"Where past meets present"
Berþóra Guðnadóttir just won the award for best fashion designer from the Icelandic Fashion Council, an award called Indriðaverðlaunin presented biannually. Mbl.is/ Árni Sæberg
The Icelandic Fashion Council awarded Bergþóra Guðnadóttir with the fashion designer of the year award on Saturday. Guðnadóttir is the designer behind Farmers Market, a label that mixes Icelandic tradition with a contemporary mood.
The verdict of the judges was unanimous and in a press release from the council they state that the award, which is presented biannually, is awarded for quality, ideology and a balance between creativity and practicality in creating a successful final product.
Emphasis on sustainability
"I have to admit that I was surprised, pleasantly surprised to get this recognition," says Guðnadóttir. "I was really happy and honoured to be recognised by my colleagues and people within the Icelandic fashion scene. Designing clothes has been my full time job for over 15 years and it's nice to get a warm pat on the back."
Guðnadóttir founded the Farmers Market label in 2005 along with her husband, musician Jóel Pálsson. "Our guiding theme is sustainability which means that we design and produce a line of clothing and accessories for men, women and children, with an emphasis on natural, renewable or recycled raw materials such as wool, linen, silk and cotton,"she explains.
"We have an ethical policy at our company and we want to be at peace with both people and the environment. Our main challenges have been to find good collaborators, especially when it comes to producing raw fabrics and clothing and to become financially sustainable, and not dependent on grants or funding from others. Thankfully, sustainability is becoming something that people are becoming more aware of and it's good to have made a good head start with our company and to have put down good ground work over the years. "
"Most of us still have some connections to the countryside and see it in a romantic aura of nostalgia. We try to reflect this in our design and our marketing." Photo/ Ari Magg
The Icelandic countryside bathed in an aura of nostalgia
Farmers Market is a label known for refined, classical pieces with an Icelandic traditional folk influence juxtaposed with a contemporary mood, where urban living meets the practical traditional clothing of ages past.
"Design wise we put together a sort of framework where we sougt inspiration to our global position in the Nordic countries and our common roots there," Guðnadóttir explains. "We place ourselves on an imagined meeting point: where the countryside meets the city, where the past meets the present and where the national meets the international. We find that like an exciting dance between opposites, and actually it reflects on our nation where a large part of its people had to adapt quickly to urban life in the bast few decades. Most of us still have some connections to the countryside and see it in a romantic aura of nostalgia. We try to reflect this in our design and our marketing."
Catwalk shows are important
The headquarters and flagship store, called Farmers & Friends of Farmers Market are located in the Grandi harbour area in Reykjavik. Over 50 retailers sell the products both in Iceland and internationally, distrubuted from Scandinavia to Japan.
Asked whether the fashion industry is a hard one in Iceland she replies that it's certainly not easy business, whether in Iceland or anywhere else. "But after working here for fifteen years I see how things have developed really quickly, and very positively. I remember when I was at college just before the millenium and at that time one count count designers on the fingers of one hand. Only graphic designers and architects were able to make a living from design."
Farmers Market have always participated in DesignMarch in Reykjavik in some manner, either at the Reykjavik Fashion Festival or hosting their own events. "It's very good for a business like ours to have runway shows. We're pretty realistic though so we know it's going to be a long while until international buyers start flocking to Iceland. That's why it's neccessary for us to do shows at fashion weeks abroad. But I really like DesignMarch, I think it's an event that could develop on a scale not unlike Iceland Airwaves to focus international attention on Iceland's design scene."
The winter collection for Farmers Market this year includes everything from warm woolen undergarments and slip dresses to warm coats and everything in between. "You should be able to wear Farmers Market head to toe. We'll keep the same influences and we'll stay practical but next year we might take some unexpected new turns."
With Christmas approaching Guðnadóttir and her team are decorating their flagship store at Grandi. "Grandi is this great upcoming area in Reykjavik, everything seems to be happening here, new restaurants, delicatessen shops and lots of exciting shops and companies."
But how does she see her future as a designer in ten years time? "I hope I will still have the same burning ambition for my work and I look forward to seeing the developments in natural and environmentally friendly textiles in the world."
"Our guiding theme is sustainability which means that we design and produce a line of clothing and accessories for men, women and children, with an emphasis on natural, renewable or recycled raw materials such as wool, linen, silk and cotton." Photo/ Ari Magg