Meet the Copenhagen-Based Design Duo Saks Potts

Cathrine Saks and Barbara Potts: photographed by Philip Messmann.

“It all started with a missing coat,” says Cathrine Saks, one half of the Danish design duo Saks Potts. Six years back, Saks and her partner Barbara Potts were desperate to find colourful outerwear that would break up their tonal, monochrome winter wardrobes and couldn’t find anything beyond the neutral standards. “It was almost as if you were not allowed to stand out in a crowd,” says Saks. Back then, Saks designed and sold her own jewellery line, while Potts worked in various areas of the fashion industry—but the two were itching to take on fashion design full-time. So, they co-opted their dreams and designed their own outerwear: a short fur coat in four colours that they sold to their closest friends. They began wearing the coats around town, and within a few weeks, they were the talk of Copenhagen.

A few years later, they released the “Febbe,” a tricolour fur that became the “It” coat of fashion week. Then came the “Foxy,” a candy-coloured leather coat with an oversized fur collar and cuffs that cemented the Saks Potts name when it was snapped up by the likes of Lady Gaga, Cardi B, and just about every cool girl on Instagram. The coats were so popular that they launched Saks Potts into the fashion stratosphere, with collections that have become synonymous with an effortless, idiosyncratic cool.

The designers, who have been friends since they were in preschool, have been making their own clothes for decades. “Many, many hours were spent biking back and forth between our respective homes, lying on the floor of our rooms, listening to music, and flipping through fashion magazines,” says Saks of their childhoods. “All the different shapes, silhouettes, and materials inspired us, but when we went looking for something similar in the stores, we oftentimes couldn’t find it. So, we started making things ourselves, [something] we did a lot.” As a result, they describe their design process as extremely personal and intuitive.

With such innocent, analog beginnings, it makes sense that the designers found fall’s inspiration in one of the most tranquil (and surely one of the last phone-free) spots of the modern era: the spa. “We were strongly inspired by the art and aesthetics of tai chi practices and ancient recreational activities, which initially led us to the concept of spas as a healing cultural phenomenon designed to accommodate a diverse crowd,” says Potts. That, and a couple of trips they’d taken to the hot springs in Switzerland and to Ladda, a Thai massage and acupuncture spa where their first Paris presentation took place. Its soothing, sun-drenched interiors were the perfect showcase for Saks Potts’s grasp on the far reaches of the colour wheel. Case in point: a pair of holographic strapless dresses in neon tangerine and bubblegum pink, made from a polyamide and elastane fabric typically used in gymnast costumes, a dégradé pastel puffer, and reflective silver parka and skirt set.

Texture is another big space to play for the duo, which collaborated with Kopenhagen Fur Studio on a Norwegian fox-fur trim used in combination with a captivating zigzag print on a coat, boots, and a grandiose show hat (the duo only works with suppliers that can guarantee a high degree of animal welfare).

“The story of a collection always originates from something very tangible, and from there, we interpret and develop our collection universe of designs, prints, and fabrics,” says Saks. Before the fall collection hit stores, the duo released a spa-themed capsule collection of yin-yang terry tote bags and pedicure jelly thongs to tease their newfound Zen headspace. “It is always the story—and subsequently the universe—that decides what the collection will consist of.” If Fall 2019 is any indication, Saks Potts’s future collections will be so bright, we’d better wear shades.