Shop Talk

GUEST POST: Icelandic designer Alice Olivia Clarke creates eye-catching accessories that will stop traffic (literally)

Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.
This week, Shop Talk welcomes guest blogger Amanda Spagnolo of Velo Vogue, Ottawa’s own cycle-chic blog.

This Saturday, when the Velo Vogue fashion show touches down at Kichesippi Brewery, there will be one unique accessory that combines both cycling safety and fashion — with products that have travelled all the way from Iceland!

Alice Olivia Clarke models one of her Tira accessories.
Alice Olivia Clarke, an Ottawa-born designer currently based in Iceland, is the force behind Tíra, a brand that designs stylish reflective wool pieces for cyclists. The accessories of Tíra — a word that means “glimmer of light” in Icelandic, help pedestrians and cyclists stay safe in the dark by turning the invisible visible.

In Iceland, cycling safely is of primary concern because during the winter months darkness increases each day until it reaches a dreaded 24 hours of darkness. Alice almost hit a pedestrian while driving one evening and realised just how invisible the passing pedestrians and cyclists were under the cover of darkness. And she noticed how fashion seemed to always lean towards darker colours — a trend she was guilty of following. As in Ottawa, parents are more than willing to put reflectors on children but forget about doing it for themselves.

The trick, according to Alice, was to turn the reflective thread into fashion accessories. More people would want to wear things that made them look good as opposed to something that needed to be worn for protection. The reflective wool is something that can be worn in the day time, but also has the added bonus of being useful at night.

Alice, who is also a mosaic artist and teacher in Hafnarfjörður, is married to an architect, and emphasizes that he is integral to the company. He helps with detailing and designing the look of the product and packaging it for the internet. Her children also work with the company. Her daughter does the illustrations for the packaging and promo material while her son is in charge of putting together mass orders that are sent out to stores.

Perfect for men who shy away from crossing-guard yellow, the reflective quality is barely visible during daylight hours.
So far, the reception to this new function-meets-fashion items has been very positive. Tíra was introduced through pop ups, and has received coverage in newspapers and  fashion magazines. But the best way, Alice says, to get people’s attention has been to show them how the accessories work. The reflective thread is so transparent that  demonstrations are required to reveal how the accessories work.

Try them on for size at the Tíra pop-up at Flock or Workshop June 2 to 9, or at Velo Vogue on Saturday where Alice will be presenting and selling her unique pieces.

~ By Amanda Spagnolo