For the uninitiated, can you tell us a little about Amundsen Sports and how it came into existence?
I founded Amundsen Sports back in 2009. After a few North Pole expeditions and regular high mountain activities and was puzzled to find that key outdoor garments such as wool sweaters, wool underwear and not least knickerbockers had almost vanished from the marked. As a relative of Roald Amundsen I had good knowledge to the products used back in the early 1900s and asked they question why almost everything had gone “plastic”. With this foundation I started Amundsen Sports.
The brand is inspired by the legendary Roald Amundsen, what’s the history there?
Roald Amundsen is my great grand uncle.
The brand has been around since 2009. Your background is as an industrial designer. What made you step from that to clothing?
After graduating as an industrial designer I founded the first Norwegian watch brand back in 2002. After 4 years building Amundsen Watches around the world, I sold the company to a Swiss watch company and joined their team in Geneva from 2006-2008. After working with my family name as a brand for 6 years I had seen the familiarity shared by a vast number of people all over the world. When I withdrew from the company I did so with the idea of pursuing my two passions; creating products and continue living an adventurous outdoor lifestyle.
Some of the most celebrated people in fashion made their name having worked in other industries before. Do you feel there are transferable skills between what you did and what you do?
For me it is all about creating, whether it is watches, clothing or now footwear which we also launched. In the future we will also venture into new product categories – as long as they align with the brand fundamentals and our passion. Moving from watches into clothing was a move from hardware to software. Hardware in microns to software in centimeters. I think the required attention to detail from designing and developing watches gives an advantage for me when working in bigger scales – I preserve this attention (which can also be a challenge as I can get caught up in details which at the end of the day are not that important….)
Here in the UK we saw record-breaking high temperatures in the summer. How does the changing climate feature in what you do?
This is a topic we have been focused on since the very beginning. We are so tired of all the damaging noise in our industry about green initiatives that often does not matter in the big picture. It seems to be the biggest players (that are the biggest polluters) that scream the loudest about their green initiatives turning the focus away from the core of this matter.
While the biggest polluters in our industry compete to make the most noise about recycling and other green initiatives, we try to focus on what matters; fewer products.
We do not believe in the ever-growing fabricated need for micro-specialized clothing for each of your outdoor activities. As long as your products are versatile, long-lasting, and stylish you do not need a big outdoor wardrobe!
Outdoor enthusiasts are usually not just climbers, freeskiers, or campers. They are usually exploring a multitude of activities in the wilderness. It is nature that drives them—not just the activity. It is therefore vital that your outdoor garments are versatile enough to be used across most activities, conditions, and situations.
We do not think you need new clothing just because a new color or fit is trending, or because you plan to undertake a new type of activity. We strive to design simple, honest, and back to basic products with a timeless design and color palette.
Through the quality of material use, technology and craftsmanship we continuously make sure your timeless and versatile garments lasts for generations.
85% of our garments are sewn in Europe of European fabrics. With 85% of our sales being in Europe too this makes our products short travelled.
Furthermore European production ensures European standards for workers and quality.
Maybe 100 years ago, clothing was developed by innovators to solve a specific problem or improve on what already existed. That’s what helped it stand out. How do you innovate today?
Before Roald Amundsen set out to conquer the South Pole in 1911, he chose to learn from the best possible sources and went to live with the Inuits to study their knowledge on cold weather survival. Amundsen learned to dog sled, hunt for seals, kayak, fish, and even wear the clothes of the Inuit. This knowledge made Roald Amundsen succeed were others had failed.
We follow this philosophy and try to innovate through tradition. We try to learn from the experts from the past and bring it into the future with todays technology.
Today, brands must also be storytellers. That’s something you embrace. Can you tell us about the various projects you’ve been working on?
As the brand is based on our passion of creating products and living a playful adventurous outdoor lifestyle, we simply bring a camera on our Field Testing Adventures and tell our customers about it afterwards. The field testing adventures have taken us to Antarctica in the footsteps of Roald Amundsen; On Horseback through inner Mongolia, From Home to The Arctic, On skis and foot from Montebelluna to Oslo, On dirt Roads through Botswana and now earlier this spring we motored in an old traditional small double ended Norwegian wooden boat, from from Martha’s Vineyard
To Fishers Island, over to Montauk and down the outside of Long Island all the way down to Manhatten, up the east river, through Harlem River and down Hudson.
I think our customers value the realness of our communication. We do everything ourselves from making the clothing, testing them in the field, taking the photos and making the videos to communicate about it. Where we lack the refinement in photos with lots of people behind the camera with fake lights and stylists we gain in trueness.
How do you think the pandemic has evolved how we work? Are the lines between work and play more blurred than ever?
For sure I think the home office showed some benefits of doing some tasks form outside the office which will continue after the pandemic. I also think we will travel less as the pandemic showed us how most meetings can be done digitally. I also think the pandemic showed us the importance of physical presence and the value of all the decisions and communications being done “around the coffee machine”. So we do take some good knowledge from this period with us in the future as we go back to a more normal.
What are your aspirations for the brand in the coming years?
Growth outside Norway, venture into new product categories and continue our step-by-step approach to becoming a worldwide recognized brand that stands out of the crowd.
See the full range at Nordic Outdoor here