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Dark Norway, obscure traditions, raw culture, modern underground, intelligent clothing…
Norwegian Rat is a clothing brand that is concentrated around the dark and mysterious sides of Norway, and on making clothing just as immortal as the Norwegian Rat itself. We aim to front important events, historical individuals and creepy creatures throughout Norway's mighty magnificent history.
The binomial name for the common brown rat is Rattus Norvegicus, and is the most common and best known of all rats. The Norwegian rat is by far the most successful mammal on this planet next after us humans. With rare exceptions, the Norway rat lives wherever humans live, particularly in urban areas. They are known by many names, such as brown rat, common rat, street rat, sewer rat, Hanover rat, wharf rat, and of course Norway / Norwegian rat.
It would have been quite the anecdote if these rascals actually originated from Norway, like one would get the impression of as their binomial name very much implies so. This is, however, unfortunately not correct. It is not known for certain why the brown rat is named Norwegian rat, but it is to be mentioned that the English naturalist John Berkenhout, author of the 1769 book "Outlines of the Natural History of Great Britain", is most likely responsible for popularizing the misnomer. Berkenhout gave the brown rat the binomial name Rattus Norvegicus, believing it had migrated to England from Norwegian ships in 1728, though no brown rat had entered Norway at that time.
Some claim they originate from northern China. They have now spread to all continents except Antarctica, and is the dominant rat in Europe and much of North America.
Rats are considered deadly pests, and have long been held up as the chief villain in the spread of the Bubonic Plague. So it's no wonder rats have been the most prominent signs as bringers of bad news and in worst cases, even death.
Despite being cursed pretty much throughout the world (except for The Karni Mata Temple in India), we find an honest fascination for these adaptable and intelligent furry little critters.
The name had been “in the register” long before the inception of this company. Up until 2009 it was more a question about what we could wrap our heads around as our hobby. We then, in 2009 as you might guess, thought about a clothing brand. Then thing started to evolve, and here we are.
We quickly nailed Norwegian Rat as a name, as there were not any alternatives matching this powerful and punchy name for our visions of a clothing concept. We found that we could tie this animal to all aspects and ideas we came up with. The most important part being our desire to explore our older Norwegian history.
The longer the clothes last, the longer the history lives!
When we had the history discussions, it really occured to us how little we - and most likely the common man and woman in general - knew about our legacy. There are maybe a few historical pillars in older history most Norwegians know of, with 1349 being at the top shelf since half of our population ended up six feet under during those years the Black Plague ravaged Norway, but other than that our perception is that it is pretty slim stuff, ourselves included.
So in a way we can say our very own embarrasment knowing so little about our own history and ancestors, reflects the main agenda and concept of Norwegian Rat. For us, clothing is more than fashion. In fact we go as far as saying fashion isn’t even interesting or important at all to us. All we care about is making our clothes as strong and durable as possible, and pushing the history of Norway into them, giving people throughout the world bits and pieces of our mighty legacy.
We made it clear from the very beginning to try as hard as we can to never push low quality wear! We are perfectly aware of that an exiting concept alone won't get you far in the long run. Therefore it is important for us that our customers label us as a brand that is “high-quality and long lasting”. Anything else would - at least in our eyes - be pretty darn foolish, since the future and existence of all companies lies in the hands of it’s customers.
We are in other words extremely picky about our products! If a sample doesn’t meet our requirements, we will have to get another sample with the enhancements and changes we want. As a result of being such quality freaks, we haven't got shitloads of items in our store. Testing new products takes time, because we often rely on feedback from our designated (and much valued!) customers. Rather than making new stuff all the time, we’re more into getting our stuff closer to perfection, before moving on to new ideas and new items. New collections for every season and so forth is therefore something that is really not important to us.
Music is - along with history - a very important aspect for the founders of Norwegian Rat. Music is an integral part of our working environment, as we listen to it all the time while working. It makes tedious work much less tedious, and the creativity flows better when accompanied by music. The world would certainly be a dull place to live and work in if it had not been for the music.
The musical part of Norwegian Rat is our (con)tribute to good music! This is our way of giving something back to the artists that are providing us with great soundtracks for both work and pleasure.
How does this work then, you might ask? Well, in general we just make band editions of our own gear. This includes denim jackets, tees, hoodies and even jeans (if this should be desirable). The bands themselves have no cost whatsoever in these projects. All they have to do is to provide us with the logo, prints etc and tell us how they want it to look. If we decide we want a new print, we will even pay for that too.
50% of the profit from the sale in our store goes to the artist(s). Our collaborators are of course entitled to get their respective gear out from the store at any time if they want to bring the NR-merch with them on tours etc.
If this should be the preferred choice, they will get the items almost at cost price. We have chosen this modus operandi because this way we are freeing up space and cash flow, and we don't have to spend time on packaging and sending. Plus the fact that we are fully aware of that bands pushing our brand of course have a great marketing value. Just as much as the bands value that we are making stuff for them, we value the work they do in spreading the word of Norwegian Rat.
“No cost? Sounds too good to be true!” Well, is it? It’s not easy making money as an artist. Most of them work their asses off for the sake of passion, and in many cases they’re lucky if they break even after a tour. If we can support artists we like, even if just in a small way, we’re happy to do so!
We started Norwegian Rat because of our passion for history and our desire to make long lasting clothes with Norwegian history attached to it, just as musicians have their passion for music. If we can do this without losing money, in addition to getting the chance to get to know and work with excellent artists and musicians, we’re pretty happy with how this company turned out!
We are three individuals running Norwegian Rat; Trond, Sølve and myself, Thomas. For us, Norwegian Rat is sheer hobby based. A pretty time consuming one, but still a hobby. (A huge "thank you" goes out to our families bearing with us at times). During daytime, we’re all occupied with our day jobs. For us this is all about having something meaningful to do. To be creative.
It’s important to us to do as much as we're able to ourselves. That was kind of the rule before we set sail. If this ment we had to learn it, so be it. It takes time for sure, but it was never a question about selling as much clothes as possible, as fast as possible (hence the section above).
This is basically the ground pillars of Norwegian Rat as a company. Taking good care of our customers and all the nice folks we meet on our way, and to build this brand better and stronger for every day passing by, but with a speed that is sustianable with keeping the friendships and family peace intact.
Having fun whilst doing something is paramount, and we should never forget that. And man, do we have fun!
Thank you for reading!
Trond, Sølve & Thomas // Norwegian Rat