Published September 20, 2012
Snoop-Around meets fashion designers Guðrún and María and lawyer Gréta. They are the co-founders of AS WE GROW, a fashion label for children. It all began with a single sweater that has now travelled through Guðrún’s family for nine years, acting as their muse for creating clothes that are eco-friendly and promote sustainability. They are currently preparing to move into their new studio, so we meet at María’s home. Guðrún’s youngest is with us, just two months old, and as we munch on chocolate and peanuts, we get to know the three and their brand new product.
You are in the first year of AS WE GROW, how did it all start?
María: It’s been developing for about a year now. Gréta travelled to Peru a few years ago where she met our suppliers in Lima and learned all about the Alpaca fibre.
Gréta: Because the camels live 400 metres above sea level, they have developed wool that acts as a strong thermal insulator with fibres that are warmer and lighter than other natural fibres. It’s warmer than normal wool when it’s cold and lets more air through when it’s hot.
Guðrún: Usually it’s the designers that search for a producer, but in this case it happened the other way around with Gréta initiating this collaboration. She is definitely the driving force while we, the designers, are the dreamers.
What was your inspiration for making this kind of product?
Guðrún: María and I have always wanted to work together. We have similar ideas about how to design children’s clothes, based on how we want to dress our own children. We think that clothes should be timeless and we stay away from logos and decorations that might be following a certain trend.
María: I never find anything nice enough for my twin boys, except for quite pricey things. So I started thinking that it made sense to have fewer clothes that could last up to a whole year even, despite the fact that they grow quickly.
How do your designs differ from what we are used to?
María: The cut is made specifically so that children can use the garment for a longer period of time. The armholes are bigger and the waist stretches wider. For a child that’s a few months of age, the trousers will reach up close to the armpits and gradually lower towards the waist with time. The trouser legs and sleeves are long so you fold them up to begin with until they eventually fit as knee-high trousers and shorter sleeves. Today you will pay around 5-6,000 krónur for a sweater, which perhaps lasts a few months with the usual wear and tear. Here you will pay around 13,000 krónur for a piece of clothing that will last for years, and because of the quality and our timeless design you will want to give it to the next child in line too. You can therefore use it for decades, going through friends and family.
Gréta: We are the opposite of H&M, although H&M is great at times. We want to promote the endurance of the product and we think that today people’s disposition towards sustainability is changing for the better.
Where and when will we be able to buy the clothes?
Gréta: We introduced our first line last February at the CHP Kids trade show in Copenhagen. We start selling in September in various places, Barnabúðin Laugavegur 27, Mýrin Kringlan shopping mall, Icelandair’s Saga Boutique with Icelandair, Rammagerðin, which includes Hafnarstæti, Egilsstaðir, Keflavík Airport and, soon, Akureyri. We are also selling to Berlin, Copenhagen and we have been selling our summer line at an internet shop in New York. We plan on selling from our website as well. We are building it up nice and easy, selling 85% here in Iceland and 15% abroad.
María: Barnabúðin told us that tourists have been asking about Icelandic labels in children clothing, that it can’t keep up with demand for the traditional wool sweater in baby sizes. We didn’t realise that there was a demand for it; our motivation was different as we said.
Gréta: We’ll also soon have 100 hand-knitted scarves from Peru that are made from leftover yarn and profits from those will go to a charity we haven’t chosen yet. There are exciting times ahead.
Visit As We Grow at aswegrow.is.