The latest A Harmless Project features an incredible company based in Portland but hails from Norway! So proud to feature Scandinavian artisans on here; my family is actually Norwegian and I've always had a deep love for Norwegian culture. On top of that, Hovden Formal Farmwear is owned by a amazing and empowering female entrepreneur, Ingvill, and I have her fascinating answers to a few of my questions at the end of this post so scroll down for those!
Hovden has created a beautiful reproduction of the 150 year old Scandinavian work shirt, The Busserull, which I've featured here. Handmade by craftsman in Europe and the US, Hovden ensures ethical and sustainable production methods and natural fabrics go into their shirts. Ingvill also shared with me their sustainable process, "One other thing I would like to point out is the pattern of the shirt. It is made up of squares and rectangles. So, when the fabric is cut, there in more or less no waste. Back then, people took good care of their resources. Fabric was often woven on the farm. Nothing was wasted! Modern patterns are a lot more wasteful, with it's 'curves'."
Below I've highlighted their Scandinavian shirt in linen in white, and their Hadeland shirt in cotton in blue. Even aside from the ethics and sustainability of these shirts, the timeless design, quality craftsmanship, and durability make these an incredible investment. They're in that menswear inspired minimal vein that's so in style right now for Fall but they're the kind of wardrobe staple you'll be able to wear all year round and for many seasons to come.
In the below video I styled mine simply with medium wash jeans from Current/Elliot, boots from Good Guys Don't Wear Leather, white shorts from Sam & Lavi, and vegan Birkenstocks. Lots of loungy and luxurious summer vibes here.
Also, some of you many have spotted that I’m wearing a third linen shirt from them in the video. That look is up on LookBook and my Instagram (and their Instagram) so check out how I styled it for Fall. AND I have a special promo code for you so you can grab your very own piece of Scandinavian style; use my code HarmlessHovden20 for 20% off your purchase at hovdenformalfarmwear.com but hurry, it expires Nov. 20th!
Q&A with Ingvill:
What's the cultural significance of the traditional Scandinavian farm shirt? Does it have special meaning for you?
Norway (and Scandinavia) has relied on farming and fishing for hundreds and maybe thousands of year. The Vikings were farmers and fishermen. These farm/work shirts have so much history attached to them. So many people worked hard in those shirts. It makes me humble to think about the physical work people did and the lives they lived. The old photos show the mending jobs done on the shirts and how well people took care of their clothes. They didn’t have much then. It’s a stark contrast to today's reality where clothes are so cheap. And that comes at a social and environmental cost. I wish there was a middle road. I don’t want to go 200 years back in time.. but I hope people will become more conscious and aware when they buy clothes.
How did you get started designing? Was it a family hobby/tradition or something you found on your own?
I’m actually not a designer.. I studied history and business and I’m very excited that I'm able to put both my degrees to use. I’m working with a local designer who is helping with patterns; however, Hovden makes ONE shirt and the pattern is taken from an original work shirt. So not much designing is happening (at this point).
However, I am very passionate about fabrics! I grew up in a family that appreciated handcrafted textiles. My sister is a cobbler, both my parents are weavers and 2 grandmothers and even my grandpa could weave and knit. I have been around wool processing, spinning and plant dyeing of yarn. So, when I had a chance to work with some beautiful linens and wools made in Europe I was very excited! I am hunting for more.. especially for the USA production.. linen, wool, cotton and I’m also looking into hemp. Hemp fabric was found in an old Viking ship excavation! So, this fabric has very long traditions in Scandinavia.
Can you tell us a little about the your stance on ethical manufacturing and how that plays a part in Hovden?
Ethical manufacturing is very important to Hovden! If the only option was to manufacture somewhere with low ethical standards, I would close down the project! The current mass production of clothes and the poor ethical, social and environmental standards are very sad!! I want to do my part to change consumers perception and the way people buy clothes.
I would like to see people having fewer clothes in their closet. Ideally of higher quality, made ethically and of timeless character! Then people wouldn't have to buy as much.. That should be easy, right?!
Very special thank you to Hovden and Ingvill for inspiring me and for inspiring positive change in the world. I love getting to meet, work with, and learn from strong women making a difference so this experience has been truly enlightening.