The tie that binds
SPTZBRGN’s bunad tie gives men a new way to celebrate Norwegian heritage
By Christy Olsen Field
Norwegian American Weekly
Confirmation, 17th of May celebrations, weddings – there are many occasions to wear a bunad, the festive Norwegian national costume. The designs vary from each region of Norway, and the intricate designs are done by hand, making them an lifetime investment for men and women.
Many women receive their bunad for their confirmation as a teenager, but boys are not fully grown at that point. Many bunad shops will not sell a bunad to a male under the age of 25. As a result, few parents give their son a bunad when they have finished growing, and many men don’t buy one. Today, only seven percent of men have a bunad, while 70 percent of women have one.
Tanja Holmen and Jarle Hagen of SPTZBRGN Ltd. have come up with a solution for men: the bunadslips (bunad tie). This hand-embroidered tie is made in Norway based on the designs specific to each region, and is fraction of the price for a whole bunad.
“The idea was to create something innovative by old traditions, and we also have a special fondness for Norwegian design and costumes. My partner does not have a bunad, but he wanted to be part of it. The idea started with this bunad tie,” said Holmen to Nettavisen’s Side2 in a recent interview.
The couple launched their concept to the public in April 2010, and the response has been tremendous in Norway. The ties were in high demand for 17th of May, as well as confirmations, weddings and Christmas.
The design world has taken note of their fun, modern approach to heritage: In March 2011, SPTZBRGN won the Award for Design Excellence from the Norwegian Design Council.
“They are very interested in Scandinavian design in the western world. Norway Says and Moods of Norway is popular in the U.S., and now several of the well-known fashion houses are inspired by Norwegian design,” she continues, pointing to Italian luxury designer Dolce & Gabbana’s winter collection, which was inspired by the traditional Norwegian designs of the Marius pattern and Setesdal sweater.
Energized by the positive response at home, Spitzbrgn has brought their innovative design to Canada, Japan and the U.S. – most recently at the Norway Day Festival in San Francisco, Calif., on April 30 – May 1.
“On our journeys to London, New York and San Francisco the effect has been amazing. I’m being stopped on the street by people who wonder about that beautiful tie I’m wearing, and where they can get them. So it clearly shows that you need connection or knowledge about Norwegian culture to be amazed by the different and eccentric tie, hand embroidered with wool thread on Norwegian wool. With a tailored suit it looks so good. Like being taken back a century in a modern way,” said Hagen, the creator and designer of the bunad tie.
Currently, the bunad tie comes in 22 different varieties. SPTZBRGN’s goal is to create a bunad tie for each bunad district.
“We are inspired by all the original costumes, and renders the tie as best we can. Everything is handmade, and we use the best wool,” said Holmen.
With their high-quality, handmade products, SPTZBRGN is aiming to sell its ties in exclusive shops and boutiques. Their U.S. agent is Laura Almaas, owner of Chalet in the Woods, a European boutique in Gig Harbor, Wash., that is well-known for its Oleana sweaters.
“We are excited that we advertise the Norwegian cultural heritage in such a modern and good way. The quality is impeccable and the ties are beautiful,” said Hagen.
To learn more and browse the designs, visit www.sptzbrgn.com. To order in the U.S., call Laura Almaas at (253) 851-8678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published in the May 20, 2011 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. For more information about the Norwegian American Weekly or to subscribe, call us toll free (800) 305-0217 or email email@example.com.