Apr 15th, 2017, 03:59 PM

Icelandic Style: The Ultimate Nordic Cool

By Tara Jamali
Fashion Meets Consciousness in Iceland's Latest Brands

Iceland is THE place to go nowadays.

Celebrated for its pristine, ethereal nature and  different style of living, Iceland has experienced a surge in tourism over the past couple of years. In 2015, CNN Travel named Iceland as the world's most peaceful destination. These days, it seems like everyone is flying to Reykjavik to experience the essence of Nordic cool. But what significantly puts Iceland on the map is its unique design. Renowned for fashion forwardness and a quirky, offbeat style, Iceland is becoming a major hot spot for fashion.   

Fashion is known to reflect the culture from which it emerges, and in Iceland, feminism runs deep. As citizens of the first European country to elect a female president, and the first country in the world with a political party entirely formed and led by women, it is not surprising that women quite literally run their world in Iceland. "Icelandic girls do, wear and say whatever they want - without caring about what others think," says Brynja Jonbjarnardottir, one of Iceland's emerging models.

Brynja Jonbjarnardottir. Image Credit: teenvogue.com

Icelandic fashion also reflects the country's reputation as one of the most sustainable places on the planet. According to Professor Charles Talcott, who led a group of AUP students on a cultural excursion to Iceland over spring break, the very spirit and philosophy of Iceland's clothing lines are consistent with the country's commitment to sustainability. "What's striking in Iceland is to see that not only are many clothing lines named after natural features such as Geysir or North 66, the designers are also inspired by the natural features, the textures, the colors, the light, and the natural products of Iceland to create their lines, to create the kinds of figures and forms of their clothing," he says. "Of course they're also using native materials and natural fibers, and they're highlighting this for the consumer. It actually becomes part of the brand, part of the promotion, part of the ethic of the line. And you see that profiled even within the shops: the clothes on display are always blended in the natural elements."

The Reykjavik Fashion Festival is Iceland's most popular artistic celebration attracting fashion enthusiasts, bloggers, and professionals from all over the world. Founded in 2009, the festival serves as a venue for Icelandic designers to showcase their work. At this year's festival, held from March 23rd to the 25th, six Icelandic brands made their debut in the fashion world: Anita Hirlekar, Cintamani, Myrka, Magnea, Inklaw, and Another Creation. Challenging the norms, inspired by natural elements, and conscious of their surroundings, the designers behind these brands dedicate themselves to representing their Icelandic heritage. Keeping in line with Iceland's heritage of sustainability, they strive to carve a fashion space where consciousness meets creativity. 

Anita Hirlekar

Named as one of the upcoming Nordic designers by Elle DK and Vogue Italia, Anita Hirlekar features modern sophistication and unexpected juxtapositions in its strong colors and textures.

                                                                                                                                                                              Image Image Credit: anitahirlekar.com


Looking to Icelandic nature in creating dependable outdoor clothing, Cintamani is dedicated to making the nature loving individual look great by combining advanced technology with a fashion forward sensibility.

                                                                                 Image Credit: unlockingkiki.com/cintamanijacket


Inspired by Viking heritage and Iceland's mystical landscape, Myrka is founded on the idea that quality clothing should be produced in a socially conscious manner. Through artful prints blended in sharp silhouettes and soft feminine pieces, Myrka enables women to express their individuality. 

   Image Credit: myrkaiceland.com


Winner of numerous local design awards, Magnea's innovative knitwear features an interesting mix of contrasting materials and attention to delicate details resembling the Icelandic landscape itself.

Image Credit: magneaeinarsdottir.com


The newest inductee to Iceland's fashion scene, Inklaw features a minimalist, functional and street-influenced design. Inklaw's team sends a personal note with every delivery, and almost every clothing item is made-to-order in the Reykjavik-based studio.

                                                                 Image Credit: nordicstylemag.com

Another Creation

With a strong vision to create an awareness of waste in the fashion industry, every item under Another Creation's brand is produced under fair trade laws. Simplicity meets sustainability in classic timeless shapes that are meant to last more than one season.

 Image Credit: anothercreation.com

Kolfinna Von Arnardottir, the festival's CEO, has high hopes for Icelandic fashion and the future of Icelandic design. "It has been difficult getting buyers to come to Iceland...the obvious is the size of the country, another is that experienced and big buyers look to a designer's history. But now there is a lot of growth here and production has much increased," she says in an interview with Iceland Monitor.

With its abundance of natural pools and geothermal waters, Iceland boasts a unique bathing culture dating back to the 12th century. Swimming is part of daily life in Iceland. When designer and avid swimmer Erna Bergmann felt that many of the swimsuits she saw on Icelandic women were either too sexy or too sporty, she created her own swimwear label, Swimslow. Bergmann's aim is for women to experience both comfort and confidence in a Swimslow swimsuit. Keeping with Iceland's tradition of sustainability, all swimsuits in the label are made of recyclable quality fabrics.

                                                                          Image Credit: swimslow.com

Similar to its fashion design, Iceland has a quirky and offbeat weather pattern. Icelanders typically witness snow, hail, rain and sun in a short period of time. Should you arrive in Iceland and find out you're not sufficiently warm, pick up a lopapeysa, the quintessential Icelandic sweater you'll see all over the region. Lopi, the unique wool used to make the sweater, has insulation properties and repels water, so the lopapeysa keeps you warm even when wet. This Icelandic sweater is distinguishable by its yoke design - a wide decorative pattern surrounding the neck area.

Lopapeysa Image Credit: www.etsy.com

With a lack of international fashion brands in the region, many Icelandic designers have had to demonstrate more innovation and creativity with their style. Walking around Reykjavik, it is interesting to see locals expressing themselves through their style, unconstrained by traditional and conventional ideas of clothing. It inspires all of us to embrace a new way of thinking in staying true to our own unique style.