The cold, dark Scandinavian winter brings with it a desire to curl up on the couch, wrap yourself in a warm blanket and stay there until the sun comes back. But, occasionally one must venture out into the wilderness, or even just the corner store for more hot chocolate mix. For those moments, and others of equal importance (going to work, taking your kids to school, etc), we’re grateful that high-performance outerwear exists. And no one does it better than Icelandic heritage brand 66°North.
Launched in 1926, 66°North first created clothes for Icelandic fishermen. Inspired to create clothes that were not only warm but extremely durable, founder Hans Kristjánsson moved from Iceland to Norway to learn sewing and tailoring skills. He then moved back to Suðureyri, Súgandafjörður in Westfjords of Iceland (don’t worry, we can’t pronounce it either!) to open the factory that would become 66°North. The name is taken from the longitude of the village of Suðureyri.
In addition to clothing fishermen, 66°North began producing the uniform for ICE-SAR (Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue). The uniform is extremely recognisable to the Icelandic population, almost like a military uniform.
And as with a military uniform, the ICE-SAR clothing needs to be able to withstand intense conditions and allow the wearer to move freely. Interesting side note: Iceland does not have a standing army, although they do have coastal and air defence units.
With fishermen and ICE-SAR covered, 66°North continued its gradual growth. Their aim has always been to provide highly-functional outerwear; it’s something everyone in Iceland needs. Although, until recently, they hadn’t positioned themselves as a fashion brand, the classic styles of their parkas and rain coats mean that they’ve always been worn as fashionable – if not trendy – items. Otherwise, they’re perfect for trekking through the Norwegian fjords and foraging in the Swedish forests.
Since 2000, the brand has seen accelerated growth thanks to renewed global interest in Iceland as a tourist destination and a different approach to branding. Though they still work with technical materials like GORE-TEX, PrimaLoft and Polartec, they’re also stepping into the fashion world.
Their collaborations with Danish brand Soulland brings a fun, vibrant energy to these functional pieces. While their first co-release focused on a fairly minimalist, athletic aesthetic, the second collaboration works with color and print.
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