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Get to Know Buzzy Copenhagen Brand Won Hundred

In our column United Nations of Style, we talk to the coolest, cuckoo craziest and most creative fashion designers around the world to hear what inspires them and what it's like to work in fashion where they live. This week we talked to Nikolaj Nielsen, creative director behind denim-centric Danish brand Won Hundred.

You're a fashion industry veteran -- what's your background?

I started working in the fashion industry as a teenager and worked for denim juggernauts Diesel and Miss Sixty. I learned everything about design from them. In 2004 I decided to build on the knowledge and experience by starting my own brand -- and Won Hundred was born.

You founded Won Hundred with "ambition to challenge the way fashion was grasped in native Denmark" -- what were you trying to challenge?

Fashion in Scandinavia was very different ten years ago. Now Scandinavian style is recognized as minimalistic and a major influence in global fashion, but back then it was a lot more showy and loud than it is now. When I started Won Hundred I was trying to challenge that method of dressing.

How would you describe your brand?

As a brand, Won Hundred is all about simplicity -- clean cuts and classic fits with a risky twist. Its focus is on great quality and beautiful cuts.

Who/what are your fashion inspirations? Your design inspirations?

We look to art, cinema and music movements for inspiration. For example, photographer Richard Avedon, furniture designer Arne Jacobsen, and of course, whatever I'm reading and listening to at the time has a huge influence on what I design.

Describe your vision/references for your resort 2015 collection.

This collection is heavily influenced by Bowie in the Berlin era. I was reading a book about this time in his career and it had a visible impact on the collection. Bowie's fashion sense is so totally unique to him. I love the way he has reinvented himself every decade, transforming from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke and onwards. He has changed everything about himself and his style yet is still so recognizably David Bowie. The prints we have used are very Bauhaus and the collection has a strong rock 'n' roll vibe to it.

WonH2.jpgWhat is your design process and philosophy?

My design process always begins with exploring a new artistic movement - whether it be in art, or music, or even architecture and design. I read about a certain period, or a certain artist and find inspirations in their methods and their work. My biggest influences are artists who consistently changed the way people perceived the world without compromising their artistic integrity.

Who do you dream of dressing?

I would love to get our jeans on Emmanuelle Alt and Nick Wooster. Also, who wouldn't want to dress Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg?

If you weren't in fashion, what would you be doing?

I would definitely be a chef.

Describe the fashion and design community in your city.

Copenhagen is known for making high fashion for affordable prices. It's such a fashionable city that there are a lot of innovative and new styles that originate from here. For such a small city, it has a huge population that is involved in fashion and design.

boysH.jpgHow does the atmosphere of your city affect/influence your personal style?

Copenhagen is a really down-to-earth, cool and easy city to be in. It's still a small city so it hasn't lost its charm. That easiness is very much reflected in my personal style as well.

What do you think is the most exciting thing about modern fashion?

Modern fashion is so fast. We are constantly pushed to do more and to do it better. It's cyclical, but because of the pace, the cycles are becoming shorter. Where it used to take 20 years for looks to come back into style, it now takes five, but every time we see a re-emerging trend, it is markedly different from the last time. It's a hotbed for innovation and recreation.

Describe the Won Hundred customer.

The Won Hundred customer is an intelligent, young professional with an appreciation for design and art. I'd rather see someone wearing Won Hundred at an underground art exhibition, or a gig for a really cool band, than at a fancy restaurant in Paris.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out?

I wish I had known how to run a company in general -- it would have saved me from a lot of early mistakes. That learning curve is still so vital to how I make business decisions now. Actually, I probably wouldn't trade that for anything.
What's next for Won Hundred?
We are currently working on opening a brand new store and finding the best location in Central Copenhagen. We have collaborated with one of Denmark's best dressed women, ballerina Cecilie Lassen. Act II is a collection that is heavily influenced by her style, and Cecilie was instrumental in making this collection come alive.

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