Meet the latest Danish brand to step up to the global stage.
Scandinavian style has an effortless pared-back quality: It’s feminine, but edgy; simple, but interesting and fresh. Ganni, with all of its Insta-worthy floral prints and wearable silhouettes at justifiable price points, helped bring this cool-girl Copenhagen aesthetic to the global stage, paving the way for a slew of other Danish brands to excel outside of the Nordic region.
“Everybody’s eyes are on Scandanavia,” Pia Silfen-Jensen, the co-founder of Denmark-based handbag label Núnoo says over the phone. “The bigger brands have done a lot for smaller brands like us.”
Núnoo is no different. Since its launch in 2015, Silfen-Jensen and her sister, Naja Silfen, have made it their mission to design high-quality bags at accessible prices. “We wanted to challenge the ‘It’ bag’ by making something that wasn’t super expensive or exclusive, but that was still desirable and makes a clear fashion statement,” explains Silfen-Jensen.
Silfen attended design school, while Silfen-Jensen has a masters in sales and communication. With their shared entrepreneurial spirit and long-held passion for vintage and the mixing of high and low labels, the sibling duo created Núnoo in hopes that they could build a successful business and have some fun while doing it.
When starting out, they didn’t have a huge network in fashion; but what they lacked in real-life connections, they made up for with influencer marketing on Instagram, specifically with micro influencers.
“We always believed in Instagram,” says Camilla Lin Silfen, the marketing coordinator at Núnoo. “In the beginning it was just Danish girls with maybe 5,000 followers. We gave them the bag for free and then they would post the picture. And when the business grew, it has been bigger and bigger girls, but it has always been the only way we advertise. It has been a very big part of creating a community around the brand.”
It’s easy to see why social media was the jumping off point for the brick-shaped accessory — much like a whimsical Susan Alexandra beaded clutch, a Núnoo crossbody stands out on a crowded feed, especially when worn by Instagram-adept muses like Leandra Medine, Courtney Trop and Alyssa Coscarelli. This is because the bag features instantly recognizable bold zippers, studded rock ‘n’ roll-inspired detailing and pronounced pockets, and comes in several punchy colors and prints, from polka dots to snakeskin; in other words, it’s a two-second way to punctuate a tired knit-and-denim combo.
“You don’t need to have just one bag,” Lin Silfen notes. “Because they are more affordable, you can have one for one occasion, and one for another. So you can use it like an extra part of your outfit instead of just a black bag you use every day.”
Núnoo’s ethos is rooted in functionality and personal style, hence the numerous style options. The logoless accessory is offered in a plethora of sizes — from a teeny tiny tote to more substantial carryall; there’s even an adorable mini corduroy backpack.
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The bags are currently all produced in India, where the Silfen sisters work with suppliers that they’ve known for a long time from a previous family business; they visit the factories four or five times a year. Núnoo also works with an NGO organization that makes it possible for mothers in India to stay with their families and produce in their villages, instead of having to move into the cities and leave their children to find work. All the proceeds from a basket collection they did last summer went to these women, and they will continue to support them with an upcoming collection this spring. The label also spent the last year and a half donating a portion of its sales to Hanshi Khushi, a school in Kolkata for disabled teens, who often receive little support from the country. But the brand is also launching a new line that will be produced in Italy.
Right now, the Silfens are gearing up to launch a pineapple collection — as in party-ready minis literally made from pineapple leaves — and a biodegradable plastic range. They’re also looking to grow their U.S. presence. Núnoo is currently sold in more than 350 stores in Tokyo and all over Europe, as well as Saudi Arabia. Stateside, you can find select styles at Shopbop and Free People.
Their global ambitions seem achievable due to their homegrown success. This summer, Núnoo was nominated by Magasin, Copenhagen’s biggest department store, as the fastest-growing company in Denmark. Though it did not end up winning, the nomination alone was an encouraging feat as it was the first time an accessory brand had been included on the shortlist.
Núnoo is further proof that the Danish fashion industry is gaining more traction. And while the brand has no plans to team up with Ganni — even though its offices are in the same building — Silfen-Jensen says she is looking forward to working with smaller local brands, such as Pura Utz, a cheery accessories label dedicated to providing a steady income for the women artisans of Guatemala.
“We try to support other girls who build companies in the same way that we did,” Silfen-Jensen says. “But our first focus will always be on designing the bag.”