It’s Norwegian Constitution Day! Did you know that many of traditional Norwegian folk costumes known as ‘Bunader’ now being sewn and assembled in countries like China and Thailand?
Springtime is high season for bunader. Norwegians wear bunader not only on the National Day but also to formal affairs, weddings, confirmations and Christmas celebrations.
The bunad business is booming, and customers are able to save as much as NOK 10,000 (USD 1,800) if they’re made outside of high-cost Norway.
Norske Bunadtradisjoner Company produces all if its bunader in China. It will deliver 500 bunader to customers this year while other firms use skilled seamstresses in Thailand.
Another bunad producer Solhjell moved all of its bunad production to Estonia in 2007.
“It’s difficult to say exactly how much the foreign production represents, but I think around 60 to 70 percent of bunader are now being sewn abroad,” says Inger Siri Strand, who runs Solhjell.
Lower cost is the main reason why the majority of Norway’s bunad production has moved abroad. However, purists still wrinkle their noses over foreign-produced bunader, believing they’re not quite “the real thing.”
The Husfliden chain with its 29 stores that specialize in traditional handicrafts in Norway remains the market leader in the bunad business, according to Aftenposten.
Many players believe that foreign-production of bunader will increase. Others worry that it can lead to a loss of bunad sewing expertise in Norway.
“Traditions are fragile,” warned Aftenposten in an editorial on the issue. “There are traditions we can’t afford to lose. If foreign production continues to grow over the next decades, we can risk that we no longer will find Norwegians who can master this once-so-proud local tradition.”