It’s clear that the design and inspiration of Nikita Clothing comes from the imagination of someone who has seen the world and takes her sketches from a number of different sources. But those sources are not always about what’s new and trendy. For Heida Birgisdottir, head designer and co-founder of Nikita Clothing, based in Reykjavik , Iceland , inspiration may just as likely come from what’s old: “I sometimes think of new ideas and sketch them down from watching old classic movies. James Bond movies can get me thinking. And then I may be in Japan and I’ll see something or how someone’s wearing something and get another idea and will sketch it,” continues Heida. But Heida is very clear to point out that her work does not come from other people’s designs or catalogues. As a matter of fact, Heida rarely looks at such things because she doesn’t even want something else to creep into her head while she’s working. She also takes serious amount of consideration to think about how pieces will mix and match—even with retro styles and other brands.
Since 2000, when Nikita Clothing launched, the brand has re-shaped the way people think about sports clothing for girls who ride by providing functional aspects (i.e. toggles, interesting button locations, cool zips, pockets, short cap rims), intended for the active female form. It’s all in the cut. And while many designers think of how an outfit looks on the hanger, Nikita always thinks about how it looks on a moving, breathing, active girl. In addition, many Nikita pieces can be worn for hanging out and going out. Skirts, halter tops, dresses, and high-end jackets round-out each season’s collection. Like Obey and Mada, which are moving men’s action sports design into lifestyle, Nikita’s already been doing that for women for a few years.
Co-founder Runar Omarsson explains it this way: “It could be because we’re from a small country and have a different way of looking at things. We think of making things for the world, internationally, right off the bat because of where we live. But for example, if we were a company based in Germany , we might have chosen a more traditional viewpoint of designing and working in the German market first, then designing and creating for more of Germany , then Europe , and so on.”
In the end, Nikita is truly global—from design to distribution--you can now find Nikita in cool stores that understand the active female market in Australia, Japan, Europe, North America, and of course, Iceland.
This season’s apparel line is exceptional not only in its designs and cuts, but also in the color palettes. “I get the colors from the feeling that’s out there,” explains Heida. “Sometimes the colors are just in the air and you know where it’s happening.” This season, colors include subdued oranges, browns, greens, and then black and pale pinks. Ironically, Nikita is one of the few women’s brands that produces black apparel for the female form.
“It’s probably our number 1 color,” explains Runar, “but not many people in this industry use black as often as we do.” When it comes to girls designs, traditional surf and skate-inspired apparel labels have usually gone with bright or pastels for their “girl line” which is another difference with Nikita. “We use second-impression colors more often,” explains Runar. “Colors that you’ll like over time, like oranges and different blues on black—and how we “un-pinked” the pink aspects, for example, by using a toned down version rather than hot pink.”
Esoterically, Nikita is different because the business-side hasn’t eliminated the passion-side of why they create the styles that they do. As Heida admits, she started making the kind of clothing that she and her girlfriends would want to wear and hang-out in because there wasn’t anything that she liked when she and Runar were running their snowboard/skateboard shop in Reykjavik . “So, I started making and designing clothing, like fleece and first-layer pieces, then T-shirts and pants, that were what I liked to wear, that fit, and I thought were pretty cool.” Nikita’s not for everyone, and they don’t try and admit that they are for everyone. Rather, they’re focused on what they do and the lifestyle that they like, which is to make street clothing for girls who ride.
The Nikita team is a direct reflection of their global designs and inspiration, which are intended for the various sporting disciplines of snowboarding, skateboarding, and surfing (and motocross). Team riders include skateboarders Lucy Adams from the UK, Mimi Koop from the U.S.; snowboarders Keiko Yanagisawa from Japan, Christel Thoreson from Norway, Hanna Teter from the U.S., Minna Hesso from Finland, and Canadians Natasza Zurek and Priscilla Levas; and Estelle, singer/rapper from the UK. And designer/owner Heida, a skateboarder who also happens to be the women’s Icelandic snowboarding and motocross champion.