October 22 2014
The idea that we should try to stick to the old adage, ‘do one thing, do it well,’ seems to be in the ether quite a bit lately. What with nonexistent attention spans and pressure to be jacks-of-all-trades, it has become clear that some decluttering and pairing down might lead to an uptick in happiness. So it was refreshing to meet Andersen-Andersen, a Denmark-based family duo with a singular mission to produce knitwear so superfluously good that it might even be passed down from generation to generation. This is the Patek Phillippe of sweaters, if you will. (Without the pompous branding.)
The Andersens themselves are steeped in Denmark’s maritime and design cultures, and their product is a study in the attention to detail that comes from understanding its purpose extremely well. The Maritime Museum of Denmark has even put their Sailor Sweater on permanent display. As we welcome their line to the store for the first time, we had a talk with Cathrine and Peter-Kjær Andersen about their one-of-a-kind boat, designing in Denmark and producing in Italy and the subtle advantages of knitwear symmetry.
Tell us about how you got started? Do you actually do any sailing?
Yes, we do sail! We have a beautiful boat, a Diana 21, which was made in Denmark. It was the very first fibreglass Diana 21 and was cast on a form from the famous Swedish Peterson wooden boats. Our boat is one of two (the other one doesn’t exist anymore, and the casting mold has burned!). This makes our boat something quite special.
Denmark is a maritime nation and Copenhagen has many canals. Sailing on them and the harbor is a lot of fun. It is nice to bring friends and family out on the water and to enjoy a lunch and a little wine…
And as you know, a sailor needs a Sailor Sweater and since we could not find a Sailor Sweater that was good enough, we decided to create an optimal version ourselves. This was how our journey started…
We wanted high quality—a strong and durable sailor sweater.
We wanted it to stay great—both in the shape and in the wool.
We wanted it to be made by a skilled manufacturer that worked with a clear conscience—both in terms of the environment and their employees.
It was our mission to make a Sailor Sweater good enough to be inherited.
Are there any particular style inspirations for the brand? Why a symmetrical sweater?
We were very occupied with the marine, the NAVY, sailor sweaters.
We found that the symmetrical idea was great. You do not have to think when you put your sweater on and it lasts longer. You can actually wear it twice as long!
It is a challenge to knit symmetrically. Our sailor sweaters are constructed with a knitted triangle by the neck line which we have developed in collaboration with our knitter. The triangle gives the symmetry the great shape. Since our sailor sweater is the same on back and front it will appear sculptural on the body and over time take the shape of the wearer.
And materials? You’ve even created a special yarn, right?
We make sailor sweaters as work wear and therefore the yarn is very important… Together with our knitter we went through all spinning mills in Europe be course we wanted to find an old fashioned long fibered worsted 100% wool yarn that was soft and yet very durable. We could not find such yarn and instead we decided to ask an Italian spinning mill to produce such yarn especially for our company. ”
Our merino wool is long fibered, soft and extra twisted/spun to give it strength.
We needed to find a knitter who was skilled enough and curious enough to work with us – a knitter that could develop the technical details we needed for the optimal Sailor Sweater, and we found him in Italy.
The knitting company is a small family run knitting mill situated in the northern part of Italy at the foot of the Dolomites. We are very pleased with our knitter and our collaboration has developed into a solid friendship with both he and his family.
What do you think it is about Denmark and Danish culture that makes it a center of good design?
The modern Danish design tradition started at the beginning of last century. It was mainly in architecture where you could see that something was happening. Fortunately there were quite a few talented architects at the time—Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl, Poul Henningsen, Kaare Klint among others, who were all able to inspire each other and set the standard for modern Danish design. Simplicity and good craftsmanship are still some key words in Danish design.
Kind thanks to Cathrine and Peter-Kjær!