We talked about Sweden yesterday and how serious the Swedes are about their outdoor gear (loving all the fantastic comments, by the way!). Today, let’s talk more about the gear itself. How they layer, what pieces they invest in, and how they get their money’s worth.
From what I understand, it’s a layering process. A specific one. You start with a first layer of 100% wool, or a synthetic material that will wick away moisture from the skin.
Next up, you add a warming layer, like fleece. And finally, you add weatherproof outerwear.
That’s it in a nutshell, but there’s a really helpful layering guide if you have a million questions and want more details (I did!).
Once they are properly layered, you send your kids off to school. When they get to school, if they’re going to be indoors, they take off the outer layers and spend their indoor time in that first wool/synthetic layer. They basically walk around school in their long underwear! I love that!! (Apparently, when they get older, they bring jeans to change into. : )
During my visit, I had a shift in thinking. I had been classifying Polarn O. Pyret’s outerwear as ski wear — pieces that will be worn for a couple of ski weekends and a snow day here and there. But the Swedes are thinking of them as everyday play wear. Sure they’re great for skiing and ice skating. But they’re also good for running, crawling in snow forts and playing tag. They’re warm and sturdy, but they’re made to move in.
Two examples. 1) We were examining a coat and they pointed out that the hood snaps off. And I was wondering why. They said, “You know, in case your child’s hood gets caught on a tree branch.” And I’m thinking whaaa? And then I remembered, that Swedish kids really do PLAY outside all winter long — including climbing trees. 2) Their outerwear comes with reflective sections. Again, I wondered why. They explained that it gets dark so early during Swedish winters, that kids end up playing outside when the sun is down. The reflective sections help ensure parents can spot their kids who are playing in the dark!
So, yes, the clothes are made to move in, and they’re also made to last.
When we were out to dinner, I spoke with some local moms and found out that Polarn O. Pyret is THE kids brand in Sweden. In fact, it’s such a big deal in Sweden, that there’s a huge second hand market for PO.P clothes.
Apparently, Swedish parents don’t think of it as a high price brand for two reasons: 1) They can resell the clothes easily — even after using them extensively. 2) The clothes are made well and many are intentionally designed in unisex colors. So big sister can hand her red parka down to little brother. Or vice versa.
So interesting to me!
But enough about the clothes, I want to tell you about our visit:
-The tour was of the headquarters was just what I love — visiting the design department, getting to peek at fabric samples and seeing how they handle color matching.
-We heard from their eco department. They take their social and environmental responsibilities very seriously. For example, they refuse to use feather down because it’s harvested cruelly.
– We saw a cute fashion show of adorable kids modeling the fall line.
– We got to visit a Polarn O. Pyret store. (Right now, there is only one brick and mortar store in the US. It’s in Greenwich CT. But you can shop online.) The store was so cute! They set it up by age. And within each age range they make 30% of the items for girls, 30% for boys and the rest is unisex. Pieces like their stripey tees can be worn by either girls or boys — they don’t add scalloped edges for the girls or truck motifs for the boys.
And they make the fixtures fun for kids to play in!
– After our tour, we went to dinner. Pictured below: Me on the left doing something weird with my eyes. Gina, a Design Mom reader who met us for dinner. She’s an American who has raised her family in Sweden for the last eight years. She’s fabulous! Linda, the amazing PO.P rep from the US who organized this whole trip. Kaisa, the PO.P rep from Finland who was super-friendly and has me thinking I need to visit Finland. And Laura — the top Finnish blogger who’s also game enough to crawl through store fixtures. : ) Jordan is taking the photo.
That was a long report. If you managed to make it to the end, I’d love your thoughts on investing in outerwear. Does $150+ seem reasonable for a parka your child will wear everyday (and that you might resell at some point)? What are your thoughts on hanging out in long-underwear at school?