It's been 10 years since Danish designer Nikolaj Nielsen started his denim-focused clothing company, Won Hundred. But before that, he cut his teeth at massive Italian jeans brands like Diesel and the Sixty Group (which makes the women's labels Miss Sixty and Energie). In that time, he's amassed an expertise about denim that he combines deftly with the tailored clothing and sporty pieces in his collections.
But one of the first things we asked him was how he named the brand, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a giveaway on social media. "I really wanted to use numbers in the name, and had initially intended to call the brand One 100," the designer explained. "However, it wasn't possible to register numerical digits as a name, so the brand was listed as Won Hundred. I instantly fell in love with it phonetically and graphically."
What else does Nielsen love? We talked with him about his well-dressed countrymen (who don't try too hard), David Bowie's game-changing style, and what he learned before starting his own brand.
1. I love that in Denmark everyone looks effortless. Very rarely do I see someone on the street in Copenhagen and think they must have spent hours deciding what their look that day would be. I find that our personal style very much mirrors our attitude towards fashion: effortless, easy, natural.
2. The perfect jeans are a combination of fit and wash. The perfect pair should be an extension of your personality; they need to be comfortable, yet stylish enough to dress up or down; and versatile enough to be used as a neutral or the focus piece of an outfit.
3. If you have a rare vintage pair of denim jeans, the best way to store them is by hanging them in a cool closet. With regular jeans, folding and storing them on a shelf is perfectly fine, but they have to be kept out of direct sunlight to prevent the denim from bleaching.
4. Italians are masters at embellishments and prints. I don't think anybody can match the precision, artistic flair, and intricacy that is inherent in Italian talent.
5. Every man needs a classic white shirt, a great leather jacket and a pair of jeans that fit perfectly.
6. I love David Bowie's ability to reinvent his style, and I would have loved to dress Serge Gainsbourg in the '60s. His style was so timeless and wouldn't seem out of place today.
7. The cut and the fit are the two things that really make a suit, and those are two things that really convey your personality. If a suit doesn't fit well, no matter how expensive it was or what materials were used, it is never going to look like you're comfortable in it.
8. In 2004, baggy jeans and extra large t-shirts were de rigueur regardless of your body proportions. Thankfully, that has changed drastically over the last decade, and for a brand that is massively inspired by formal wear, that is a very good development. I love that men are now consciously choosing clothes that fit well and make them look put together.
9. As far as things that have fallen out of popularity, I find that truly classic pieces always stay in style. My tastes have always veered towards that, so I've never found myself in the position where something I really love to wear is no longer fashionable.