By way of the Internet, this big beautiful world of ours gets smaller and smaller- in a good way. Receiving an out-of-the-blue friendly email introduction from a shop in Reykjavik, Iceland would have been unheard of ten years ago. Said shop is Kickstart, a brick & mortar and online shop offering life's key pieces to guys who live to have fun.
We fell for Kickstart right away ("you had me at hello") and felt the need to share. We were lucky enough to have a few minutes to ask Jon Hreinsson, the man behind Kickstart, a few questions:
Please give some insight into the concept behind Kickstart. We’re intrigued by its unique approach to the world of motorcycling and mens style.
JH: Kickstart touches the nerve in every man who hasn't stopped having fun and likes motorcycles, cars, yachts, good food, outdoor life etc. The concept of the store is rather straightforward; we want to build up a closet of the “basic” pieces every man needs. You have to have your perfect pair of jeans, maybe 4 or 5 pairs – some have more – you have to have your ties and/or your bowties, field jacket, your parka, and all this stuff. So we’re trying to get a closet together of what in our opinion are the best basics. That’s why we don’t care about fashion. If army parkas go out of fashion we don’t care, we still have to have it in the shop, because for us it’s a basic.”
Scandinavian/European men have always been comfortable with style. As American men are just now coming around to it, are you seeing an influence from the States?
JH: Well I am not a specialist, but I have a gut feeling. Iceland is a bit apart from Scandinavia, being midway between USA and Europe and there are as much Celtic genes in us as Scandinavian. We have always been able to pick out the best of both worlds. But surely USA has influences on Scandinavia – and Europe as whole, just look at Germany, The Pike Brothers for instance. There is a growing culture in picking out European and USA made clothing and Items, especially quality and hand made such as General Knot & Co, Nigel Cabourn in UK, Red Wing to name a few. We are getting tired of bad quality. – And we are starting to get embarrassed with outrageous low salarys and bad conditions of, for instance, the Chinese worker. Most of my customers want to pay more for European or USA made clothing and items, and the interest is growing.
Please describe, if you will, the typical Kickstart customer.
JH: Kickstart is young, established in January 2012, so to be honest, I can not describe the typical customer yet, but he is middle to upperclass and lives in Reykjavik.
As the owner of a shop built around motorcycles, what is your personal preference in motorcycles? Classic? Vintage? Racing?
JH: I like all motorcycles, so to speak, but my main interest is in Classics and Vintage, not necesarely old bikes. I love the new Triumphs with their vintage look: the Scrambler, the Bonneville and the Thruxton. My main bike, riding it nearly every day to work is a Triumph Legend, it is a 2001 model but has this nice Old Style look and is good for riding both in the City and long distances into the countryside. I also have a BSA C15 1967 and a Yamaha XS 650 1977. But to be honest I also like Vintage Cars, Hot Rod Cars and Yachts … Toys for boys.
What’s a perfect weekend in and around Reykjavik? We hear a lot of great things about your city, but only know it from afar. Please shed some light on what makes it such a special place to live and work?
JH: Reykjavik is a small town with the ambitiousness of a big City. I am born here in 1957, and let me tell you Reykjavik has changed a lot since then. I can remember, as a teenager, when there was only one or two places to go for french fries in the city and we did not know what a pizza was back then – well, life was not complicated at least. But today Reykjavik offers everything and as said earlier, best from both sides of the Atlantic. Reykjavik is rather young with around 117,000 people (the whole population in Iceland is around 320,000 ) and for me it is a beautiful City, the small scale makes everything within easy reach. I live in the Centre so a perfect weekend for me is walking downtown to a Café on a Saturday morning and reading the weekend papers. After only 20 minutes drive out of town you are in untouched nature: Mountains, lava, lakes, rivers, hot springs, clean crisp air, unspoiled beaches and the Atlantic ocean, so a ride into the countryside is vital for me on weekends – I am not much of a party guy, so I do not go much out on the pubs or the bars in weekends. There are plenty of very nice ones though and the food in the restaurants and grills is excellent. I can promise, if you come to Reykjavik, It is impossible to get bored.
Runar and Jon Hreinsson (on the right).