A love of classic craftsmanship and sustainable Danish design brought together an award-winning architect and the world’s oldest glove brand for a new line of Danish-produced accessories in the form of clutches, bags and purses. Behind the collaboration stands architect and designer Lars Vejen and the brand RHANDERS, which since 1811 has produced the iconic Randers Handsker.
When Rina Hansen, 41, at the turn of 2019, was able to take the chair of RHANDERS from Arne Vejrum, 81, whose family had been running the 208 year-old company for 93 years, she put great pride in telling the outside world about her vision for the acclaimed company: She would rediscover, preserve and pay tribute to the craftsmanship and tradition which the company stands for.
The story reached architect and designer Lars Vejen, who has been a dedicated fan of the company ever since he was gifted the first pair gloves from his father in 1991. So, when he enthusiastically read an article in the Danish newspaper, Berlingske Tidende, about the generation change, he immediately drove to Randers to hear more and see the entire collection in the brand's store.
“When the store staff made me aware that Lars had been visiting the store and showed great interest in our products, I immediately contacted him and that became the starting point for our collaboration. I already knew of his design philosophy and that last year he was named 'Designer of the Year'. What particularly appealed to me about Lars' design is his dedication to craftsmanship, sustainable design and enduring products in style and function," says Rina Hansen and continues:
“Lars' design approach fits well with RHANDERS, which makes products designed to be used every day, but at the same time are so classic and strong that they last for decades - in both design and quality. With his background as an architect and designer, Lars is used to shaping products that will have a much longer lifespan than typical fashion products. This matches our ambition of 'slow fashion'. When craftsmanship and functionality go hand in hand, a leather product can be used for decades. "
N E W C L A S S I C S
It quickly became apparent that Lars Vejen shares Rina Hansen's love for creating sustainable design classics, and together they explored the old glove atelier’s stock of leather, most of which are tanned and dyed in Denmark.
“Here was a treasure trove of the softest and finest glove skin, which had been collected by a critical tanner hand for decades, and which had even been tanned and treated on Danish ground. Local production is gradually becoming an almost extinct phenomenon in the Danish fashion industry, so when we had our hands on something really unique, it also entailed an obligation to use it in a thoughtful manner ”, says Lars Vejen.
Therefore, the starting point for the collaboration was to create something beautiful based on the brand's craft traditions and which had the potential to become new RHANDERS classics. The result is the Cecilia collection, which is made up of various bags with soft shapes and characteristic features matching the design and the butter-soft organic material in the brand's glove range.
“My starting point has been the gloves. That is why I have been striving to create something as nice to touch as it is to wear a pair of RHANDERS gloves. I have defined the edges as soft, because there are no right angles on a pair of gloves. In the choice of details, I have been inspired by the glove model Cecilia, which hem is a stunning ribbed elastic edge that elegantly loops around the wrist,” says Lars Vejen.
The architect's focus on function and usage, is directly implemented in the design. There are purposefully crafted to ensure that the wearer has a good grip on the various bags, as well as to how they present themselves when placed as a decorative object on a table. One of the bags even has a hidden glove compartment, so you always have a dedicated space for your gloves.
D A N I S H C U L T U R A L H E R I T A G E A N D P R O D U C T I O N
In order to keep production on Danish ground, it has been necessary to upgrade the existing craftsmanship facilities at the glove atelier in Randers with several employees. This upgrade has become an interesting meeting point where experienced Danish craftsmen and young fashion students have collaborated around the honoured craft.
“We have tracked down some of the retired seamstresses and glove makers who were once employed at the atelier and engaged them to come back to advise on how to best work with the collection. They are top experts when it come to the leather material and know exactly how to stretch it to behave properly. At the same time, we have engaged young fashion students who would like to learn the craft and at the same time can add new perspectives to fashion,” explains Rina Hansen, emphasizing the need for the craft to be preserved and continue in the right way:
“In many places in Europe, the classical crafts are about to be completely forgotten because they have been downgraded due to demands for efficiency and cheaper production methods. If we are to look after the Danish cultural heritage that RHANDERS represents on an equal basis with design houses such as Georg Jensen or Royal Copenhagen, then we must invest in Danish production. That is why I am really proud that we have succeeded in making our new accessories collection at home.”
INTRODUCTION TO THE CECILIA COLLECTION
• Under the name Cecilia, RHANDERS is launching an accessories collection in collaboration with award-winning designer Lars Vejen. The collection is inspired by the brand's glove model of the same name.
• The material is the finest and softest glove skin, matching the gloves' colours and features.
• The collection is manufactured at the glove atelier in Randers according to the acclaimed craftsmanship principles.
• The collection contains six products - Cecilia Clutch, Cecilia Pouch, Cecilia Case, Cecilia Purse, Cecilia Belt Bag and Cecilia Tote.
• Prices follow the price structure of the gloves; between €80 and €400
BACKGROUND: LARS VEJEN
• Lars Vejen is a trained architect and designer and has worked with both small and large design objects in many different materials - from ceramics to solar cells.
• He divides his time between Aarhus and Kyoto, where he currently has his second home and studio. He designs for traditional Japanese craftsmen and launched the exhibition "Design Collaborations" at the Museum of Traditional Craft on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the trade anniversary between Denmark and Japan. The exhibition was subsequently displayed at gallery A. Petersen in Copenhagen, where it was awarded by the Swedish National Arts Foundation.
• In 2018 he received the Danish award "Designer of the Year" (Design Awards). The jury put emphasis on how Lars Vejen manages to unite the best of the Danish and Japanese design tradition in a unique way – always placing the level of detail and material understanding at the forefront.