Reykjavik By Design: The Creative Minds Behind p3
Situated in Miðstræti 12, 101 Reykjavík, p3 is a studio and store that houses the dynamic Icelandic fashion labels Skaparinn, ASI MAR, Sævar Markús and REY by Rebekka Jónsdóttir.
Reykjavík’s local fashion design scene is small but vibrant with designers creating timeless pieces for locals and tourists alike. Designers derive their aesthetic from different sources, but Reykjavík plays a role in the inspiration behind the work. Skaparinn, which translates to “the maker” in English, is a fashion label designed by Dúsa Ólafsdóttir. Her clothes are created for the sophisticated woman, that’s clever and complex, powerful and restrained; a woman that wants impeccably tailored, comfortable pieces that feature unique and gorgeous fabrics. Dúsa enhances femininity through the fluidity of the silhouettes, so her designs are clean and elegant. Designer Ási Mar Friðriksson, who has focused on womenswear, recently launched his first menswear line, ASI MAR that incorporates a modern silhouette with classical tailoring, blending modernity with classic clean cuts.
Ási Mar specializes in contemporary womenswear that’s super stylish and elegant with a focus on clean lines. Sævar Markús Óskarsson’s designs feature tailored pieces mixed with silk dresses for women and a menswear line that uses fine wool and cotton shirts designed to be androgynous, similar to tailored women’s trousers, jackets and coats. His collections, which are mainly classic looks, are inspired by art and are colorful and playful, with deliberate classic cuts and a bit of understated androgyny.
Reykjavík Fashion & Design sat down with the three designers to discuss their creations, inspiration and how working in Reykjavík impacts their work.
Each of you has a very distinct style. How would you describe your work?
Dúsa: The style of my clothes is feminine, modern with luxury
fabrics like silk, wool and cashmere. I focus on womenswear and you see a lot of black and white in my collections. I don’t work with a lot of color.
Sævar: I like to think of my work as more classic with a lot of detail. I focus on prints and quality natural fabrics. I’m designing a new androgynous range of clothing, working with new patterns and offering jackets, trousers, shirts and coats. I’ll be using materials like silk, cashmere, and fine woolen fabrics.
Ási Mar: I would say my clothes are very modern with clean cuts. It’s a combination of futuristic and contemporary. I studied womenswear, but I’ve started to work on clothing for men as well.
From where do you get your inspiration?
Á: There are so many elements at play when designing. Especially when working with textiles. Sometimes just walking down the street with headphones on, listening to music is a huge inspiration. I like to think of it in terms of speed and sound.
D: I’m inspired by a lot of things. Ideas can come from films, music or even dreams. It’s not restricted to fashion or specific fabrics.
S: I love visual arts and I get inspiration there. Art is so important in my process. Inspiration can come from art, antiques, literature or cinema, or something as simple as looking at fabrics. I like taking bits from here and there, like a moment in a film, that grabs my attention.
What is your design process?
Á: I like to draw out the piece completely beforehand. I don’t work by draping. I usually think in terms of a small collection. At first there will be a couple of small looks and the rest will come together as I sketch it out.
S: Research is a big part of the process for me. I take ideas from different places and then narrow it down to the collection. It can begin by thinking of a silhouette with a particular fabric, and the ideas can evolve as I work with different textiles and prints. In the end the collection is classic.
D: I like to start out with an idea and it’s a process from idea to final piece. The idea can change a lot. During the process, I sometimes drape, and sometimes work with patterns and shapes. I always think of the clothes as part of a collection.
What is it like to be a designer in Reykjavík? Is it a unique place to work?
Á: Everyone knows each other here and it’s a supportive environment. I think it’s really important that people do well here and the support follows that. In a sense, there’s no real competition because the scene is so supportive.
S: I agree. There is a lot of support here. And you can see that when a designer’s new collection is out. You have to remember how small Iceland is, how small Reykjavík is.
Who purchases your clothes?
D: I think it’s a mix for all of us. Of course, there are Icelanders and locals that buy our designs, but there are also tourists as well that buy the clothes. And that’s exciting, and necessary for growth.
Á: Fashion is a form of art but it is also a type of business and for you to grow and continue you have to have buyers or sponsors.
S: It’s similar for me; Icelanders and tourists are buying my clothes. I had one client that lives in Europe and she bought a dress from me that was a one-of-a-kind and I think some people love to own a piece that no one else has.
What are the challenges of being a designer in Iceland?
D: I think the biggest challenge is getting access to quality fabrics. Most of the fabric I work with is purchased from England, Italy and Switzerland, and many companies want you to buy 300 meters or more of fabric. For a small company in Iceland, that is not realistic. So we often have to get on the phone and be persuasive, telling them that we are small, independent designers on a small island and please sell us a smaller amount. You always have to adjust and make compromises. But, we do this because we love it. You don’t do this to become a millionaire.
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