During my first downhill ski experience last year I managed to take a fall that was so hard I thought I died and went to heaven. It was… educational, and I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t see where my skis and poles had gone. Or maybe that was the snow now caked onto the surface of my goggles. After that, and several more swigs of Fireball, my skiing experience got a lot more enjoyable. At the very least, I could stand.
Once I got home that night I spent a truly unreasonable amount of time on Pinterest looking up Swiss chalets, watching Youtube videos of beautiful runs across the U.S. and trying to figure out if this was really something that I wanted to continue pursuing. The answer to that final question was, without a seconds thought, “yes”. Unfortunately I only had twice more that season to experience it before the snow started to melt and I found myself back inside my usual climbing gym haunts in preparation for the outdoor season. Skiing, and the fashions that come with it, took a bit of a back seat in my mind. At least, until I watched The House of Gucci on November 24.
The movie in general features some of the best costuming I’ve ever seen, at least since I’ve started paying attention to that sort of thing, and that sweater is what inspired me to start thinking about this post. I mean come on, what self-respecting person doesn’t love a good, thick-knit wool sweater that looks softer than clouds? What actually convinced me to sit down in my chair and write is the discovery of a brand called Amundsen Sports.
Disclaimer: Amundsen Sports shares very little in common with any of the costuming in House of Gucci. Adam Driver’s sweater just served as the inspiration. I’m just a slut for a good, thick sweater.
About The Brand:
Jørgen Amundsen was born with a heritage already so firmly established that I’m surprised he didn’t come into this world wearing a polar parka and clutching an ice pick in his hands. Descended from the great Roald Amundsen, commonly considered one of the greatest explorers of all time, it comes as no great surprise that he sought to carry on his ancestor’s legacy with the creation of Amundsen Sports in 2009 with his childhood friend, Erik Friis. Focusing on creating a culture which celebrates time outside with friends and laughter echoing around them, Jørgen brings the distinctly Norwegian concept of Friluftsliv to the outdoor world.
Indeed, the company creates pieces that are meant to blend the two worlds of technical outerwear with pieces that are as home in a ski chalet in the Alps as they are on a casual night on the shores of Lake Michigan. However we experience the serenity and divinity of the outdoors, Amundsen aims to be the clothing that we chose to bring with.
The company’s ethos when it comes to sustainable production isn’t the development of new and more sustainable production practices, but it attacks the root of fashion pollution. They product less product. They don’t release new lines of revamped products with updated colors and designs following trends, they stay true and timeless and classic. They prioritize making their products versatile, stylish and long-lasting. Which, if there is a solution to fashion pollution to be found, is the solution. I can respect that.
But what does this brand, which is attempting to carve out it’s own niche in a heavily-populated and ever-evolving outdoor retail world, attempt to bring to it’s customers? In short, they want to bring the idea of “Friluftsliv”. A distinctly Norwegian word, there is no commonly-agreed-upon direct translation, although their Amundsen’s website says that “the outdoors” generally sums it up rather well.
Friluftsliv is the sense of freedom that the great outdoors triggers, it enables you to build perspective, understanding, and motivation. There are no prices, no rankings no guidelines. You are free to define Friluftsliv for yourself, and it can be found in close proximity to your home.
I mean if you’ve seen this brand before (social media was my first exposure) you know that they are known around the world for capturing the classic and essential Norwegian style in their assorted knitwear. Safe to say, I’m hopelessly head over heels.
Built upon the same standard as the rest of their gear, Amundsen’s line of pants encourage the wearers to go out and play well. They’re designed to be beautiful and function and straddle that line as close as they can. I think they do it quite well.
Anoraks and Jackets:
Coming from the Greenlandic word “annoraaq“, the word anorak indicates a shell which fulfills the primary goal of blocking the wind and cold, potentially providing insulation on the inside. Indeed the first examples of this were seal and caribou skin that were cured, stretched and treated in order to turn them into water and wind-proof layers. Now these days we use Gore-Tex or other synthetic methods of waterproofing, but the general aesthetic has remained. These are some of my favorites.
Are they absolutely essential? No, not really. Will they improve the quality of your life? I mean they might, who am I to argue. Are they constant little reminders of the world that exists just outside our doors, begging to be explored? Absolutely. With their line of accessories covering everything from hats and caps to inspirational books and hard-wearing duffel bags, Amundsen doesn’t just outfit you for your adventures, they encourage you to look forward to the next one.
And literally no one has ever said no to a classic baseball cap either.
In short, what I admire most about Amundsen Sports is their view of the outdoors as more than a temple. The outdoors are at the same time a place breathtaking beauty and breathtaking thrill. It is to be protected, preserved and most importantly, enjoyed. The wilderness is not something that can be conquered but rather experienced, documented and told stories of by friends with steaming mugs of cider or cocoa clutched tight in our slowly-thawing hands.
Amundsen is not a brand that seeks to create the most technical garments, nor are they a brand that seeks to take the outdoor and fashion industry by storm. They are a group of grounded, passionate individuals who’s only mission is to encourage others all over the world to play well.