The world's hippest rainwear doesn't look like rainwear - and originates (obviously) from Norway’s rainiest city.
Published: August 9, 2017
"We happen to live in the rainiest city of Europe. The weather dictates how you dress whether you like it or not. A long story short: We decided to take back that control, cause nobody else did this properly."
T-Michael, the tailor and designer who makes up half of the increasingly celebrated duo behind the wildly elegant rainwear brand, Norwegian Rain, reminisces about when he and clothes conscious entrepreneur and civil economist, Alexander Helle, joined forces.
"When you live in such rainy conditions as in Bergen, you quickly realise what works and what doesn't. And to be honest, back in 2007 nothing really worked. They all compromised between waterproof, breathability and style. We decided not to and spent almost 3 years to break the code."
In 2009 T-Michael and creative director Alexander Helle started Norwegian Rain, and things got rolling quickly. Even before they were fully up and operational, they were invited to exhibit in Milan, which resulted in the début collection being bought by two high-end designer stores in Tokyo.
"For me, that was the moment," says Alexander.
"We had been working for years inside our bubble without any feedback, and then we got that. You know, words are just words. When someone invests in your collection, then you know that they love it just as much as they say they do."
Norwegian rainwear has traditionally been more of a necessity than a garment - not least for those of us who have grown up with acidic drizzle on Christmas Eve and far more brutal rainfall the rest of the year. Norwegian Rain's reluctance toward non-breathable plastic resulted in outerwear with three carefully selected layers - that does not look like rainwear.
"Not surprisingly, Norway is known for functional clothing. Harsh weather does not stop us from using the stunning nature that surrounds us. The rainwear, or all-weather-jacket as it is called in Norway, is made for this active living. Add our history as a fishing nation and you get the other side of rainwear - heavy duty, non-breathable polyurethane raincoats," says Alexander.
Together with T-Michael, he established some ground rules for Norwegian Rain.
"It should be as functional as technology allowed, it had to be eco-friendly and it should feel like a great tailored coat with as little connotations to functional active wear as possible - yet be among the most functional on the market. Add our shared love for what we call Japanese sensibility and you have Norwegian Rain."
Even though Norwegian Rain was developed by and for rain-soaked people, the two creators were actually caught off guard about where the demand is coming from.
"California was our most selling area in the world the last three months of 2016 - online. I guess that summarizes that there is a demand nearly anywhere. But yes, we keep getting surprised. In Los Angeles, there is rock steady sun and minimum 25 degrees all year round, still we succeeded at a pop up we did there last year. And recently a distributor from the Middle East contacted us."
With an ever-growing fan base, shops in Bergen, London and Oslo (where a larger store is coming in the autumn), a spread in Italian Vogue and an increasingly recognizable name - where will the road ahead take Norwegian Rain? Will they become massive or are they happy among the connoisseurs? T-Michael explains.
"We simply want to make very well-made garments that enhance the life of the wearer. In that, there are no limitations to who we want to reach."