Drops may fall but the story of Norwegian Rain is not at all a gray one.
“I’m singing in the rain, singing in the rain! What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again!”
Portrayed in songs and movies, rain often acts as a metaphor for liberation and exhilarating joy. But what happens when this “glorious feeling” becomes a routine? Day in and day out, gloomy, dark drops fall upon the ground, no matter destination or purpose. This story manifests itself in the city of Bergen, Norway. Due to location, rain has taken a major hold of everyday life. However, though it may be gray on the outside, should that give reason to feeling gray on the inside?
With this in mind, we meet with creative director Alexander Helle, a man who alongside co-designer/tailor T-Michael, has created the brand “Norwegian Rain”. The separation from all that is gray encompasses the brand’s story, through the words of Vogue Italia, Wallpaper Magazine and Dazed Digital, among others. With designs that stand out, impeccable quality and this year’s Bergen Establishing Award under their belt, Alexander Helle and the team are proud of what Norwegian Rain has accomplished.
Short and simple: What is Norwegian Rain?
Norwegian Rain is more than a brand to me, it’s a solution. Although I am an MBA graduate, my desire to create something of my own, has for long been strong. Norwegian Rain has given me the chance to focus on just that. Through precise graphic design, the co-design of T-Michael, and an overall joint cooperation with Grandpeople, we have managed to develop a concept that is true to its own environment. At the same time, we have managed to selectively pick out points of design from Japan, by using materials that are recyclable. Not only to be environmentally conscious, but also to create a product that is true to its’ statement. Norwegian Rain is a line of trench coats that have a mix of function and design. Fact is; there is no need to look washed out simply because it pours outside. All of these factors create a brand that is design-wise of high quality, sustainability and practicallity. All in all, genuine: Bergen Showers, Norwegian Rain.
How did Norwegian Rain come to birth?
It originated from my own idea, or rather desire, to create something. Studying business, I felt the need to be creative as well. It wasn’t until my stay in Milan in 2007, that I knew I wanted to go along the lines of fashion and design. With a clear spark in my mind and an innovative idea, I approached T-Michael. As he was already an established tailor of great reputation, I knew I had to persuade him into jumping on board. After three visits and oddly enough on the rainiest day I have yet seen, he accepted my offer of cooperation on a fashion line. The great signature in our line of work is our focus on precise details and perfection. Putting a product out in the market, it has to live up to its name and purpose, so we spent more than a year developing the product. We meet with people who helped out in the process; both in production, and in creating the overall profile for our trench coats. In 2009 they finally saw the light of day.
Norwegian Rain has already been applauded internationally, yet the road is wide and open. What inspires Norwegian Rain on?
I think it has a lot to do with visual expression. One can easily come up with a product that is functional on rainy conditions, yet it is the idea of creating a product that also speaks for itself while doing its own job, that carries us on. Our trench coats are suited to be unisex, simply because rain hits us all. However, forming a design that pleases the eye of both sexes, has been a challenging job. Inspired by sculpture, we wanted each trench coat to speak a story adapted to their owner. There is more than one way to put on Norwegian Rain designs, as style is personal.
This is also how Japanese influence has inspired us. We try to keep design simple and to the point, yet with an element of surprise. Likewise, Japan’s use of sustainable textiles is vital to our mission statement, as the release of toxic materials and residues in fashion manufacturing is completely unappealing. So, this mixture of ideas and influences from different parts of the globe, is probably what keeps Norwegian Rain moving. Creating a product that anyone can be proud to wear.
From Japan with love and great consideration
At this moment, a phone call interrupts the interview. Normally, nothing to point out specifically, but it plays a vital role in the mechanics of this exquisite brand, as their production line has also just been interrupted. Recent events in Japan, due to natural disasters, have left the entire country in an economic crisis. Worldwide, design is quite dependent on products coming from this country, as their techniques, methods and overall results live up to their potential. Alexander Helle points out how designers around the world wait for their textiles, in order to start the process of creating a new collection. Yet with insecurity of production, some designers may have to look elsewhere for their products. That in turn, creates more turmoil on Japan’s economic situation. On an act of benevolent business nature, Norwegian Rain has decided to continue working with collaborators/manufacturers in Japan. Not only are they the right ingredient to the perfect product, but it also feels like the right thing to do, says Helle. No actor is too small in the fashion industry, or in general at all.
With clear, concise ideas that are delightfully portrayed through each coat, Norwegian Rain is as Creative Director Alexander Helle says, more than a brand. Being fashionably conscious as well as business minded is a hard task at hand. Yet it is that balance and mixture that not only reveals the brand’s future prospects, but also their current success. Acting as an example to the Norwegian and Scandinavian industry, Norwegian Rain prove why they can keep on singing in that rain.
Words by Alexander Norheim / AX80.
Photo: Norwegian Rain – Bent René Synnevaag (Campaign), Margrete Birkeland (Portrait), Magne Sandnes (Trench Coats)
Norwegian Rain (Selected Pieces):