Innovating for 92 years and counting
Norrøna opens up its U.S. flagship store in New York City
As you walk down Greene Street in New York, one store stands out, a break from the white cube gallery walls that typify the high-end boutiques and designer shops in Soho.
A sea of blazing orange, acid green, lemon yellow and saturated azure delights the eyes. You have arrived at the NYC flagship store of Norrøna, a 92-year-old Norwegian clothing company specializing in weather-protective gear for outdoor needs, run by four generations of the Jørgensen family.
A friendly staff greets you when you enter this soothing space. You are immersed in a new environment, a stark contrast to the urban landscape you just left, as light wood walls and majestic-sized images of Norway’s unique terrain fill the room. The photos include depictions of hikers, skiers, an arctic surfer surrounded by extreme topography, all sheltered in Norrøna’s stylish and practical gear.
This new brick-and-mortar store opened in 2019, not long before the COVID-19 pandemic ripped through the city, which shut down all non-essential businesses for nearly 3 months. With the lifting of restrictions to international travelers, the tourists are returning, and retail traffic is picking up.
What was the impetus for Norrøna’s existence nine-plus decades ago? According to their website, “In 1929, Jørgen Jørgensen, a Norwegian outdoor enthusiast, began his search for durable outdoor equipment to perform in Norway’s harsh and rugged land.”
And while it’s hard enough to build a company from the bottom up, to have it continue and flourish for over nine decades is a wonder. A combination of quality, innovation, and vision are the key to their longevity.
As for quality, the caliber of their gear has stood the test of time, evidenced by those who have depended on this brand for survival. It has been an integral part of expeditions to Mount Everest and Mount McKinley, as well as the Norwegian North Pole expedition in 1990.
The company has always been about innovation, beginning with simple modifications, such as leather straps, canvas backpacks, and cotton clothing. In 1970, a tunnel tent with openings on both ends was invented. Norrøna’s urge to “build a better mousetrap” perpetuates to this day, whether in backpacks or sleeping bags. Gore-Tex improvements began in 1977, and a new jacket prototype was launched in 2010, thus, improving on their own “mousetrap.”
Vision is a core characteristic of the company in an industry that has been criticized for waste. The global fashion industry has been reported to produce over 92 million tons of waste annually. But Norrøna always strives to set itself apart. For them, producing a sustainable product and production model is essential.
Yet, sustainability is not a new concept for this Norwegian company. Each of their products has a five-year warranty for production and material defects, including free repairs, harkening back to an era when quality and brand pride mattered beyond logos.
Norrøna’s vision is not limited to production and design but also encompasses how they provide a variety of brand experiences to their customers. Their website offers practical tips, geared to the adventurer. For example, a blog story focuses on “what to wear on an autumn ride,” and a feature article focuses on “The Garbage Man – Moving Through the World with a Positive Handprint.”
Something quite unique is that you can actually book trips on the Norrøna website. The company has successfully cross-branded with Norway’s Hvitserk, a 40-year-old adventure travel company. Norrøna Hvitserk Adventures was born in 2020 and organizes trips and activities within Norway.
nd now, Norrøna is now able to share their Nordic experience with urbanites across the Atlantic in a very inviting and intimate manner. Another lovely feature of the New York shop is a seating area with a banquet below and a skylight above. Here you can savor a coffee, Norwegian koselig-style, while you dream of your next Nordic adventure safely cocooned in your fine Norrøna wear.
To learn about Norrøna and their digital peronal shopping program, visit norrona.com/en.
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 19, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.