|This article relies on references to primary sources. (May 2012)|
66°NORTH is an Icelandic clothing manufacturer, specialising in outdoor clothing. 66°NORTH was founded in 1926 by Hans Kristjánsson with the purpose of making protective clothing for Icelandic fishermen and workers braving the North Atlantic elements. Hans Kristjansson lived in Suðureyri in Súgandafjörður in Westfjords of Iceland where weather conditions were very harsh and right clothing was therefore a matter of life and death for Icelandic fishermen. Hans was passionate about creating garments that would hold up to the harsh conditions fishermen faced while trolling the seas of Iceland so he moved to Norway to learn how to tailor and sew fishermen‘s clothing. When Hans moved back to Suðureyri he founded Sjóklæðagerð Íslands (Fishermen‘s clothing factory of Iceland) now better known as 66°NORTH. 66°NORTH derives its name from the latitudinal line of the Arctic Circle which touches Súgandafjörður where the company was founded in 1926. The slogan of the brand is "Keeping Iceland warm since 1926".
Today the company makes functional clothing without compromise for all kinds of outdoor activity. Fishermen‘s and workwear clothing is still a fundamental element in the operation but now there is much wider selection of protective clothing for all occasions than in the beginning of the company. 66°NORTH has provided the Icelandic search and rescue team with protective clothing since 1928. This successful collaboration traces the evolution of outdoor clothing; from anoraks made from oil-borne canvas to the award winning Snæfell Jacket, made with revolutionary synthetic materials.
The brand subsequently became one of the most popular in Iceland; it was once dubbed by the Wall Street Journal as "practically Iceland's national clothier." In recent years, however, it has faced increasing competition in this home market.
66°NORTH remained little-known outside of Iceland until 2004, when it expanded overseas, selling distribution rights in the United States and other countries. Distributors have used its Icelandic origins as a marketing ploy to break into the competitive outdoor garments industry. It is currently being sold in a range of department stores, as well as a handful of chain stores.