Interview by Laurie Trueman
Signe Roedbro is the founder and head designer of By Signe. By Signe is a Danish fashion brand that designs honest and feminine easy wear. The fabrics used in each collection are sourced with sustainability in mind, with all garments handmade in their Denmark studio. The brand is only a year old but leads by example in its sustainability practices. By Signe keeps small production levels at the heart of everything they do, whilst still providing women with beautifully made everyday pieces. Laurie Trueman: Can you tell me about where By Signe is based and what this means for it as a brand? Signe Roedbro: We are based in Frederikshavn in Denmark. This is where we currently house our studio and it is also where I grew up. It is a harbour city in the northern part of Denmark. I lived abroad for a few years and when I returned things kind of randomly just turned into setting up the brand here. As we sell worldwide, our physical location is not essential at this point. Laurie: When did your interest in fashion begin?
Signe: It was really early on, as a child I remember copying the same model figure from a book, over and over again. I would draw new clothes and patterns on her. After finishing secondary school, I went to a small private tailoring school in Denmark. This was when I really realised that fashion was the path I wanted to follow. However, the school was very old fashioned and there was not much room for my imagination and creativity, so the year after I moved to Spain and studied fashion design at a private university.
Signe: The collection is inspired by strong independent women throughout history. I love old books and their descriptions of how different women move and act in their environments. The collection is presented with a feminine comfort throughout its entirety, offering minimalistic, clean and timeless must-haves to add to every wardrobe. Laurie: Can you tell me about the By Signe colour palette? Signe: My colour palette is as minimalist and Scandinavian as my designs. We use mostly natural and earthy colours, unbleached whites and feminine pastels.
Signe: By Signe is a sustainable fashion brand with a completely transparent design process. We offer honest and minimalist easy wear for women.
Signe: Our shapes in general are very minimalistic and clean. Comfort is the key to every piece that we make and naturalness lies in their materials. We use luxuriously soft organic materials and we pay attention to every detail, to offer honestly made, Scandinavian minimalistic essentials to last for several seasons.
Laurie: Does your personal style co-inside with the brand? Signe: Yes, I feel my personal aesthetics are directly reflected in the brand. By Signe is the display of my visions and style. Laurie: How do you define the woman who wears By Signe?
Laurie: Your latest collection is conceived not only for colder seasons, but for all year around wear. Can you tell me what the collection is inspired by?
Laurie: Does this naturalness translate to the shapes of the clothes too?
Signe: I hope to keep the handcraft and quality side of production safe. Traditional pattern making lies behind all of our designs, no matter how simple or contemporary they may be.
Photography throughout by Ditte Chemnitz. Models are Marie Bilde & Emma Rasmussen. All clothes throughout by By Signe.
Signe: Femininity to her is being a natural woman in an urban environment.
Laurie: How would you describe By Signe as a brand to the outside world?
Laurie: You come from a traditional tailoring background, how do you uphold tradition within clothing but still bring your own aesthetic to the brand?
Portrait of Signe Roedbro by Cecilie Marie Pedersen. Signe wears a t-shirt by By Signe.
Laurie: What do you feel femininity is to her?
Signe: Our muse is not beautiful, she is natural art and you want to study her every move. She is creative and independent and what she wears is both comfortable and healthy. She cares about how polluting the fashion industry is and she tries to keep her everyday life very simple.
Laurie: How much do you think of comfort when you are designing? Signe: I focus very much on comfort. When I visualise a piece of clothing, I walk around with my eyes closed trying to imagine how it fits and feels on a womanâ€™s body. My vision is to create feminine easy wear that a woman can wear with comfort, forever. Laurie: Do you ever think about seasonal trends? Signe: I am not a slave to any trend. Obviously taste and looks changes constantly, however with our sustainable vision we strive to design only a few trend pieces and put the main focus on timeless essentials made from long lasting materials. Laurie: How do you keep your integrity in a fast fashion industry? Signe: When I first started the company, I used my location in an outside area of Denmark as an advantage. I was able to close my eyes
Jumpsuit by By Signe.
Teddy shirt and skirt by By Signe.
to the traditional ways of working and operating in the industry and focus entirely on my own vision and integrity. At this stage, we are blessed to work with a lot of amazing people from around the world, this helps us to remain true to the integrity of the brand. We can keep out the very badly integrated and normalised parts of the fashion industry. Laurie: Sustainability practices are at the core of the By Signe brand. Can you tell me why this is essential to you? Signe: I believe the future of fashion is sustainable. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting in the world and I truly believe we have to rethink it somehow. Laurie: How did By Signe rethink it? Signe: I decided to cover and think everything through from the beginning, from our fibres to our care labels through to our production methods. I thought about them all in order to improve our carbon footprint and to keep the wearer of our garments free from any toxic materials or chemicals. We have the complete design process gathered under one roof in Denmark, where all collections are produced and shipped directly from the studio. This provides us with an advantage of being able to control every single step in the product development and supply chain. We see the raw material carried through to a finished product and all in a sustainable, ethical and green environment. Laurie: Are all of your pieces made in house? Signe: Yes, we have the entire process, from design to production gathered under one roof in our studio. Our in-house production ensures absolute ethical security in a non-discriminating, healthy and safe environment. As well as this, I can control the quality on all levels.
Teddy skirt by By Signe.
Laurie: How do you maintain a healthy and safe environment for your employees? Signe: Creating in-house ensures that we have absolute ethical security. All employees are protected by a legally binding employment contract that has reasonable working hours and wages above the living wage. They are also protected with health, industrial injury and travel insurance. Laurie: With such incredible standards, how do you source the materials for By Signe? Signe: When selecting materials, we strive for all fabrics to be organic and certified by The Global Organic Textile Standard. The Global Organic Textile Standard is committed to organic textiles becoming a significant part of peopleâ€™s lives. They define the high-level environmental criteria, along with bringing together the entire organic textiles supply chain. They also require compliance with social criteria as well. Laurie: How can companies meet the Global Organic Textile Standardâ€™s high-level environmental criteria? Signe: All chemical inputs to the clothes, such as dyestuff and auxiliaries must meet certain environmental and toxicological criteria. A functional waste water treatment plan is mandatory for any wetprocessing unit involved. All processors must comply with minimum social criteria such as freely chosen employment, no child labour, safe and hygienic working conditions, the payment of living wages and reasonable working hours. Laurie: How do you abide by this and keep waste to a minimum? Signe: Whenever possible, we keep our fabrics unbleached and only in natural colours. If a textile is whitened, this is achieved with oxy 115
Jumpsuit by By Signe.
bleach which is a low impact safe method of whitening that leaves no residue. When the finished fabric is Global Organic certified, it ensures that there have not been any heavy metal dyes, finishing chemicals or other toxic chemicals used. This also assures our wearer that it is free from pesticides. Laurie: How do you ensure you get the most out of your materials? Signe: We work with an absolute minimum-waste cutting. We are currently developing a new use for the cut offs that are inevitable for lingerie and our smaller pieces. Laurie: Tell me about your packaging and how you ensure sustainability is still carried through in this?
ganic. These standards and working conditions are something we will never compromise on. We even try not to retouch any images of the collections that we photograph, to keep them as honest and natural as possible. Laurie: What is your studio like? Signe: The studio is in a large raw space on the harbour side with a view of the ferries. It is very bright and spacious, with concrete floors and white walls. We have everything gathered under one roof and our creative studio is located in the extension of our production area. This includes cutting, finishing and packaging, ensuring closeness and full control of all parameters of the full process, all whilst in a bright, healthy and creative environment.
Signe: Size and care labels are hand-printed on organic cotton and hang tags and printed material and packaging is made from recycled and recyclable paper. All garments are handmade and shipped directly to retailers and private customers from our studio. This contributes to a short lead-time which ensures the carbon footprint of shipping is reduced.
Laurie: What objects do you have around?
Laurie: How do you ensure you never compromise on your morals?
Laurie: Who are your intellectual icons?
Signe: All of what we do is to ensure we stay one hundred percent or-
Signe: I love poets, both old and new, but I feel unable to say just one.
Signe: Very few, but at my private apartment, I am surrounded by secondhand furniture, old books and lots of art. The art I have been gifted throughout my life and is often from inspiring and talented people that I have met along the way.
Bamboo silk dress by By Signe.
Laurie: What excites you?
Laurie: Where is a beautiful place you have visited?
Signe: So many things because I am a very excitable person. Instagram excites me, when customers understand the brand, our vision and all we stand for. It also excites me that we laugh a lot in the studio, I believe that a healthy and happy atmosphere is key to what we do.
Signe: I have visited many beautiful places this year, but Malta and Amsterdam really stood out to me, two very different places but extremely beautiful and charming in each their way.
Laurie: What does luxury mean to you?
Signe: To keep developing and being able to constantly improve in all aspects of life.
Signe: It is being able to purchase a luxurious garment or object that has not been made at the cost of a human life or the future of our planet. Laurie: What book are you currently reading? Signe: Just Kids by Patti Smith.
The By Signe studio in Frederikshavn, Denmark.
Laurie: What is the vision of your own future?
Laurie: Can you tell me a secret? Signe: I read my horoscope first thing every morning. It has turned into something we do together in the studio daily reading our horoscopes aloud.
Published on Jan 10, 2017
By Signe is a Danish fashion brand designing honest and feminine easywear. All fabrics are sourced with sustainability in mind. By Signe st...