My name is Mads Nørgaard, I’m the head designer and owner of the company by the same name. We design and manufacture clothes for both women, men and children, and sell in more than 500 independent stores around the world – mainly in markets near Denmark plus the far East. In addition, we have three stores on Strøget in Copenhagen for both women, men and children, and two stores on Tullinsgade in the Vesterbro borough in Copenhagen.
I founded my own shop in 1986 but am the third generation of my family in the business. My grandfather founded ‘Sørgemagasinet’ in 1944 and my father founded Nørgaard paa Strøget in 1962. Both at the same address that houses our store today.
I enjoy working in fashion and I see it as one of our finest objectives – besides making beautiful clothes – to help break down the usual boundaries of what is ‘right' and ‘wrong’, what you ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ do. I believe in the empowerment of people, and believe that people should be able to make their own choices. We aim to work towards getting rid of all the 'pointing fingers' when it comes to the clothes people choose to wear and their ways of expressing themselves. ‘What you wear should support you in your ways and beliefs’, to put it short.
Production-wise, we wish to make beautiful and well processed clothing, created under reassuring work conditions – clothing that will hopefully last a little bit longer – both in a fashion- and durability-sense.
But I do have an ambivalent relationship with the world of fashion. On the one hand, I’m an unconditional modernist and excited about everything new. I believe that things gradually become a little bit better – although the progress may be slow at times.
I’m excited about being seduced by new things that emerge. Whether it be new clothing, new fashion, new pop songs or new habits. And I love to be surprised in a positive manner by something new, which I didn’t know I craved or even existed.
On the other hand, I believe that many of these new things emerge rapidly. It often feels as if the new collections and the latest fashion replace garments that are still functional, but then left on hangers only to collect dust. The pace is simply too high, the seduction turns into some kind of vulgar consumerism. A fact that I don’t find very pleasant, at all.
These two attitudes contradict each other and are in constant conflict, and I feel we are many who share that dilemma.
I believe it’s important not to be diverted by the dilemma. Instead we should all recognize its existence and then try to find one’s own path. This is why I feel a need to turn down the pace a little. I do that by having a core of wardrobe stables and recurring themes, that we return to. -Again and again. Be it the stripes, the inspiration from workwear or the maritime inspiration in much of our clothing.
In my opinion, the element of seduction is essential in fashion. The seductive, the irrational, to give in to desires you didn’t know existed in you. That is the main reason I make clothing in the first place. Because, let’s be honest - clothes are not in short supply. At least not from a practical point of view. Not many people in the western world buy new clothing because their old clothes is worn out, or because they have nothing else to wear. The seduction, the irrational, is at the core of all modern design work, as well as in fashion.
My path goes via what I call a ‘durable wardrobe’. A durable wardrobe represents part of our collections and creates the core of my designs. Durable in more than one way. -Over time, by use and in design. This part of my collection is made up of designs that we feel is fashionably relevant season after season and can be combined with new seasonal tendencies. A ‘durable wardrobe’ consists of high quality and durable designs that are manufactured locally and under responsible social and environmental conditions. This is based on common values with our business partners. This way of thinking about a ‘durable wardrobe’ makes up a permanent part of our work with each collection, but they do not represent independent collections on their own. They are instead a natural and integral part of the collections.
Part of our designs have to contribute to this ’durable wardrobe’. We build our collections around a core of designs as long as these have a fashion relevance. Again, exemplified by stripes, workwear references and inspiration from the maritime. It’s around this core that we design the rest of the collection.
Our core designs, like T-shirt #101 which my father designed in the 1970’s, are all manufactured in Denmark in our own workshop. The vast majority of our designs are produced in Europe, including Turkey. Some of our outerwear is produced in China, and we produce leather-garments in Pakistan and India.
As part of our sustainability efforts, we have also chosen to join the UN’s international initiative, Global Compact, and its 10 principles for responsible business and textile production. We follow five principles in our way of business, relations and communication:
- We work to create full transparency about the fabrics and production in our own workshop in Denmark and we will communicate this on our website to our consumers and wholesale customers.
- We will work for full and visible information about where all our clothing is produced and about the fabrics used.
- We build long-term relationships with our suppliers and we will integrate our ‘Code of Conduct’ based on shared values. This is based on the principles of the UN Global Compact initiative.
- We are working to integrate sustainable materials in our collections. In our spring collection 2017 and onwards we will include at least one sustainable fabric in each category of the collection.
Our shops on Strøget are multi-brand stores, and we sell brands other than just our own. We feel obligated to be an active part of the ongoing development of the industry. That is why we actively help new, and carefully selected, independent designers with favorable payment terms and advice and support. We want our in-store customers to know our values about CSR and the ‘durable wardrobe’. Both in our communication, but also implicit in the atmosphere in the shop and in the way we interact with each other, the goods and our customers.
We want to equip our employees in the best possible way for them to communicate our approach to CSR to our customers. We are well aware that the implementation of a CSR policy is a long process, and we commit ourselves to work towards constant improvements in the years ahead.