Meet the designer duo behind the brand Rotate: Thora Valdimars and Jeanette Friis Madsen
Gone are the days of sticking to one lane.
Thora Valdimars and Jeanette Friis Madsen put their editorial days of working at a fashion magazine behind them and went on to create 2019's coolest brand. The Danish designer duo sought out to fill a gap in the luxury market which led them to creating their Scandi-cool label, Rotate Birger Christensen.
In a saturated industry of $950 designer hoodies and the imitative fast fashion, Thora and Jeanette have brought a refreshing and unpredictable perspective into fashion at a time when it's needed most.
At its core, wearing Rotate is a conversation starter. Get to know the brains behind the brand and check out our full Fashion Week interview with Thora and Jeanette below:
How did you both meet?
Thora: I was working at a magazine in Copenhagen called Costume Magazine and I had just been promoted to be the fashion director and we needed a fashion editor and Jeanette came in.
And Jeanette, what were you doing before Rotate?
Jeanette: I was actually a model agent, but I had my Instagram and the editor in chief knew me and saw my pictures on Instagram and I guess that's why [she hired me.]
You definitely have good taste! What did your editorial background teach you about becoming designers?
Thora: It taught us a lot about working with women and different shapes and what suits women in general. And it's been so often where we've been standing in a dress that's been a little bit too short or a little bit too long. For example, a maxi dress that's too short or a mini dress that's too long. It just spoils the proportions. So, I think since we've been working so much with how women look and how much it can do to change a little bit in the shapes, the silhouettes -- it's been really important for our work.
Jeanette: And we have a commercial eye. Costume Magazine, where we were working was a commercial magazine, in a good way, of course. But you need to have the balance. So for us, it's important to have the balance because otherwise it's not commercial or wearable enough.
Thora: We want to be crazy and extravagant and amazing, but still wearable.
Another element that makes it so wearable is the price. Your dresses sit next to Alexandre Vauthier and Isabel Marant in stores, but retail for $300. Is having an affordable price point important?
Thora: It was so important. I am a single mom. None of us have rich parents. We were making the wages that we were making and we needed to go to all of these events when we were working at the magazine and we would have loved to buy Zimmerman and Gucci and all of these amazing things, but we couldn't afford it.
We wanted to make something that was extravagant and amazing and sexy and beautiful at the same time as being price friendly.
Did you both have the intention of creating the perfect party dress when first starting the brand? In my opinion, that's what you do so well.
Jeanette: It was a goal but we just wanted to make affordable pieces that were more extra. We really felt like there was a gap in the market of all these pretty dresses but they were not short enough or the back was never deep enough. It was too sober and they didn't dress up a women. We should just embrace that we are women and go have fun. As Thora said, we are both moms and when we were finally going out, we wanted to dress up.
Thora: We wanted to dress up for our men and feel sexy.
What does it mean to be in Bergdorf Goodman and next to these veteran designers?
Thora: It's crazy. It's a pinch me kind of situation.
Jeanette: We still don't understand it. When I saw the window where our dresses were just in the middle...
Thora: It's so funny because in Europe when you watch an American movie, you know it's like, 'Whatever you dream of, keep working at it,' or, 'You can make it happen.' We're always like, 'Those Americans,' [laughing] and now we're like, 'Oh my God, it actually happened and worked.'
Rotate is currently part of Bergdorf Goodman's new initiative, Radar, that helps spotlight young designers and emerging talent by creating a unique platform to nurture the brand's growth.
Speaking of being Scandinavian, what do you think of the rise in your street style and that Copenhagen Fashion Week is becoming more mainstream? I look at your culture and think it's a million times more interesting than what's happening in the States.
Thora: I think that there have been a lot of girls who are taking a chance to be themselves. Even though you think in fashion that you can be so creative, there are a lot of hidden rules -- like this brand is the cool brand and you should be dressing in these colors, and a lot of Copenhagen girls have just stayed true to themselves [despite the rules.]
What are some elements in Rotate that will never go away? What will you always incorporate into your designs?
Jeanette: It's the mini dress and it's the over the top. For us, the shape is so important and the length is so important -- so, a deep V and very short mini will always be forever.
Do you see yourselves expanding? I'd love some Rotate trousers.
Thora: We are doing tops. They are launching in November. It's going to be the dresses, but we just shortened them. We normally wear our dresses with jeans so now we are like 'okay, let's just make them tops.'