Like any great cultural discovery, this one begins on the Instagram explore page. During the peak of a short-lived viral fashion phase, of which I'm not particularly proud, I came across a puzzling picture. It was of an older gentleman wearing some cool sunglasses, staring me directly in the face. Fascinated and unsettled, I poked my roommate and stuck my phone in his face. He told me to please never show him that again. I was hooked.
The über hip Danish menswear label Han Kjøbenhavn is, in many respects, adherent to the conventions of modern Northern European fashion. They tend toward a minimal aesthetic, favoring neutral tones, apocalyptic bomber jackets, and so on. There's just one striking peculiarity: their models. Familiarly skinny, young, sleeve-tattooed men with undercuts and high cheekbones? Not exactly. The brand has taken things in a fascinating direction by featuring, for lack of a better term, old guys. But the clothing is not attached to this fact, nor does the company make a particular point of saying, "hey, look what we're doing over here!". It is, somehow, seemingly organic, but also kind of otherworldly, showcasing two perfectly cast characters from an apparent universe where elevated dress is state-coördinated and everyone is deceiving you with a smile. Limited by a rudimentary understanding of the intricacies of menswear and a cone deficiency that renders me unable to differentiate between purple and blue, I'll simply say this: it's cool.
We're not, however, left totally in the dark on Han Kjøbenhavn's vision as it relates to their models. In a 2016 interview with the annoying-but-sometimes-helpful blog Hypebeast, co-founder Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen provides a brief explanation:
It’s not about their age but about the life they have lived. It is important that we work with people who have stories to share, which also can be seen in their facial appearance as well... They are confident, they know what they are. That’s the most important thing. You can dress the biggest douche in the good stuff and it will still be wrong.
The brand has clearly done something right; although I am likely never to buy anything from Han Kjøbenhavn, I'm nonetheless fascinated by their products and stylistic choices, perhaps as a result of a profound lack of context. Even if the details of the past lives of these models were available, I think I prefer the mystery.