Founded in Copenhagen in 2014, ARKK Copenhagen embodies the city's unique style and culture. ARKK are known for technical but understated sneakers thanks to the vision of its two founders – Kasper and Thomas – who translate their passion for architecture, design and fashion into an array of contemporary sneakers. The first 5 years of a brand's life are often a tumultuous few years of learning and refinement, and arguably the most interesting. So, we caught up with Kasper to talk everything 'first'. First sneaker memories, first mistakes and more.
The first time you knew you wanted to become a designer...
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been interested in the clothes that people are wearing and how styles change over time and with the seasons. I’ve always felt that watching people was a way to learn about the world and see how things are changing. That was how it all started for me and, in many ways, that’s what design is still about: observing the world around me and then following intuition to try and create something positive and useful for people.
The first time you met ARKK Co-Founder and CEO Thomas Refdahl...
Thomas and I have known each other since we were three years old. We grew up in the same small town, went to kindergarten together, and have been friends our whole lives. It’s no exaggeration to say that ARKK was founded on friendship.
The first pair of sneakers you remember from your childhood...
That’s easy, it was a pair of indoor football trainers by Patrick. My mom would only let me wear them for football, so I couldn’t wait for the season to end so that I could actually wear them out.
The first worst design mistake you made...
There are specific ‘mistakes’ that come to mind, although there have definitely been some bumps along the way. Looking back over the last five years, the biggest challenge for us has been learning both who we truly are (as a company) and where we want to go in the future. It’s been an active process for sure — developing our core DNA, listening to our customers, and being bold enough to design with confidence rather than simply following trends.
Arkk CopenhagenBlack White Raven Mesh S-E15 Sneakers£85
Arkk CopenhagenDark Bordeaux Gum Raven Nubuck S-E15 Vibram Sneakers£135
Arkk CopenhagenOff White Ash Asymtrix Mesh F-Pro90 Sneakers£135
Arkk CopenhagenBlack / Green Spyqon FG H-X1 Sneakers£120
Arkk CopenhagenCamel Sandshell Asymtrix Mesh F-Pro90 Sneakers£135
The first design dream you realised…
The first time Thomas and I wore the Ravens – ARKK’s original sneaker design from 2015 – we noticed people staring at the shoes and then people started stopping us and asking about them. That was really something special for us, something surreal actually. We were really proud that day.
The first great advice you were given…
Honestly, we’ve been given a lot of bad advice over the years. If Thomas and I had listened to all the people who gave us advice about ARKK, the sneaker industry, or business in general, we wouldn’t be here today. Ultimately, we had to believe in ourselves and each other. It sounds cliche but it’s true. Nobody understands your idea as much as you do and nobody is going to work as hard as you will to bring it to life. Don’t be naive, learn as much as you can, but, in the end, my best advice is to listen to your own intuition, then chase the dream by working hard.
The first place you go to for inspiration is…
There is so much to be inspired by here in Copenhagen, in the architecture and design world as well as in the bars and cafes and on the street. Just biking around the city, I get a lot of ideas. You can learn a hell of a lot about the future of fashion just by observing young people around this city—they take a lot of risks and there is definitely a spirit of individuality and experimentation that crosses a lot of typical stereotypes. Copenhagen is a city of creative crossover and that innovative mentality is really inspiring for our team.
The first time you felt like you made a difference…
There are very few experiences as nice as putting on a brand new pair of sneakers that you really love. Everyone can relate to this, I think. A new pair of shoes represents so much: a new beginning, new opportunity, maybe even a bold new expression of yourself or your style. With ARKK, our team gets to create this positive experience for all kinds of people around the world, every day. For me, even if it’s in a small way, that’s making a difference.