It’s fascinating to feature Gudrun & Gudrun, an organic knitwear fashion label established by two Faroese women Gudrun Ludvig and Gudrun Rógvadóttir. Read the Q&A about the brand’s handmade, sustainable, and empowering mission for slow fashion movement! Photos courtesy of Gudrun & Gudrun via MYN Collective.
Usually, you associate fashion designers with big, bustling cities like New York, Tokyo, and Paris. So it’s both refreshing and exciting to discover Gudrun & Gudrun (Guðrun & Guðrun), a fashion label based in Faroe Islands, a cluster of 18 tiny islands situated in the North Atlantic, between Iceland and Norway.
Handmade, organic, and sustainability are core creative values for Gudrun & Gudrun. Well-known for their intricately crafted sweaters that are both classic and trendy, Gudrun Ludvig and Gudrun Rógvadóttir cherished their so-called isolation of Faroe Islands to create new collections and reaching out new admirers from all over the world.
Their first showing at NYFW in 2008 was a great success and an even better investment. Gudrun & Gudrun has been the vanguard of fashionable knitwear, especially in the UK, Italy, and Japan. Classic hand-knitted sweaters that hugs the body with neat patterns and durable wool definitely sounds heavenly when you visit those countries.
I am humbled that Gudrun Ludvig and Gudrun Rógvadóttir took some time to answer my questions via email. Read more to get a glimpse about their vision, design process, current collection, future plan, and more!
Fafafoom: Please tell us a little bit about yourself, living in Faroe Islands, and why you choose to work together for Gudrun & Gudrun.
Gudrun & Gudrun: Being both from the Faroe Islands, I think we understood each others’ vision. Our creative process is very closely linked to the isolation of the place. Living in the Faroe Islands brings a sense of calm and peace you don’t really find anywhere else.
It’s always good to visit places such as Tokyo, New York or Paris for inspiration in modern fashion; but it’s crucial to come back home to the silence and not be disturbed by fashion. So much of our brand is our culture and we like our design to represent that.
Fafafoom: Gudrun & Gudrun’s vision is “to make a difference.” Which kind of differences would you like to make and why are they important to you?
Gudrun & Gudrun: We believe there is an entire demographic of conscious consumers and these consumers care about the environment, our natural resources and each other, yet want to remain stylish. That’s important to us, not only as a brand, but as people who share and live in this world.
Fafafoom: Does your vision evolve and get refined over the years?
Gudrun & Gudrun: As designers, our vision is always going to evolve and grow. There is an old saying, “Need teaches naked woman how to spin.” This is an incisive saying for the working conditions of the designer. Just as the naked woman did not have clothes and had to find a way to get some, we as designers do not have urban fashion or modern materials at hand. So, we create our collections out of traditional materials and become inspired from what’s around us. That changes every day, in turn, changing what inspires our collections and visions.
Fafafoom: What does Gudrun & Gudrun mean for the Faroe Islands people? When did you start using Faroese wool and why?
Gudrun & Gudrun: We are a small nation comprised of 18 tiny islands; our population is roughly around 45,000. Still, we are a nation with our own culture and language. We are very proud of our culture and our nation.
We decided to go with Faroese wool as a way to use the local, natural resources around us. The sheep live in very unique living conditions. The rough North Atlantic nature makes for tougher and unique skin and wool. The material is lighter and will certainly keep you very warm.
Fafafoom: How do you define the unique characteristics of the brand, and what does it mean to be a Gudrun & Gudrun wearer?
Gudrun & Gudrun: The unique characteristics of the brand lie in the materials used as well as the time spent on each piece. Anyone can make a sweater, but making a sweater that is both eco-friendly as well as fashion forward is another thing. We believe the purest of wool woven into each knit makes our products stand on their own.
We believe the Gudrun & Gudrun wearer is someone who does not replace their values or comfort for style. When you buy a piece of Gudrun & Gudrun, you’re not only buying a piece of clothing. Comfort, consciousness, invested time and care are knitted into each article of clothing and we believe our consumers not only know that, but appreciate it.
Fafafoom: Gudrun & Gudrun collections are entirely hand-knitted by women knitters on Faroe Islands, Jordan, and Peru. What is the process like to conceive and deliver a collection?
Gudrun & Gudrun: When it comes to clothing there is fast clothing and slow clothing. The major parts of the collection are slow clothing – meaning these women literally knit time into every piece that is made. For us it’s all about time. With knitting, these women let their minds fly and their feelings are conveyed in each piece created – a positive day might be a little looser than after a tough day.
For us, deciding to hire Jordanian women is about women empowerment. We believe that women’s empowerment begins with the opportunity for women to earn their own money. The women do their knitting at home so they can still fulfill domestic duties of their society. We teach the women how to make a micro business – we want to show them they are capable of fulfilling their dreams.
Fafafoom: Speaking of slow clothing or fashion, it recently gained more global traction. Gudrun & Gudrun has been a big supporter of this movement for quite some time. Why do you think this is crucial?
Gudrun & Gudrun: We think it’s wonderful that slow fashion is gaining popularity! It’s definitely needed in the fashion industry as a whole because it not only creates better quality pieces, but it creates better job opportunities, especially in countries where those opportunities may not have originally existed.
Fafafoom: Would you share how it was like when Gudrun & Gudrun first started (how the first collection came to be and the consumer reaction)? Comparing it with more recent process of producing collections in womenswear, menswear, and kidswear, has the process changed?
Gudrun & Gudrun: It first started with a simple idea, to make a product that was not only environmentally conscious but fashionable. I think every company at its beginning stages goes through their own personal hardships, but we fortunately have had very good consumer reactions and are fortunate enough to have our company take off.
And yes, things have changed, but for the better. We’ve been able to expand and it’s always a great thing!
Fafafoom: What are the inspirations for the Fall/Winter 2015 collection, and which ones are your favorite pieces?
Gudrun & Gudrun: We always like to create collections that have a mix of traditional Faroese techniques with a contemporary aesthetic. From time to time we work with the dressed-undressed theme, but always with the power of female wisdom. There’s something powerful about the female spirit that we try to convey in our collections.
Our two favorite pieces are the black and blue Natt dress as well as Katharina top. They’re a perfect mix between tradition and modern fashion while representing female wisdom.
Fafafoom: In your opinion, why is the label most successful in the UK, Italy, and Japan?
Gudrun & Gudrun: One can never be sure, but I think places such as the UK, Italy and Japan can not only relate to the traditional work put into each piece, but value the quality and time put into each piece. Not to mention the climates can be quite unpredictable as well!
Fafafoom: What are your goals for the next year? Any plans to open a US flagship store in addition to having them available via Anthropologie?
Gudrun & Gudrun: Our goals are always quite simple – create quality pieces that are both consumer and eco-friendly. In the U.S., we have been growing to sell not only in Anthropologie, but Calypso as well, which we are very happy for. We want to not only create brand awareness but awareness in general and of course, that we grow bigger and bigger as a respected fashion house and company. Opening a flagship store would be incredible and definitely something we work towards.
Fafafoom: What kind of attributes would you like people to remember Gudrun & Gudrun by?
Gudrun & Gudrun: Comfortable, conscious, stylish, warm – we want the Gudrun & Gudrun wearer to automatically feel relaxed when wearing one of our pieces.
Fafafoom: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Gudrun & Gudrun: We hope Gudrun & Gudrun continues to grow and that we have hopefully not only brought people onto the brand, but that we made a difference in the way you think about buying clothes.
Thank you Gudrun Ludvig and Gudrun Rógvadóttir for setting aside some time to answer my questions! And special thanks to Stephanie from MYN Group for persistently checking with me from time to time. I’m very humbled to feature Gudrun & Gudrun and I wish all the continued success for the brand! Oh, and you may find yourself yearning to go to Faroe Islands after seeing this BuzzFeed article :)
Thanks for reading; until next time,
Photos courtesy of Gudrun & Gudrun via MYN Collective.