Words by Pete Anderson Photos by Albert Thomas
Some of the lines showing during market week--not naming names--seemed to spread themselves a little thin. It takes moxy to start up a company that, just a season or two in, offers shirting, knitwear, outerwear, shoes, and accessories, and a decent amount of luck to pull it off. S.N.S. Herning, on the other hand, has an 80-year head start in the knit business and a preference for depth rather than breadth. The fall 2011 collection updates many of the line’s resurrected knitwear designs and threads in some new twists in texture and cut.
Idea for next S.N.S. Herning campaign theme: tradenMARK. Get it?
S.N.S. still draws heavily on its past as a large knitwear manufacturer in Denmark. They've titled the fall 2011 season GENERATI80N, marking the 80th anniversary of the S.N.S. Herning trademark. First registered, doing a little math here, in 1931. (Don’t try to pronounce GENERATI80N; you get the point.) The brand has seen its ups and downs in those eight decades, but appears to be cresting again, with a number of worldwide stockists and large buys last fall that saw its traditional knit sweaters popping up all over the place. The all-wool knits for next fall have a little more variation than those we saw at Capsule last January. Rather than all of them having a crisp hand, some knits are fuzzier, and some much softer and lighter--S.N.S. is using merino wool in some of their pieces. Still present are the striped nautical sweaters and fisherman’s turtlenecks, but the bubble knit on the turtlenecks has been adapted into other sweaters, including the Amalgam, “striped” with three-dimensional bubbles across the body and arms, and available as a crewneck or cardigan. Also, while many sweaters are still made with traditionally attached sleeves (with the armhole and sleeve cut straight down, often leading to a slightly dropped shoulder when worn), others will be made with an arguably more flattering set-in sleeve. Other, more landlocked influences have also been inspirational for S.N.S. Herning designers. A henley crossed with thick bands of fabric was modeled on a Danish prison guard uniform. A favorite among the Styleforum crew was an airier waffle knit piece that’s related to military sweaters. In dark gray it’s got wearability but enough textural interest to complement good denim or even workplace gear.
Amalgam cardigan in navy
Amalgan crewneck in mottled black
Boatneck detail on a merino piece
Many pieces for next fall have a looser, open weave
Prison guard henley
Always ahead of the color game, S.N.S. Herning will be offering knits next fall in the usual navy and black but also a mottled black, a rustier red than last year, and a rich camel. That material matched particularly well with a sweater that updates an old S.N.S. body shape by adding a hood. Rumors of the hoodie's demise have been greatly exaggerated. S.N.S. Herning has taken some heat for the fact that, although all of their fabric is knitted in Denmark, the pieces are sewn in other countries. Their explanation is that Denmark simply doesn’t have the garment industry it once did, and getting them sewn domestically was not possible. Although the explanation seems reasonable, it casts a slight shadow on their marketing as a strictly traditional maker. Anecdotally, I know many satisfied S.N.S. wearers and although many were surprised to hear their sweaters were sewn in Latvia--there's not obvious quality deficiency--few were upset. The theme of outsourcing, reasons for it, and the decline of domestic production in many countries was a big theme this year at market week and it will be in Styleforum Frontpage's coverage. See also our upcoming features on Martin Greenfield, who makes suits in NY, and Leffot, which makes a point of carrying only shoe lines that make their own shoes.