Last month, 66°North opened the doors to their London flagship. Then, a few days later, pop sensation Shygirl performed at the Fashion Awards in the capital wearing a puffer-gown design by the Icelandic outerwear brand. Although 66°North has been around since 1926, originally founded to keep Icelandic locals warm with functional clothes meant to last, it's taken global warming for consumers to demand brands make a net positive impact on the world. Now, it's brands like 66°North that shine bright.
A certified B Corporation, 66°North is a carbon neutral business which utilises advanced technical fabrics and upcycled materials to deliver functional, beautiful clothes with longevity. Their latest launch sees in a second collaboration with the embroidery artist and Björk collaborator James Merry.
Merry's work previously featured in Nick Knight's Björk cover story for AnOther Magazine S/S 16, and he's also worked with other fashion greats including Iris van Herpen, Tim Walker and the V&A museum in London. Based in Iceland since 2009, Merry took local landscapes as the inspiration for his second 66°North capsule collection.
'At the start of our collaboration, when I heard that 66°North were opening a flagship store in London, I had an idea to design something specifically to celebrate this new UK location. I started thinking about connections between Britain and Iceland in the natural world, and immediately thought of migratory birds that fly back and forth between the two countries every year', Merry told press.
'In the spring, whooper swans start their journey from the UK to Iceland, setting off to spend summers on Icelandic lakes and marshland to breed and raise their young–before returning back to the UK in the autumn, just as the Icelandic winter is descending. Some years ago, I found an image which illustrated this beautifully: a map from a scientific paper which showed the exact migration paths of these swans, each bird having been fitted with a GPS tracking collar.
As an embroidery artist, these lines back and forth immediately looked like threads to me, and I always thought how poetic it would be to embroider these bird-paths–like strings connecting the two islands. This migration route spoke to me personally since I am originally from the UK and now live in Iceland. It is a journey I was often taking myself, back and forth, around the same time of year as the swans.'
Merry used the GPS data to create embroidered patterns on the back of t-shirts and hoodie, combined with swan beaks; 'as a nod to the ancient english tradition of "swan upping" on mute swans in the Thames', he explains. Just as 66°North often look to the natural landscapes of Iceland for inspiration, as with their colour palette of charcoal black, ice white and blue and moss green, Merry looked to the dawn and dusk skies to create different colour gradients for the collection.
Taking the history of natural migration and threading a line between Iceland and London, Merry's collection is available exclusively online and at the 66°North London flagship on Regent Street.
Explore the collection here.