Crafted with Scandinavian Minimalism in Mind
Text & Interview: Ali George Hinkins
It has long been known that Scandinavia, geographically speaking, »a subregion in Northern Europe« that comprises Denmark, Norway and Sweden, breeds a distinct way of living; the people that inhabit the aforementioned countries are representative of the lifestyle. In which case, this region is synonymous with a minimalist way of living, astounding natural beauty and a more liberal perspective. Take this with a pinch of salt but, two Scandinavian natives I failed to mention, both of which are stellar examples of the conduct they subscribe to, are Ikea and more notably, Norse Projects – the subject of this piece of writing. Now, without further ado, let’s explore a bit more about the latter – Norse Projects – and how the brand has grown from a humble streetwear retail store in Copenhagen to a fully-fledged Scandi giant.
Like many other streetwear brands occupying a similar space to Norse Projects, it was initially started as a boutique store and art gallery serving the people of Copenhagen. While the likes of Supreme and Stussy had achieved overwhelming popularity and success and were still riding that wave stateside, the European scene, with the exception of The Hideout in London, was still playing catchup from a retail perspective. The scene and overall community in Europe was, otherwise, thriving.
The whole inception of Norse Projects and the meeting of its three founders is surprisingly organic, and it would not have been possible without a deep appreciation of streetwear and skateboarding culture. In 2004, three friends – Tobia Sloth, Anton Juul and Mikkel Grønnebæk – combined their shared love of streetwear and fused that into a gallery and retail space that captured the spirit of Nordic functionalism and a refined palette. With each of them having an early interest in either skating, design or some kind of intrinsic link to a creative field, the evolution was inevitable. Tobia Sloth, one of the founding partners who is still involved today, already had his feet somewhat submerged in the industry; he had founded Paris’s first skateboard store, Street Machine, which was home to a new generation of skate brands and the likes of Carhartt and The North Face. Despite this, Tobia was wholly unsatisfied with the situation, partly due to the lack of quality garments being put out by these brands but also, all the brands seemed very American-oriented. On the one hand, this sold well to Parisians but it wasn’t in line with his culture or personal taste, so he embarked on his own path that was representative of his roots.
But, within the three of them was a deeper calling to create something representative of their Nordic roots and true to their personal beliefs. Understandably, the trio wanted it to be linked to their heritage as well as incorporate their creative spirit and eclectic tastes. As a result, Norse Projects was launched in 2004, but it wasn’t until a further 5 years later in 2009, that they launched their first in-house menswear line. Upon launch, Tobia Sloth held the title of Creative Direction for the clothing side of things, a position he holds to this day, covering both menswear and womenswear. Initially, it started out with just tees and caps but as Japanese brands became increasingly expensive to import and American products weren’t cutting the mustard in terms of quality, a comprehensive clothing line became the next obvious piece in the puzzle. Fall 2009 marked Norse Projects’ deeper venture into this space with a sharp focus on simplicity, functionality and aesthetics. While the initial offering was concise, it mixed vintage military silhouettes with playful graphics that honoured their foundations.
Norse Projects garments are often presented in a minimalist way through colours, cut and silhouettes which is a mere reflection of the Scandinavian environment they have surrounded themselves in. The ethos of the brand is to create simple yet functional staples that can easily worm their way into the wearers rotation, building a solid foundation for them to work with. The offering they present is made up of finely-tuned outerwear utilising GORE-TEX fabrications, knitwear, bottoms, headwear, tops, accessories and more – it’s streetwear with a very tasteful toned-down European tinge. Twelve years on with numerous collaborations to their name, the original DNA of the brand still informs each and every design decision they make. And, when collaborations with other brands are concerned, they never compromise on their vision which is never truer than their ongoing partnership with technical fabrics manufacturer, GORE-TEX, where their infamous membrane is incorporated into the construction of familiar silhouettes like the Fyn Shell and Thor, for example. It doesn’t stop there; their collaborative pursuit has seen them tussle with names like New Balance, Dr Martens and Vans.
Welcoming Norse Projects into the mix here at HHV, we have curated a careful selection that is characteristic of the Nordic label. From functional outerwear to basic tees and hooded sweatshirts, shirting and a variety of bottoms in different cuts. For those who are already acquainted with Norse Projects, two outerwear silhouettes will be familiar – the Thor and Rokkvi – which are elongated in cut as to maximise protection for the wearer. Take the Thor, for example, which features GORE-TEX INFINIUM technology and PrimaLoft insulation to ensure warmth and waterproofing throughout the season. On the other end of the spectrum, they excel in deliverance of their basics, most notably tees, sweatshirts and accessories, which can easily be manipulated into the wearer’s closet.
What was started as a boutique in Copenhagen has gone on to become a fully-fledged apparel line that other concept stores and retailers can only dream to match – it’s a third dimension and an additional arm of the business. But, even in 2021 they haven’t lost sight of their humble beginnings as a retailer: Norse Store still functions as a haven for the likes of Engineered Garments, ACRONYM, Junya Watanabe, Klattermusen and others, covering all sides of the industry.
Building upon key styles on a seasonal basis is what draws so many people to Norse Projects, with the odd adjustment in fabrication, cut, colour and technical features. When you handle a Norse Projects garment, you know what you’re in for – simplicity and functionality. Everything is calculated and done to a T, you can’t fault that.
You can now shop Norse Projects online and instore at HHV.
Visual Content: Daniel Tran