The homogenity of people’s outfits in Reykjavík might not be blamed on a lack of imagination, though. It has more to do with the fact that clothing stores, despite their different names, actually belong to the same company. N.T.C. (Northern Trading Company) owns twelve of the shops selling trendy clothes for the fashion-hungry Reykjavíkians. With a whopping nine stores at the shopping mall Kringlan, it seems rather obvious that N.T.C. has a lot to say when it comes to the way Icelanders dress. The company’s aim is to cater for all ages and types of people with each of its stores having a certain look and an audience to match it – for example, Sautján Jeans is the place where all those teenagers buy their Diesel jeans, but popping into Centrum might get you to buy clothes so outrageously trendy that after six months you will find yourself miming the words, “What was I thinking?”
Sautján, the first retail store of N.T.C., was opened in 1976. It is still alive and well on Laugavegur and has a selection large enough for most people to find something that they fancy. The upper floor of Sautján tends to be filled with trendy pieces for women, whereas the ground floor is dedicated to men. A shop within the shop, Eva, is the place to go to if looking for labels such as DKNY and Paul & Joe – clothes that would not look out of place even in New York or London. Having all of the shops under one roof is rather convenient, as this means that couples as well as mother-daughter teams can search for clothes that they fancy, pay together, then fill out the coupon for tax-free shopping and get a nice percentage of the money they spent returned at the airport.
N.T.C.’s shops are not temples of originality. Most of them sell pretty much the same things that are considered trendy in mainland Europe. However, worth a special mention is the latest addition to N.T.C’s stores, Kúltur (which is located on the second floor of Kringlan), with its specially picked selection of lesser known designer labels. The clothes in Kúltur seem really fresh but are classical enough to look good even in ten years’ time. But the clothes do come with a price that matches their coolness. For the ones on a budget N.T.C. offers yet another option – an outlet at Faxafen 10 where last season’s leftovers can be found at a fraction of the original price. This means taking a bus to Skeifan, though, and once you find the jeans of your dreams, they might not have your size.
So if after a night of observing how the Icelanders dress you find yourself coveting their style, finding similar clothes shouldn’t be much of a problem.