We saw an article in the New York Times titled “This Is the Coat to Wear to Davos,” (location of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland). The point of the title is that if you want to be warm enough in the Swiss Alps, it’s hard to look professional in a puffy down coat. Michael Berkowitz, a NY commodities trader, decided he needed a warm alternative that would look good accompanying his boss outdoors on the way to meetings. Not finding good alternatives, he founded Norwegian Wool Coats. His goal: Create a coat that combined the warmth and performance of his ski jacket with the tailoring and design of his favorite wool coat.
Michael’s research confirmed the key issue behind the dilemma: Fashion designers are based in the warm climate of Italy, whereas high-performance coats (think Canada Goose) are based in northern climates where warm features are more important than style. Seeing a big gap in the market to fulfill both functions, Michael started Norwegian Wool in 2014, and with positive results on a small scale, quit his job in 2015 to focus on the business full-time.
Those of us with Raynaud’s will appreciate the time and attention to detail that went into planning these garments. He spent time in Norway consulting with outerwear experts and design students. There he learned how to angle pockets giving hands an extra four inches “to slide in and get cozy.” The extra length also helps ensure wrists won’t be exposed to the cold. He’s quoted saying “It’s basically a pocket that emulates a glove.”
Testing his first coat, Michael spent 20 minutes pacing in a walk-in freezer of the Fairway Market in Manhattan (gives me the chills just thinking about it!).
He found a head designer in a Tuscany factory who understood the challenges of the cold, as he had Norwegian roots, plus was an experienced fashion expert. Together, they worked through challenging questions like: “How do you fill a coat with down but not make it extra wide? How do you fully waterproof a coat without compromising the softness of the material? Which types of buttons and zippers and clasps can withstand wind gusts at the top of mountains but also look sophisticated enough for a board meeting?” Creating apparel that addresses these issues is like music to the ears of a Frostie!
These coats come at a price: $1,000 to $3,000 each. But the fabrics don’t compromise on warmth, including 100 percent cashmere and silk.
Norwegian Wool introduced their women’s line in 2020, and the styles don’t disappoint. Both designs offer a slimming silhouette, with an outside layer of beautiful, soft cashmere reinforced with a water resistant outer coating, lined in warm authentic down with impeccable tailoring. All of their coats feature sub-zero and windproof protection.
Prices on the two women’s coats are $1,395 to $1,795. And while that seems incredibly steep, a full-length down coat from Canada Goose, long considered the Tiffany of warmth, sells for $1,295. I bought one about 10 years ago (selling for about half that price at the time), and it’s still my go-to coat on the coldest days. Warm protection is a good investment!
Below are links to more articles with tips on being a fashionable Frostie: