Published July 4, 2012
Sellers of Icelandic wool sweaters say that the demand for them is too great for Icelandic knitters alone to respond to. Icelandic knitters respond that suppliers are just looking for cheaper labour.
As reported, 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.
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. Ístex, a company that produces yarn from Icelandic wool to supply knitters both here and abroad, said that they have no control over who buys the wool they sell, adding furthermore that the domestic work force is competing with inexpensive labour in China.
Logi Guðjónsson, the director of Glófa – the largest seller of Icelandic wool products in the country – agreed that it was a wage issue, but added that sellers are just not making the most of the labour they have in this country. Bryndís Eiríksdóttir, the director of the Handknitting Association of Iceland, spoke in the same vein, saying that even after lowering her labour costs and making it clear her organisation could knit more sweaters, sellers have still sought labour from China.