Today, I have the pleasure of introducing a brand that I was really looking forward to writing about. Why? Well, in 2008, I travelled to Iceland for the very first time, and I must say, the country is nothing short of amazing. An absolutely breath-taking landscape full of waterfalls, glaciers, lakes and, of course, geysers. When you have all that beauty right before your very eyes, it’s easy to forget about the winds and rain, especially when wearing the proper clothing.
And, of course, the little Nordic island nation has plenty to offer when it comes to clothing as well. Since 1926, Iceland has been the home of 66° North. What originally began as a tragic story has now become a true success.
In Iceland you wear wool or 66° North – or both
It became clear very quickly that Icelanders either wear traditional wool products or sport 66° North’s logo on their chest. There’s nothing in between. Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s not uncommon to see them wearing a combination of wool and high-tech apparel. I really had to get used to the sight of wool socks beneath a pair of Gore-Tex trousers ;-).
In fact, the results of a survey on the island indicated that 99% of households in Iceland have at least one article of clothing from 66° North. In other words, you’ll see people of all ages wearing 66° North.
Because the weather can be quite harsh on the Nordic island and even the youngest Icelanders need weather protection, 66° North has bodysuits for babies made of Polartec Fleece as well as down jackets for infants.
Of course, there’s plenty of 66° North apparel for adolescents and adults as well.
The tragic beginning to a story of incredible success
It pains me to say that the founding of the company in 1926 resulted from a family tragedy. The founder Hans Kristjánsson’s brother was a fisherman and travelling in the Arctic Ocean. All of the sudden, the boat’s motor was damaged, and he unfortunately froze to death.
This has been the driving force behind Kristjánsson and the company since its founding in the 20th century. 66° North has made it their mission to protect people from the harsh conditions of the North Atlantic. In the beginning, the company really dedicated itself to this mission, manufacturing workwear solely for fisherman and workers who were constantly exposed to the harsh weather conditions. And they still do this today, but now the Icelandic clothing company supplies the fisherman of the North Atlantic with workwear from their Workwear Collection, which is no less comprehensive than their outdoor collection.
The Arctic Circle in the name
The fact that the 66° North are proud of their home is clear from the name. 66° North refers to the latitudinal line of the Arctic Circle. The Arctic Circle touches Iceland in the North and is thus practically “visible” from where the company was founded.
Interestingly, despite all of their international success, the company is still based in Iceland. And, their entire collection is manufactured in Europe, primarily in the Baltic countries. Good to know, right?
Stylish functional apparel for everyday wear and outdoor activities
Regardless of how you stand on the combination of fashion and functional apparel, you have to admit that 66° North’s take on it seems pretty authentic. After all, living in Iceland forces you to wear weather protective clothing all day, every day and almost all year round. When you’re shopping, going over to your neighbours for a cup of coffee or tea or just going about your daily life, protective clothing is a must, and you don’t always want to look like an expedition mountaineer headed to the Himalaya, right?
The result? Over the years, 66° North has learned to make clothing that is both functional and fashionable! A lot of the clothing looks so good that it’s hard to say whether its a stylish functional garment or a functional piece of fashion!
Retro Scandinavian style with 66°N…
This clothing has such a long tradition that the brand tends to rerelease their classic pieces. Under the name of 66°N, the company presents clothing similar or identical to those made in the 1970s down to the very last detail. They use the same traditional materials and cuts that are just as trendy today as they were back then. By the way, according to 66° North, you can still find the occasional original piece from the 1970s in Reykjavik. Just FYI, in case you’re into that kind of thing!
…or high-performance clothing from the Arctic Edition
If you’re the adventurous type and want maximum performance out of your clothing, you should have a look at the Arctic Edition. Only the clothes designed for the harshest conditions using the best materials and technology can bear this edition’s exclusive “TRIANGLE” logo. This line of clothing was developed in collaboration with Leifur Örn Svavarsson, one of Iceland’s most acclaimed adventurers and senior member of the Icelandic Search and Rescue Team.
The Arctic Edition includes products such as the Snaefall Jacket, which is extremely popular and was the winner of the ISPO Outdoor Award 2011 and the S.O.G. Award 2011. This was not at all surprising, as it is one of the most outstanding jackets there is that utilises the new Polartec material “NeoShell”. Also part of the Arctic Edition is the Vatnajökull Series, a collection consisting of softshell and PrimaLoft jackets and trousers for men and women.
There’s something for everybody…even for me
However, some of 66° North’s bestsellers are their fleece jackets, which because of their quality and materials really stand out from other mid layers on the market. The Kaldi Wool Sweater (which is also available with a hood) for women boasts a traditional, yet stylish design that looks absolutely stunning. Another great example is the classic VIK Hooded Sweater – a fleece jacket with an extremely tall collar and a curved zip.
When I was travelling around the island, I quickly fell in love with the 66° North fleece, not only because the Polartec fleece kept me warm but also because other people repeatedly commented on it who had previously travelled the island. Plus, it’s such a quality fleece that it remains an integral part of my gear, wardrobe and everyday life.
66° North at Alpine Trek
Of course, all of Alpine Trek was just as impressed by the products as I was, so it comes as no surprise that we now have an array of 66° North apparel in our shop. Since last winter, we’ve had this in stock as well. The only thing I can say now is take a look at our selection of 66° North apparel. You won’t regret it!