Our Story

The morning is a bright one, crisp and fresh. The clunk of the car door signals the start of the weekend, another adventure and freedom. ZO•ON’s founders Jon, Martti and Halldór walk into the scenic valley of Reykjadalur, South-west of Iceland. It’s a place they’ve been many times before. The geothermal river snakes its way through the electric green valley, and hot steam rises up towards mottled brown and red hills. Freedom begins….

This is Iceland – awe-inspiring beauty and a fickle, capricious climate. Freezing Arctic winds meet the warm Gulf Stream and cause extreme fluctuations in day to day conditions. It’s this climate that has inspired ZO•ON’s founders to design outdoor apparel engineered to get out there, whatever the weather.

On an especially rainy, foggy hike in the same valley back in 1994, Jon Erlendsson and Martti Kellokumpu committed themselves to creating ZO•ON. Two avid adventurers, with a passion for hiking, fishing, golf and skiing, they would jump at every opportunity to get out into Icelandic nature. ZO•ON was their answer to the extreme climate that would throw everything it had at them – dazzling sunshine, pounding hale, Arctic gale-force winds and what the Icelanders call ‘horizontal rain’. There was simply no outdoor clothing capable of dealing with it all. At the same time Reykjadalur is just a 30-minute drive from the city of Reykjavik. This inspired ZO•ON’s urban outdoor clothing, with functionality at heart, and style that works in the city. With Martti –a World Cup champion skier– as head of ZO•ON’s design and Jon responsible for sourcing and production the ZO•ON adventure began.

Today the adventure is global, and the next generation have joined the ranks of this unique urban outdoor movement. Halldór Örn Jónsson, the son of Jon Erlendsson is naturally a keen outdoor enthusiast himself, regularly packing his rucksack for trips into the mountains and weekly dips in the geothermal hot springs. He has been at the helm of the ZO•ON brand since 2013 and oversees the intense process of designing ZO•ON’s collections. Designs are rigorously tested in controlled environments but must pass the ultimate test of keeping the ZO•ON team warm, comfortable and dry when they all get out there.

Every ZO•ON item has its own unique function and works in harmony with the other pieces in the collection. Equally important is that the clothing can adapt from the harshest of outdoor conditions to looking smart and stylish in the city. The foundation of ZO•ON’s style is the function of our own branded technical fabrics. All the fabrics are designed and manufactured to work together in unique garments, crafted for the Icelandic outdoors, and the urban environment. The technical, performance fabrics include:

DIAMONDIUM – waterproof, breathable fabric for outer layers
WINDZHIELD – windproof, elasticated soft-shell fabric for outer layers
SUPERSTRETZ – elasticated, insulating fabric for mid layers
DRYZO – comfortable, moisture-wicking, quick-drying fabric for base layers

As Icelanders we live side by side with the full force of the Icelandic environment. We stand high under the clearest skies in the world – looking out towards the Atlantic Ocean and snow covered mountains. It’s this environment that has formed the resilient nature of all Icelanders – always pushing forward to the next challenge. We know that the will to succeed is something we share with every outdoor adventurer. The determination to get up and go, to strive, to be set back and to try again. At ZO•ON we know tough because we live in the thick of it, and our cloths are engineered to take on the challenge. It’s this sense of freedom that comes with achievement in the outdoors that we strive for. Freedom that will never be rivalled.

ZO•ON wants people to move freely between the city and nature. Sustainable, urban environments are imperative in today’s globalized world and the vibrant culture of Reykjavik is a big part of who we are. We encourage everyone to explore and rediscover their cities. They change year by year, and new adventures are there for the taking. What ZO•ON believes in is balance. When the hectic pace of city life becomes too much, we see the importance of authentic, grounding experiences in nature. Today, technology is helping people to have better and more meaningful urban outdoor experiences. We will continue to do our part in spreading the urban outdoor movement, with clothing that gives people the confidence to get out there, and move freely between the city and nature – whatever the weather.