Icelandic Sweater Manufacturers Demand New Regulations

14.9.2012
Words by Paul Fontaine
Manufacturers of Icelandic sweaters have sent a letter to Minister of Employment and Innovation Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, calling for stronger regulations in how the sweaters are labeled.

As reported, it came to light earlier this summer that some Icelandic sweaters were being manufactured abroad using Icelandic wool. This has raised the ire of a group of handknitters, who believe the practice undermines job opportunities that could be had in Iceland. They also said they considered it insulting to foreign guests to offer what is being implied is an Icelandic product when it was in fact made abroad. The labour union Framsýn has taken the matter a step further, requesting a list of Icelandic companies that are having sweaters made overseas and then imported into the country, and want to know what the work conditions are of those making sweaters in China and Taiwan.

RÚV reports that many designers and sellers they spoke to said that the demand for the sweaters is simply too great for the domestic work force alone to handle. A good many of these sweaters are labeled as being made of Icelandic wool, while not indicating that they were knitted overseas.

Framsýn has now published an open letter on the website, addressed to Minister of Employment and Innovation Steingrímur J. Sigfússon. Within the letter, they ask that he set stricter regulations regarding the Icelandic sweater, so that people can know whether or not an Icelandic sweater was made in Iceland. They have also requested a meeting with the minister over the matter.

The Icelandic sweater - or lopapeysa - is considered by many to be one of the trademarks of Icelandic culture, even though the sweater didn't actually appear until the 1950s, and may have been inspired by Swedish, South American, or Turkish designs.

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