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Hand-Knitted Icelandic Sweater Receives Protected Status

lopapeysa Icelandic sweater

The term ‘Icelandic sweater’ (Icelandic: íslensk lopapeysa) is now a legally protected product name, having received a Designation of Origin status today from the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority. The Icelandic hand-knitted wool sweater is a traditional Icelandic garment. By receiving a Designation of Origin, the sweater becomes the second product name to receive such legal protection in Icelandic, following in the wake of Icelandic lamb meat.

The Handknitting Association of Iceland (Icelandic: Handprónasamband Íslands) formally applied for the designation of origin with The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority. The application stated that the sweaters are an original design unique to Iceland, which has origins in Icelandic knitting- and pattern traditions from the middle of the 20th century. The craftsmanship in the sweaters when it comes to making them, as well as the patterns, are derived from Icelandic cultural traditions.

Conditions to be met for the designation of ‘Icelandic sweater’

Certain conditions have to be met for sweaters to officially receive the designation of origin connected to the term ‘Icelandic wool sweater’, including that the wool in the sweater comes from Icelandic sheep, as well as having to be handwoven from virgin wool. The main conditions follow:

  1. The wool used to make handcrafted Icelandic sweaters shall be cut from Icelandic sheep.
  2. Only virgin wool shall be used as material for the sweater (wool that has not been recycled).
  3. The sweater shall be knitted from unspun wool, such as unspun plötulopi wool, thinner léttlopi wool, Álafosslopi wool, etc..
  4. The sweater shall have a circular knitted yoke with pattern shapes and/or pattern benches from the shoulder area to the neck.
  5. The sweater shall be handknitted in Iceland.
  6. The sweater shall be knitted in a circle without stitches.
  7. The sweater shall have an open front or be whole.

Designation of origin

In December 2014, the Icelandic parliament enacted the Product Names Protection Act, which allows for the protection of product names on the basis of origin, territory, or traditional uniqueness. Such laws, often manifested as Designation of Origin, are widespread in Europe, where they are often applied to artisanal products such as French cheese and Spanish ham. The first product name to receive such protection in Iceland was “Icelandic lamb,” which was protected last year.

The proposal suggests that increased demand for Icelandic sweaters has led to the widespread production of the traditional design with its decorative collar. “Increased foreign production of ‘lopapeysa’ sweaters made of foreign wool or synthetics also makes it urgent that buyers have the possibility to differentiate between ‘Icelandic sweaters’ and imitations,” states the proposal.