Icelandic Thrift Shopping
More than ever, people are trying to dress as individually as possible. In times of brands like H&M opening stores on every street corner, it is getting more and more difficult to find a unique style. In Reykjavík, fashion capital of the North, things are working differently. One of the secrets of the city’s unconventional style is the high number of second hand shops. Mr. Wolf wanted to get to the bottom of this phenomenon by visiting one of the city's coolest, Fatamarkaðurinn.
It is not the usual second hand store’s environment that welcomes you at Fatamarkaðurinn. Entering the store, the first thing you notice are wooden pallets on the walls in an Urban- Outfitter-esque style serving as coat hooks. Going down the stairs you come into a room chock-full of colourful clothes, accessories, hats and shoes. Where does all the stuff come from? “Everything in the store is hand-picked”, explains Dagný. She has only been working here for a few months after being a good customer for a long time. The store buys the items from companies in the Netherlands which collect clothes from all over the world. There is not a style you cannot find in the store: from cowboy boots to old-fashioned slipovers to seventies dresses in bright colours.
While the first second hand stores of this kind were founded in Reykjavík about 30 years ago, Fatamarkaðurinn was only opened two years ago. “I think the trend is still building up slowly”, says Vaka, another staff member. “When it first started, it wasn’t that popular to go shopping in second hand stores as it is today, but it has become really trendy to shop here.” Nowadays, second hand shops have quite a high influence on Reykjavík’s fashion scene. It still seems that in other countries people frown at you for going shopping in a second hand store, whereas there is nothing embarrassing about it in Iceland, Vaka explains: “Pretty much every girl I know shops in these stores.” Shops like Fatamarkaðurinn are not simply regarded as places to buy cheap clothes. “It’s just a really nice place to shop and all kinds of people come here”, the girls explain. The secret is that everyone wants to have something unique that no one else has - “Everyone wants to be special”, says Dagný.
Besides Fatamarkaðurinn, located at the end of the famous Laugavegur in downtown Reykjavík, there are several more second hand shops in the city centre. Two of them, Spúútnik and Nostalgia, are managed by the same owner as Fatamarkaðurinn. “At Spúútnik, the clothes are bit more selected and Nostalgia really has designer clothes”, Vaka says. But therefore at Fatamarkaðurinn one can find the better bargains and it is often worth taking the time and making your own choice. “People also come here to buy funny dresses for Halloween, for example”, Dagný says. So even in Reykjavík it’s not always only about looking good in the classy way.
Words and Photos: Alex Ballas