a limited-edition capsule collection available exclusively there, using leftover pieces of leather, trims and animal-print fabric (think mix-and-matched tiger stripes and leopard spots) patchworked together in swirling dresses, tailored pieces and swimsuits.
Sustainability is one of the brand’s guiding principles — Nicolaj calls it a “moral obligation.” Reffstrup and Nicolaj have been mapping Ganni’s carbon footprint since 2016, and each garment has a Climate Compensated label, which indicates that the fashion label has paid to offset the C02 emissions generated by that piece.
Additionally, they are incorporating a variety of eco-minded practices into their operations, everything from experimenting with recycled or biodegradable materials in their clothing textiles and packaging to serving an organic vegetarian lunch to employees. (During the interview, they excitedly showed off a picture of mushrooms growing from used coffee grounds that live in their headquarters.) Ganni’s entire sustainability report can be found on its website, and Nicolaj has made it a goal that the company be carbon-neutral by 2050, if not sooner.
In the four months since they opened their first West Coast outpost, the pair have become all too familiar with one of L.A.’s defining characteristics: the ebb and flow of the traffic.
Dermalogica, Byredo open in West Hollywood, Gucci adds a rooftop restaurant on Rodeo and Studio C sails into Newport Beach.
“We sometimes feel a little bubble-ish coming out of a fairy-tale [setting] like Copenhagen,” Nicolaj said. “Even with three kids, we bike everywhere in [that] city, and it takes you about 30 minutes to get across town by bike. You can hardly get from your main entrance to the end of your driveway by car in L.A. in 30 minutes!” Undaunted by L.A.’s sprawling geography and busy streets, he frames it as an opportunity. “But, hey, the good thing is, you get to listen to a lot of great music in your car. And luckily now we have two stores in L.A. so you don’t have to drive so far.”
That sort of sunny optimism is a hallmark of the label itself; a range of exuberantly patterned dresses, romantic blouses and whimsical knits that have attracted a fan base of fashion editors, online influencers and (gasp!) regular women, all thanks to their cheerful spirit and won’t-break-the-bank prices (dresses range from $150 to $600, while outerwear tops out at around $1,000). Ganni was originally founded — as a sweater brand — in 2000 by Frans Truelsen, with the Reffstrups coming on board in 2009, ushering in a decade of explosive growth.
Under Ditte Reffstrup’s creative direction, the brand became a visual feast that delightfully mixes bold patterns (funky florals and animal prints) with unexpected shapes like the puffed-shouldered broderie anglaise dress in army green she wore the day we met. “For me, dressing up is being comfortable in your own skin and making the best of what you have,” she said. “Not necessarily following trends but dressing to suit the individual best. Mixing stuff. Like if you’re wearing a feminine dress, don’t wear too much makeup and wear a flat shoe. I think a woman can look so much sexier when it’s not so obvious. I think it’s important to dress for yourself and not anybody else.”
Ditte’s designs have been well-received, especially in the past two or three years, with items consistently breaking through the online chatter and going viral, as well as inspiring the hashtag #gannigirls, which has more than 40,000 posts to date. The power of social media became clear to her when influencer Pernille Teisbaek wore one of her designs — a green wrap dress — at Paris Fashion Week. Suddenly the dress, which had been “selling OK,” according to Ditte, was so popular the Reffstrups had to have a meeting about whether to produce more and restock it. In a telling move, they ultimately decided not to.
Draped capes, a bouquet of florals and an emphasis on sustainability are among New York Fashion Week’s top takeaways. You’ll likely see versions of these trends in stores and online later this year.
“You don’t always know why you’re doing something,” Ditte said of her design process. “You just do it because it feels right.”
This instinctual approach could describe how the business is run as well. Nicolaj worked in technology and says the business is run more like a tech startup than a fashion brand. “We’re extremely focused on creating the best product and not worrying about anything else. The world will change anyway every six months, so just focus all resources on creating the best possible product.”
It’s a mindset that seems to have served Ganni — and the Reffstrups — well; the label brought in close to 80 million euros (approximately $86.3 million at current exchange rates) in revenue in 2019.
Ganni, 9004 Melrose Ave.; 860 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, (323) 807-0695, ganni.com
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