Bunads are a traditional Norwegian folk costume that is used at celebrations, and they are a common sight on Norway’s national day on May 17. These folk costumes are intricate pieces of clothing with hand embroidery, pieces of silver attached to it, and with plenty of different ornamentation.
You can probably guess that a bunad is not cheap, so what should you expect to pay for one?
Most bunads cost between 20,000 and 50,000 NOK ($2,000 – $5,000 USD), but some bunads can cost as much as 80,000 NOK ($8,000 USD). The price is affected by the amount of ornamentation and attached silver.
The bunads are intended for either lifetime use, or to be used as a family heirloom that can be passed down between father and sons, or mothers and daughters. So it’s not like you buy them often, and it’s common to have them re-tailored if you gain or lose weight.
Bunads for children are much cheaper
Many children have their own bunads, but these are far cheaper than the ones for adults. Yet, they’re not what you would consider cheap.
Expect children’s bunads to cost around 3,000 to 10,000 NOK ($300 to $1,000 USD). Smaller children under the age of 10 are on the cheaper end of the spectrum, while children between 10 and 16 are on the higher end of this price range.
The bunads for the children are typically less ornamented, have less silver and jewelry, and have less embroidery. Since most children only ever get to wear their bunad 2 – 5 times before they have grown out of it, it’s very common to pass these between children in the family.
Some also buys bunads for their children with the intention of reusing the silver and parts of the accessories for the adult bunad when the child becomes an adult.
Where to buy a bunad
Bunads are either ordered from a specialized bunad maker, or bough from a store that specializes in making these on a larger scale. That said, bunads are never mass-produced, and even if you order one from a bigger store, you will get one tailored to your fit and made especially for you.
Two of the bigger stores in Norway that sell bunads are Husfliden and Norske Bunader. Most regions will have their own bunad tailors that specializes in making the bunad of that region, so use Google to find one that fits your area.
These stores usually make tailored bunads for clients, but they can also sometimes have off-the-shelf bunads ready for sale. You can buy one of these and have it ready within a few days after getting it tailored to fit your body, but most people prefer to order their own, unique bunad well in advance.
Many teenagers get bunads at their confirmation
Norway has this tradition where 15 year old teenagers have a confirmation. Originally this was used as a religious practice where they confirmed their belief in Christianity, but these days most have a non-religious confirmation that acts more as a celebration of adulthood then anything religious.
These confirmations are huge celebrations where the parents and family give the children a lot of gifts, and it’s pretty common to get a bunad for your confirmation.
It is far more common for girls to get a bunad than boys. There are several different reasons for this:
- Boys tend to keep growing taller between the age of 15 and 17, while girls usually have peaked in terms of height.
- Women bunads are just way more common and popular than male bunads in general.
- Girls tend to often have a bigger interest in family traditions and heirlooms than boys at this age.
How can everyone afford such an expensive piece of clothing?
It’s very common to own a bunad in Norway, but it’s not like everyone can afford to pay 50,000 NOK for a piece of clothing on a short notice. Families who buy bunads for their children at the confirmation typically save up in advance several years beforehand. And plenty of families simply cannot afford to buy bunads for the children or themselves.
It’s also very common for bunads to be passed down between generations, and bunads are made to be able to be passed down for several generations without getting ruined.
Festdrakts are a cheaper option
Festdrakts are an option to the regular bunad, and they look at lot like. However, the festdrakts uses cheaper material and are not embroidered by hand, making them much cheaper.
The festdrakts have increased a lot i popularity in the last few years, and are beginning to be accepted as a replacement for bunads for people who don’t want to spend tens of thousands of crowns on this piece of clothing.
The price for a festdrakt is a lot lower, and can usually be in the range of 1,500 to 3,000 NOK ($150 to $300 USD).
Many people won’t even really be able to tell that it’s not a real bunad without looking at it close up, so this is a great option for children or just for people who don’t have a huge amount of money to spend.
You can buy festdraks at places like Coop Obs or Sparkjøp, or attempt to make one yourself. Many festdrakts are inspired from bunads, but some of them have a modern twist of them.