From Iceland — Reykjavík Finally Gets The Fashion Festival It Deserves

Reykjavík Finally Gets The Fashion Festival It Deserves

Published March 16, 2010

Reykjavík Finally Gets The Fashion Festival It Deserves
Haukur S. Magnússon
Photo by
Julia Staples

Remember the Iceland Fashion Week scandal of last year? Try to forget it. It was awful. Instead, spend your memory and set your sights on the forthcoming Reykjavík Fashion Festival, a cool new initiative by a group of local fashion designers and industry players. Conceived of as a platform to raise unity within and awareness of the Icelandic fashion industry, it will showcase the works of 22 of Iceland’s most exciting labels and designers.

Reykjavík Fashion Festival has been in the making ever since that first horrified blog post about the Fashion Week fiasco made its way to the Internet. It is a collaborative effort, and it smacks of ambition and high hopes for a fledgling industry that seeks acknowledgment and support to become the currency raising export giant it has the potential to. In short, it’s a good idea. We caught up with RFF executive director Ingibjörg Finnbogadóttir – a ten-year veteran of the fashion industry who’s operated in both Reykjavík and New York – and had her divulge some information on the project.

“The Reykjavík Fashion Festival was co-founded by clothing labels Nikita, Birna, E-label and Mundi, with the stated purpose of showcasing the Icelandic fashion industry in a positive and accurate manner,” Ingibjörg begins. “There are many good people collaborating on putting on the festival, which has been in preparations since this fall.”

We believe that there is great potential for the Icelandic fashion industry, and a great need for an event like the RFF. This is indicated by the sheer amount of impressive labels that applied to participate in this first edition of the festival. We initially aimed at featuring ten labels, but after the barrage of quality applications we received we extended the number to 22. Soon in the process we were approached by Eldar and Steinþór of Faxaflói and Borgin, who have been collaborating with us and staging a music programme that goes along with the festival.

Even though there are many different aspects to the concept, RFF is at its core fashion festival, and is primarily meant to bring the local fashion community together and to raise public awareness of how fertile and vibrant the industry is – to underline its importance as an export product. Many of the participants have had considerable success abroad and we have numerous connections to the international industry, fashion media and the like. We’ve already confirmed coverage in several international publications and we will be diligently publicising the event to secure maximum exposure for Icelandic fashion design and musicians.

What does the programme look like?

The fashion programme will take place in the Kaaber building by Sæbraut, with two shows happening on Friday night and three on Saturday. The shows will be followed by general partying and debauchery at Kaffibarinn and NASA, in connection with the music programme, as well as an exclusive VIP party or two.
The fashion shows will be invite only and limited to 300 guests representing the industry and the media – our budget doesn’t really permit us to make it a more public event.

The idea is to make as much as possible with the funding at our disposal this year and build around that in coming years, as we fully intend to make this an annual thing. The general public can follow the festival through our various outlets; we are producing a documentary on the proceedings, we’ll be distributing a magazine that we’re making and will try and make everything widely available.
What we’re looking at is a long weekend of fashion, music and fun; one big party weekend.

Is RFF in any way a reaction to the Iceland Fashion Week fiasco of last year?

It is, it is. The idea has been brewing in many places for a while, including with some of the festival’s founders. In a way it is only natural: Nikita has been a large export number since 2001, E-label is doing business in the UK and Birna is retailing in Denmark and Scandinavia. Common to the people behind these labels is a concern for the Icelandic fashion industry, and a will to show how many talented and qualified professionals we have operating here that are fully ready for international markets.

Everything connected to the fashion week farce of last fall was indeed a fiasco. We received horrible press from influential fashion blogs from New York and Milan, and the local industry’s reputation was potentially tarnished. RFF is in a way our attempt to rectify that, it is an event produced by people from the business that care about it and wish to see it thrive – those are some very different goals than what I imagine the woman behind Iceland Fashion Week’s had in mind.

Would you say Icelandic fashion has any sort of reputation or image abroad?

Not yet. We are very young and far from claiming an identity. But putting on events like this and showing ourselves to the outside world is a start to that.

Is RFF a public festival, or is it more industry oriented? Can your average fashion enthusiast partake in any of it?

It’s an industry festival. But as I said we are producing a documentary and making a magazine detailing the events, so the public can certainly follow the goings-on quite well.

Is RFF here to stay?

Indeed it is, forever and ever. How will it evolve? We aim at staging a follow up event next year and maybe even every six moths after that – we might even schedule something for the upcoming fall, who knows? Our main goal now is to properly birth the festival and raise it well in its infancy so that it may survive at least 100 years. As soon as the upcoming one is over we’ll start marketing the concept so that the next one might be even bigger. And so on. We aim for bigger and better by the year – eventually we might even obtain the Fashion Week moniker?

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