Norrøna: Backcountry goes Norwegian
Norrøna: Backcountry goes Norwegianby Sam Lund
In the winter of 2006, Backcountry attended its first ever ISPO trade show in Munich, Germany, scouting for the next big thing in outerwear. At first, we saw what we see here–a focus on technology that comes at the expense of style, and vice versa–until we came across Norrøna. This Oslo-born outfit had put an end the navy and black technical trend with bold colors and edgy designs that stood out from all the rest. We saw jackets, pants, and one-pieces (yes one-pieces) that were sleek and stylish in a way only the Scandinavians could do, yet that featured the best materials and construction techniques available. We had to carry this brand.
There was only one problem: Norrøna had absolutely ZERO presence in the US—no distribution center, no North American budget, not even a product rep.
But instead of letting the Europeans have all the fun, we said screw it, and became Norrøna’s first and only North American retailer.
Storybook ending? Not quite.
Unfortunately, the fact is that no one here in the US knows Norrøna, which presents a major obstacle for customers and a significant risk to us—who’s gonna buy this stuff? Norrøna has remained a secret of Northern Europe, as unknown and unfamiliar to the States as the extreme skiing pioneers who cheated death daily in the Alps were during the ‘70s.
So why take the risk? We’re confident that our customers will see what we see: that Norrøna builds some of the most technically advanced and just plain cool-looking apparel you will find anywhere on the planet. Simply put, we offer it to you because we wear it ourselves, and we want to spread the stoke.
Once we started doing our research, it became obvious that Norrøna is a step above the rest. Since 1929, Norrøna has consistently stayed light-yearsahead of the game. The company paved the way using GORE-TEX™ fabric, Primaloft® insulation, welded seam technology, and ergonomic, multi-panel construction when companies on this side of the pond were just getting started. From building the world’s lightest GORE-TEX™ jacket in 2002 to creating the world’s only GORE-TEX™ Pro Shell one-piece five years later, Norrøna has refused to be bound by the limits of the competition. Most recently, Norrøna has made a commitment to sustainability by recycling factory waste, utilizing hydro-electric power, and including recycled materials in their line.
Norrøna has been to the summit of Mt. Everest, toughed out the North Pole, and trekked across the South. With a focus on quality rather than quantity and an unfettered ambition for providing the most progressive technology and style, Norrøna has blown us away. And in time, we’re confident that you’ll be out there, too, snorkeling through the pow in electric blue and neon green, grinning from ear to ear.