Interview with Nickie Isaksen by Filip Gielda, Greenland Today


Nickie, you studied fashion in London – when did you realize you wanted to become a fashion designer? 

Yes, I went to “Central St. Martins” and I got a ba hons from “London College of Fashion” – menswear tailoring. I was aware that I would be a tailor and designer since I was 18-19 years.

Was it you who launched the Isaksen // design brand?
I started the label “Isaksen Design” with Rita Isaksen (my mother). Rita is educated as upholsterer and tailor, so I grew up next to a sewing machine. We’ve always made clothes together since I was about 11-12 years.

What was the first article of clothing you ever designed with Isaksen // design on it?

It was a jacket made of wool with sealskin, then a line of jackets, dresses, tops and more, back in 2002.


What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is a form of expression and lifestyle for me. But most of all, I see clothes as language of a style –  it sets you into the signal values, so you can read a lot of people solely by looking at their clothes. It is important for me to see the expression of your personal style in your wardrobe, so clothes fit your personality and type.
From time to time I like to separate myself a bit from the crowd. Following the trend only to be modern doesn’t tell me anything. For me, it is about knowing yourself and fit your clothes, so it all reaches a higher level.

Moreover, fashion for me is an expression, which is on the move all the time, and you find constantly new ways to express yourself through clothing, it is very exciting to move into this universe. There are always new challenges, and it can be very hard to find your way, but it is also fun and opens new doors to new knowledge and makes you want to try something new.

What kind of feedback did you get on your latest collection?
I got positive feedback, especially because we have developed unique fabric prints. With inspiration taken from Greenland. We also have something new – we made shoe collections, and they were really well received, so now we expand with more shoes and boots that fit our clothes and jewelry.
We have January now, which means a lot in Fashion industry. Are you prepared for upcoming season?
Yes, we are ready and well in advance time this time. We have just made new photo material for the next catalog, and it looks very exciting. We have also made a lot of arrangements on Copenhagen Fashion Week, which takes place from 31st of January to 2nd of February on “Vision” – we will be in the main hall no. 099.
How do you balance creativity with commerce?
I make designs for people needs. I observe a lot lifestyle changes, general development in all forms of design, architecture, art, music, food and other sensual experiences. It is very inspiring. I also look at quality and price, it is very important that these two things are connected at the commercial level. People are very conscious today, and they know exactly what they want. It is every designer’s job to know its segment. It is also very important to brand yourself properly, so the market understands the signals.
Who inspires you the most in fashion? Anyone who stands out?
Coco Chanel. She was groundbreaking. Her influence on women is still alive, and she is a great legend. Mary Quant was also great. It is great to succeed on a look and a style that stands out from the current trend.

Today, in 2013, I have the greatest respect for designers who dare to stand out and make their own, unique look. Following the stream is not very designer-like. There are not many today who dare to do follow their own paths – it is a shame.
So where do you get your inspirations from?
Bauhaus, architecture, industrial design, Greenland, graphics, everyday life, art, music, food, travel, experience, and much more. I’m looking not just anywhere, but take the inspiration wherever I can.
What are some of your accomplishments as a designer?
To sell to the Japanese “Takashimaya” for 8 seasons on 5th Avenue in New York, and “make it”  with my “Greenlandic Spirit” brand.
While browsing your collections, we can see deep creative, Greenlandic inspirations. Do you consider yourself an artist?  
I do not know if I consider myself as an artist, I’ve never really thought about it – I will leave it to others to judge, though I am an artist or designer, I call myself a “designer”! I would be very honored and very proud if someone calls my creations as an art.
How would you define your personal style?
It is simple, functional and practical. It is feminine on some understated way, I’m more into “less is more”. I can for example take a rough leather jacket on with a feminine dress and shoes, so the outfit gets a bit of an edge.
But most often I dress up completely in black, maybe with just a small blob of red, white or black   and nothing more. I like the clothes framing my personality. I do not like to have many different colors on me, and layer on another layer. Very simple, without too many fluctuations.
We have just launched our new Street Fashion project – Nuuk Look, which focuses on showing the world that Greenlanders can also be fancy. You live already for some time in Denmark – what do you think about Greenalndic and Danish street fashion?
I love Greenlandic street fashion. It is modern and I like very much the Greenlandic approach to clothes, I also really like Danish street fashion. In big cities it gets sometimes a bit too much and I don’t really like when clothes become too clownish or costume-like – it seems too affected. Good stile for me is when a person in the outfit comes first and these clothes compliment the person.
What are your advise for people in Greenland when it comes to clothes?
Look for clothes that fit your figure and personality. Choose some colors that fits you, both visually and fits your personality. Choose a style that reflects you and compliment you.
How much, for example, costs a dress from Isaksen // design and where is it possible to buy your clothes?
Our dresses cost from 899kr.-2699kr. You can buy Isaksen in: Greenland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, England, Canada and through our webshop.
What about your plans for the future? Where can you see yourself in 5-10 years?
We, hopefully, will be on several foreign fashion fairs. Especially German, Norwegian and Japanese fairs have our interest.
In 10 years, we have spread out widely in Europe, North Atlantic countries and Japan. About 10 years from now on I have bought a house in Nuuk, and design my collections from there. My journey has only one goal, and that to come back home to Greenland.
ISAKSEN’s website og webshop
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