17 minute read

Made in Norway

MADE IN NORWAY Special  Theme:

Photo: Eivind Natvig

Wool craftsmanship inspired by tradition

Without sheep, it would have been impossible for mankind to survive in the north. The oldest findings of sheep in Norway date back to 1500-1400 BC, showing our continuous dependency on wool and meat. Though modern-day technology helps in surviving the winters, wool products are an important part of a tradition that keeps people warm and history alive, and indeed prominent in Nordic fashion.

Even though Norway has a large wool production, the wool is often exported out of the country, while Norwegian-made garments and products tend to be knitted from imported wool. Ragnhild Lie, textile and wool artist and owner of Lofoten Wool, decided to reclaim the cultural heritage and the countless techniques and traditions of Norwegian wool and garments.

Originally from Lillehammer, Lie moved to Lofoten in 1997 to work as an art teacher. This led to her starting an audienceorientated workshop around native-breed sheep, wool and craft at her refurbished 1927 farm. “This region has one of the oldest types of sheep in Scandinavia,” says Lie. “Old Norse Sheep DNA is still similar to the sheep of the Viking Era. This breed of sheep prefers the outside for most of the year, and farms keep their doors open so that the sheep can walk in and out as they wish.”

They also play a role in the biodiversity in the area by maintaining the local landscape through grazing. “Sheep grazing binds the carbon in the ground,” explains Lie, “so this really is very sustainable textile fibre and meat.” In 2013, the first Old Norse Sheep arrived at Lie’s farm. In 2014, she founded her company, Lofoten Wool, a yarn, clothing and textile company aiming to preserve the historical craft and heritage of the Old Norse Sheep wool. They carefully design their products to nurture and support traditional craft skills through local community production and work with the wool’s natural colours – white, grey, black and brown – as well as hand-dyeing yarn using plant colours.

The method of dyeing that Lofoten Wool uses dates back to the Viking Era and is derived from plants, some of which the team picks themselves: the tansy flower for different shades of yellow; madder root for red, and indigo baths for hues of blue. Each colour batch is a unique shade resulting from the natural variations within nature and the dyeing process.

In their production process and wide range of products, Lofoten Wool uses wool from their own and other farms in the Lofoten region in the north of Norway. The wool becomes knitted jumpers, mittens, knitting yarn, hats and socks, as well as woven scarves, shawls and blankets. Soap is also made from sheep’s fat, making sure that the company utilises as much of the animal as possible. This keeps the production sustainable and the environmental impact low. Wool is an eco-friendly fibre with sheep fat (lanolin) acting as natural waterproofing. It is fully degradable, and in addition, it’s a natural flame-retardant, making it suitable for a range of products where plastic fibres are not as good a fit.

Carrying tradition into the future Historically, wool was used not only for clothing, but also for furniture, throws, and even sails on the majestic Viking ships. Lofoten Wool still produces and sells most of these materials as well as rolls of clothing and upholstery fabrics sold by the metre.

In addition to preserving the wool tradition that has been around since the Viking Era, Lofoten Wool has become quite the tourist destination. Since the barn and sheep are located on the first floor, and the offices, shop and workshop are on the second floor, guests can visit the sheep and watch the production happen. They get to learn about the sheep, crafts and traditions and experience how the yarn, which has already been sorted, washed and spun, is treated and dyed before being handcrafted into beautiful products. These are also available to buy at the farm shop.

Through her education in textiles at the Bergen Academy of the Arts, and having previously worked at a wool factory, Lie has accumulated invaluable experience and contacts in the field. But she first learnt the skill of knitting as a child. Growing up in a household where woollen jumpers were common, she learnt the art of knitting from her grandmother and mother. Now, she carries on the tradition for others to learn. And the demand is growing. A new generation is discovering the joys and practical benefits of knitting, carrying on the cultural heritage of a craft that has been around for thousands of years.

If you want to try your hand at knitting using Lofoten Wool’s products, knitting kits are available from their web shop, complete with yarn and knitting patterns.

Lofoten Wool also welcomes customers to their new branch in Henningsvær, the small, picturesque fishing village just an hour’s drive from the Lofoten farm.

Web: www.lofoten-wool.no Instagram: @lofoten_wool

Photo: Eivind Natvig

Visit Rein Love’s shop for shopping and you might experience an event, too. Photo: Ludvik Baksaas

A brand for an independent mind

In many ways, Rein Love has come far from its beginnings as a pop-up shop selling T-shirts. The heart of the brand, however, remains unchanged — as does its deep attachment to the city of Tromsø in Northern Norway.

Located today on the high street of Tromsø, Rein Love is the child of Eirik Simonsen and a group of his friends. The ‘music-loving’ company first saw daylight in 2014 as a small collection of T-shirts sold at local music events as well as online. Since then, it has grown into a business specialising in streetwear and adventure wear with a cool twist.

More than clothes The inspiration behind the brand is the rare white reindeer, which is known for not following the herd. “The white reindeer symbolises choosing your own path and following your passion. This is why our slogan is ‘don’t follow the herd, stay wild’,” says Simonsen. The designs are inspired by the wilderness of the north. Another important aspect of the brand is the quality of the clothes and their environmental impact, and fair-wear and

Rein Love’s rings will soon feature on the big screen. Photo: Guille Golosino vegan-certified clothes are also available to purchase.

Early on, it was decided that Rein Love was not to be just about clothes, though. Simonsen, who has called Tromsø his home for the past decade, talks about the importance of local businesses and individuals supporting one another, but also about making anyone paying a visit feel at home. “One of our first popups was set up in a closed restaurant and bar, and this is where we started hand brewing coffee for our guests for real,” explains Simonsen, sitting in Rein Love’s current headquarters and flagship store, with large windows facing the busy street.

A small group of designers are busy working on the future of the brand in the upstairs studio. Despite the current trend to go online, bricks and mortar remain very much the foundation for Rein Love.

Simonsen believes firmly in maintaining a physical space where people can spend time, be entertained and experience the vibe of the brand.

Pop in for a brew or tune Since 2020, customers have been able to pick up locally roasted coffee beans from the shop because, as Simonsen describes, when you invite people over, it makes sense to give them a cup of something. Or if you happen to pop in at the right time, you might witness a gig by a local band.

“We love to organise events here and invite people over, to make them feel welcome,” Simonsen, who in fact prefers the word ‘guests’ to ‘customers’, says. He points at the many photos embellishing the walls as evidence. “We’ve featured both up-and-coming and more established bands and DJs, and served beer brewed by another local company.”

Wear your attitude Simonsen’s previous career was in filmmaking – something he first started as a teenager with a group of friends. As it turns out, filmmaking has a lot in common with designing a brand concept. Behind both, there must be a good story and the desire to connect.

With Rein Love, it is as much about wearing an identity and attitude as it is about wearing clothes. Rein Love reflects the lifestyle of the people behind it, Simonsen says. “It’s items we like to use ourselves, whether we are hiking or strolling in the city or attending a music festival.”

Rein Love believes in growing organically and does not want to rush things. Sometimes, however, happy coincidences happen along the way. For example, the brand’s love of music led them to collaborate with a US-based rock band, which now champions Rein Love’s products worldwide. “It’s a friendship and connection we are super excited about, and it shows that our products have appeal all the way from the far north here in Norway, to the far south.” More recently, Rein Love was approached by a Norwegian film production company that wanted to use an item from the ring collection in a blockbuster remake, scheduled to premiere this autumn. “We are taking things step by step, but if we keep growing, building a second home for Rein Love is a possibility,” Simonsen concludes

Rein Love specialises in streetwear and adventure wear with a cool twist. Photo: Babang Deshommes Rein Love has come far from its beginnings as a pop-up shop selling T-shirts. Photo: Jenny Andersen

Address: Storgata 98, 9008 Tromsø, Norway Web: reinlove.com Facebook: reinloveclothing Instagram: @reinloveclothing

Rein Love’s headquarters and flagship store are on Tromsø high street. Photo: Jøran Lynnum Bricks and mortar remain the foundation of Rein Love. Photo: Babang Deshommes T-shirts are a core element in Rein Love’s collection. Photo: Babang Deshommes

The expedition that changed it all

After 70 years, Helsport has established itself as the leading tent and sleeping bag producer in Scandinavia. With sustainability and quality in mind, the award-winning Norwegian brand is dominating the outdoor lifestyle market, one expedition at a time.

The journey began 70 years ago, when Arild Helliksen started the brand that became Helsport. Originally, Helliksen’s products were developed with comfort in mind, allowing Norwegians to ‘glamp’ before the concept even existed.

One day, Norwegian Ralph Høibakk came knocking. Høibakk and fellow mountaineer, Arne Næss, were planning a Himalayan expedition and needed equipment. Almost overnight, this random visit launched Helsport on an adventure that would turn it into what it is today: a company synonymous with Scandinavian outdoor life.

Adventures for everyone The brand is known for the numerous expeditions it’s been part of, from Erling Kagge’s trip to the South Pole to Børge Ousland’s adventure to the North Pole. Whatever the product, Helsport has gone to extremes to ensure quality, comfort and durability. “Our products have always been made with quality as the top priority, both to withstand any weather and to ensure that our tents can be passed down to future generations,” says Ida Mortensen, brand marketing manager at Helsport.

Norwegian adventurer Aleksander Gamme has been a Helsport ambassador since 2003 and describes the brand as a cornerstone to Norwegian outdoor life. “The Helsport team consists of passionate, experienced people who put their focus on a limited number of products, meaning that the quality is very high,” he says.

They’re continuously looking to further develop products that can handle any environment, be it for a quiet family trip or for heart-racing adventures in the windiest northern mountains.

Pushing boundaries – because life begins at the end of your comfort zone “At Helsport, we want to encourage people to get outside, to appreciate and utilise their surrounding environment, but also to push their boundaries. We believe that getting outside of one’s comfort zone is incredibly valuable for a person’s wellbeing,” says Mortensen. In 2015, Helsport launched turjenter.no, an initiative to encourage girls to explore the outdoors and push boundaries. Today, #turjenter has almost 650,000 posts on Instagram.

“As we encourage more people to get outside and reap the benefits of what nature has to offer, we feel a responsibility to remind our community to leave the outdoor campsites in a better condition than when they arrived,” Mortensen adds. The brand also has a dedicated repairs team for whenever accidents do happen, and they encourage customers to send in their products to be refurbished rather than toss them away.

Photo: Aleksander Gamme

Web: www.helsport.com Facebook: Helsport Instagram: @helsport

Lighting up kids’ imaginations

When Monika Berg and her husband Lukas’ oldest daughter started to fear the monsters hiding in the dark corners of her bedroom, they needed to come up with a solution to make bedtimes easier. This was the start of an adventure that turned into Lumimi, a family business selling handmade children’s night lamps that tickle kids’ imaginations and bring comfort to dark nights.

ones. They wanted to choose solutions that were as environmentally friendly as possible. That’s why Lumimi’s lamps come in plastic-free packaging. “Small changes can have a big impact, and we want our products to do as little polluting as possible,” Berg says.

With unique, handmade designs, Lumimi’s lamps will provide a warm and fun addition to a child’s room. “We want to share a bit of magic, and produce night lamps for kids that will last their whole childhood. As parents, we want to teach our kids to find beauty in long-lasting quality, instead of cheap, mass-produced items that only last a short while,” Berg continues. “We wanted our lamps to provide a warm, loving light that can be dimmed so as not to disturb that allimportant good night’s sleep.”

The very first Lumimi children’s lamp, in the shape of a unicorn, was created by combining carpenter Lukas’ skills, Monika’s talent for drawing and love of bright colours, and the couple’s desire to help their daughter not fear the dark in her bedroom. “A handmade night lamp made by mum and dad helped, luckily,” Berg laughs. Since then, the couple’s business has grown, and they now make children’s lamps by hand in their home in Larvik, Norway.

Made from solid pinewood, the lamp designs are sanded by hand and then painted with a toxin-free Jotun SENS paint that is made in Sandefjord, not far from Larvik. “Choosing a local product that was 100 per cent safe for children was important to us, so the SENS paint, which is also recommended by the Norwegian Asthma and Allergy Association, was a natural choice for us as it contains no solvents and has no strong smell,” Berg explains.

Lumimi is kitted out with dimmable LED lights and a rechargeable battery. All lamps have been CE labelled to ensure that all the safety standards that apply in the EEA are met. For the couple, sustainability and safety were of utmost importance when designing the night lamps, and everything down to the smallest detail has been carefully thought of to ensure the safety of little

Web: www.lumimi.no Facebook: lumimi.no Instagram: @lumimi.no

The original penny-loafer

Amongst the beautiful mountains of the west coast in Norway lies a factory with a lot of history housed within its walls. This special place has passed the test of time and remains one of the 19 original shoe factories in Aurland.

Shoes are with you all day every day, and there is no doubt that they are a big part of our lives. A shoe is simply not only a shoe; there are different styles, functions, and comfort levels. By looking at the tailored leather shoes they make, you can tell that Aurland Skofabrikk (Aurland Shoe Factory) has mastered the craft of shoemaking.

Building a legacy After spending time in America and learning the art of shoemaking, Nils Tveranger returned to Norway determined to pursue his passion. This led him to the making of the famous Aurlandskoen, the Aurland shoe.

So what’s so special about it? The shoes reflect the very soul of Norwegian culture and nature with their design and practicality. Tveranger’s inspiration was drawn from both the Tese shoe, which was popular among locals for mountain hiking, and the simple, lightweight moccasins from the Iroquois tribe in America. This combination resulted in a whole new kind of footwear: Aurlandskoen. Tveranger’s shoe, known as ‘the loafer’, became so popular that in 1950, the shoe factories in the picturesque mountain area produced around 100,000 pairs a year. Needless to say, this put Aurland on the map, and many of the pairs ended up in America. The brand was noticed by one of the biggest American shoe manufacturers, who decided to make their own version and call them Weejuns (short for Norwegians). The Aurland shoe then got its American name: the penny loafer.

The penny in the penny loafer What characterises the penny loafer is the little pocket on top of the shoe that fits a coin. There are many theories about the purpose of the penny in the penny loafer, depending on which generation you ask.

Some view it as a fashion detail while others will tell you that it was a symbol of resistance during World War II.

The design is simple, practical, and form-fitting. The shoe has a self-bearing onstruction that gathers its shape around the foot. The quality of the leather is crucial, and Aurland shoe factory only uses top-shelf cow’s leather. In fact, the shoes that don’t turn out perfect during production are sold at a reduced price in the outlet shop: good for business and good for the environment.

Aurland shoe factory is the only one that makes the popular shoes, and it is important to them that the hand-made quality remains – although modern technology helps to shorten the production time. For example, back in the old days, a worker would spend hours soaking and stretching the leather in water before adding the sole. Today, they have a machine that does the same job in a matter of minutes.

Buxton for day and night use Even though Nils Tveranger created the Aurland shoe in 1930, the art of shoe-making has likely been around in Aurland since the 1880s. It is said that British lords who went on fishing holidays in Norway needed their shoes fixed, and this inspired the local shoemakers.

Lord Buxton approached the shoemakers in Aurland asking them to make shoes that are comfortable to use and nice enough to wear for dinner at the hotel he stayed in. Lord Buxton got his wish granted.

The new model of Aurlandskoen is named after Lord Buxton and is today one of the factory’s best-selling products – specifically the light-brown coloured ones. The original intention still remains, and to this day the shoes work for daily life as well as special occasions.

Another great benefit that makes the Aurland shoe special is that they are unisex. There’s no difference in the design and the shoes have been worn by both men and women since the very beginning.

In addition, the factory makes purses and bags – hand-made leather handbags that you can count on for a long time. The latest design is the leather office bag, which is also used by both men and women.

You can buy your Aurland shoes online or go visit the factory yourself in Aurland. The factory is combined with an economuseum, where you can learn all about the history of the original penny loafer.

Looking for something special this Christmas? With these shoes, you have something that will last a long time and never go out of style.

Web: www.aurlands.com Facebook: Aurlandskoen Instagram: @Aurlandskoen