Inklaw’s Streetwear Revolution
Inklaw Clothing was started in 2013 by two 19-year-old friends, Guðjón and Róbert. Now only three years later, the Icelandic brand is sending handmade merchandise to locations as far away as Suriname and as bizarre as the US military base in Kuwait. Take a look at their wares and it’s easy to understand why: their streetwear is just gorgeous. The cuts are classic and clean but the prints keep them unique and eye-catching. Just check out their Instagram @inklawclothing. Aren’t you planning a million outfits in your head?
To get a peek into the world of Inklaw, I talked to Anton Sigfússon, who oversees the business side of the brand.
“[Inklaw is] heavily inspired by the hip hop scene,” Anton tells me. “However, what we like to do is take the key elements of that scene and mix it up with elements of Icelandic nature. We do a lot of hand painted products, which gives us the flexibility to incorporate specific scenery that we draw inspiration from into the designs.” He specifically names artists like Tory Lanez, Partynextdoor, Future and the A$AP crew as particularly inspirational.
“Yeah, Future [is] always on point when it comes to outfits,” Anton says. The rapper actually isn’t too many degrees away from the brand. “His stylist picked out a few [Inklaw] pieces for him when we were in New York earlier this year, but we have yet to see pictures of him wearing them.”
Nonetheless, Inklaw is getting major recognition both within Iceland and abroad. At Secret Solstice, Icelandic musicians Auður, Tiny (from Quarashi), and Blaz Roca (from XXXRottweiler) donned the brand. Arnór Ingvi Traustason, aka the hero who scored Iceland’s winning goal at the EuroCup game against Austria, also just instagrammed himself in an Inklaw hoodie. Abroad? Inklaw pieces have been spotted on celebrities as vast as The Dudesons, Manu Bennett, Craig David, and Nick Jonas.
But how do two 19-year olds from Hafnarfjörður go from an island in the Atlantic to getting worn by big international players?
Back in 2013, Guðjón and Róbert, both streetwear-fanatics, made a few pre-made printed tank tops. “This was more about entrepreneurial inspiration than creative inspiration.” Anton tells me. “[They wanted] to do something on their own, something that was theirs.” The tank top run was successful. So successful that the boys decided to make their own pieces from scratch. This is when, as Anton relays, creativity became the driving force of Inklaw.
“Guðjón stumbled upon his grandmother’s sewing machine and started practicing.” He watched Youtube videos to learn how to put together garments. Róbert subsequently got into marketing and explored how to create a customer base.
And wow, create a customer base they have! The brand has sold to over 50 countries and has more than 57 thousand followers on Instagram. Though they solely create menswear, they have many female customers too. “The Inklaw customer is a very diverse person.” Anton tells me.
And though they have become more and more successful, they’ve kept one thing consistent: everything in the brand in handmade.
For example, Anton’s favourite piece is the Black Foil Bianca Jacket. “It’s elegant and stylish, yet simple and suitable for most occasions.” He tells me. “The inspiration for that piece is our best ever selling piece, the Inked French Terry Jacket, which featured black spray paint on white fabric to capture the hint of black lava rocks underneath the white snow. However, the new piece features white spray paint on black fabric to demonstrate how snow has now melted and how we can now see more of the black rocks. Because it’s summer, you know.” He then describes their production process. First, someone has to buy one, because everything is handmade to order. Then they cut the fabric, and spray paint it before it is sewn. Afterwards, the jacket is assembled and sent out.
My dream outfit with the Bianca? I see it paired with a black cotton bodycon, grey Puma Fierce Shines, and a beige suede baseball cap or maybe a grey one, I can’t decide. Then I’d finish it ideally with a Pamela Love claw bracelet, and Mac’s Lazy Lullaby lipstick. And because it’s Iceland, some black tights.
Guðjón names the Inked Parka Jacket as his personal favourite, while Róbert picks a knit sweater they released last autumn. Christopher, who does design and production for Inklaw, agrees with Guðjón. “You cannot get a piece like that anywhere else.” He says. “At least, as far as I know.”
The boys are optimistic about the streetwear scene in Iceland. “We really like the micro brand culture that has been emerging in Iceland in the last couple of years.” The boys tells me. “There was a huge shortage of Icelandic designers in the men’s streetwear market a few years ago, but now we are seeing young designers having the courage to step up and showcase their work.” At the moment, they are particularly big fans of Y-3, an Adidas collaboration run by Yohji Yamamoto.
What’s next for the brand? They are in the process of releasing an Autumn/Winter collection full of new designs. But in the long term? “[We] are looking to do wholesale. [This] is a bit of a process as we have to change the way we work somewhat.” Anton
tells me. “So far, we have been producing almost every piece in our Iceland-based design studio, but when the quantities get larger, such as in wholesale, this becomes very difficult. That is why we have to partly outsource our production and now we are in the process of finding the right people to work with us on that.”
Nonetheless, it’s easy to see that Inklaw will continue to kill it in the coming years. The brand just has so much to offer. For the fashion conscious, the cuts and prints will excite and inspire. I’m particularly obsessed with their bombers. But for those just getting into streetwear, their pieces aren’t out of reach. Inklaw clothes are wearable and casual while still being, I suppose, au courant. It’s a perfect mix.
So looking for the perfect Icelandic souvenir, look no further than Inklaw.
August 08, 2018
May 08, 2018
March 01, 2018