In the wake of Iceland’s economic collapse, Reykjavík-based designer Steinunn Sigurðardóttir said her country may be facing is greatest challenge.
“It feels like an earthquake and we just keep getting the aftershocks,” said Sigurðardóttir, who designs intricate knitted ready-to-wear inspired by Iceland’s nature. Last year she won the Swedish Soderberg Prize, one of the world’s major design prizes.
“We are so used to having things we want,” she said. “Now we have to be more creative about how we go about things.”
Iceland’s banking system was caught up in the global financial crisis, and international trading of the krona, the country’s currency, is at a standstill. The government has taken out $4.6 billion in loans from the International Monetary Fund and four Nordic countries. In addition, Iceland had to take over three of its largest banks. The value of the krona has been sliced in half in the past year. Protesters have taken to the streets to decry the government’s handling of the crisis.
As part of its rescue plan, the government halted imports, and once they are reinstated, the expense of doing business will be substantially higher because of the devaluation of the currency. “In January, the dollar was worth 64 kronor. In August, it increased to 82 kronor, and as of Monday it stood at 137.5 kronor. So anything I will import once the currency markets will reopen will cost double,” Sigurðardóttir said.
Government officials expect the krona to reach to 160 or 180 before it bounces back, she said. Prices of everyday items like bread and milk are up 15 percent.
What really rankled her and fellow business owners, however, was Britain using its 2001 antiterrorism laws to freeze the British assets of a failing Icelandic bank. “Policemen in Iceland don’t even carry guns. There is no army here — no nothing. I do not own a weapon. I am not a terrorist,” she said.
Residents are using the krona as much as they can to try to prop up the economy. “Everyone here is basically saying, ‘We need to support what’s happening in this country.’ We’re buying Icelandic food,” she said.
“There are talks for store owners, designers and heads of companies. Everyone is trying to work out what we can do by putting our hands together to work this out. We’re also trying to get manufacturers to start working with designers, but not only clothing designers.”
Sigurðardóttir has canceled business trips to New York and London since the Icelandic government will only allow residents to exchange what amounts to about $500 for travel. Far smaller things consume her time now. Unable to buy Belgian shopping bags for the freestanding store she moved into a few months back, the designer bought solid black ones from a local company.
However, the weak krona has bolstered tourism, which is helping Sigurðardóttir’s business. She and other designers have been getting together at the Rösshka Museum to brainstorm. “Maybe we will have a design revolution like we had an industrial revolution 100 years ago,” Sigurðardóttir said.
Many women are knitting and sewing their own clothes to try to save money. Sigurðardóttir has pared down her fall collection to the bare minimums. “I am looking at this whole thing as a challenge. How do you go back to a certain kind of realistic value? We were so caught up with having the latest TV screens and ‘It’ bag. Now I want that bag to mean something. It has to have integrity and a story,” she said.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews