Don’t Give Shopping the Cold Shoulder in Iceland…
Fashion insider Jenia Molnar certainly has a background in top designer fashion.
But Jenia also has the secret talent of being a global black belt for finding the best shopping of every kind wherever her travels take her, Iceland included.
Check the distance on a map, consider a trip, but do read…
The Ultimate Reykjavik Shopping Guide, with online Icelandic shopping links too!
While shopping might not be the first reason you booked a plane ticket to Iceland – perhaps it’s to traverse lunar-like volcanic landscapes, be mesmerized by endless waterfalls, soak in steamy geothermal pools or merely renew your charter membership in the Bjork fan club – there is plenty getting and spending to be done here. If the price of a good dinner at Fish Market hasn’t eaten up all your kronur, the city center of Reykjavik lets you scratch that shopping itch with fun, elegant and/or quirky clothes and accessories. As an added bonus, the picturesque streets are great for strolling and there is always a coffee bar a few steps ahead to keep energy levels up.
Geysir – Hafnarstraeti 5
More elegant than most of the shops offering typical Icelandic sweaters, woolen goods and other souvenirs. (The Viking Store, with many locations including the Keflavik airport, corners the market on cheesy souvenir offerings such as plastic Viking horned helmets and swords.) At Geysir, pick up votive holders made from volcanic pumice stones. And if you really can’t get enough wearable reminders of your trip, they carry thongs and boxer briefs with the Icelandic flag emblazoned across them.
Aurum – Bankastraeti 4
Jewelry from Icelandic designer Gudbjorg Kristin Ingvarsdottir, winner of the Icelandic Visual Arts Award in 2008. The forms are inspired by nature and all the pieces displayed are far chicer than the clunky lava bead necklaces offered at most of the shops aimed at tourists. Most of the items are in silver – a silver band ring with a circular design sells for the equivalent of $145. An online store has prices available in several currencies, including dollars.
66o North – Bankastraeti 5
This is the local outdoors brand that can dress you for an expedition to the North Pole more stylishly than functional clothing usually does. While it can be found in retailers specializing in outdoors gear, the prices are cheaper in Iceland, particularly at the Duty Free store in Keflavik airport. For example, the Kaldi Arctic hat at the airport location sells for the equivalent of about $56, while in New York, I’ve found it for $88.
Spaks Mannsspjarir -Bankastraeti 11
Chic women’s sportswear designed by design duo Bjorg and Vala under this label that translates to “Wise Men’s Clothing.” The neutral palettes are inspired by the Icelandic landscapes, making an ensemble a really chic souvenir of your trip.
Naked Ape – Bankastraeti 14
An artists’ collective in a studio atmosphere. The neon-printed leggings, T-shirts and hoodies have a 1980’s East Village vibe – think Madonna’s “Borderline” video.
Kisan – Laugavegur 7
Described as a concept store, it takes inspiration from Colette in Paris to offer mostly imported goods such as Petit Bateau T’s, Nouvelle Vague CD’s, Orla Kiely bags, Sonya Rykiel knits, and Annick Goutal fragrances. A small section displays Icelandic products. A branch of this store is now open in New York’s Soho, at 125 Greene Street.
Tiger – Laugavegur 13
A general store from Denmark, this store brings a cheap + cheerful touch to plenty of useful items. The chain has 62 locations in Scandinavia, UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. Bright colors and good design abound, from notebooks and flip flops to camping items, snacks and kitchen items. Imagine if IKEA spawned a neighborhood corner store, this would be the result. Similar prices to IKEA too.
Blue Lagoon Spa & Shop – Laugavegur 15
Offering a full range of the skincare based on the Blue Lagoon’s geothermal seawater’s active ingredients and treatments in the small spa area. Just entering the airy store feels relaxing and all of the products have testers to try before buying.
Happy Smiling Headwear – Laugavegur 70
Pure truth in advertising. Check it out because you never know when you’ll need a felted wool hat in the form of a house, complete with windows and flowers in front. And if the weather turns bad, as it frequently does in Iceland, at least your hat will make you smile. They will ship orders around the world.
Kraum – Aoalstraeti 10
An intriguing selection of Icelandic clothing, accessories, and home decor items located in a bright, windowed space within the oldest house in Reykjavik (the front of the house contains historical exhibits). Browsing their selections from the work of over 60 designers gives a good overview of the local talent. From ceramic vases to laminated lace cuffs and shearling coats, everything is made with an artisanal touch. Unfortunately, their website is only in Icelandic, making navigation a bit challenging.
Handprjonasamband Islands – Skolavordustigur 19
Operated as a women’s cooperative, the Handknitters Association of Iceland sells wool and handknitted sweaters and accessories at their store, allowing you to bring home those traditional Icelandic sweaters without entering a store selling plastic Viking helmets.
If you still need to shop more or perhaps the weather has turned miserable, there are always malls. However, be warned that boutiques in Reykjavik’s center are far more charming.
Kringlan is closer to the center of Reykjavik and features international stores such as Zara, Boss, Warehouse, Karen Millan, Next, Bennetton, Levi’s, Accessorize and Ecco, and beauty brands such as The Body Shop, Aveda, MAC, and L’Occitane. The food court has mall staples such as McDonald’s, Sbarro, Subway and Domino’s. Sadly, American fast food chains have infiltrated Iceland too.
Smaralind is newer and larger than Kringlan and also features even more local and international stores in addition to those at Kringlan such as 66 North, Topshop, Oasis, and TOUS. A portion is still uncompleted, due to the economic crash last year.
Now get out of the stores and start exploring the countryside and the natural wonders. If you head to the northern part of Iceland, get an historical fashion fix at the Textile Museum in Blonduos. Rotating exhibits from current textile designers augment the traditional textile patterns, antique weaving and spinning tools and national dress examples on display.