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Clothes: unsightly Norwegian woolen sweaters

Well, some folks might consider Norwegian woolen sweaters unsightly, but it's crucial to acknowledge that the history of woolen garments in Norway is deeply rooted in the practical needs of its people.

Back in ancient times (let's not mention the Vikings), when surviving harsh winters was the top priority, Norwegians turned to wool for warmth and protection. Sheep farming became an integral part of rural life, with communities raising sheep and perfecting the art of spinning wool into yarn. The long, freezing winters provided ample time for such endeavors.

Consequently, the Norwegian sweater, known as the "genser," evolved into a cherished garment that blended functionality with artistic flair. Each region developed its own distinct knitting patterns, reflecting local traditions and cultural identities. These intricate designs, passed down through generations, told tales of the land, the sea, and the legends that shaped Norwegian heritage. Nowadays, woolen clothing, especially sweaters, enjoys the same popularity as in times of yore. Almost as popular as botox and "raske briller." But I digress, let's get back on track.

I fondly recall purchasing my very first Dale of Norway sweater from a vintage shop in Amsterdam back in 2012 (and I still rock it every winter. If you ask me kindly I might post a picture of that unusual sight later).

Judging by its vibrant purple and neon green shades, it must have hailed from the 1990s. Some may consider it unappealing, but I grew increasingly smitten with it. It wasn't until I moved to Norway that I truly grasped the timeless allure of these sweaters. It's not just about their impeccable craftsmanship and use of the finest wool; it's also the Norwegians' meticulous care and respect for them. They are an integral part of Norwegian (outdoor) culture, and Norwegians proudly flaunt them. When a thread unravels, it's promptly repaired.

Having lived in Norway for almost a decade, woolen sweaters have become a prominent feature of my winter wardrobe too. Almost every year, I add one to my Christmas wish list. Last year, luck was on my side, and my wish came true with a magnificent sweater from de Vold. It's so thick and substantial that it almost serves as a jacket. It came with a hefty price tag, but I already know that I'll treasure it for a lifetime.

If you find yourself in Oslo, a visit to the Dale of Norway Flagship store is a bit of a must. It exudes elegance and instantly sparks anticipation for wintertime. Or check out their factory outlet in located right next to their factory. The same goes for the Devold brandstore .

However, for some of us, myself included as a resident of Norway, life can be quite costly, let alone affording a woolen sweater priced at 2000NOK. Moreover, when traveling, one typically wishes to allocate most funds towards exploring as much of this magnificent country as possible. But fear not, for there's still a way to acquire a stunning (vintage) Norwegian sweater at a fraction of the cost of a new one. And trust me, very few visitors from abroad are aware of this: Fretex!

This chain of second-hand stores, operated by the Salvation Army, stretches across the entire country. They often boast a substantial clothing section, including a selection of vintage Norwegian sweaters. My preferred Fretex shop is located at Ullevålsveien 12 in Oslo, but you'll also find Fretex stores in smaller villages like Voss. By supporting Fretex, you contribute to the charitable work undertaken by the Salvation Army for vulnerable individuals, while also promoting reduced consumption. It's a win-win, wouldn't you agree? You can also explore their webshop, although the selection of woolen sweaters there is somewhat limited.


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