Last weekend, designer shop The Naked Ape celebrated its three-year anniversary. Owned by designer Sara María Eyþórsdóttir, the shop has made its mark in the fashion industry for its colourful designs, artistic vibe and creative energy and today ranks among the most successful designer boutiques in Reykjavík. When Grapevine caught up with Sara she was at the art festival LungA, teaching a workshop in design and print but still ound time to tell us how it all started.
The Naked Ape opened on July 14, 2005. and soon developed a huge fan-base, with anyone from trendy artists to law students sporting Naked Ape’s trademark hand-printed hoodies.
It’s quite funny that the first customer to set foot inside the shop was [fashion mogul] Sævar Karl. The shop had only been open for five minutes. He stormed in and took a good look around. He hasn’t bought anything yet but has done his share in bringing all sorts of people inside,” she says and continues:
“When I opened the shop I pretty much knew what I was getting into. I had worked in a textile-gallery and knew I would be able to do this. But it’s been hard work. I realised that the first two or three years would be complete mayhem, and they have, but I never expected things to turn out this way.”
Asked which projects stand out she names the Iceland Airwaves, but Sara and her team have designed the cool hand-printed festival T-shirts for the past three years. “For me it’s a huge honour to be a part of the Airwaves-family and this year I will do the designs for the festival for the fourth time.”
Her designs have also caught the attention of big-shots in the fashion business and last year she was contacted by the Swedish clothing-giant H&M. How that collaboration came about was a coincidence she says. “It was 4am on a Saturday. I had been working but didn’t want to go to sleep right away. I went to Kaffibarinn and a guy [from the B-line DJ-crew] comes up to me and says he recognises me from an article in a Swedish travel-mag. He introduced me to his friends who happened to work for H&M. They had visited the shop earlier in the day and shot loads of photos. The week after I received an e-mail from H&M. They wanted an Icelandic theme so I also pointed out Steed Lord and Siggi Eggerts. We created three lines for the company.”
The Naked Ape has received a huge feedback, both locally and internationally. The shop has got coverage in magazines and fashion blogs and Sara’s own line ‘Forynja’ has been showcased internationally. Why the shop has such an appeal is quite understandable. It’s not only that the space is stuffed with eye-catching designs and accessories. For the most part it’s the fact that The Naked Ape is so much more than a fashion-shop. It’s a party-place, a concert venue, exhibition space and a creative hang-out where people come to chit-chat and throw around ideas in order to create something fun, new and fresh. “Everything happens, very spontaneous. Someone can be sketching a pattern on a napkin and the next day it’s on a sweater,” says Sara. When anything goes, only great things can come out of it. Be sure to check out the shop on Bankastræti 14.
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