Main Image: Elaine Hersby Campaign - Photographer: Kia Hartelius

Meet Elite Gymnast Turned Fashion Designer: Elaine Hersby

Following her sixth show at Copenhagen Fashion Week, ORDRE catches up with Elaine Hersby to talk retail, technical design and collaborating with Nike.

Not many children are disciplined enough to pursue gymnastics, but Elaine Hersby reached elite level. Those early years of competing have moulded her eponymous womenswear label, featuring clothes you can jump and dance in. Along with creative inspiration, the Danish designer’s gymnast mentality is also what brought her to the point of launching a label in 2016. “I transformed my patience and dedication from gymnastics into a brand, it’s that determination to just go and make something happen,” she tells ORDRE.

But becoming a designer wasn’t a straightforward ride; Hersby was turned down twice to study fashion at the Danish School of Design, so ended up opting for graphic design instead in Hawaii. Following that BA, her dream to design hadn’t wavered. So, with her engrained perseverance she proceeded to work with Henrik Vibskov and Acne Studios, then went back to Denmark to launch a label fronted by hooded jumper dresses - now her best-selling piece.

“I transformed my patience and dedication from gymnastics into a brand”

Elaine Hersby

Three years on and Hersby’s collaborated with Nike, New Balance and Dr Martens, and her brand has become a burgeoning fixture at Copenhagen Fashion Week - she has just shown for the sixth time on schedule. This exposure has garnered an impressive range of stockists, from Selfridges in London to Australian retailer The Iconic. As well as Copenhagen, for Spring Summer SS’20, she’s just shown for the first time in New York and in Paris with ORDRE’s showroom too.

Right now, out of all these cities, Denmark is currently Hersby’s top selling market, “It’s because I have the most stockists there,” she says, “but I’m not designing specifically for the Copenhagen woman. I want women of all different cultures and sizes to wear my clothes.”

Hersby dresses active, modern-day women. She frequently emphasises that the brand is all about versatility, crafting clothes to be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Her carry-over, signature hooded dress embodies just that. “I decided on the hoody dress because I thought hoodies look a bit too street with eveningwear,” she tells ORDRE. Gymnast costume is a core influence for her collections, “I am also inspired by movement. If you look at some of my asymmetrical clothes, a lot of it embodies gymnast suits in 100% lycra, the clothes they wear at competitions,” she explains.

Luxury exercise-wear requires fine technical design, and Hersby doesn’t skimp on quality so everything is handmade in Denmark. “It’s so nice to produce everything close together. I know my customers appreciate it. As we grow it might get a little difficult,” she says, continuing to describe the wider issue of striving for sustainability as an emerging designer, “Unfortunately we aren’t using sustainable fabrics right now because we can’t afford it. If you’re a big company with the funds then of course, it is so much easier to be sustainable but it’s almost impossible for me at the moment.”

Right now, Hersby’s sustainability efforts only go so far as saving airmiles with local production. Though she is ambitious about expansion which will hopefully enable her to invest in organic and sustainable fabrics. “We’re really focused on expanding our stockists right now, so we’re not trying not to say yes to everything and aren’t going to be taking collaborations for a bit.” she says, after ruling out any potential to go into menswear. “I’d really love to grow to design some coats and jackets. So watch out for that.”

Elaine Hersby’s Online SS’20 Showroom is Now Open to ORDRE

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