Atop a set of sleek wooden stairs in the Scandinavian House at 38th Street and Park Avenue in New York, rows of black chairs gave way on either side to a stark white runway. “Fashion show starts promptly at 7:30 PM,” the invitation said.
In the meantime, though, I milled about the room, Volvo Hall to be exact, sampling Icelandic vodka (hey, I’m 22!) and goodies like skyr yogurt and chocolate covered marzipan. You must’ve noticed the pattern here. Scandinavian House? Icelandic vodka? Absolutely. Because what else would you serve at the Fall/Winter 2011 fashion show for an Icelandic clothing line?
The line in question is 66 North, an outerwear company so named for Iceland’s location along the earth’s 66 degree latitude line, close to the Arctic Circle. Iceland experiences extreme weather year-round, so Icelanders need durable clothing that can keep up with weather that can change in an instant. And who doesn’t love a stylish jacket? 66 North take these ideas and put them into each item of clothing they manufacture and have been manufacturing since 1926.
As I watched the fashion show (see photos below!), I noticed that the pieces are smarter and sleeker than other more well-known outerwear companies, dare I say like Moncler on a diet and The North Face with a minimalist makeover. For 66 North, a puffy jacket is not an overstuffed marshmallow, a fleece jacket is not thick and swarthy, ski pants do not swish noisily mid-gait. Clean lines and detailing abound. But they’re all still warm enough to keep the people of Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik nice and toasty—Icelandic Rescue Teams and the Reykjavik Police all wear 66 North to protect against Iceland’s manic weather. Because I’m not an Icelandic policeman, however, my favorite pieces were a bit more tame—I adored the cable-knit sweaters in grey and beige, which looked so warm I wanted to just curl up with one right there while watching the show.
66 North outerwear is a practical, smart, and good-looking alternative to unnecessary bulk. The pieces are designed with Iceland’s “onion approach,” or layering approach, in mind for seasonal dressing. The company produces Outer Layer, Mid Layer and Base Layer clothing, in addition to parkas, jackets, sweaters, pants, wintry accessories and more. It’s outerwear that’s not scary to look at: it won’t be a giant heap of a coat eating up the chair you throw it on. I always find myself wishing I had winter clothes that didn’t eat up my style, my closet space, and my life, so it’s nice to know now that I have an alternative. The fabrics feel yummy, too—fashion show attendees were given either mittens or hats from the brand in a goody bag, and my mittens are über-soft and snuggly.
So if you too are looking for a change in your winter wardrobe, look to 66 North. Because if this clothing can put up with Iceland’s geysers and volcanoes, it can definitely handle your college campus.