I’ve got a little secret to share. Its name is Ostwald Helgason, a London-based label helmed by Susanne Ostwald and Ingvar Helgason that I’ve been lusting after for the last few seasons. My interest was first piqued after their SS13 presentation in New York; the Sixties-inspired collection featured graphic colour blocking and Picasso-like animal drawings with a slightly preppy vibe. It was at once completely new but also completely covetable, which explains why the likes of Miroslava Duma and Anya Ziourova had already been spotted in head-to-toe Ostwald Helgason looks.
Now I always champion London as the global hotbed of emerging fashion talent and praise the various initiatives to help support and guide new designers but I have to admit that in the case of Ostwald Helgason, London kind of failed a little. Coupled with bad business advice which led to the majority of existing stockists dropping the label, the German-Icelandic duo behind the label found little support with the various enterprises aimed at helping up-and-coming designers.
Realistically, London wasn’t a great fit so the label decamped to New York, which had always been a key market. Buoyed by a positive reception, the label started picking up some serious traction. The label returned to London for AW13 in partnership with online luxury fashion retailer Moda Operandi and now has over 45 stockists ranging from the UK, Asia, Middle East and of course America.
After a turbulent few years, it’s so great to see the Ostwald Helgason in their stride and on the cusp of global success. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a young, playful label which feels bold and experimental yet retains a wearable, commercial edge, after all the commercial pull is what keeps stockists happy and pays the bills. Standing head and shoulders clear of what seems to be a sea of monochrome, minimalist collections, the subversive use of colour and quirky animal-inspired prints on a clean, modern silhouette are a breath of fresh air.