Established in 2007 in Copenhagen, Soft Gallery is a colourful and creative brand for kids. Headed by founder and designer Tine Holt Møller, each season Soft Gallery collaborates with local and international artists to create unique motifs and designs for its poetic kids’ clothes. From T-shirts and leggings to skirts and dresses, the brand incorporates artistic prints and hand-embroidered details into its collections, which are made from comfy, breathable fabrics like cotton. More than just beautiful clothes, Soft Gallery items are made primarily in India, where the brand works with the Danish Indian Childcare association to provide housing and education for young girls from vulnerable families. Each piece made in India contributes to the operation, and is marked by a special hangtag that comes with the clothes. Contemporary with an artistic twist, Soft Gallery makes charismatic, timeless clothes for kids that both you and your kids can feel good about.
INTERVIEW WITH TINE
FOUNDERS OF SOFT GALLERY
We spent the day with Tine - the inspiring founder of Soft Gallery - in their beautiful office, located in an old piano factory in Copenhagen. Soft Gallery is a poetic children's fashion brand that collaborates with international artists to create prints and motifs that are printed and embroidered onto their clothing collections. Tine welcomed us into the world of Soft Gallery and shared with us the brand's challenges, about her childhood and life working, creating and living with kids in Copenhagen.
How did Soft Gallery begin?Tine: The idea behind Soft Gallery emerged from an interest in art and fashion, and the idea of collaborating with other amazing talents; sharing and developing artistic ideas and pieces together, using clothing as a blank canvas to unfold. Inspired by my surroundings, travelling and working within the fashion industry, I felt a great desire to create poetic clothing pieces for children that facilitated amazing stories and that were completely different from what I saw in kids’ fashion at that time.
tell us a bit about your background; where you grew up, and where you live now.Tine: I grew up in Copenhagen with my sister and parents. I went to Sankt Annæ Gymnasium, a renowned music school in Denmark. It was a time where music was the focal point of everything, a lot of singing, doing concerts, travelling all over the world performing; such a privileged time for me, something I will always appreciate and look back on with warmth. At that time, I did ballet every day after school, so besides school the ballet studio became my second home. I loved it back then and still do. I love the experience of ballet, both the old classics, and the new and more experimental ways of interpreting ballet too.
Later, I did a Bachelor's at Denmark’s Design School. Continuing with two wonderful years in London taking my Master’s in Women’s Fashion Wear at the Royal College of Art. I stayed in London for a while and worked for Kenzo Kii, Left Hand among others. I went back to Denmark and did women’s design for Bruuns Bazaar for three years and had a short, but fun, time at H2O, a Danish sports brand, before Barbara and I started Soft gallery.
Today I live in Charlottenlund, just outside Copenhagen, in a sixties house right next to the sea and forest with my husband, Simon, who is commercial film director, and my two kids, Norman (14) and Ida (10), and not least our English cocker spaniel, Bailey, who has become a very important and beloved part of our family. I really enjoy being close to nature. It's a great privilege to be able to open your door and smell the salty sea or having the forest right in your backyard.
What kind of kid were you? What did you dream of?Tine: I was a dreamer, always happy, singing, dancing and being with friends. I believe I was a girl with a capital G. I loved my Barbie dolls and made my own clothing for them. Sewing and playing with embroidery together with my grandmother, who was a creative spirit and a truly beautiful, and very stylish woman. Always a great inspiration for me, she started the spark and is definitely behind me doing something creative with my life.
What is your brand’s philosophy in a few words?Tine: Passing on small new stories and helping kids discover art.
What are your sources of inspiration?Tina: Every new collection starts from an intuitive state of mind – a feeling – a mood – and from everything that surrounds us in our everyday lives. We have to make the collections a year and a half before it hits the shops, so usually we just follow what feels right and what we are inspired by at that very moment. The world around us is our inspiration. Our private lives and the desires to explore urban spaces both locally and when we travel.
The AW17 “The Artisan” collection emphasises the faithful and heartfelt essence behind the Soft Gallery universe; the sensitivity of an artist and creative inputs from modern life and the world that surrounds us. The artworks are many and varied but all descend from the universe where we embrace the combination of delicate handwork and the poetic soul of an artisan. Eye catching hand embroideries of the starry night in golden tones, heart prints, colour popping artworks by paint brushes from the creative universe of the painter, French vintage looking cuts of pork and butchers’ symbols to underline the genuine artisan handcraft of the artisan butcher.
Could you describe a typical day at work?Tine: I always start my working mornings with a coffee at my beloved coffee shop, Original Coffee. The best coffee in town and lots of familiar faces, chit chat and hellos before heading off to work, a great way to kick start the day. Going to work I almost always hope for a quiet, creative day with time to really get into the essence of whatever theme we are working on. But very often I end up in meetings with production, design or sales. Naturally, there are a lot of strings to hold on to with 12 employees and a collection that grows bigger every year, but I love it and enjoy it. You just need to find the time to be creative when the calmness settles around you, in the evenings or at night, when nothing is there to distract you, just yourself, nice music and time for your creative mind to unfold.
What do you do to balance your work and family life?Tine: The balance between work and family life can sometimes be a tricky one. Being a creative mind, you don't just leave things and go home. Thoughts and ideas keeps rumbling and developing even if I’m cooking dinner or spending time with my loved ones. But I don't see that as a negative thing, I use creativity in the way I experience the world around me and a lot with my kids. Especially my daughter, she loves sewing, drawing, making jewellery, etc. I go to Pilates and dance classes, this is a fantastic way to let go of all “to dos” that you have at work. I love to read books, even though it can be difficult to find the time. Last weekend my daughter and I made clay owls, which I really enjoyed.
YOU'RE CELEBRATING YOUR 10TH ANNIVERSARY. WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT YOU'VE LEARNED IN THE PAST 10 YEARS AND TELL US ABOUT SOME OF YOUR upcoming PROJECTS FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS?Tine: Building Soft Gallery has been both incredibly challenging and, at the same time, very educational and exciting. At times it was extremely tough as I came from a creative background and had to learn how to run a company within each area of a business. Many things I had never tried before or never found interesting. Although today it has given me great strength; an insight and pleasure of understanding every part of the company. There are always lots of interesting things happening: our collection will expand in new exciting directions, new innovative projects will arise and new great collaborations will follow. This autumn, AW17, we celebrate our 10 year anniversary, and we are hosting a big jubilee event during Copenhagen Fashion Week in August. We keep challenging ourselves with new ways to think and ways to create, making sure that we always have new stories to tell our customers. We aim to always make poetic children’s wear that has a deeper meaning and to never compromise on quality or design. Our ambition is to be accessible in more beautiful boutiques around the world and to join agents and distributors in markets where we are not yet represented. Finally, we’re always working on being stronger and better with corporate social responsibility (CSR). It's extremely important for us.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?Tine: My best friend once gave me creative advice that I have followed ever since: “Stick with what you are really good at, and don't try to do something completely differently.”
What do you like about Smallable?Tine: I clearly remember when we were contacted by Smallable in the very beginning of the Soft Gallery story. We were very honoured and proud, as Smallable was one of those special places that we wanted to be a part of. We could fully identify with their beautiful aesthetics and poetic universe, and we felt it was the perfect platform to be represented by.
What are your favourite shops and restaurants in Copenhagen?Tine: My favourite restaurant is Fiskebaren [Flæsketorvet 100] in the meatpacking district in Copenhagen; great food and cocktails in a very relaxed environment. In the summertime, we have an amazing and unique restaurant called ØsterGRO [Æbeløgade 4]. It's located on top of Copenhagen's oldest car auction house with a 600m2 roof top terrace. The restaurant is a small greenhouse placed in the middle of organic cultivated vegetables and flowers. A beautiful, serene and magical place to eat and enjoy the sunset.
For shopping, it must be the Storm and Strøm store [Store Regnegade 1], they have an innovative selection of brands. For interiors, it's Fil de fer Store [Kongensgade 83A], an exclusive shop and webshop with French vintage pieces. They hand pick antique furniture, lamps and accessories. I also love the store Rue Verte [Ny Østergade 11].