All Access to Fashionista

All Access to Fashionista

Svava Johansen is the founder of NTC, the umbrella company for fashion stores Galleri 17, EVA, Kultur, Companys, iGS Skór, and many others. She also recently opened up a new shoe store with her sister called Fló and Fransí in downtown Reykajvík. Check it out!

If anyone knows about fashion in Reykja­vík, it’s her, so I sat down with Svava to hear her opinion on Icelandic style and also get some must-have fashion tips.

Can you define “Icelandic style” for me? 

Icelandic style is unique. In general, people are pretty trendy and well dressed. Young women—the under 30 crowd—tend to mix British trends together with Swedish ones. The outcome is a unique look. Over 30, women dress in a more designed way, still with a lot of British and Swedish influence. Icelandic designers are also becoming popular.

What’s special about it? How is it different from other countries? 

I think we add a lot more cool shoes and bags to our outfits. We don’t like to dress “sweet” like the French. No, we have an edgier look. Maybe it’s because of our heavy weather, but Icelandic women
wear a lot of heavy shoes and ankle boots, more so than Europeans. We also like big wool coats, big scarves, and chunky boots. Everyone of course wants to look different but there’s still a definite “Icelandic” look on the streets.

How would you describe your own style? 

All my clothes have to be comfortable. I’ve done the “beauty is pain” thing [laughs], but not anymore! I love to wear clothes with beautiful fabrics, and twist classic pieces with more chic things. I try not to be too much of one or another—if I wear a classic jacket, then I twist it with used jeans and high heels or chunky ankle boots. If I wear a leather jacket—an age-appropriate one, of course—I mix it with toned-down jeans, or a black skirt and white shirt. I love beautiful shoes, bags, and coats. 

What or who are your biggest fashion/style inspirations? 

I love London. I get a lot of inspiration there. There are so many cool stores! I also like Copenhagen. I go to both places quite frequently, and Stockholm, as well. Swedish people are very trendy, in my opinion. It’s weird, people always talk about Italy and France as fashion countries but when I travel to Milan or Paris, I never get inspired!
Anyway, I’ve always known what I liked and what I don’t. But as you get older, you sometimes like something but can’t go 100% into it, you know? You can take some part of it though and mix it in with cuts that suit you. 

How did you get into fashion?

Even when I was a young girl, like 7 years old, I always knew I was going to go into business and fashion has always been my passion. I used to change my clothes two or three times a day—it would make my sister scream! [Laughs] Anyway, I met my ex-husband when I was 17 years old while studying. He had already opened up a small store in downtown Reykjavík. Together, we opened up many more stores and today I have—with my new husband—15! I’ve loved building up the business. It’s taught me to work a lot, but at the same time, I think it’s really important to enjoy life a lot as well.

Tell me about some future trends you’re seeing pop up! 

Culottes and bootcuts—they’ll finally get in fashion here in Iceland by the end of the year. Knitted dresses too, and romantic fabrics. Also that après-ski outerwear look.