Amalie Røge Hove — Shaking Knit Up

Photography:
Portrait: Dennis Morton, Editorial: Luke Gooden
Styling:
Yana McKillop
Words:
Benjamin Schiffer

Body-hugging yet sculpturally shaping, revealing yet dressed, this is how the creations of Danish designer Amalie Røge Hove could best be described. Only 48 hours before opening Copenhagen Fashion Week SS24, the rising talent sits down with PUSS PUSS to touch on her unique work approach, inclusivity and the balance between the digital and analogue world.

A. Roege Hove jumper, skirt, scarf & bag

A. Roege Hove dresses, Manu Atelier shoes, stylist’s own socks

Benjamin Schiffer: I met you for the first time in 2020 interning at a Copenhagen-based PR agency. Your creations were surely the most pulled ones by stylists and some of the most covetable titles. How would you explain the vast interest in your collections at this early stage?
Amalie Røge Hove: To be honest, I don’t really know. When you start working on something you ask yourself how people will react to it. Do they see the same as I do? The last thing the world needs is more brands. The first pieces I had at Spalt PR at that time offered something that no one else did even though they were so simple. I did not feel like I made something special – without sounding unambitious. I have always been surprised by the attention that we got. The moment the agency asked me to bring some of my pieces over, I was doubting that step, but then obviously people started knowing me.
BS: So showrooming actually helped you get your name out there. How did your particular interest in knit come about?
ARH: Before I got accepted to the Royal Academy of Design Copenhagen, I had one year at a different school. Back then, I applied for the regular fashion department. After being there for a week, I realised that I did not feel at home. I felt like the textile department was so much more interesting, so I asked if I could switch courses. They asked me if I had any experience in that field, to which I answered that I did a little. Let me tell you… I had nothing. They ended up switching me over since the fashion department was much more popular than textiles. Sitting down with a knitting machine for the first time, I was so fascinated and figured that this is how I would like to work with material and the body. It brought out a different process of working with the body and clothes than the fashion department did. In that sense it had a lot to do with how the machine worked.

A. Roege Hove cardigans & dress, Manu Atelier shoes

BS: It’s so refreshing to hear of people who have a slightly different background other than the classic fashion design school route. Tell us about your design process!
ARH: We never really start a collection from scratch as we constantly have developments going on in our studios. We have never started with a particular theme in mind. Samples are hanging on our boards for many seasons, it´s a constant evolution. At some point we will make use of them, 153 sometimes it’s only small swatches. We constantly ask ourselves how we can build on top of what we already did while still making sure that people feel like they see something new from us. The premise of the brand is to push knitwear. It’s really a fine line keeping our DNA, but also making people wonder, ‘Is this still knit?’.
BS: Your ready-to-wear pieces are incredibly veracious and delicate, revealing some of the wearer’s most intimate body parts. At the same time, they shape the body like a firm sculpture. How do you achieve this almost optical illusion?
ARH: We work with and against the body. It’s always about dressing the body, but also about how the body might disturb the techniques that work. This transformation from hanger to body, from machine to body fascinates me. On a hanger a piece might look quite precise, but then once it is on the body you will see how it’s actually constructed, in which directions the garment is pulled creating lines or stripes. The ultimate goal for me is to create something quite simple, but the body makes it complex. If this happens, we usually know that we did a good job. Depending on the body type or the colour of the skin, you will get a completely new perspective on a garment. Closer to the shows we have a lot of fittings with people of different body types and personalities, so that we have this constant relationship with the body.
BS: What are your favourite materials to work with?
ARH: In the beginning, I was very limited with the materials that I used. We are trying to be more daring with that. The question is rather how we treat our materials. I’m really drawn to materials that have a stiffness to them or a life of their own. I remember in school always saying that I wanted to put life into textiles. I wanted things like a sweater to be able to stand on a table without falling together.

A. Roege Hove jumper, skirt, scarf & bag

A. Roege Hove jumper, bra, shorts & bag, stylist’s own socks

BS: Your work approach allows room for body sizes aside from size zero. Was this an intentional decision?
ARH: Of course, it’s a huge focus for us, but initially it all started from the inspiration that different bodies gave us. I did not intend to create this ‘crazy fashion brand that is diverse’. My approach came from being deeply interested in textiles and seeing how different body and skin types affect how we perceive them. I hate the idea of having a brand that would exclude a certain group of people. The worst thing about fashion is this sense of ‘fashion is not for everyone.’ I completely dismiss this notion. The sizing should not be the reason that keeps someone from wearing it.
BS: While we are speaking, you are in the last preparations for your next show. To what extent is the staging of the show adjusted to our use of the smartphone?
ARH: Personally, I am a very analogue type. It would be very difficult for me to do what I do without the use of our smartphones. We are as close to a Danish girl buying our pieces as a Japanese customer and I love that. We really need to see our clothes being alive on our customers for the process. I am personally quite private, but I do enjoy seeing the crazy digital life that a show like ours has afterwards. Because it’s digital, it feels strangely distant, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Everyone who knows me knows that I am terrible at picking up my phone or texting.
BS: Do you have a tip for someone balancing digital and analogue?
ARH: People need to work with their hands more. It’s important to have spaces that allow that. Even distinguishing between a work phone and a private phone could make a difference. I’m most afraid fashion could miss out on the physical touch, people interacting with textiles, and fitting things on a real body.

A. Roege Hove jumper, bra & shorts

A. Roege Hove jumper, skirt, scarf & bag

BS: How do you then feel about the use of AI?
ARH: Obviously, I’m a bit scared of it. It is not only the relationship between people that I cherish but also the relationship between materials and humans. I don’t want to come across as old-school, but I strongly believe that the way we work cannot be replaced anytime soon or even create any better results. I would never say never making use of AI. However, I strongly advocate for being strict when introducing new technology into our lives. We should be very sure of what the actual benefits are. Now is the time to figure out how we as humans can stay relevant.
BS: Although Photoshop, beauty filters and the altering of images with AI are omnipresent, a movement towards more authentic, less posed content is visible through #photodumps and blurred photos. Your creations are absolutely in keeping with the spirit of the times, aren’t they?
ARH: I have never really been a fan of staging things for the brand. For us, it’s about creating pieces that look like they are super slim, but are eventually super stretchy. There are all these ideals within beauty and those ideals come and go. When we post on Instagram, I can sense that our followers appreciate ‘normal’ people wearing our garments. I do think that it is indeed a better time now. Nevertheless, I am sure that the trends towards the more crazy unachievable ideals will come back. I am however not interested in my brand only showing immaculate skin or thighs without cellulite.
BS: What do you want the future to look like for your brand?
ARH: We are now also at this stage where we built a DNA for our brand from which we can start seeking out for collaborations. Before that, having collaborations pitched to me did not feel right yet. Now is also an adequate time to see if I can do something other than working with knit and see if the principles of how we work can be applied to different products.
Order your copy of issue 18 here
Photographers: Portrait: Dennis Morton, Editorial: Luke Gooden
Stylist: Yana McKillop
Model: Koujayn at Premier
Casting: Yana McKillop
Makeup: Sakura Kanaoka
Hair: Kachi Katsuya
Photographer’s assistant: Grace Tasselli
Stylist’s assistant: Sofi Chetrar
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