Fashion

LÍBER

We stopped by Líber, on a cheerful Saturday to visit artist and designer Íris Eggertsdóttir in her whimsical and interesting store on Hverfisgata 101 Reykjavík. The clothes sold there are handcrafted, with a strong vision of design, where no items are identical. She works with textiles, and her interest in fabrics and using them to create sprung from her early age. We wanted to know more, and arranged a visit which was as fascinating , surprising and explosive as the window showcasing her work to the outside world.

© Nanna Dís 2013

When did you start thinking about materials and designing?

Well, my mother is a tailor and a designer, and worked for many years for Karnabær and then later 66° north. And yes at the National Theater as a costume designer. I never planed on following in her footsteps. When I was little, I was constantly sewing and designing. I even had a whole room where I could play with materials, fabrics and a huge tailoring table (sníðaborð – veistu hvernig þetta er á ensku? Held að það sé´bara sett tailoring table) with sewing machines and so on.

I then decided to study art, and I had a very strong agenda, on not becoming a fashion designer. I studied abroad, in England. Then when I got pregnant I wanted to move back to Iceland so I finished my studies at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts. For my final project I created three pieces that individuals could dress themselves into, i.e. one could interact with the pieces. I use textiles in my art, so somehow textiles have always had some connection to what I do. I have for example always sewn for myself and then my friends, so I decided to try it out professionally.

So, how do you label yourself? (Do you like labels?)

I can straight out, tell you what I am. I am an idea builder.

What, how would you translate that to English?

Personal idea director? Laughs.

As soon as you find the words in English, they mean something totally different. Like Idealist, conceptual designer, not necessarily an artist though … you know. Conceptual designer, I don’t really know. Well, now I am going to obsess about this! Well no, builder of ideas. Or idea builder. Yes, that is what I am.

© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013
LÍBER LÍBER

I remember you from before, when you were running your own store KVK, what can you tell me about that?

Yes, I was running KVK store with my friend Kolbrún for a long time. We had a great relationship actually and it went very well. I am very unorganized and she is very organized. We were running the store for almost five years, and we were a little alike in many ways actually. So at the end of this period we decided to work separately. Well actually it felt like we were divorcing.

Really, how so?

We had been together day and night, all the time and it was so weird all of the sudden not to be together. We had been together in building up something, that many people don’t fully understand, receiving comments from customers, and putting everything on the line for what we believed in. But you learn so much from it and this was a wonderful time, to jump into the deep end by running a store that sold our creations.
After all this, Kolbrún decided to study fashion design in Barcelona, and I learned how to be organized and independent. But yeah, the feeling is similar to when an artist finishes his or her piece; there is a certain kind of emptiness that you have to deal with when something is finished. Because when you are an artist, it´s not anything that you can turn off and on. You are constantly working, in a way. So when the closure comes, you feel a little lost for some time afterward. I cherish this time we had with KVK deeply.

And then the Líber store, your store, came along?

Yes, this was originally intended to be my workspace, and I was thinking about selling my artwork in other stores. I thought about it a lot actually. A year ago, I decided to alter the front space into a store. And that process, of opening up a store, is a total new beginning as well.

But then we have this battlefield of road construction just outside? The whole street is like an open gap, how do you think that affects your store?

Yes, this is a huge issue actually, for everyone that runs a business here. Especially this time of year, September – December, the prime time for a store like mine. It surely has an impact on what I am trying to do here, to start a new store with my own work.

© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013

On to other things, what inspires you?

Wow, that is a huge question. For example, when I am walking around the city, I look at forms. There are many Indian patterns in the city landscape for example, zik- zak lines, triangles and so on if you look at the streets, walkways are for example striped and there are so many interesting things happening in the outside space, really. The streets signs are also very interesting.

But I get ideas from all over. But I have to mention one thing. Pinterest! You can zone out, and look at things and pictures for hours and hours. I get very inspired by this visual online database, I must say!

And the sky. This is why I really like tie dying. There is something that happens when you experiment with this method. I really like that using this method you do not known what the final outcome will be. This is probably why I have never applied for the artistic grant!

So, do you think the grants are somehow too “boxed in” in this regard?

Yes, somehow you are always hired to deliver something that is already defined. That is a huge defect in my opinion. This is something that needed to change a long time ago, because we need to blend these things much more. We need various people in order create the entire spectrum. We need to have all the sides of the story. Because at the end of the day, you should always stand up for what you believe.

So, what do you sell in your store?

My ideology in making clothes is that they should be comfortable, but stylish. It should be about feeling good. I work with forms and colors. I am currently working with my lovely co-worker who is here now, Magga Einars. We are crocheting pieces together, sweaters that are both open or closed and vests. I really enjoy that people come in to my store, and find something’s fashionable for every body shape and form. Men also shop here, since I am doing scarfs and trousers and so on.

© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013

Isn’t it hard to make trousers?

I once was into the business on making skinny jeans and such. But now I make everything in two sizes, and everything is loose and comfortable. Every piece is handcrafted and unique and that is what people really like. And how long the pieces last. That is very nice.

I see here in our store window, these amazing masks. What can you tell me about them?

I have always been super excited about masks, actually. I have always been thinking about what we as people do, externally, and how we behave. And, yes, I don’t think that we are defined fully on „who we are“ because we are some many things at once.

How can I explain this, like when we go to the bank, we put on the bank mask, and when you are at home, you have another mask. And coming to the point about the masks you saw in my window, I worked with Facebook statuses, they inspired me in making different masks, art works inspired by what I read from different people on there. They can be controversial, sad, joyful and everything in-between. So I made a mask once a week to one status, over a period of one year. And the final piece is still evolving!

My husband is a photographer, and we connect so well, and we have a great level of trust between us. His name is Jón Páll Eyjólfsson. Well, I chose to work with him on this project because in some way he also understands what I am doing. So the project, which is still in the making, will be a photo book, where we showcase both the texts and the masks which are my artistic representation off what people are feeling and expressing in their texts. I am constantly working in the current, or addressing current times that is, through my artwork as well.

c Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013

Have you ever felt that people misunderstand what you are doing?

Well, not exactly. They sometimes maybe feel sorry for me, they ask me questions like „how are you doing, is it working out for you being an artist? “ But in my opinion, I think artists are the strongest people out there. They can make something out of nothing, and they can live on nothing, making their art. That is truly inspiring.

To something related to this, how do you feel about the governments huge budget cuts towards the arts?

Well, if they think that art magically appears, they are wrong. All fields of society should work together. I think that in the school system, we need to respect the art education on the same level as we respect practical studies. The focus should be on celebrating ideas, and artistic approaches.

The politicians here can shovel money to the fishing industry, or may I rephrase this sentence, they can basically give them money, but at the same time they chose to disrespect the professional fields of arts. But hey, then we can close down the museums, the cinemas, the designer stores and so many other things! But if you are an artist, you need to be patient and to have a certain sense of humor for yourself.

So, they don’t understand the values of arts?

As I see it, people really like to categorize things and not afraid or un-willing to criticize things. The key factor is not to pin point this and that which is unneeded; we need all of these elements. We need a good healthcare system, we need the agriculture, we need the fishing industry, and we need the arts. We should not look at any of the elements with a unfavorable attitude, but work on building respect between different areas of our society.

Each and every one chooses what he or she does. We should respect that choice. Everything and every kind of choice. This is what I was discussing before; we need to have a broader spectrum. This is why we should rather elect people, not parties!

Many people that buy art, do so by their own taste, and then they sometimes go deeper than that. My world is always sprung from my perceptions, and something that I connect to and what I understand. Others maybe connect in some completely different way. But what I like most is when people talk to me about my work. Then I get many different kinds of ideas, and this interactivity has an effect on how I write about my works.

© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013
© Nanna Dís 2013

So the discussion is very important?

Yes, of course. Like the masks, now we both have our interview masks on. This applies also to for example, societies that still actively use masks in their culture or rituals. But we always have the invisible mask on, in everything we do. We have all these unwritten rules, about how we behave in general.

So, what does the future bring?

That I can live on my artwork, and that I don’t have to worry each month about paying my bills. I really like what I do. I really enjoy talking to my clients and yes so to sum it up, my dream is to be creative and enjoy life!


We thank Íris very much for the interview, and we hope to see much more of her work, ideas and artistic pieces in the future.

Her store is located: Hverfisgata 50, 101 Reykjavík
Here is her website: liberliber.me
And of course the Facebook page: LiberAtelier


Devantier Vintage – Denmark

Team Snoop-Around had a brief moment of working from two different countries, and that is why we decided to work on this interview together, Nanna Dís portraying the visuals from Denmark, and me meeting up with the wonderful Anna Devantier who runs her vintage store in Copenhagen on Skype. We wanted to know a little bit more about Anna, and her collective choices for the pieces sold in the store.

Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_03©NannaDís2013

How was it for you growing up in Denmark, fashion wise?

I had a very common style in that sense when I was a teenager, I wore oversized lumberjack shirts and this of course was the time of the grunge era. When I went to the University it changed a bit for me, and I started to be more out there as of being independent in my style. I wore eveningwear and bohemian outfits to school in the daytime and stuff like that. I have always read a lot of fashion magazines like British Vogue, so fashion has always been my interest.

How is your style now?

I have been through various different styles through my life but now I am wearing a lot of black. I don’t think I am representing my store all the time of course, but I am driven by my passion for fashion. I hand pick everything in the store and each piece is chosen with the elements of contemporary design, wearability and quality. This is what vintage is for me; vintage is to be worn in a modern way.

Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_09©NannaDís2013
Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_04©NannaDís2013

What has influenced you, have you travelled the world?

Yes, you could say that I have travelled the world, or at least a part of it. I was studying Hebrew and Middle Eastern studies so I travelled alot to Israel and Palestine for example. I have been to all sorts of markets and I sometimes I buy items for the shop. It is very important for me to be on the lookout wherever I go and it has developed my passion for vintage clothing a lot. It’s nice to see a piece from Yves Saint Laurent in foreign countries that are very different from the Western world in terms of culture and living standards, but still have rare items available in stores or markets. Fashion can be global in that way.

Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_05©NannaDís2013
Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_06©NannaDís2013

It’s nice to see that fashion goes in circles, what can you tell me about that?

The difference is that second hand, is not necessarily vintage. Vintage clothes are monuments from designers from the past, exquisite pieces of art and design that we in the Vintage business want to give life again by making them available at reasonable prizes for people to wear. Some vintage pieces have never been worn, so in this way they also differ from the second hand concept. We offer an extensive collection of vintage clothing, shoes and accessories that span the entire 20th century, pretty much!

You also have other items in the store that are not clothing?

Yes, we have all kinds of different things, for example we sell books about Fashion, photography and design. I have educated myself a lot through reading fashion magazines and books throughout my life, and incorporate my passion for this in the store. You never know what to expect in Devantier Vintage. Every visit should be about surprise and inspiration.

Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_013©NannaDís2013
Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_08©NannaDís2013
Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_07©NannaDís2013

What about the sizes of the pieces, is that a problem?

We have all sizes in the store, from the smallest sizes to around size 42. But of course it’s difficult if you see your dream item, but it’s not in your size. The same goes for shoes and other things that do not necessarily fit. But when you are lucky, and everything fits, it’s an extra special moment for people to buy their dream piece.

Where does the name for the store come from?

The name Devantier Vintage comes from my family name. My intention has always been that it should reflect my personal sense of style and fashion.

Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_011©NannaDís2013
Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_010©NannaDís2013

How do you like to be online, do you communicate a lot with your customers for example on your Facebook page?

Yes, it is very necessary and an inspiration to communicate with people online. We also have an online store, so we are not bound by our location necessarily. It is great in the modern day to photograph the items sold in the store. This way people can immediately see online what new items we get in the store, before they come and try things out. We also offer a Newsletter for our enthusiasts, so people know when we get rare things in the shop.

Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_02©NannaDís2013
Devantier Vintage_Copenhagen_01©NannaDís2013

It was great to speak with Anna on Skype, actually this is team Snoop-Around first online interview. It had its up and downs, since the recording program shut down midway through, but it was a great experience that the team will think abut doing in the future if its members are in different locations. She is a true enthusiast about fashion and vintage so its nice to pop by the shop and talk to her in person about the items sold in the store.

We encourage all to visit the shop if ever in Copenhagen, here you can find it on a MAP
- and the store is open Tue- Fri from 11:00 am – 06:00 pm and on Saturdays from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.

Online store
Facebook page

Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís

The knitted worlds of Sonja Bent


We met with Sonja Bent, a fashion and knitwear designer in the production room in Lazy Town, a children Television program that is extremely popular in America, produced both overseas and in Iceland. We noticed her Christmas sweater designs in read and green colours, and wanted to know more about her design projects that we knew were diverse and exciting, both independent and co- produced, for all sorts of mediums.

Sonja-Bent_Snoop-Around-PicNannaDís_01

So, why are you knitting these ugly sweaters?

We are having an ugly Christmas sweater theme, in our closing show of Lazy Town, where I currently work. We wanted to portray this tacky Christmas sweater look, which actually exists in reality in some western countries like Britain. I think its great actually for the reason of making it more like reality of Christmas instead of over-stylising all the characters. Actually I started out as an intern here, when I was studying fashion design in the Iceland Academy of the Arts, and was offered a project of making knitwear for the winter show and now I am a costume design assistant of María Ólafsdóttir, who is the main costume designer for the show. I love working in this kind of an action driven environment, where creativity level is very high. All the characters have their own colour palette, which is a great challenge.

Do you think it’s difficult to design for puppets?

Well their proportions are so different to human shapes, for example one puppet on the show is quite the challenge because of its big belly. We have watched these rough cuts of some of these episodes that we are working on now, its different to watch something that you have made by yourself, coming to life.

Sonja-Bent_Snoop-Around-PicNannaDís_02

Have you worked in other mediums, in the Icelandic film industry perhaps?

Yes, my first film project was to assist for the film Brúðguminn (White Night Wedding, 2008) for the wedding scene in the beautiful island of Flatey. These circumstances are very fast paced, and it can be very exciting artistically, it’s a huge change to go from all the doodling to working with a challenging team of filmmakers that need things to be done on the spot. My largest project in film has to be when I was the costume designer for the film Kóngavegur (King’s Road, 2010), portraying Icelandic trailer trash characters in a trailer park.

“The costumes were reality based worn out eccentric pieces”

What was the outcome, since we don’t have the actual culture of trailer trash in Iceland?

Well, we had influences from America of course, but the director, Valdís Óskarsdóttir, had such a strong vision for the characters so that was very helpful in the process. The costumes were reality based worn out eccentric pieces that we paired very thoughtfully together for each character. We thought of the Icelandic eccentric, in fact, that is what made the creation of the costumes come to life. I think some things work on camera, that doesn’t necessarily work in the real presence.

So, the actors from the theatre- based group Vesturport were involved in this film. How was it to work with them?

I really enjoyed working with the group; the Vesturport actors had strong opinions on their interpretation of the characters in the film. We had so much fun, brainstorming about the costumes, they where thinking about, “what would I wear, if I was this guy,”

I dug up old knitted sweaters, for one of the character, that I borrowed from old eccentric men, relatives and others that I know personally. We invited one of those guys we borrowed the most from, to the premiere and he must have found it a little strange to see his clothes worn, on the big screen in different kinds of scenes in the trailer trash park of Iceland!

So you borrow most of the clothing for these kinds of projects?

No, we have many fantastic second- hand shops here in Iceland, the Salvation Army, and Red Cross market that are very important for the film industry.

So, they are not too smelly one might think?

No, not at all. I use a magical chemical that eliminates odours and germs. This has made life much easier for us, using used clothing as costumes in general.

Sonja-Bent_Snoop-Around-PicNannaDís_03

So, what about new film projects, are you working on something right now?

Yes as a matter a fact, I am working on a short film Stúlkan á rauða hjólinu (The girl on a red bicycle) that is now in production, which my husband directs, and our friend that is also a filmmaker co-produces with us. My costume design for this film is pretty special, because it evolves around this married middle-aged man, which his story is displayed through clothing. This man is always waiting to win the big lottery pot. But the thing is, the audience sees his emotions on how he is dressed, it’s very extroverted. If he feels like he is a clown, he is dressed as a clown, and if he feels like a million dollars, he is very sheekly dressed. He is dressed like he feels; this concept is very interesting to me

So you are a fashion designer and knitwear specialist on top of all this, how is that going?

Yes, I think you can’t just be a fashion designer all the time, especially not in Iceland. Sometimes you have to work in projects, but for me it’s a great blend, its not as if I’m working in a café alongside being a designer. I am a knitwear designer, and I sell my pieces in Kirsuberjatréð in Vesturagata 4. I think my projects; both in Lazy Town, Icelandic films, theatre and commercials go very well alongside my personal freedom of being an independent designer. That’s what makes me happy, and I will probably want to do more of in the future!

“I am crazy about pastels”

What about colours, what is your colour palette about?

I don’t like blacks, its unlikely for me to design black clothing in general. But I am crazy about pastels, and I have been for such a long time actually. And ethnical colours, Tibetan and Greenlandic colours many many colours together.

I am very colourful in my designs, when I was studying in the Iceland Academy of the Arts people were so surprised by that because I was myself dressed maybe in something complete opposite. Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, my teacher didn’t get that I was going all over the colour palette, being myself in the woollen sweater colours all the time. But I don’t follow the rule of being in what I design all the time. People have commented on my Farmer´s Market sweater that I wear and ask me why I would buy knitwear since I am a knitwear designer myself. But I am myself a consumer, so I think its fine to be dressed in other designs as well.

Sonja-Bent_Snoop-Around-PicNannaDís_04

What project has had the most influence on in your carrier?

Well, I think it had a massive amount of influences on me when me and my three friends founded the Guerrilla Store in Slippurinn, Reykjavík around 2005, I was really inspired by our collaboratives Comme des Garçon but in fact they had been my favourite designers many years prior. But everything that we do, and as time passes by, the influences keep piling up and the various projects always influence me in a way. I am always planning of taking my masters abroad as well, so maybe in costume design or in fashion design. But I have had this dream of becoming a textile conservator, just repairing old textile works of all sorts. So that would be an idea as well.

Who are your clients?

Women of all ages basically. But what I find the most interesting now is when for example, I go out and I see someone wearing my knitted sweaters, I really really enjoy that. What can I tell you, oh yeah, It’s always nice when Björk buys your design. She has bought design wear from me twice but as we say in the fashion design community here in Iceland, we always celebrate that as a milestone if she buys our designs. She pulls off so many different things, she is magnificent.

But now this will all change, because I am currently working on a line for children that will soon be out, which I am producing in Portugal. Well, in Iceland it’s very common that you can be occupied in diverse projects all the time, but I am happy to be able to work in the field of design both as an independent designer and working on projects that are offered to me in different mediums.


We wish Sonja all the best in the future, with her designs for Lazy Town, her own contemporary knitwear design line, her upcoming children’s line and basically everything that her future brings.

kirs.is/art_work/sonjabent

Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís

As we grow

Snoop-Around interviews As We Grow for the Reykjavík Grapevine,
issue #14 7.9.2012
This interview originally appeared in The Reykjavík Grapevine

Snoop-Around meets María and Guðrún fashion designers and Gréta the lawyer mba. They are the co-founders of AS WE GROW a fashion label for children. It all begun from a single sweater that has now travelled through Guðrún‘s family for 9 years and was their muse for creating clothes that were eco-friendly and promote sustainability. They are currently preparing their new studio so we meet at María‘s home. Guðrún‘s youngest is with us, just two months old and as we munch through chocolate and peanuts we get to know them three a bit better and about their brand new product.

María, Guðrún & Gréta

You are in the first year of AS WE GROW, how did it all start?

María: It‘s been developing for about a year now. Gréta had travelled to Peru a few years ago where she met their suppliers in Lima, Peru. There she learned all about the Alpaca fibre they use in all their clothing, hypo-allergic, soft and strong wool.

Gréta:The Alpacas camels have developed a quality for staying 400 meters above sea level, which gives their wool it‘s strong thermal insulator and makes the fibre warmer and lighter that other natural fibres. It‘s warmer than normal wool when it‘s cold and let‘s more air through when it‘s hot.

Guðrún: Usually it‘s the designers that search for a producer but in this case it happened the other way around when Gréta initiated this collaboration. She is definitely the driving force while we the designers are the dreamers.

What was your inspiration for making this kind of product?

Guðrún: There are mainly two motives, first of all it‘s the travelling sweater (more on that later) and the fact that me and María have always wanted to work together. We have similar ideas on how to design children’s clothes. It derives from how we want to dress our own children as well as the idea of the clothes being timeless; we stay away from logos and decorations that might be following a certain trend.

María: My experience is that I never found anything nice enough for my twin boys, except something quite pricy, so it made me think about having fewer clothes that last longer, even a whole year even though they are growing fast. As a result we sought a solution for creating clothes that children could use as they grow.

So what is different about your design from what we are used to?

María: The cut is made specifically so that children can use the garment for longer, the armhole is bigger, and the waist stretches wider. For a child with a few months of age the trousers will reach up close to the armpits and gradually lower towards the waist with time. The trouser leg is long so you fold it to begin with but end up as knee high trousers and the same goes with sleeves. Today you will pay around five to six thousand krona for a sweater and it lasts perhaps for a few months with the usual wear and tear marks. Here you will pay around 13.000 krona and get a piece of clothing that will last your baby for years and because of the quality, our non-trend and timeless design you will want to give it to the next baby in line too. You can therefor use it for decades, going through friends and family. We know how it is to buy clothes for your children, you think of how good the material is you want the best and softest material for your child. And you also want them to be environmentally friendly.

Guðrún: We don’t want for people to buy and throw away endlessly, the long lasting clothes are also a part of the notion that the fewer clothes you need, less harmful chemical are used in the process of making them.

Gréta: We are the opposite of HM, although HM is great at times, but we want to promote endurance of the product and we think that today people’s disposition on sustainability is changing for the better, we are starting to make demands on the matter.

Can you tell me more about the sweater and its voyage?

Guðrún: The sweater was hand knitted by my mother and it’s been travelling for nine years. A friend of mine Carolyn got it for her son Julian in 2003. After that Tinna in Iceland got it for her son Tryggvi, which then gave it to Ísafold. In the winter of 2006 it got lost but was found again the coming spring with a few dropped stitches that gave it even more character. Ísafold had outgrown it so next was Markús and in the end Kjartan Ragnar his cousin who wears it still. I would love to mark one of our sweaters and somehow track its journey, see where it’ll end up in 30 years to come.

Where and when will we be able to buy it?

Gréta: We introduced our first line last February at the CHP Kids trade show in Copenhagen. We start selling in September in various places, Barnabúðin Laugavegur 27, Mýrin Kringlan shopping mall, Saga Boutique with Icelandair, Rammagerðin which includes Hafnarstæti Reykjavík, Egilsstaðir, Keflavík Airport and soon Akureyri. As well Berlin, Copenhagen and we have been selling our summer line at an internet shop in New York and we plan on selling from our website as well. We are building it up nice and easy selling 85% here in Iceland and 15% abroad.

María: Barnabúðin told us that tourists are asking about Icelandic labels in children clothing, they can’t keep up with knitting the traditional wool sweater in baby sizes. We didn’t realize that there was a demand for it; our motivation was different as we have said.

Gréta: Soon we will have 100 hand knitted scarfs from Peru which are made from left over yarn and the profit of it will go to a charity we haven’t chosen yet. Exiting times ahead and now we just wait and see whether it’s going to be a success.


At this moment they show us the clothes, they are so tender and soft, particularly the ones with 100% baby Alpaca wool, María describes for us how you can mix and match almost every piece for the age of 6 months to 4 years old. The clothes aren’t too decorated or bright, but simple and cute, and beside the pink dress, it’s quite unisex as well, so you have endless choices to create your personal combination.

aswegrow.is

Interview: Erla Steinþórsdóttir
Photograpgs: Nanna Dís

Helicopter

Snoop-Around interviews fashion designer Helga Lilja – Helicopter for the Reykjavík Grapevine,
issue #10 13.7.2012
This interview originally appeared in The Reykjavík Grapevine

We meet fashion designer Helga Lilja Magnúsdóttir in her co-operated store 20BÉ on Laugavegur 20b which is soon to be closed down. Helga is going through changes these days, changing store location and studio. With six years of experience of the clothing design business she is looking brightly to the future and is far from running out of ideas and inspirations.

Helicopter_Fashiondesigner_Iceland_Snoop-Around_PicNannaDís

Have you been doing this for a long time?

I started studying in the Iceland Academy of the Arts when I was 20 years old, graduated in 2006 when I was 23 years old. I went straight from there into making clothes, I begun when getting this heat press machine that you use to print on hoodies, very much street, trying to go as far as I could from what I was doing at the Academy. I sold my hoodies at the shop The Naked Ape where I had a successful run and from there I went to work for the clothing company Nikita. Heiða (founder of Nikita) bought a vest I made and from that they offered me a job which was great. I stayed there for almost three years and by that time I was craving to create myself, so in December 2010 I started designing under the Helicopter name and style.

So there is a change in style from the hoodies to your new style?

Yes there is, although I still see it as street, it’s everyday wear, more fancy, more digital print and different fabrics than I used at first but I keep within the lines of it being casual and a very important thing as well; something you feel comfortable wearing. I design clothes that I want to wear and I want to wear things that are practical and look nice at the same time.

20BÉ is closing down, what comes next?

We are closing down here which means we have a lot of clothes on sale but Helicopter recently became a part of the collaborative shop Kiosk on Laugavegur 65 and I also started selling in Karrusel in Copenhagen, Duty Free in the airport, Birna on Skólavörðustígur and even one shop in Eskifjörður called LV. The autumn/winter 2012-13 line is in production now and will be available in stores in the beginning of September and there will be an opening party in Kiosk. I like working in a shop where my clothes are sold, being around my customers and learn from the experience and find out what I can do better, I wouldn’t want to be completely separated from them. (At this point the photographer Nanna has picked out a gorgeous dress from the sale.)

Any new inspirations these days?

Yes and no, it’s always developing and you will see some changes next summer but I am still being kind of true to myself and my style. Designing next summer started quite late for me, it didn’t really happen until I went away to LungA artfestival in the east of Iceland. As cliché as it sounds it was just so inspiring to go away from the city and into the Icelandic nature. I’ve had different inspirations for example I found a cushion at my grandmother’s house from which I made the pattern for my summer 12 collection and for the coming winter the pattern I made is inspired by Wilson’s Bird of Paradise with strong colours and feathers which is entirely different from what I have now. For next summer I’m turning again in another direction. I usually just do the exact thing I want to do in the present moment. And even though I am looking at books and pictures that I’m really inspired from, for example the Native American tribal material, I might end up with something totally different. It’s like I get inspired from it to work and create. I get very inspired by my family and childhood, especially my old toys.

Any wisdom to share from these past six years?

What I am learning and discovering now is that you don’t want to go too fast. In the beginning I sewed the clothes myself and let people try them on and seeing them liking them so much I decided to give it a go, manufacturing that is. What I am trying to say is I don’t think it would be prosperous to overgrow to fast and explode all of a sudden. I would love to do loads of things that I have in my head but I know it would be too much to soon. Most of my time doesn’t go into the actual designing, when you are working alone on your own things a lot of the time you are handling practical things that come with the territory and working in the store takes up your time as well. But at the moment I have no interest in doing anything else because it gives me everything I want in life.

helicopter-clothing.com

Interview: Erla Steinþórsdóttir
Photograph: Nanna Dís

Fur Trade

Snoop-Around interviews creators of Fur Trade for the Reykjavík Grapevine,
issue #10 13.7.2012
This interview originally appeared in The Reykjavík Grapevine

In a swanky office at Jónsson & Le’macks we sit down with Sigurður Oddsson. We’re here to talk to him about Holster, a joint venture by three young men who all work in the creative fields and have come together to form a fashion company called Fur Trade, that is in fact not a fashion company.

Holster_By_FurTrade_Iceland_Snoop-Around_PicNannaDís

Siggi Odds., Bóas & Jökull Sólberg

What brought on this project and how do you three know each other?

Well we all are good friends, I had been working with Bóas Kristjánsson, fashion designer, whom has his own label called 8045 and the idea came up that I‘d work on some accessories, not fashion per say, but more product orientated. The idea originated in Jökull Sólberg the third member of the group, coming into work wearing an actual shoulder gun-holster, he wasn’t armed or anything but it definitely gave me ideas for a more practical application, and that got me sketching. So that’s where the idea comes from. My reasoning being that in the summertime men like to wear shorts and a T-shirt but where do you put your keys, change and wallet? The Holster is a solution. That was what I presented to Bóas and funnily enough he had been working on something similar but from the angle of a more classical vest, we merged these two ideas into what is now the Holster.

It’s a bit like the Swiss army knife of clothing?

That is true, we tried to integrate as much as we could into the design, take your phone for instance, often you’ll have earphones plugged in and they just get tangled up in everything. That’s why we put a handy cord slit high on the shoulder, where you can fasten it and it won’t get in the way. All the pockets are designed for their individual tasks, for your phone, sunglasses and wallet so that it doesn’t bulge but blends seamlessly into the design. All the material used, black caribou, lamb, salmon and rosefish leather, comes from a leather factory here in Iceland, in the north to be specific, but everything is sewed in Reykjavík.

“I mean if you can have a gun there and no one notices it, then a phone is a piece of cake”

Do you feel the need has arisen from a greater accessorisation of men?

Men just have more stuff now, and when you’ve grown accustomed to trudging everything around with you, it’s pretty hard to do without it. When kept in the Holster your stuff blend seamlessly into your attire. It looks good on its own as well as under a jacket, and it takes form the shoulder holster the idea of using dead space under the arms so that you don’t really notice it if concealed, and doesn’t get in the way. I mean if you can have a gun there and no one notices it, then a phone is a piece of cake.

You launched the company in March?

Yes, that’s when we launched the website and the product. It’s been a steady rise since then, and we´re are focusing on the global market. Two weeks ago Sævar Karl started selling the product so we are really excited about that. It’s always good to have a place where people can drop into when they’re unsure about the size or the material. At first the sales were to friends and online, the funny thing though was that when the site went live at around 05 in the morning, the night before Design March, we got an order from Sweden within the first hour. We had posted a link on Facebook and a friend of a friend of a friend ordered the first one, it really is a small world!

For further information: furtrade.is/holster

Interview: Guðni Rúnar
Photograph: Nanna Dís

 

Sævar Markús

Snoop-Around interviews fashion designer Sævar Markús for the Reykjavík Grapevine,
issue #9 15.6.2012
This interview originally appeared in The Reykjavík Grapevine

Sævar Markús’ first line, a small collection of silk accessories inspired by Romanian folklore, sold out in only a fortnight. He’s now getting ready to debut his men’s and women’s wear collections this fall, which feature androgynous tailored pieces mixed with silk dresses for women and printed shirts with detailed patterns for men. We met the fashion designer at his studio on Laugavegur to find out more about this work and how his background as an artist shapes his designs.

Sævar-Markús_fashion-designer_Snoop-Around_photo-NannaDís

You studied art before going into fashion?

Yes, I originally studied art and art history. However, I became interested in fashion when I went to Paris to work with a group of visual artists. They were doing a lot of multimedia art and some performances, and I was making costumes. It was really through a collaboration with the fashion house Agnés B, when I was working in their space and going through their fabric collection, that I really decided to go into fashion.

“grabbing bits from here and there, like a moment in a film,
just a few seconds, that makes you go “wow, that’s something.”

Does your background in art come into play when you’re designing?

It does, as my field of interest is so broad. I really enjoy researching and finding inspiration from wide variety of sources, such as literature, antiques, art or films. I like grabbing bits from here and there, like a moment in a film, just a few seconds, that makes you go “wow, that’s something.” In the end all this research comes together in a big database that I can then work from.

Did something in particular inspire your new fall/winter collection?

I was inspired by Art Brut where artists that may not be traditionally educated often work from a naive perspective. I was also deeply inspired by Czech and British new wave films from the sixties.

The cut of the garments is mostly androgynous; the classic tailored pieces are sized to fit both sexes. Some things like the dresses and ladies shirts, are extremely feminine though, and are made from feminine fabric like chiffon. One dress in particular is dedicated to the singer of Broadcast, Trish Keenan, who I’ve always felt a strong connection to.

How would you describe your design, is there a singular concept?

I would say it’s very classical, at least the cut. I like classical tailoring and want garments to be well made and cut. This collection was mostly inspired by art, but next summer I will be working with florals and Finland for example. It’s mainly classic looks, but is heavily infused with what I’m inspired by at that moment.

What’s it like to start your brand in Iceland?

The market is small and it is a lot of work. It’s expensive to import fabrics and you can at most hire a seamstress to help out when it’s really busy. You have a lot on your plate at any given time. But I’m just starting out, so all the work is on me at the moment. However the good thing about working here is that you can try things out, taking one step at a time. And in the end, you never know what’s going to happen!



Find Sævar Markús here:
facebook.com/SaevarMarkus

Interview: Erla Björk Baldursdóttir
Photograph: Nanna Dís

 

Jet Korine

Snoop-Around interviews fashion designer Jet Korine for the Reykjavík Grapevine,
issue #8 15.6.2012
Part of this interview originally appeared in The Reykjavík Grapevine

When you walk up Skólavörðustígur, you might notice a little shop on number 17a, which bears the name of its owner and designer, Jet Korine. Jet has a strong ethos behind everything she does, from the hand-dyed socks to the versatile ´life coat´; all is made with a conscious effort to leave a little less imprint on the world. The garments could be from the closet of a modern nomad, ready for whatever. The style is above trends and fads, and even though the clothes might look light and delicate,they are made to last.

Tell us a bit about the shop.

It has been open for three years in this location but the brand is a little bit older. It started like many other brands, in a workshop, tucked away on the second floor with no public appearance. We opened the shop in Skólavörðustígur when the crisis loomed over Iceland and to outrule the danger of going bankrupt, we collected both the workshop and the shop in one location.

You retail a variety of accessories as well?

The golden rule is that, what we can´t make ourselves, we can retail. For example our socks are made in the USA from recycled materials and when they arrive in Iceland, we hand dye and print them here. For all the accessories that we retail, we want things to have some connection to the policy for our own clothing.

“I didn´t want to feel responsible for putting
more crap out into the world”

Is the handmade quality and sustainability important to your own work as well?

It is. But at the same time it´s not the biggest selling point. I want people first and foremost to fall in love with what they see and feel more beautiful by wearing my clothes. The second part of it that all my fabrics are organic and my dyes are natural. It was my choice to work from that source, because I didn´t want to feel responsible for putting more crap out into the world. It´s already filled up with enough crap.

However it has, gladly enough, affected the overall look of my clothing. For example, by not having synthetic material in my store, it´s very hard to get bright colours, since they are in general done with either synthetic dye or synthetic materials. The pastels that we are known for are because of the natural dye behaves like that, it´s its characteristics. These two things together have become the look for the brand.

Is there a single concept behind every collection?

There is not a particular concept that rules every single collection, the overall concept is that we are planning to stay natural and minimizing peoples consuming behaviour. And to make sure that whatever is bought here, can be used as much as possible and that people might actually buy less. So in a way it´s the worst business plan ever, promoting buying less! For a store that would be a suicidal business plan, however it works really well for us. I feel that our customers are aware of what they are buying, it´s not a moment of impulse.

What is your new collection based on?

The summer collection, Dans-Dans-Dans, was very much inspired by professional dancers. We have a lot of jersey layering, which is easy to build up and build down. Catsuits make the first layer that cover the whole body, the next layer is very open and would actually show everything if there wasn´t a catsuit underneath. We are in a dance theme this summer and it suits this beautiful weather that we´ve been having!

 

Interview: Erla Björk Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís