Objects To Asian-Made Icelandic Sweaters

2.7.2012
Words by Paul Fontaine
A labour union has objected to the sale of sweaters of Icelandic design - which were nonetheless made in China or Taiwan - being sold in Icelandic stores, for both cultural and workers' rights reasons.

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. While many - if not most - of the sweaters for sale in stores in Iceland were made in Iceland, some have been manufactured in China or Taiwan.

That the Icelandic sweater is being manufactured overseas 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.

In the meantime, those who want to buy a genuine Icelandic sweater knitted in Iceland are advised to check the label on the sweater for a clearly marked "Made In Iceland", or ask someone living in Iceland to knit a sweater for them.

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