Dale of Norway has earned a reputation for producing some of the finest knitwear in the world. However, with their sweaters retailing at $200 to $400 each, many people balk at the prices and wonder – why are Dale of Norway sweaters so expensive?
Reasons For Dale of Norway Being So Expensive
- Premium Materials
One of the main reasons behind the high prices is the premium quality materials used.
Dale sweaters are made from 100% Norwegian wool, sourced from sheep on local farms near the factory.
Norwegian wool has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, keeping you cozy without being bulky.
It’s also exceptionally durable and pill-resistant.
The merino wool used in Dale sweaters is graded at 19.5 microns, making it ultrasoft while still retaining wool’s natural temperature regulating properties. In comparison, most merino knitwear uses wool around 24 microns.
Alpaca fiber is blended into some Dale designs, adding softness and warmth. Cashmere features in luxury designs, providing an extremely soft, lightweight feel. With such high-end fibers, it’s no wonder the sweaters command premium prices.
- Hand Knitting Techniques
Another factor bumping up the price is that every Dale of Norway sweater is knit by hand on traditional machines. While hand finishing touches are common in luxury knitwear, Dale takes it to the extreme with their entirely hand-crafted approach.
The hand knitting process allows for complex Fair Isle patterns and intricate stitchwork like cables and Nordic motifs. However, it is slower and more labor intensive than commercial machine production. With skilled knitters working each piece, labor costs are high.
- Made in Norway
Today most textile production has moved offshore where labor costs are cheaper. However, Dale maintains their factory in Norway and produces their sweaters locally.
This allows them to closely monitor quality but means paying reasonable Norwegian wages to their workers.
There are also higher operational costs for the business such as electricity, taxes, and compliance in the Norwegian system. So “Made in Norway” contributes to the premium pricing.
- Ethical Production
Related to being produced in Norway, Dale maintains high ethical standards in their factory.
The working conditions are rated among the best in the industry.
Dale ensures fair pay and reasonable hours for all employees.
The company covers benefits like healthcare, education, and retirement funds – leading to skilled long-term employees.
This ethical approach comes at a cost but creates a positive production environment that gets passed on to the consumer through higher prices.
- Unique Designs
Rather than churning out generic designs, Dale of Norway is constantly innovating unique sweater styles. They hold the patent for traditional Norwegian patterns like Marius, Nordic, and Setesdal.
An in-house design team works on new collections each season to give customers fresh takes on classic Scandinavian looks. Developing so many original designs requires significant investment, which factors into pricing.
- Quality Control
Meticulous quality control steps are taken to ensure Dale sweaters meet the highest standards. Experts grade the incoming wool, rejecting any batches that don’t make the cut.
During production, the knitwear is monitored for defects and carefully inspected when complete. Even the smallest flaw leads to a sweater being removed or reworked.
This attention to detail and commitment to perfection comes at a cost. But it reassures customers they are buying the very best quality.
- Brand Heritage
As a heritage brand founded in 1879, Dale of Norway commands respect and recognition. They helped popularize Nordic knitwear around the world.
Consumers connect the brand with generations of Norwegian knitting tradition. There is prestige in owning an authentic Dale that justifies the price for some buyers.
Maintaining this reputation through outstanding quality and marketing requires substantial investment that gets incorporated into the sticker price.
- Long Lasting Durability
While expensive upfront, the exceptional durability of Dale of Norway sweaters makes them a sound long term investment.
Owners report the sweaters easily lasting 10+ years with proper care.
The premium wool fibers are naturally hardwearing and pill-resistant.
And the dense hand knit construction resists stretching and wear over time.
When you consider the cost per wear over a decade or more, the prices look more reasonable for a sweater that barely shows signs of aging.
- Green Initiatives
In recent years, Dale has invested heavily in sustainability initiatives like wool recycling, renewable energy, and waste reduction.
Transitioning to eco-friendly processes has definitely increased costs for the brand in the short term. But it was the right thing to do for the environment.
Part of this investment gets passed onto consumers who share Dale’s values around sustainability. So the prices ultimately reflect the progress towards more responsible production.
- Norwegian Costs
On a macro level, high taxes, wages, real estate, and operational costs across Norway filter down into consumer prices. Whether groceries, dining out, or knitwear, you’ll pay more in Norway than comparable quality internationally.
Dale’s local production means their pricing is closely tied to Norway’s high cost structure rather than any global baseline. So alongside the other factors, operating in Norway bumps up costs.
How Dale of Norway Compares To Other Premium Knitwear Brands?
- Dale of Norway vs. Lopi Sweaters
Lopi sweaters are the quintessential Icelandic knitwear, made from bulky Icelandic wool. Like Dale, they are hand knit and excellent quality. But the designs are more rustic and outdoorsy than Dale’s refined Scandinavian style.
Lopi knits are heavier and thicker, better suited to frigid winters. They are slightly cheaper than Dale but not as versatile for intermediate weather.
- Dale vs. Fjallraven
Fjallraven is a Swedish brand best known for outdoor gear and parkas. Their knitwear has a rugged, minimalist aesthetic compared to Dale’s heritage Nordic patterns.
Fjallraven uses wool blends rather than pure wool, so the quality is not on par with Dale. But the pricing is significantly lower, appealing for more casual knits.
- Dale vs. Gant
Gant is an American preppy brand that produces merino knitwear in Italy. The quality and materials rival Dale. But the styling is more modern and urban. Gant has a wider range of accessories and garments beyond knitwear.
The pricing is similar, making them direct competitors courting customers shopping for premium sweaters.
- Dale vs. Woolrich
Pennsylvania-based Woolrich has an outdoorsy heritage like Dale. They produce wool and cotton blends rather than pure wool. The quality and designs are not quite on the same refined level as Dale.
But the prices are a notch more affordable while still elevated. Woolrich offers a wider range of Americana menswear.
- Dale vs. Helly Hansen
Legendary Norwegian brand Helly Hansen is Dale’s closest competitor focused purely on premium knitwear. Similar quality wool, hand finishing, and ethical production give them comparable pricing.
Helly Hansen’s designs skew slightly more minimalist and technical compared to Dale’s heritage styling. But they excel at cold weather knits for skiing and sailing. The brands complement each other well in the high-end Norwegian knitwear space.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Yes, Dale of Norway is widely considered one of the most ethical and sustainable producers of knitwear. They closely monitor working conditions in their Norwegian factory to ensure fair pay, reasonable hours, and excellent benefits for employees. The brand also invests heavily in eco-friendly production processes like recycling and renewable energy.
Yes, sweaters made in Norway do tend to be expensive, for many of the reasons outlined above like high domestic costs. However, the quality is also very high, with careful craftsmanship and attention to detail. For consumers who value premium natural fibers, ethical production, and durability, the price is justified.
Norlender is a reputable Norwegian knitwear brand producing high-quality merino and lambswool sweaters. They focus more on everyday wear rather than traditional designs. Prices are high but more affordable than luxury brands like Dale of Norway. Overall, Norlender offers excellent quality and value for money.
Dale of Norway sweaters do tend to run small due to the tight hand knit construction. Many customers size up for a more comfortable relaxed fit. However, the slimmer fit showcases the intricate stitchwork and is ideal for layering. Checking the specific measurements and reviews of a style can help determine your ideal size.
With so many complex reasons behind it, the steep price tag of Dale of Norway sweaters starts to make sense. For customers seeking the finest wool, workmanship, and ethical standards, the quality justifies the investment.
The pricing reflects the care and craftsmanship that goes into creating each Dale design. Owners find the sweaters deliver lasting value and become treasured additions to their wardrobes.
While not affordable for everyone, those who appreciate quality and heritage find Dale of Norway worth the price. The brand has earned devoted followers who save up or splurge on that special piece. For them, the superior sweaters are worth every penny.