forza collective


Certain people have emerged OUT OF THE BLUE. When taking a closer look, a long journey has often let them walk the path to where they are now. Today: the story of KRISTOFFER KONGSHAUG, founder and creative director at FORZA COLLECTIVE. Cover image: courtesy of Forza Collective, shot by James Cochrane


Last year, Fashion Forum Denmark called him the “most hyped designer of Denmark.” And so, 2023 has been wild: Kristoffer Kongshaug received the New Name of the Year prize at the Elle Awards and made it to the last three Wessel and Vett Fashion Prize finalists. The start of 2024 marked his debut runway show at Copenhagen Fashion Week. Look at Kongshaug’s impressive resume, and you understand why the fashion in-crowd can’t get enough of his work. After graduating from Design School Kolding, he gained experience at smaller fashion houses and large corporations in the leading fashion metropolis, including Raf Simons, Christian Dior Couture, Balmain, Lanvin, and Olivier Theyskens. 

However, Kongshaug’s story isn’t about lifelong cherished dreams about the fashion industry. “It came down to something intriguing, and I knew that you need to master aesthetics and vision on many levels to execute it correctly. A sense for material, color, proportions, drape, and hardware that all need to go together without outshining each other is almost like a well-seasoned meal.” His curiosity led to an exploration of the fashion world. “I never thought of myself as a creative director or designer. It was never in the cards that I was about to turn out where I am right now. Neither are there any designers or product makers in my family.” 

Kristoffer Kongshaug

His career started at Blockbuster, where Kristoffer Kongshaug organized video tapes. “I didn’t enjoy it, but you learn that repetition is sometimes necessary in life,” he remembers. The job didn’t direct Kongshaug toward the fashion industry, but it taught him an important life lesson: understanding hard work and consistency pay off. His childhood dream wasn’t linked to fashion either. “I remember I thought I was going into law, but I guess I couldn’t have been more wrong. But I always wanted to challenge myself, and fashion does that in multiple ways.”

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Challenging himself, being open to his environment, and learning from the grand fashion masters shaped his work. He explains that inspiration can stem from anything at this point in life. “My inspiration stems from many sources, including my experiences working under different designers and my observations of the evolving fashion landscape. The beauty of nature, architecture, and craftsmanship also appeal to me. My collections are based around craftsmanship and expanding certain techniques across the collection.” 

His collections aim to build a bridge between day and evening wear, sportswear, and couture while adding practical details. “As part of our signature, we work with one material only: Nylon. Recycled nylon is produced in Lombardi, Italy, and woven to make it feel like satin yet incredibly durable. My mission is to create no-nonsense yet technically advanced pieces of the highest quality that are as beautiful on the inside and outside. At the same time, a minimum carbon footprint is guaranteed. We call it utilitarian couture,” explains Kongshaug. “I realized I always tend to return to wear the same nylon staples and, being a fabric that is normally associated with sportswear, it inspired me to take on the challenge of working with the material in an untraditional way and create something that was maybe not obvious at first but as a result seems so evident.”


What has driven you to start Forza Collective?

“The inception of Forza Collective was driven by a deep-rooted passion for innovation and sustainability within the fashion industry. The process began with a vision to bridge the gap between day and evening wear, infusing utilitarian details into timeless high-end pieces. Drawing from over fourteen years of industry experience and a commitment to reducing environmental impact, I embarked on the journey to translate this vision into reality. Collaborating with skilled artisans, sourcing sustainable materials like recycled nylon from Lombardia, Italy, and meticulously crafting each design were pivotal steps in bringing Forza Collective to life. Through dedication, creativity, and a pursuit of excellence, the brand emerged as a testament to my vision for responsible and boundary-pushing fashion.”

Kristoffer Kongshaug

Were you afraid of failing or spreading the word?

“Absolutely, but you learn to lean into it over time. Once you realize you are on to something, you must take control of your thoughts and keep calm.”

How would you describe FORZA COLLECTIVE’s aesthetic?

“Forza Collective’s aesthetic is a fusion of technical luxury, Scandinavian minimalism, and a daring approach to contemporary fashion. It redefines traditional codes with bold cuts, utilitarian details, and a commitment to sustainability, offering timeless pieces designed to empower the modern wearer.”


What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned at the fashion houses you worked for previously?

“My time at Raf Simons, Christian Dior Couture, Balmain, Lanvin, and Theory instilled invaluable lessons in craftsmanship, innovation, and attention to detail. I learned the importance of pushing boundaries, embracing creativity, and maintaining a relentless pursuit of excellence in every aspect of design and production.”

Kristoffer Kongshaug

What insight or advice has been determinative for where you stand right now?

“Stay focused, trust your gut – and don’t let too many voices disturb your idea of what a good product is.”


Why have you chosen CPHFW instead of other renowned fashion weeks?

“Choosing Copenhagen Fashion Week was a deliberate decision aligned with the values of Forza Collective. Copenhagen Fashion Week has emerged as a pioneer in promoting sustainability and responsible consumption within the fashion industry. Its commitment to innovation and inclusivity resonates deeply with the ethos of Forza Collective, making it the perfect platform to showcase our vision to the world.”

What excites you most about the future?

“What excites me most about the future is the endless potential for innovation and positive change within the fashion industry. I am eager to continue pushing boundaries, exploring new collaborations, and pioneering sustainable practices that redefine how we perceive and interact with fashion. The prospect of inspiring others and impacting the industry motivates me to pursue excellence and creativity with unwavering determination.”