As usual, the knits S.N.S. Herning brought to Capsule had texture and depth other sweaters can only aspire to. Spring/summer is not the brand’s strong season, so it takes some extra Danish ingenuity to make wool palatable when, at least in NYC, temperatures were at the time of the show hovering in the high 90s. In Herning, Denmark, where they make the sweaters (mostly! see below), average temperature in July is 15℃/60℉.
One way S.N.S. does it is by using a light merino wool, vs. the heavier weight raw materials used in fall and winter. (Merino is not a weight or knit of wool, but a breed of sheep whose origins lie in Spain and North Africa.) Used in Herning’s sportswear-type pieces, like hoodies and short-sleeved, looser-gauge sweaters, merino can be quite comfortable and can even be worn as a base layer. The short sleeves are unusual but something S.N.S. does occasionally. Some of the sweaters for spring also use a knit that’s essentially an unfinished version of the popular three-dimensional bubble-knit for winter. The top of the bubble is in effect cut off, and the knit looks almost perforated
all over. It’s therefore less insulated, but still has textural interest.
Herning was one of many brands at the show using nautical stripes, but they had a little more going on than your average Breton, through mixes of thick and thin stripes, and texturizing the wool knit used. They also used colorblocking and paneling, although most sweater models can be ordered in different fabrics. There’s a bright, nearly IKB shade of blue in next spring’s collection, and the white they’re using is a little closer to true white than the ivory/cream tone they’ve used in the past. S.N.S. is also using a gray marl that visitors to their booth seemed to favor. In merino, like many of their pieces, the marled fabric is used in zip hoodies, zip henleys, and basic crewnecks with ribbed cuffs. All hardware is smooth-zippin’ riri. Button models feature a covered placket; a new detail for the line.
S.N.S. rep Dag was glad, if not eager, to talk to me about perceptions of S.N.S. Herning’s production. The company is still quite small and they were dismayed as a country-of-origin controversy brewed online after sweaters shipped with a “made in Latvia” tag. The guys are obviously quite proud of their product and the way it’s made. They say the country-of-origin tags were placed in their effort to stay in line with international law. Dag estimates that 90% of production of an S.N.S. piece is in the knitting, and is done in Denmark. Since the sewing facilities the company uses are in Latvia, and that’s the last step in production, that’s the origin that appears on the tags. The brand had considered sewing the sweaters in Denmark, but Dag says they do not have access to the right labor or facilities there, and that starting them up in-house would be cost prohibitive and might actually result in lower-quality pieces. Their five-year relationship with their current factory is solid and the sewers there have an understanding of what Herning wants.
Dag is aware it’s a delicate issue--the brand knows their retail prices are not at the low end of the market, and the perception is that foreign labor results in cheaper prices. But he stands by the product and its value, and hesitates to
apologize for bringing an interesting, well-made brand to the market at what they consider a good, sustainable price.
Whatever one thinks of the make, it’s tough to dispute the quality or good design of the pieces. Merino has a reputation for delicacy, but the pieces I saw at Capsule seem relatively bulletproof. Herning’s styles are also supremely adaptable. The stuff is denim-friendly and yet amenable to fashion--most designs straddle the line between runway pieces or weekend, coffee-and-the-Times throw-ons. S.N.S. may shine more when the sun doesn’t, but a little heat won’t banish them to the attic for 6 months.