Odd Molly of Sweden and Finland’s IVANA Helsinki are staging runway shows this week at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Manhattan. This is the first time that fashion brands from Scandinavia have been on the official list, running head-to-head with names like Anna Sui, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.

Three other Nordic labels–Tiia Vanhatapio, Royal Extreme and Islaet –will stage a group show tomorrow.

While Sweden’s Odd Molly has a broad appeal and a Californian soul which can make it attractive to mass-markets, Finland’s IVANA Helsinki has a moody appeal, and a Finno-Slavic look which sets it apart from everyone else.

Sweden’s Odd Molly, now found in 1,500 locations in 38 countries, will make its debut in Lincoln Center on September 15. IVANA Helsinki, which is known for its striking, modern prints, will present their women’s collection on the following day. Both shows can be viewed live on the company’s websites.
Odd Molly and IVANA Helsinki benefit from the positive buzz surrounding Scandinavia. This region is perceived as a progressive place with an attractive lifestyle where trends are set. Brands like Acne, Cheap Monday and Rodebjer are all hot labels in the Big Apple: “The consensus at large is that all things Swedish are beyond hip and very covetable,” says Argot Murelius, a fashion writer based in NYC who is covering Fashion Week for the Swedish Fashion Council.

Odd Molly is the brainchild of Per Holknekt, once a professional skateboarder in Hermosa Beach, California. Working with freelance designer Karin Jimfelt-Ghatan, the brand has during the past six years evolved into a global success story. But Odd Molly entered the North American market at the worst possible time:
“We started four years ago in the United States, and we got a super jump-start. But right as we started shipping there was a recession and we got a lot of bad credit customers, so we decided to pull back and wait until things feel stronger and better. A year and a half ago we decided to go full forward again,” Holknekt explained in a telephone interview.
The company recently opened a flagship store on Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles and hooked up with NYC’s Showroom Seven, which gives it a base on both sides of the continent. Odd Molly is currently sold in about 150 stores in North America, and Holknekt feels that the brand has plenty of potential to grow: “I think Odd Molly belongs in the United States more than in Germany, Italy, France or England….For me it is an American brand with a Swedish design department.”

The Finnish heritage of IVANA Helsinki, on the other, is a key part of its brand identity and the company’s collections have a distinctively Nordic look. This may be a positive value, since Finland has been world-famous for its strong graphics and prints ever since fashion icon Jacqueline Kennedy bought seven frocks from Marimekko in the 1960s.
“I think that there is a big difference between Swedish design and Finnish design,” says Pirjo Suhonen, the CEO and founder of IVANA Helsinki. The Swedes tend to be fashion slaves, ultra-sensitive to international trends, while the Finns are more individualistic, even eccentric. “We cannot deny our Slavic roots, because we are between Sweden and Russia. There is a weird sort of melancholy in our country,” Pirjo Suhonen explained to Scandinavian Fashion.

Japan has been the strongest single market for IVANA Helsinki for the past 10 years ago, but it is also represented throughout Europe and in some 20 American boutiques. IVANA, which is designed by Pirjo’s multi-talented sister Paola Suhonen, recently made a counter-culture splash in the Big Apple. During four weeks this spring, IVANA Helsinki operated a pop-up store and happening called the “Nordic Andy Warhol Art Factory” in a building on Mulberry Street .
Odd Molly and IVANA Helsinki aren’t the only brands from Scandinavia who are flashing their fashion in Manhattan. Tiia Vanhatapio of Finland is presenting her upcoming Druidess collection on September 14 in a group runway show organized by the King Collective, a New York-based fashion sales and marketing firm. Vanhapatio, who calls herself the “Queen of the Cocktail Dress,” will be joined by Royal Extreme, the avant-garde, colorful vision of Iceland’s Una Hlin Kristjansdottir . Also represented will be Islaet, founded by Denmark’s Trine Jespersen; who does some amazing things with leather.

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  1. Katz NYC says:

    I wish I could’ve gone to see IvanaHelsinki or Odd Molly! I had no idea you can get Odd Molly in NYC! Awesome!

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