That Norway has a harsh climate with storms and rain is easy to imagine, as well as the historical dependence on the fishing sector and the importance of shipping with such a vast part of the country directed situated at sea. But who would have thought that the country has not one but two iconic rainwear brands with a rich history that goes back to the end of the 19th century?
Aalesund Oljeklede was established in 1891 and the company’s history shows great similarities with not only the other Norwegian brand of Helly Hansen but also most other Scandinavian rainwear brands previously discussed on this website. The focus of the company has been on producing raingear for the fishing industry; basically make thick and heavy raingear that could withstand the storms at sea while giving the wearer enough flexibility to be able to perform their duties. Over time the material used mostly changed to PVC which was relatively light-weight and extremely durable making it perfect for this type of job. The design has always been functional and most gear was produced in bright colors for safety reasons in case someone fell overboard and needed to be found back on a rough sea.
The stories of the two Norwegian brands of Helly Hansen and Aalesund start to differ around the 1950’s when Helly Hensen becomes relatively popular in Norway for several decades with their rainwear speaking to the general public after which they started to refocus on more fashionable rainwear, still partly inspired by the workwear they were also producing, and later branching off to outdoor clothing like ski clothes and sailing clothes. Aalesund on the other hand has kept their focus on workwear and even today the largest part of their range consists of rainwear and waterproof workwear. That is not to say they did not branch off at all, but those initiatives have been separated under different brand names like Strakofa for workwear, Regatta for safety products like life vests, and Blaest for fashionable rainwear. While the Blaest brand might be discussed separately at a later time, the image below shows the only item from the Regatta brand that is of interest for this website with a fishermen’s suit with PVC shell and fabric lining to keep you warm.
The current range of Aalesund rainwear is actually quite easy to summarize as they have one basic design of a raincoat and rainbibs in different qualities (thickness) in limited colors. The lightest range is the “Molde” range with a material weight of 255gr/m2 which basically means this is very comfortable to wear and you won’t be limited much in your movements when wearing this. The obvious downside of this raingear is that it is more prone to wear and tear than heavier materials, but for normal use this should barely make a difference. What does matter is that thinner material will shine through more easily meaning it might show through the raincoat if you wear something with an obvious pattern under it. The picture below, from Tradera, nicely shows this as the source of light positioned at the back clearly impacts the look of the gear. From experience I can tell this will mainly play with the orange raingear as the green color is much darker and will leave less light through. My main problem with the lightest range is that it looks quite flat with little shine to the material. To me it looks relatively boring as raingear and you only need to go a small step up in material weight to get a rainsuit that is much more eye-catching.
A slightly heavier range is the “Alesund” line with a material weight of 325gr/m2. While this material weight will still have the same problem with visibility of stark contrasting patterns shining through the material, the overall look of the gear is a leap forward with a shiny finish. Previously I would have classified rainwear in this weight category as “heavy-duty”, as it is the same weight as my 66North raingear, but after having received the Guy Cotton raingear I would reclassify this as raingear of this weight actually wears quite comfortably.
For some reason the Molde line has both bibs and jackets available in green and orange while the slightly heavier “Alesund” range has the bibs in both colors but the jacket only in orange. Another limiting factor is that they sell no rainpants, not only within this range, but not at all. You can only buy bib pants which will serve well for a rainy day, and can give a great extra twist when worn with the jacket open in case the intensity of a storm goes down, but can give some trouble putting on and off with normal wear. The straps of the pants have to go around your shoulders meaning you need to take of your coat first which is a lot more effort than just putting on some rainpants when you get caught in some heavier-than-expected rain.
Finally there is the “Doggerbank” line of raingear with a product weight of 510gr/m2. This gear will be noticeably heavier than the other two lines with the accompanying downside that it has a bit more of an own will when you wear it. The material is stiffer, will be surrounding you more at all times, and is a bit harder to wear nonchalantly. The positive side will be that it will last you your whole life and gives the perfect protection for any storm you can imagine. Plus, there are two shades of orange available for this range bringing the total choice of colors to 3.
What is interesting to me is that all three ranges are basically identical in design with only the materials slightly differing. The green gear seems very basic and uninteresting to me, but the orange range has two features that makes them recognizable as Aalesund. Of course there is the logo which shows the brand, but the orange gear also has a thin black trim around the top of the bib pants and around the hood of the jacket.
So far I can’t complain about the attractiveness of the raingear of Aalesund as their orange raingear has a good look to it and has these small features making it recognizable and standing out from other brands. But it is the picture below that attracted my attention to the brand recently.
The picture above is a sneak-peak for a product imagine from the Farmerrain website. They are currently working on a completely updated website where they seem to plan to sell other brands of rainwear as well besides their own ranges. Besides that it is a beautiful picture, it is the blue color of the raingear that really stands out as most heavier PVC rainwear is almost always sold in orange, green, yellow, or some other bright color. Even in the digital “Katalog” the blue gear is hidden behind the white gear which almost completely falls away on the white background, attracting little attention from the casual shopper browsing through the line of raingear on offering.
While I think the shiny orange gear of Aalesund would be a great buy in either the 325gr/m2 or the 510gr/m2, depending on your personal preferences and experience with this kind of gear, it is mostly the white and blue gear that I would love to get to know better. Both colors combine a certain level of femininity with a rugged heavy-duty industrial look which is a combination I really love. The white jacket can be easily combined with almost any other color or trousers, as long as it is not white, and will be great with a pair of tall rubber rainboots. As this is workwear the overall cut of the jacket will be wide so I would recommend to buy it as small as possible, as long as the sleeves reach a bit over your wrists, and contrast the slightly oversized look with some tighter pants and either a pair of rainboots or unassuming sneakers in either white or black. The blue jacket will be a bit harder to combine as blue normally doesn’t go well with black, so best go for lighter colored pants like some faded jeans. Picture below comes from Pinterest making it hard to track back to the owner of the photo.
The small trim of white on the blue gear gives the option to combine the two colors which will give a better look than going for a complete rainsuit in either white or blue. Both colors are quite eye-catching and having it overtake your complete look might be a bit too much – especially when you want to go for the white bib pants and the white jacket. Picture below again from the Farmerrain website illustrating this point. While the blue jacket might be a bit harder to combine than the white jacket, my preferred combination would be the white bib pants with the blue jacket. Or otherwise maybe combine the orange gear with some white.
Availability of Aalesund rainwear might be troublesome outside of Norway, but the picture published by Farmerrain looks very promising as they might become the main supplier of this raingear for the rest of the world. I must admit that I will wait for their new website to launch to check this brand and its availability out further and might think about ordering some as it surely looks special.
I try to regularly update articles so if you have some pictures I can use or some interesting rainwear from this brand that I missed, please let me know and I can update accordingly.