Norrona has been throwing colour and distinctive designs into the European outdoor market now for several years, with a strong focus on quality – all hallmarks of this Norwegian family business. Continue reading
"I am Jørgen Jørgensen from Norrona and we produce cool stuff!" As Jørgen Jørgensen stood before the assembled European trade press at ISPO for the first time in 2008, not only were his colleagues a little startled at his Norse sounding name: In less than a few minutes, the young head of the company catapulted his traditional Norwegian company within the interest of the European outdoor market. Without any long-winded speeches, and wearing an impressively attention-seeking black and white checkered onsie, Jørgensen sat and simply stated: "Visit us at our booth!"
In an exceptional throw of colour, Norrona presented a stark contrast to trends that were previously known. With their contrasting zippers, bright colors and a straight-forward product design, the Norwegians went out on a ledge in as far as design revolution in technical ski and mountain sport apparel. More and more manufacturers stepped up to the mark in the following seasons with colorful ski fashion, not always with comparable long-term success.
As ever before, Norrona stands out as a design pioneer with technical functionality, clean styles, thought out tailoring and high-quality implementation. The focus is on one's own way, no fast moving fads and not in upkeeping with any trends. While many manufacturers are currently geared towards a complete range, Norrona retains its core competence: outdoor clothing, backpacks, no more.
Norrona, a family business making its way in Europe
Norrona was founded in 1929 by Jørgensen's same named great-grandfather, Jørgen Jørgensen, as a manufacturer of sports and leather goods. In the Norwegian home town, the company has established itself over decades as a leading manufacturer of backpacks, tents and technical outdoor clothing, setting many a milestone: One example, that came from Norrona was the first tunnel tent with a front and rear entrance (1972) and in 1977 Norrona produced the first European prototype of a Gore-Tex jacket.
Approach at the top: Norrøna positions itself
Norrona has from the start been placing emphasis uncompromisingly on the tip of the iceberg: Many Norwegian mountain expeditions, including the tragic first ascent of the East Face on the Great Trango Tower in 1984 with Hans Christian Doseth and Finn Daehli and it regularly supports tours to the eternal ice make which since the 1970s has placed constantly high demands on product developers. For the purpose of targeting functionality came the claim of the highest quality, in order to support athletes with reliable equipment for their enterprises. Only after approval from these top athletes, were the products then good enough to move onto Norrona's outdoor adventure customers. The team of brand ambassadors include, for example, the adventurer and polar explorer Børge Ousland, who has been bringing his experience for decades into equipment concepts. To date, he is closely associated with the classic product line Svalbard.
Design and exclusivity: the niche in the outdoor market
Norrona still focuses on the high-end product line and it should - regardless of the enormous interest by the ISPO press conference - nor its leap into the European market hasn't changed its mission statement. The step was carefully considered: In 2005 Jørgen Jørgensen, in his thirties, would be the fourth generation to take over the head position of the family-run company. Even if this young CEO's design-oriented collection did hit the pulse of the time, his decision was still to hold a tight rein of the Central European market with a sense of slow, controlled growth.
With Nordic restraint Jørgensen did introduce market expansion: Firstly, Norrona Clothes wandered into a select few European stores - mainly where the best free riders in the Alps find their lines. In this way, the Norwegians were able to meet the increasing demand with their existing capacities and continue as a small, agile family business to hold onto low production volumes. Even today the company employs a worldwide staff of only 65 and it still manufactures all samples within the company headquarters in a suburb of Oslo. An in-house test centre is where all products undergo a quality check, in which CEO Jørgen Jørgensen himself still likes to undergo the stamp of approval bringing his experience into the product development. Norrona mass production is done in the Far East.
As a side effect, Norrona exclusive Image was strengthened by careful expansion: high-priced, high-end technical clothing that wasn't going to be found on every trail or on every ski lift for quality and design-conscious individuals that were looking for just that. The small production volume and their own claim to the highest quality and sophisticated functionality guarantee that even in the foreseeable future nothing would change.
Norrona's outdoor collection at Bergzeit
In summer of 2014, Norrona joined Bergzeit's alpine assortment, among other things with the Falketind series. As with most product lines, the series name has been selected in accordance with the preferred use of the products. The 2,067-meter-high Falketind is a distinctive peak in Jotunheimen, Norway's highest mountains, and namesake for a versatile, lightweight mountaineering collection. Typical for Norrona, the products have a straightforward and minimalist style, are trimmed to the minimum weight and provide sophisticated functionality for mountain and climbing tours.
The name and it's foundings
Bitihorn - also a peak in Jotunheimen - represents the Norrona trail running and fast hiking line and the small town Fjøra has been eponymous for the bike sports series. The fashionable and functional leisure collection bears the label 29. For powder- and free touring adventure the Norrona Lofoten and Narvik classics are available at Bergzeit.