Ida Gullhav is a designer based in Norway. She’s won the “Neddle Eye” award in 2006 for Norway’s best designer. TLP interviewed Ida over email in June of 2008.
Q. We focus a lot on English and US brands; can you describe the Norwegian market? Would you say it is competitive like the UK markets? Are Norwegian woman looking for value or fashion?
A: Norway is a rather small country and there is not that many fashion designers doing underwear as their main product. This makes it easier to get exposure and positive feedback from customers and press. However there is not enough customers or shops to make a living out of design-lingerie and I would have to go abroad very soon. The average Norwegian female buys about 1-8 bras a year so it is quite obvious that the Scandinavian truth is to look for functionality before design.
Q. When you finished school, were you making bespoke clothes and lingerie or just bespoke lingerie?
A: I have always wanted to work with lingerie and clothes together since they both are dependent on each other. After finishing my master in 2003 I have designed collections, showing them at Oslo Fashion Week and made both clothes and lingerie for private customers.
Q. How many pieces were in your first collection?
A: My first collection for 2005 was for both men and women and existed of about 15 styles (bra, brief, skirt, top and men`s briefs and tops).
Q. For your mini-collection, it looks like you have several retail outlets. Do you plan on offering commerce options from your web site?
A: Yes I hope this will be available from this autumn. Before that customers are more than welcome to send me an email if they live abroad and want to purchase my ever first produced collection.
Q. How have your collections changed over the last four years?
A: First of all I feel that these years have been important in order to develop my own style. For each collection I get inspirations for new ones and learn about new areas that I want to indulge myself into even more. This means that each collection is an answer to the previous. Since I aim to make garments that are both fantastic to look at and fantastic to wear it has also been important to develop a good blend between fashion, design and commerciality.
Q. What’s been your greatest challenge to date?
A: I am still working on my greatest challenge: How to make a living out of being a Scandinavian designer working with lingerie and clothes.
Q. How do you go from sketch to sale?
A: My ideas are always based in a shape. Color is second stage. After sketching still a lot of the creativity happens when I develop patterns and prototypes and in my fabric research. Most of the fabrics come from my visits to fabric and lingerie fairs in Paris and from the contacts of agents and factories I have developed during the last years.
The prototypes get photographed in campaign photos that I print in catalogues and publish on my website. The “Couples In Love Briefs” was my ever first production and since it was launched between two seasons I had to do sales without a fashion show. However this worked out very well and I managed to get shops in Norway, Sweden and Belgium.
Q. We don’t see many designers doing collections for both women and men. Have you always thought your designs should be for both genders?
A: I have always liked the idea of doing matching garments for men and women. This is such a romantic thing and it is important to keep some romance in our busy everyday life. The great thing is if you buy underwear to your lover it is also a present for yourself because you can enjoy seeing and feeling him and her in the present!
Q: What is next for you?
A: One of my greatest dreams have always been to find someone to run a clothing/underwear company with – because two persons can do the job of at least three when working together. This dream is now coming true, as I am working on a new exciting concept! We are not ready to launch anything yet, but are looking forward to finally sending out our first press release when everything is ready.
Photos courtesy of Ida Gullhav. Visit her site at www.idagullhav.no.