Icewear’s story begins in the village of Hvammstangi in North Iceland, as a small wool factory called Drífa.
Operating with a staff of 30 people, the company produces woolen sweaters and other garments in traditional Icelandic patterns, selling them to retailers throughout the country.
Under the slogan, “be warm be well,” much of the trade in traditional knitwear at this time focuses on the tourist market, through resellers.
The Drífa wool factory group creates the Icewear brand.
A 25-year-old Ágúst Thor Eiríksson, not long out of university, joins the team and becomes the owner of the company.
Ágúst, a young and driven businessman, recognizes the value of the particular qualities of Icelandic sheep wool: how their fibers had developed to withstand their harsh environment, providing a natural material that is breathable, lightweight, water repellant.
The name Icewear is chosen to refer to the type of clothing needed to keep safe and warm in Iceland’s unpredictable elements.
In the two decades since Eiríksson’s launch of the Icewear brand, the company has innovated on the traditional Icelandic sweater, incorporating variations in colors organic to the wool of Icelandic sheep. This breakthrough design of adding multiple colors to the Icelandic sweater bends the rule of making sweaters from only black wool.
Influenced by the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994, the product line will expand to include Norwegian-style sweater designs. By the new millennium, the company would see a 50% increase in staff size.
By 2003, recognizing its special appeal to international customers through Iceland’s tourism industry, Icewear will add a line of Icelandic souvenirs to its wholesale product line.
The Icewear product line has continued to evolve to meet more of the everyday needs of local Icelanders, making big breakthroughs in the Icelandic domestic market, first by adding fleece and soft-shell jackets for the Icelandic domestic market and then expanding into other climate-appropriate technical and outdoor gear.
In 2010 Icewear shifts from solely production and moves into the retail market, with the launch of its first concept store on Bankastræti in downtown Reykjavík. Launching its first store was a big step for Icewear, with its focus on woolen knitwear and a selection of technical gear for hiking and other outdoor activities.
Icewear has been expanding its physical presence in Iceland with the acquisition of the Vík Wool Factory and the opening of a retail story in Mýrdal on Iceland’s renowned South Coast. Through its increased physical presence, Icewear is building stronger ties with local craftspeople, while continuing to provide quality homegrown products to local consumers and tourists alike.
In 2013, Icewear will continue to increase its physical presence with the opening of an outlet store at Fákafen in Reykjavík, where both new and discounted items are available. The opening of Icewear’s sewing factory in Ásbrú, Reykjanesbær facilitates the production of our non-knitted clothing items. Also in 2013, Icewear’s online store will go live, making our outdoor apparel and of course lines of Icelandic, Norwegian, and Nordic knitwear available for purchase and delivery worldwide.
In later years, Icewear will expand into a children’s clothing line of child-safe PVC-free clothing.
Icewear will also expand beyond clothing production and sales when it opens the Ice Apartments Hotels in Reykjavík and Akureyri.
In April 2018, Icewear will demonstrate its resiliency after a fire destroys the main warehouse and headoffice, destroying a large quantity of inventory. Despite this setback, it will achieve higher profits.
Continued growth as three new stores opened, one of which is located Iceland’s largest mall, Smáralind.
Icewear employes around 200 people at this point, from all over the world.
By 2019 Icewear will have more than 14 stores around Iceland, including locations in Akureyri, Smaralind Shopping Center, and the Westman Islands. Its largest locations will be the knitwear production facility in Vík in Myrdalur (south of Iceland) and the 2200-square-metre downtown flagship store, Icewear Magasín, at Laugavegur 91.
Icewear is celebrating its 50th birthday!
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