The story of Elka starts in 1958 with the production of both underwear and waterproof clothing. Like so many Nordic rainwear producers the cornerstone of the company is the production of heavy-duty rainwear for the fishing industry. This focus slowly shifts to include more workwear while at a later stage products for the general population are added. In 2007 they come out with their first co-branded collection with fashion designer Rei Kawakubo followed by several collaborations with the Danish design company Norse besides their own range of non-workwear raincoats.
The Elka brand is currently divided into two distinct entities. On one hand there is the workwear part which has their separate website, Elkarainwear, with a wide range of waterproof and safety wear, and on the other hand there is the fashion part with their own website, Elkaregntoej, and its own social media profiles. Because I normally gravitate towards the more heavy-duty PVC rainwear it seems logical to check out their workwear first.
The range of clothing in the “EU produced PU/PVC” category is quite basic as you would expect from workwear. There is a range of jackets, smocks, pants, and bibs in basic colors like orange, green, navy, and yellow with different material thickness ranging from 170gr (per square meter) PU up to 600gr PVC. To me nothing really stands out, which is mostly due to the rather bland design and matte finish. Basically they are producing 100% workwear items that are purely practical and which a company will buy in bulk without paying too much further attention to. This is unlike many other similar brands like Helly Hansen, 66North, Grundéns, and Guy Cotten that all produce similar workwear but that have a unique look to them setting them apart from other brands and making it better suitable for normal wear. Below the PVC light range with a smock and bib in orange: nothing too special which also explains the relatively low price of around 50 euro’s for the set.
The “professional fishing” range is actually quite similar to the PU/PVC range with mostly basic designs but now in heavy-duty PVC of 600 grams per square meter. The finish of the material seems similar to the lighter range and in combination with a very basic logo it does not really attract my attention. Again, the range might be perfect as workwear but has little to offer for more casual wear.
A possible reason the workwear range is relatively boring is that Elka has a separate range of fashionable rainwear which they market to the general public. My first impression is that they put considerable time and effort in marketing for this range as the pictures on their social media are simply gorgeous with a combination of models showcasing the products as well as close-ups of the little details you can find on their raincoats.
I absolutely love rainwear brands that take their products serious and showcase them beautifully online and on social media particularly. And it is not only their Instagram profile that shows their efforts, also their general website for the fashionable rainwear is highly professional and has a lovely atmosphere to it.
Going through their range of rainwear shows a continuation of their workwear, but with a fashionable twist. Basically most rainwear from their fashion range is made of 320 grams PVC but is made fashionable by a tighter cut and a wider range of colors. Below a comparison between a yellow PVC rain jacket from their workwear range and the yellow unisex Klitmoller raincoat from their fashion range. Notice especially the sleeves and how they are attached right under the armpit for the fashionable raincoat while they are attached much lower for the workwear to accommodate a layer of outdoor clothes often worn under workwear. Also the width of the sleeves is much smaller for the fashionable rainwear to give a tight silhouette compared to the bulky cut of the workwear.
The women’s range of raincoats has a much more feminine cut and style than the basic unisex coat shown above, but the material is still mostly 320 grams PVC. Several different cuts and colors are available but none really speaks to me on first sight as I miss some sort of unique twist separating the Elka brand from many other brands. Compare Elka for example to the less trendy Rukka brand raincoats which are much easier to recognize due to the location of the logo and the reflection stripe around the right sleeve only. Elka has nothing that makes them stand out from a distance.
The raincoats that do stand out to me are the multi-color coats shown on the homepage of the website as depicted previously. These raincoats have a unique color pattern that comes close to the Ilse Jacobsen raincoats in 2 colors, but then different. Unfortunately these raincoats are not to be found anymore on the basic website and are only on the “on sale” part of the website indicating they might be discontinued soon. Which brings me to another design of raincoats they produced in the past but is currently unavailable.
The picture above shows a retro Elka rain smock that looks absolutely stunning to me and does everything right up to the draw cords of the hood. They also produced several series of raincoats together with Norse Project that come close to the overall look of Stutterheim raincoats but were only available for a limited time. For as far as I can see these “limited edition” raincoats enjoyed quite some popularity which keeps the Elka rainwear brand something to follow even though there is little of their currently collection that I am currently interested in.
Curious to hear your experience and general opinion with this brand, or maybe I’ve overlooked some raincoats they produce that you think are well worth a closer look.