The collaboration – with a campaign starring familiar faces from throughout the fashion Danish industry heavyweights – plays on the mythology and aesthetics often associated with Copenhagen’s freetown of Christiania
Who says you can’t get up to new tricks with old duds? Not Nana and Simon Wick, the Copenhagen-based sister and brother act behind upcycling brand (di)vision, which in a short time has gathered a big following for its half-and-half pants, two-way zippered bombers, and vintage Carhartt mashups. Now, the up-and-comers are releasing a one-off collaboration with jeans giant G-Star Raw, and the pairing is a good fit.
Simon remembers envying older kids at his school who wore G-Star Raw’s full-legged Elwoods, first introduced in ’96. He built half of this capsule collection around the ergonomic denim style. “I did a custom version of the Elwoods with 96 embroidered—like the ones I remembered from back in the days – then we added the (di)vision logo as well to do our own touch.”
That’s not all there is to this match-up, though. The designer was invited to Amsterdam to visit G-Star Raw’s archives, where he pulled 96 of the Dutch brand’s pieces, mostly dating from the ’00s, to customise. The siblings have taken a crafty approach to this upcycling project, patching a khaki cargo pocket onto a pair of Elwoods or slicing the bottom of the legs open to add inserts. Material cut from a work shirt is used to create a double hem on a denim skirt, making an easy set, and fabric strips are woven into bags and used as open-work detailing on a miniskirt.
If (di)vision’s last runway collection leaned into grunge, this offering seems to play on the mythology and aesthetics often associated with Copenhagen’s freetown of Christiania. That’s not the only Danish connection; the Wicks gathered 26 of their friends and associates to model these new-old one-of-a-kind creations. “It’s local heroes from Copenhagen that I feel represent me and the brand and Copenhagen very well,” Wick noted.
Representing G-Star Raw is a rhinoceros named G-NO, chosen, the designer explained, because it can’t walk backwards, but only move forward. In one photograph, the whole cast appears side-by-side on said CGI-generated rhino. This adds an interesting aspect to the project as it revisits not only the physical, but the intellectual assets of the host company. Perhaps Wick is also hoping to manifest future opportunities when he mentions that Pharrell Williams, now at Louis Vuitton, was once a creative director for G-Star Raw.
Wick sees collaborations as an interesting, non-traditional way for independent brands to be creative. “Being able to upcycle in that way through older brands and archives really allows us to think differently, and it’s such a tough business for young designers right now. For me to be able to work with these bigger corporations and get into their marketing budgets and stuff like that really helps us.”
It's such a tough business for young designers right now. For me to be able to work with these bigger corporations and get into their marketing budgets and stuff like that really helps us.
Simon Wick, (di)vision's co-founder and designer
It’s a two-way street, of course. Established labels are looking for ways to speak to new generations and to participate in trends like Y2K nostalgia, a niche that (di)vision knows well. “For me,” says Wick, “that isn’t only [about] Von Dutch caps and mini skirts; it can be grungy Avril Lavigne style with the striped arm warmers and the band T-shirts with the skinny jeans or neo-grunge. Where I’m looking for inspiration,” he continues, “is the 1990s; for [our fall 2023 collection] there were a lot of Limp Bizkit references; that’s the area I’d like to search in more, the mix of rock and rap, I think something interesting happened there.”
The signifiers of this trend are generally clearer than what drives it, though not for Wick. “I got a bit tired of minimalism. I don’t know if [that’s down] to me coming from Scandinavia. I just feel like there’s a lot of joy in [the Y2K aesthetic] and I’m a joyful person. I like looking at the world in different ways than maybe other people do. I think with minimalism, it drained me, I didn’t feel inspired, I didn’t feel anything when I saw people in it. I’m drawn to feeling something more. Maybe it’s the whole TikTok/Instagram stimulation; we need to feel something all the time – also in our fashion.”
There’s a lot of excitement to be had from (di)vision’s upcycled collection with G-Star Raw, but there’s not a lot of it to go around. Ninety-six pairs of G-Star x (di)vision Elwood jeans are available from November 16 at G-Star.com and di-vsn.com, and the 96 upcycled pieces will be available exclusively at ESSX in New York City.