Normally I would start with a short history of the brand being covered to get a feel where they come from and how the brand developed over the years, but while the Viking Footwear brand was established in 1920 there is barely any history of the company published. This is quite surprising in a day and age where the narrative around a brand is seen as part of the brand identity, but it would be unreasonable to expect that every brand with a long history also has an interesting history they would like to share in detail. On the Norwegian Wikipedia page you can find that the brand name has been sold a few times and is now back in Norwegian hands as part of the Bertel O. Steen group. Besides that there is basically nothing.
Just to be clear, I am looking into the “Viking Footwear” brand from Norway here which is different from the “Viking Rubber” brand from Denmark and has nothing to do with the “Viking” branded rubber drysuits.
The first thing that stands out about the Viking Footwear brand is that they have a extensive digital presence with a website showing and selling their complete range of products including international shipping. There are even different websites and social media accounts for certain regions. This is something I really miss with lots of the raingear brands covered previously where you need to find a local retailer selling the brand you are looking for, only to hope they have the specific product that you want in the correct size. By selling directly to consumers they cut out the retailer, including the margins of the retailer, and the consumer has a much wider choice of products to pick from. Obvious downside is that you cannot first get a look, feel, and fit before purchasing anything unless you are willing to buy a whole range of products only to send back most that are not what you were looking for.
Time to take a look at their range of products available online. Naturally I will focus on the raingear which means their range of rubber boots going from tall boots to low boots. To start with the tall rainboots, it quickly becomes clear the target audience is people who wear their rainboots out of a necessity, think as workwear or for hunting. The range is quite boring with only dark colors and little variation in styles. That does not mean it is completely uninteresting as their plain and simple basic rubber boots “Foxy” actually have a great classic look to them comparable to the Hunter brand rainboots but then at a much lower price. These boots are only available in black though.
Most other tall rubber boots are a lot less fashionable with their basic green colors except for a quite unique boot idea being sold as a rubber boot specific for festivals. These boots are available in 3 colors, namely white, yellow, and navy, and are to be customized to your own liking. The boots are delivered with markers to make your own drawings on them and you can cut them the height you prefer. This is the first time I have seen customizable rainboots and I think it is a great idea to bring something unique to the marked of fashionable festival wear. Below a picture of these customizable rainboots as a blank slate and here a link to a blog of people who customized their own rainboots to have something unique.
On the Viking Footwear website you can find several examples of professionally customized rainboots perfect for festivals.
The obvious downside of these customizable boots, something they should try hard to tackle in my view to increase sells, is that buying these boots is quite risky unless you are a good artist. Frankly I would not spend a lot of money on rainboots that I have to customize myself only to destroy several pairs of boots before figuring out what works and what not. The idea is great but I get the feeling they need more tutorials online or printed drawing-examples delivered with the boots to inspire the customers and make sure they like the results of their own creativity. On their website they ask their customers to tag their customized rainboots with the Instagram hashtags #vikingfootwear and #gofestival but when I search for these hashtags I can barely find anyone who has done this. That tells me the sales might be quite low for these boots which can be because people share my doubts with this concept.
Next let’s take a look at the lower rubber boots the brand has. Here more playful colors appear with the Classic Sailing boot, available in 6 colors, and the Retro rubber boots which is available in yellow and black. Both boots are great to give a slight twist to an otherwise boring outfit while being able to keep your feet dry in the rain. The yellow Retro boots are my clear favorites as the laces are a nice twists to rubber rain boots and the yellow color is not too loud to attract too much attention. Be careful not to combine a pair of these yellow rainboots with a yellow raincoat or too much other yellow accessories. Maybe think some slim-fit jeans or pants and a rather unassuming dark colored sweater/shirt/coat which would normally not get much attention, and breaking that rather plain look with a pair of yellow rainboots. By keeping the overall outfit plain the boots will attract the attention without taking over the more serious and stylish overall look you are going for.
The Classic Sailing boots are available in more colors but don’t attract my attention that much as I have seen very similar designs before from other brands like Nokian with the AAVA and the Reef Spring boots and Aigle with the Malouine range of boots. My preference would probably go to Nokian and Aigle over the Viking Footwear boots of this type due to the richer history and availability of more playful and brighter colors, and the main reason to go with Viking Footwear would be the better availability.
Finally I want to point out that the range of Retro Rubber Boots was a bit wider in the past with also a tall rainboot available which matches the overall look of the Ilse Jacobsen boots but at a much more affordable price. Unfortunately these tall boots with laces are not on the website anymore.
If you have some more information about Viking footwear or pictures of their rainboots then please let me know as I had trouble finding reliable information about his brand. And as always, let me know your thought or experience, or contact me in case you have other requests about products or brands to look further into. Picture below from the rather inactive Belgium website Kachoo on Flickr.