A few years ago, Thorsteinn Finnbogason, now the general manager of foul weather gear company Marwear, started selling supplies to fishermen in his hometown of Grindavik, a fishing enclave on Iceland’s Southern Peninsula.
“We were supplying the longliners with bait and then they just started asking if we could supply this and that, soap, toilet paper, basic stuff. Then they started asking about clothing, pants and jackets,” Finnbogason said.
At first, his company bought existing brands and to sell to fishermen, but Finnbogason said the gear did not quite work right for the “difficult clients” that fish Iceland’s extreme conditions.
“These are very rough conditions here and fishermen need good gear,” Finnbogason said.
Finnbogason saw an opportunity in the local market and set about designing his own jackets and bibs, soon after adding gloves and boots. The aforementioned difficult clients were instrumental in driving the design process, which resulted in a unique, high-quality line of products built for hard fishing in heavy weather.
“We were in a good position because one of the biggest longliner companies in Iceland owned a part of our company, so we could use their fishermen to do the testing. I would make about 100 units of a new product, give them to the fisherman, and get a report after each trip,” he said.
The fishermen gave feedback on everything from zippers and colors to cut and materials, and the resulting products are an impressive blend of durability and functionality. The headliner here is the Stormur Fishtex jacket and bibs, a bomber yet pliable set of gear that will work across a number of different fisheries.
“I had all types of fisheries in mind for this jacket and bibs, trawling, longlining, crabbing, lobstering, whatever. It’s works for everything,” Finnbogason said.
Both are made of made with two different kinds of thicker PVC fabrics that Finnbogason sources from European suppliers and wear areas are reinforced with a carbon fiber material. The gear is heavy duty and you can feel the weight when you put it on, but it wears easily.