Happy clothes for happy people

An exterior view of Moods of Norway's new store in Soho, New York City. Photo: Moods of Norway

Clothing company Moods of Norway brings high fashion to New York – Norwegian style

Kelsey Larson

Norwegian American Weekly

Combine pink tractors, happy people, cocktail night, the occasional Norwegian-related pun, and high fashion, and what do you get?

Clothing company Moods of Norway, of course.

Fashion’s Night Out on Sept. 6 was a big night for Moods of Norway, with the opening of a fabulous new store in New York City. There was only one way to bring Norway to the capital of fashion in the U.S.: a great party. In Moods of Norway’s case, a Really Really Blonde party. “We bought 500 blonde wigs. The whole party was blonde,” says Stefan Dahlkvist, President of Moods of Norway USA. Up-and-coming disco-pop band Poolside performed at the party (also sporting blonde wigs), and about 500 – 600 people had gone through the store by the end of the night.

Luckily, a local grandma from the Norwegian Seamen’s Church was in attendance to make waffles for those who stood outside waiting in line, and a Freia representative was there to pass out the delicious Norwegian chocolate. “I think we really managed to bring a little part of Norway with us to Soho,” says Dahlkvist. Indeed, the popular retail neighborhood in lower Manhattan was treated to a half-hour walk-through before the party by the three owners – Dahlkvist, Peder Børresen and Simen Staalnacke – dressed in brightly colored Moods duds. Accompanied by three sheep. Led on pink leashes.

This unique and humorous move fit well with the vision for the new store. “We want it to be a little Norwegian theme park!” says Dahlkvist, and along with bringing what one can only assume were Norwegian sheep into New York City, this mission is definitely accomplished inside the store as well. A wire basket of firewood stands on a display table next to several cocktail glasses, atop which are perched a single pair of men’s shoes. “Not too expensive!” A colorful sign on the wall proclaims. “You can fjord it!” A stack of King Oscar sardine cans makes a great place to display tractor-shaped cufflinks, and toy tractors are found scattered about amongst the displays.

As the meeting point between Oslo and Los Angeles, opening a New York location is something the Moods team has wanted to do since the inception of the company. They don’t plan to stop there, either: they want to open ten new stores in the U.S. in the next five years, in a “parallel role-out” plan with opening new stores in Norway. “We want to open more stores in Norway strategically, where we feel it makes sense,” says Dahlkvist. Recently, a new store was opened in Tromsø, Norway. It is the northernmost Moods of Norway store so far.

Inside Moods of Norway's new Soho store.

Moods of Norway, started up by Dahlkvist, Børresen and Staalnacke after the three met at Hawaii Pacific University, released its first collection in 2003. Since then, the business has grown at the speed of light, even prompting Harvard Business School to do a case study on the company’s success.

The idea was “different clothes for different moods,” which inspired their catchphrase “Happy clothes for happy people.” Moods of Norway carries Street, Casual and Cocktail lines, as well as a whole Sports line. The company’s sense of humor, as well as attention to detail, permeates their collections, and has perhaps contributed to their international success; humor, after all, spans cultural differences, and Moods’ bright colors and bold humor clearly appeal just as much to Americans as to Norwegians.

The flagship store in Norway is located in the small village of Stryn, which is described on Moods’ Facebook page as “a magical place known for glaciers, salmon fishing and one newly opened escalator.” The store is now one of 14 stores in the country. Moods of Norway puts out two collections each year, broken down into two or three deliveries per season. Between the U.S. and the Norway stores, “we have the exact same assortment. We basically work with the same collections,” says Dahlkvist.

The trio’s flagship store in the U.S., the Los Angeles store, opened in May 2009 on Robertson Boulevard. Since taking the leap overseas, Moods of Norway has been excited about their teamwork with the Norwegian-American community.

“We love to work with the Consulate and Innovation Norway, that’s really fun. If we can be a little part of Norway marketing we are really happy about that,” says Dahlkvist. Indeed, as aforementioned, both the Los Angeles and New York store are little slices of Norwegian culture. For the Autumn / Winter 2012 collection, “Cocktail Mountaineering,” (“It’s a tribute to mountaineering in Norway with a contemporary twist,” says Dahlkvist of the collection) the New York store has golden ski-lift chairs hanging from the ceiling that make excellent perches for mannequins.

“We show Norway from an interesting and contemporary fashion,” says Dahlkvist. From sheep to interior design to Really Really Blonde parties, this statement could not be more accurate, though perhaps the words “exceedingly fun” should be added as well. It is clear that this particular brand of marketing resonates well with Norwegian-Americans, and continues to be well-received by fashionistas from Norway to the U.S.

For more information about Moods of Norway, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/moodsofnorwayusa. Moods of Norway is currently working on a brand new platform for their webshop. Check out www.moodsofnorway.com in mid-October for a new and improved Moods of Norway webshop!

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 28, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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