Award winning Danish fashion designer Jens Laugesen sat down with writer & editor Steve Salter to mark the launch of GENERICSENS 2.0; a multi-sensory fashion, photography and video project, created as part of an ongoing collaboration with Belgian photographer & filmmaker Jean François Carly and film editor Maxim Young. 

Launched as a digital presentation as part of London Fashion Week in September 2021, GENERICSENS 2.0 features key members of London's LGBTQ+ community, including the core members of the Boudicca collective led by dj Samantha Togni. The project was pays homage to the gender fluid nature of Laugesen’s eponymous brand exemplified by the signature hybrid design methodology of a brand which was created for a unisex audience. Laugesen also worked with stylist Sara Dunn, selecting a mix of archival garments, co-creating unique looks to express the individual style identity of each model. 

The film's premiere at LFW also coincided with the opening of an immersive virtual exhibition hosted by Danny Peace, founder and curator of SIILK Gallery, an Athens based gallery specializing in progressive photography. 

Jens Laugesen in conversation with Steve Salter 

Steve Salter : Thanks so much for taking the time to explore the new collaborative collection with us, as there is a lot to kind of unpack. How would you summarize GENERICSENS 2.0?

Jens Laugesen: Back in the 2000’s I collaborated with my Japanese distributors: The Wall Co Ltd who were also the people behind the unisex store Addition Adelaide. They had been my main stockist in Tokyo since the launch of my brand. I remember being drawn to this concept of mixing traditional notions of ‘men’s’ and ‘womenswear’ within one collection. To me garments don’t have a gender, I was always against the idea of giving garments a specific identity or gender during the creation process. 

When I did my MA at Central Saint Martin’s, I tried to do these crazy and experimental designs like everyone else was doing and I failed at that; I started to work from iconic items like a man’s tuxedo jacket, deconstructing then reconstructing them to adapt the shape to fit everybody. It was about not giving the garment any specific gender identity or dictating who should wear it. I was drawn to the democratic idea that anyone, regardless of the gender they identify or don’t identify with, can wear the same trousers or jacket. Showcasing the same garment on multiple genders has been something I’ve experimented with since the first Ground Zero trilogy collection. 

SS: It's interesting because these are the conversations we're having increasingly so now. We've made tremendous strides forward. But today, there's still that rigidity in how men's wear, women's wear be shown in respective fashion week formats, even though it's not how today's people consume. This is illustrated in how you've decided to shoot the collection and who to partner and collaborate with, encapsulating the journey we've been on and how far we've come.

JL: When I was selling in Selfridges, the buyers couldn't understand if I was a luxury or contemporary young designer because I had both levels in the same collection. Today everybody mixes high with low;  high-end couture pieces like a beautifully tailored jacket alongside contemporary pieces like t-shirts, hoodies and jeans are always shown side by side in the same collection. My first stockist in Japan was Adelaide. They had just launched a unisex concept, Edition Adelaide around when I launched my first collection in 2003 after I graduated from St Martins. Adelaide was an established luxury boutique selling conceptual luxury pieces for women, but Edition Adelaide was all about unisex. Mamiko Hasegawa, the founder and buyer, really liked those concepts in my brand and it was selling well in Japan so they asked me to do a Japanese diffusion line. I wanted to create a label with an emphasis on concept-led essential pieces, I believe everybody should own exciting basics. So that’s when Generic Sen’s was first created.

Video and photography Jean Francois Carly

SS : That was for spring-summer 06, right?

JL: Yes, It went on for three years. I was really inspired by the ground zero zeitgeist and the Faith in Chaos which has been a source of research for many of my past collections. 

SS: And what made you return to Generic Sen’s? Like now, was it a sense of you you've kind of hinted that then there was the backdrop of 9/11, which is like the end of days kind of moment we had our sort of end-of-days moment during the pandemic, was that the link?

JL: In the middle of lockdown, I wanted to re-start this collaborative project. Like you said my MA collection, inspired by the September 11 attacks, was all about having faith in chaos, which was also the title of the film I made with Nick Knight in 2004. So I felt a resurgence of these ideas when I was working during the pandemic. I started to become creative again during lockdown. I felt like I was revisiting my formative days at Saint Martin's days when I was finishing my MA collection in the wake of September 11th. Even though it was a horrible thing to witness, I still got inspired by it somehow artistically as it makes me understand something new had to come from such devastation like bird Phenix form the ashes.

For the relaunch, I just wanted to produce more work, it was interesting to look back at my hybrid design pieces from the early days of Generic Sen’s. I wanted to see how they would transpose to today's audience and to explore how they would react to the concept. 

So the film is a collection of both ideas and garments. It's not all new garments, some of them are new, and some are archive pieces from that period from 2002 to 2004, when I started collaborating with Jean Francois, who knows DJ Samantha Togni. We invited her to help us with the casting, as she had founded Boudica collective, which is a group of east London-based non-binary creatives who are underrepresented in the techno-music scene, who were invited to collaborate with us and self-style their own looks.

The project is about promoting 'genderlessness', everybody is who they are. I like this idea of inviting people in to collaborate on the shoot, to come in, look at the garments and to explore how the pieces fit their personalities. I see it as a collaboration, which is what I think fashion is about. 

SS: This has always inspired me about your approach … collaboration is a bit of a buzzword today within fashion. Still, in terms of your collaboration, you have worked with Jean Francois, Maxim and Alastair, for many, many, many years, right from the beginning.

JL: Yes, I’ve been working with Jean Francois since I had my first show with Fashion East in 2003. And I’ve worked with Maxim since we collaborated on film projects with SHOWstudio. 

Alastair Mckimm saw my MA graduate collection in one of the showrooms and wanted to meet me. I funnily enough had just seen a shoot of his in i-D that I loved, so we started working together which lasted for about six years. I believe in continuity, working with a team. I prefer to have a solid team of close collaborators. And for me, Alastair was one of my closest design collaborators on both the collection and the brand vision.

SS : There's this real sense of the importance of family within the collection itself, as with the close collaboration with Jean Francois. Then obviously with the new kind of family members like Samantha Togni who bring their type of family within that community from the Boudica artist group, which is a family, it's a tribe, it's a collective …

JL : Interestingly enough, for the original Generic Sen's collections, the label would said by Jens Laugesen Studio as I didn't want it to be only about me, the designer, but also the team of collaborators a collective studio. 

I work with the creative methodology called 'hybrid reconstruction' that I developed during my MA at Central Saint Martins. It was about exploring and documenting the deconstruction of garments and ideas, generating new hybrid ideas from existing concepts or iconic garments. And I think instead of doing just an entirely new collection every time, I prefer to re-revisit and re-invent the past. In this present moment I’m still unsure if we need new ideas. Instead, we need good ideas that can be told repeatedly; good storytelling is good storytelling, a good idea never becomes dated; it stays relevant.

SS: I'm interested in your methodology in terms of the role of repetition, and you're not afraid to go back and to push forward, to repeat and completely kind of reposition and re-imagine everything each season. I mean, how therapeutic is that kind of process?

JL: You cannot imagine how I was surprised I was to find myself revisiting past collections and reworking the pieces during the GENERICSENS 2.0 film project. 

I fell in love with my design archive on a different level because I realized that young people still connect to the hybrid design thinking ideas behind the garments which were developed over than 15 years ago. 

For the new GENERICSENS 2.0 project, I was lucky to get funding from the Danish Arts Foundation, so I designed and produced 12 new pieces for this new c collection of ideas because it's not a new collection to sell. I'm selling new ideas, not garments.

I have recently worked on a new collection of reconstructed garment pieces for a gender-neutral wardrobe project named IN RECONSTRUCTION that I will launch with a new project in an upcoming LFW as a digital project.

SS: One of the questions that I wanted to explore with you would be: beyond product and the visual exploration, what do you hope people take away from the GENERICSENS 2.0 project?

JL: Why do we need and crave something new all the time? We have enough garments. Reworking existing ideas is also sustainable for both the planet and our creative minds. You don't ask a fine-artist to change ideas and themes for every new artwork. 

I also think that designers have been overworked for so many years with the pressure of multiple fashion weeks, overwhelmed by the pressure constantly produce new ideas, new ideas, new ideas. After a while you find ideas don't hold meaning anymore. And sometimes, by repeating your ideas or concepts, you get the message through to your audience. Of course, some people won't like it, and some will love it, but you can't please everybody.

SS And it's like in terms of like with the Boudica community casting, as well as like pieces, things like, take on their own life?

JL: For sure. It was inspiring to see everybody coming in and enjoying the archive pieces. They collaborated with Sara to self-style their look, mixing garments from different collections to create a look that defined their identity combining that with make-up and accessories in a way that made them feel empowered. 

We documented the looks with Jean Francois front side back in the mirrored corner set design first as a straight-up, and then we filmed them creating techno dance moves to express their longing for a post-pandemic party. I thought it was a beautiful metaphor for the pandemic. It is beautiful how it works so well with the film that Maxim cut and how it fitted perfectly to the transient Rome techno soundtrack by Danny Passarella and Samantha Togni.

SS: And for me that's like a sense of sort of celebration and going out, it's something that we've not been able to do as well as the sense of power, the power of nightclubs.

JL: I know it's not a new collection of clothing to buy or sell, but it’s a collection of new ideas to share. I also want to ask whether we need more clothes to buy. Maybe we also need new ideas to inspire. It’s my hope that the film will be seen as an abstract inspiration piece. Good ideas don't date, and I like to confront challenges and see how we can make them work in this new post-pandemic context? 

To me, it's refreshing to see a diverse group of young, self-redefining people representing different identities, personalities, ethnic groups and subcultures. Looking back now I can see that I had a mindset to stick to known ways of presenting garments and fashion; traditional models, runway shows, creating new ideas every season, but today, the times we’re in with the pandemic have inspired me to look elsewhere and challenge those notions. I think everybody should be part of the game.

SS: Thank you, Jens, for talking through the collection and taking us a little bit deeper into your world and talking about your collaborators. 


Edited by Honor Cooper Hedges

Discover more on:



Read Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Privacy Policy Cookie Policy Terms and Conditions