ABOUT ICELANDIC DESIGN
Founded in the early 1980s by Gerdur Kristjansdottir, Icelandic Design has always been a labor of love. Gerdur, a native of Reykjavik, Iceland, comes from a long lineage of craftspeople. Her passion for knitting and embroidery comes through in the clothing she’s designed for over 30 years. Gerdur learned to knit at the age of seven from her mother who used to make the entire family’s clothes and wool socks to stay warm through the harsh Icelandic winters. Summers would find Gerdur sheering sheep on her uncle’s sheep farm. The shorn wool would be spun by a neighbor and turned into lovingly-constructed warm wool sweaters for the coming winter.
Gerdur’s and Icelandic Design’s passion for creating ‘wearable art’ is done today through the care of small, localized workforces who source the materials we use to create our clothing. We employ knitters who can work out of their homes or in collaboratives, so they can stay close to their families. Over the years, we’ve developed long-term relationships with hundreds of knitters in other countries, such as Nepal, Peru and China, who manufacture Icelandic Design.
After more than 30 years of pouring her heart into the brand, Gerdur decided she was ready to move on. She remains dedicated and wanted to ensure that Icelandic Design would be taken over by a company with the same commitment to producing high-quality apparel, as well as a history of good business practices and a commitment to the people they employ. Icelandic Design is now a part of a family of brands that date back to 1965 and have been family-owned and operated from the start, Sportif USA. Sportif USA will continue to work with the Icelandic Design team and factories to create well-constructed knits for women who love the Icelandic Design brand and fine fashion.
THE NEWARI COLLECTION
Icelandic Design has been designing and manufacturing beautiful, high quality sweaters, accessories and gift items in Nepal for over 20 years. Working closely with the Newar women of Nepal, Icelandic has built a business that includes eleven knitting centers throughout Kathmandu and Nepal’s village landscape, and employs approximately 850 female artisans.
As part of our belief in being socially responsible, Icelandic Design strongly promotes a global economy through our Newari Program, allowing us to work directly with a team of knitters, pay for education for female knitters and their children, and help with medical expenses in local villages. In the wake of the 2015 earthquakes, Icelandic provided additional financial support to get the women and the communities we work with back on their feet and up and running.
These female artisans come from the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley, the Newar people. They are known for their dedication to tradition and their crafts, as well as creating one of the most socially and politically advanced communities in the Himalayas. Love of their art and passion for their craft can be seen in each item made by these artisans and carried through into our line of accessories, making each item unique.
Icelandic Design is committed to growing its business operations in Nepal by expanding the Newari portion of its product offering. Please help us to continue to grow and support these women and their families through support of the Newari brand.