HELIOT EMIL Is Pushing Scandi Fashion in a Dark New Direction
Under the Radar is Highsnobiety’s weekly celebration of upcoming talent. Each week, we’re spotlighting an emerging brand that’s bringing something new to the worlds of streetwear and fashion.
Denmark’s HELIOT EMIL is one of the most interesting brands to come out of Copenhagen. Founded by brothers Victor and Julius Juul, and named after their great-grandfather, the brand debuted in SS17. Julius assumed the creative and design role, having cut his teeth working on the first season of YEEZY. Victor, meanwhile, handles the business side.
The brand is largely influenced by Copenhagen’s underground scenes but also pulls in influences from the military, aviation, techno, and brutalism. Its fabrics are sourced from around the world and then combined with Japanese-manufactured custom hardware, with final production taking place in Italy, France, and Portugal.
There has been an explosion of interest in the kind industrial aesthetic HELIOT EMIL embodies, with brands such as 1017 ALYX 9SM and GmbH catering to a similar kind of customer base. The label is quite experimental, too, using cuts that expose the torso in a way that’s still avant-garde in menswear. HELIOT EMIL probably isn’t for the casual wearer, then, but the hyper-technical, pseudo-’90s “hacker” style is increasingly making the rounds and stealing the show at fashion weeks the world over, such as here.
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The brand has a penchant for dark, unsavory references (one short-sleeve shirt from SS18 read “KETAMINE” across the front), inside-out garms (like the reversed denim jeans, also from SS18), contrast stitching, lots of straps, bondage, asymmetrical fixtures, semi-transparent materials, and metallic hardware such as rock-climbing carabiners.
The combined result is a series of futuristic, industrial silhouettes. And in SS19, HELIOT EMIL has taken things even further, introducing a full womenswear line, thermo-reactive materials, and an unexpected mink fur utility bag.
SS19’s show notes, printed on transparent cans of water, detailed the collection, which is titled “Referential Transparency.” The expression is a term from computer programming. In layman’s terms, it’s a comment on replaceability, something explored in this collection by challenging our expectations of how garments should look and how they can change when exposed to different degrees of heat and light.
This theme is best exemplified by the sleeves. On the T-shirts, they’re uneven — short on the left, long on the right — with the body heavily cropped at the waist. As a standalone item, this would be tricky to style, but with the similarly asymmetric pants, the whole look comes together and feels totally balanced. Other key items from SS19 include high-waisted semi-reflective cargo pants and white tracksuit pants, which feature drawstrings at the knee, semi-opaque fabrics, snap-button closures, and contrast “HE” branding on the left thigh.
In the past decade or so, “Scandi” fashion has become unfairly synonymous with minimalist, uncomplicated design. However, brands such as HELIOT EMIL and their ensuing popularity (the brand’s show at Copenhagen Fashion Week was packed out) reveal a much darker and arguably more interesting development around Europe’s northern edge.
You can buy HELIOT EMIL at GR8 in Tokyo, Addicted in Seoul, Aizel in Moscow, Illum in Copenhagen, VFILES in New York, Opening Ceremony in LA and NYC, and online via the official webstore.