Amundsen–a last name with a big commitment. Norwegian Jørgen Amundsen keeps his heritage alive with Amundsen Sports outdoor brand.
What can you do when you are from Norway, when your last name is Amundsen and when one of your ancestors is one of the most famous polar region explorers of all time? It’s quite a legacy that Jørgen Amundsen inherited and that he keeps in honor through his Amundsen Sports outdoor brand.
The Norwegian is a descendant from the explorer legend Roald Amundsen who first traversed the Arctic Northwest Passage 1903-06 and first reached the South Pole in 1911. No wonder also Jørgen is an extreme outdoor lover–a passion he brought further when founding Amundsen Sports together with his childhood friend Erik Friis in 2009 in Oslo.
Since then the brand has steadily grown with about 140 doors all over Europe and North America, but still keeps a low profile: “For sure we want to become better known, but at the same time want to remain niche,” Amundsen says.
This belief affects his humble attitude and the needs of the Amundsen Sports product offer: a functionally sophisticated outdoor range with strong heritage roots that certainly needs a bit of explanation when sold in stores or online.
The best example is Amundsen’s most characteristic product, the knickerbockers. “They used to be worn outdoor and by explorers back in the days, but then got a kind of image problem and be considered as strange as if only English Lords would wear them. Instead, they serve the needs when being outdoor perfectly and even indoors when you detach the gaiters or change your socks to avoid bringing dirt inside,” Amundsen explains.
The brand’s knickerbockers come with a modern take, of course, in technical fabrics as so-called split pants with detachable gaiters (retail price up to €569). But also typical knickerbockers with functional details made of corduroy are available (retail price €199).
Amundsen sees a kind of renaissance for traditional items such as knickerbockers or anoraks and also for rather traditional materials such as wool and cotton: “When we make outdoor trips, synthetic underwear is forbidden. It just starts to smell too easily,” Amundsen says and chuckles. It’s not as if he wouldn’t appreciate technical materials, but he emphasizes that the material you shall choose depends on what activity you want to do. “I believe that the success of my ancestor Roald Amundsen also had to do with his knowledge and understanding of the Inuit culture.” And from whom could you better learn how to deal with cold and heavy weather conditions than from the Inuit?
Another example to show the connection of tradition and innovation is Amundsen Sports’ unisex mountain boot that will be in stores this fall. Retailing for €399, it follows a layering concept with leather on the outside and two different options–wool for extreme cold and tech material for regular temperatures–on the inside.
While all products in the men’s or in the women’s range serve outdoor activity needs, their approach goes further: “You can wear our stuff when going to the North Pole, but also in your everyday life,” Amundsen says. Obviously, he is fond of the current trend that moves outdoor into the lifestyle and fashion sector: “We understand our products as timeless pieces, not as fashion items, but of course it’s great that outdoor has become more in the center of attention and I welcome this development.” Saying that, Amundsen Sports doesn’t run after fashion clients, but wouldn’t turn them down either: “Our customer base is rooted in the sports and activewear segment, but if we were approached by fashion stores we would certainly check them out as well. Above all, our brand and products have to fit in.”
Even though Amundsen Sports is open for these new horizons it would not make the brand take heavy action to enter the fashion world. In terms of trade shows it remains at Ispo in Munich where staff and agents meet all key buyers.
But when it comes to spread the word Amundsen mostly counts on the direct exchange with “outdoor enthusiasts who wear our products in the field” to bring Amundsen Sports’ message across.