As we grow

Snoop-Around interviews As We Grow for the Reykjavík Grapevine,
issue #14 7.9.2012
This interview originally appeared in The Reykjavík Grapevine

Snoop-Around meets María and Guðrún fashion designers and Gréta the lawyer mba. They are the co-founders of AS WE GROW a fashion label for children. It all begun from a single sweater that has now travelled through Guðrún‘s family for 9 years and was their muse for creating clothes that were eco-friendly and promote sustainability. They are currently preparing their new studio so we meet at María‘s home. Guðrún‘s youngest is with us, just two months old and as we munch through chocolate and peanuts we get to know them three a bit better and about their brand new product.

María, Guðrún & Gréta

You are in the first year of AS WE GROW, how did it all start?

María: It‘s been developing for about a year now. Gréta had travelled to Peru a few years ago where she met their suppliers in Lima, Peru. There she learned all about the Alpaca fibre they use in all their clothing, hypo-allergic, soft and strong wool.

Gréta:The Alpacas camels have developed a quality for staying 400 meters above sea level, which gives their wool it‘s strong thermal insulator and makes the fibre warmer and lighter that other natural fibres. It‘s warmer than normal wool when it‘s cold and let‘s more air through when it‘s hot.

Guðrún: Usually it‘s the designers that search for a producer but in this case it happened the other way around when Gréta initiated this collaboration. She is definitely the driving force while we the designers are the dreamers.

What was your inspiration for making this kind of product?

Guðrún: There are mainly two motives, first of all it‘s the travelling sweater (more on that later) and the fact that me and María have always wanted to work together. We have similar ideas on how to design children’s clothes. It derives from how we want to dress our own children as well as the idea of the clothes being timeless; we stay away from logos and decorations that might be following a certain trend.

María: My experience is that I never found anything nice enough for my twin boys, except something quite pricy, so it made me think about having fewer clothes that last longer, even a whole year even though they are growing fast. As a result we sought a solution for creating clothes that children could use as they grow.

So what is different about your design from what we are used to?

María: The cut is made specifically so that children can use the garment for longer, the armhole is bigger, and the waist stretches wider. For a child with a few months of age the trousers will reach up close to the armpits and gradually lower towards the waist with time. The trouser leg is long so you fold it to begin with but end up as knee high trousers and the same goes with sleeves. Today you will pay around five to six thousand krona for a sweater and it lasts perhaps for a few months with the usual wear and tear marks. Here you will pay around 13.000 krona and get a piece of clothing that will last your baby for years and because of the quality, our non-trend and timeless design you will want to give it to the next baby in line too. You can therefor use it for decades, going through friends and family. We know how it is to buy clothes for your children, you think of how good the material is you want the best and softest material for your child. And you also want them to be environmentally friendly.

Guðrún: We don’t want for people to buy and throw away endlessly, the long lasting clothes are also a part of the notion that the fewer clothes you need, less harmful chemical are used in the process of making them.

Gréta: We are the opposite of HM, although HM is great at times, but we want to promote endurance of the product and we think that today people’s disposition on sustainability is changing for the better, we are starting to make demands on the matter.

Can you tell me more about the sweater and its voyage?

Guðrún: The sweater was hand knitted by my mother and it’s been travelling for nine years. A friend of mine Carolyn got it for her son Julian in 2003. After that Tinna in Iceland got it for her son Tryggvi, which then gave it to Ísafold. In the winter of 2006 it got lost but was found again the coming spring with a few dropped stitches that gave it even more character. Ísafold had outgrown it so next was Markús and in the end Kjartan Ragnar his cousin who wears it still. I would love to mark one of our sweaters and somehow track its journey, see where it’ll end up in 30 years to come.

Where and when will we be able to buy it?

Gréta: We introduced our first line last February at the CHP Kids trade show in Copenhagen. We start selling in September in various places, Barnabúðin Laugavegur 27, Mýrin Kringlan shopping mall, Saga Boutique with Icelandair, Rammagerðin which includes Hafnarstæti Reykjavík, Egilsstaðir, Keflavík Airport and soon Akureyri. As well Berlin, Copenhagen and we have been selling our summer line at an internet shop in New York and we plan on selling from our website as well. We are building it up nice and easy selling 85% here in Iceland and 15% abroad.

María: Barnabúðin told us that tourists are asking about Icelandic labels in children clothing, they can’t keep up with knitting the traditional wool sweater in baby sizes. We didn’t realize that there was a demand for it; our motivation was different as we have said.

Gréta: Soon we will have 100 hand knitted scarfs from Peru which are made from left over yarn and the profit of it will go to a charity we haven’t chosen yet. Exiting times ahead and now we just wait and see whether it’s going to be a success.

At this moment they show us the clothes, they are so tender and soft, particularly the ones with 100% baby Alpaca wool, María describes for us how you can mix and match almost every piece for the age of 6 months to 4 years old. The clothes aren’t too decorated or bright, but simple and cute, and beside the pink dress, it’s quite unisex as well, so you have endless choices to create your personal combination.

Interview: Erla Steinþórsdóttir
Photograpgs: Nanna Dís