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Talent Emerging: Norwegian Rain

Living in England has its perks – namely fish & chips, the Royals and good a cuppa tea, but the constant drizzle is not one of them. For my most recent Talent Emerging series I caught up with Norwegian Rain, the eponymous label fusing performance wear with sartorial design to create the most appealing rainwear. Let’s face it, there is nothing less stylish then stepping out in your favourite clothes and by the time you reach the car the rain has flooded your entire look leaving you feeling like a drowned rat – which is where T-Michael and Alexander Helle come in. Change up your outerwear wardrobe a little because thanks to Norwegian Rain, being stylish has never been more practical.

Hailing from the quaint, picturesque city of Bergen, Norway, where it rains almost three times a week, the clever duo decided to reign (no pun intended) in on the city’s creative energy to create a brand that was able to impact on the city’s 250,000 inhabitants. For Norwegian Rain, form follows function and with this aesthetic in mind, the brand set out to create garments that stylistically fitted their everyday urban life and style. Being a fashion label has meant that they have had to go the extra mile in order to not fall into the sports wear category which is why style will continue to be a mission for them – something to continue to explore. So here’s why you need to invest in a Raincho next this season:

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Planet Notion: What is the Norwegian Rain story?
T-Michael: The unlikely meeting of the bespoke tailor and the business graduate. I have been operating from my base in Skostredet, Bergen for the last 17 years. I have my own line of suits, shirts, shoes, scarves, bag’s and own two shops in Norway. Alexander Helle – the creative director who decided to fight the rain and to shape the future – approached me after graduating from business school with this idea of making raincoats and we sought to find a solution to our lives. Alexander and I decided to merge my tailoring and design expertise with high tech and extreme weather protection know-how with Japanese sensibility.

Alex: Well, born and raised in the rainiest city on our continent does make an impact on your mind. Sitting on the metro in Milan as part of a study exchange at Bocconi always put me in a state of reflection. I knew I soon was going back to Bergen. How [was I going] to make those two out of three days of rain a more pleasant experience? I decided to use [my] master’s degree to start exploring. The ideas from this thesis materialised when T-Michael came into play, followed by the graphic designers in Grandpeople – now ANTI Grandpeople, and photographer Bent René Synnevaag – all based locally. Actually it is a creative team that owns Norwegian Rain. The final addition to the team is Antwerp born Wesley Swolfs, our commercial director with a background from Damir Doma.

PN: Was injecting elements of fashion into performance wear challenging?
T-Michael: It rains two out of three days in Bergen, waiting for that ‘third day’ to be stylish might never come. So, for us, it was very clear from the get go that the pieces will have to be able to be adapted and styled by many for all three days. The other aspect of the rainwear, which is the keeping-the-water out bit should be a given! And of course it should be breathable and comfortable.

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PN: Where is next season’s inspiration coming from?
T-Michael: We’ve decided to give Norwegian Rain an upgrade. It’s Norwegian Rain 3.0, which means we are getting even closer to traditional tailoring. Wool like fabrics and menswear staples such as bomber jackets amongst other new pieces will be introduced. The goal is a thick warm winter coat engineered to keep all the elements out yet maintaining that stylistic factor.

PN: What makes you guys stand out?
T-Michael: Quite simply by trying at every level to be the best in our field. We know rain, we live with it everyday. We strip off all the bits that usually accompany utilitarian clothing and add details that are relevant both functional and design wise, straying ever so slightly from the entire well known tailoring reference points. We like to think that that kind of design language is universal and not regional based.

PN: In what way are your designs sartorial?
Alex: Heat sealed seams, hi-tech membrane fabrics, functional construction… We put all our pride in hiding it. These qualities are camouflaged by cashmere qualities, satin lining, defined shoulders, horn buttons, pattern making, all inspired by T-Michael’s bespoke tailoring then adapted to performance, allowing the characteristics and nature of industrial production to create garment with its own signature. The allure of tailoring meets industrial rigidness. Our aim is to make the best possible garment for the wearer – versatile and adaptable.

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PN: How has Japanese design influenced Norwegian Rain?
T-Michael: We base all of our work on contrasts, rain/ staying dry. Bespoke tailor/ business graduate. Black/ White. Tradition/ Innovation. Wabi/ Sabi, Kintsugi…the imperfections in beauty. These are influences found everywhere but are more predominant in Japan from my point of view.

PN: What is your favourite piece?
T-Michael: The Raincho; simply because it’s the Raincho.

PN: What has your jouney as emerging design talent been like?
Alex: We would be lying if we haven’t been enjoying every day since the start. Before we launched the label we were invited to gala dinner at Grand Hotel e de Milan with Franca Sozzani as part of Vogue & WHITE’s “Talented Newcomer’s 2010” – Straight from the rainy, unpolished streets of Bergen… that’s the beauty of today. It doesn’t matter where you are from. You can hit the tone from wherever as long as you are true to what you do and work like there is no tomorrow.

PN: Do you like rain?
T-Michael: I love Petrichor, the smell of rain!

Alex: I wouldn’t say I liked it, but having been born into the epicenter we have had to deal with it. And now it’s turned into something that is no longer negative. The next step is to create an underground movement that transforms the city into something that explodes in sensual perceptions when it rains. The rain could be a [great] resource people better start realising it.

- Hardeep Gill

www.norwegianrain.no



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