Five years ago, Barbara Potts and Cathrine Saks started their namesake line Saks Potts in Copenhagen with the idea for a line of whimsical fur coats in a few different styles. Back then the 24- and 25-year-old didn’t create a formal business plan—and they still don’t have one. They just go with the flow when it comes to fashion. “There’s not a recipe in our minds,” says Potts. “We are very free and we take it step by step.”
Since then, Saks Potts has gone from selling one signature coat in a few different colors to producing one collection per year with anywhere between 20 and 30 pieces, including dresses, blouses and other ready-to-wear goodies—plus bags and accessories. Though the line typically presents during Copenhagen Fashion Week, Saks Potts has been gaining major traction stateside. Leandra Medine of Man Repeller is a fan, having worn and posted about the label’s coats on Instagram, as has Glossier’s founder, Emily Weiss. The designers used to hang out around Hôtel Costes in Paris and gift their coats (which start at around $1,000 and cost upwards of $3,500) to celebs they admired when the label first launched, which of course helped get the word out.
Last Thursday, the brand made their New York Fashion Week debut, with Collection 9.
“This is our first proper presentation for us, so it’s very exciting,” says Saks, while sitting on an ornate couch inside the National Arts Club, where the brand’s event took place. “I think also, we are really looking forward to having this event here in New York because we have so many people who really wanted to get in touch with us. We have a lot of friends and customers in the city.”
The secret to Saks Potts’ success has a lot to do with its distinction from other Scandinavian fashion labels, ones that often focus on a minimal, dark-hued aesthetic. This season, the duo took inspiration from a vision of “a British lady who drinks high tea all day long.” Models were sprawled throughout the Art Deco space, wearing colorful furs in pink, baby blue and leopard print, often with gloves that matched the pattern of the coat, or vivid tights peeking out from under their long coats.
In fact, the two consider their unconventional fashion education and their brand’s trajectory as a huge part of what informs their unique style. Saks studied a variety of different topics in school, including tailoring, and Potts just earned her Art History degree this past summer. “We weren’t really schooled in a certain way of designing or a certain way of thinking,” says Potts. “It’s very intuitive, the way we design. Sometimes when we talk to our friends that went to design school, it’s like a different way of thought.” The designers have been vocal in that past about the fact that their aesthetic felt very new in their local Copenhagen fashion circle.
When asked to describe their line in just a few words, they opt for “young and colorful.” Like their most recent collection, which was a cool take on a proper British lady, there’s a sort of juxtaposition between the inspiration and the execution, which makes the brand’s pieces so cult-worthy and pop-y, especially during winter weather. Not a single piece from the new collection looked old lady-like, despite the fact that almost all of the models were wearing elbow length gloves and fur coats. “It has to be fun because we use a lot of fur on our coats and that can easily become very extravagant and harsh,” says Saks.
Potts adds, “It’s important for us to take that a little bit down to earth and put some fun into it and some youth.” Despite a recent shift away from the use of fur in collections—labels like Gucci, Tom Ford and Michael Kors have committed to dropping the often inhumane material in the future—Saks Potts has no plans to remove fur from their designs. It’s surely an interesting choice.
But the duo does insist that they’ll continue to show their line in Copenhagen once a year, but will likely begin having presentations at other international fashion weeks. “But we like to go with the flow,” says Saks.
“We’re really trying to make a bigger impact on America,” she continues. “Not only New York but also other places in America. Like L.A., Boston, Washington, too. But we start with New York.”
In terms of the future for Denmark’s coolest fashion label, they’ll forever stick to a good statement coat pieces that support those coats, but it’s not without good reason: “In Denmark, it’s so cold all the time, so you wear coats all the time,” says Saks. “It’s the only thing you see from a persons’ outfits, so for us, it’s the most important part of an outfit. You have to invest in a great coat.”