Talking about weather, since 1898
The Nokian Footwear story began in 1898, when a group of Finnish business men decided to establish the company Suomen Gummitehdas Oy (Finnish Rubber Works Ltd) in Helsinki. After operating for a few years, the factory began to produce high quality rubber galoshes, which competed successfully against Russian imports.
As production grew, the factory was moved from Helsinki to Nokia. Soon the rubber company began to highlight the name Nokia, communicating Finnishness, in its marketing. Demand for the company’s products grew strongly and the rubber boot became a utility item for the whole nation.
Special footwear and classic boots
The period after the Second World War was an era of innovative safety boots. Rapidly industrialising Finland needed quality special footwear. At the same time, boots were increasingly designed for leisure-time use. A notable classic was the 1960s Hai which was originally designed for boating enthusiasts.
In 1967 a long-discussed project was completed when Suomen Kumitehdas Oy and Suomen Kaapelitehdas Oy (Finnish Cable Works Ltd) merged with the forest and power industry company Oy Nokia Ab (Nokia Corporation). The Group’s fields of business were the rubber, cable and forest industries as well as power generation and electronics.
The all-time classic rubber boot appeared in 1973, when Nokia introduced the Kontio a full-length boot for men. The boot soon became the undisputed king of rubber boots, a masterpiece of Finnish footwear design.
Winds of change
Nokian Footwear’s range expanded further and further from the traditional rubber boot, which was succeeded by ski, bowling and disco shoes, for example. However, the Finnish rubber footwear industry did not do well against inexpensive imported products.
With the coming of the 1990s, the company decided to narrow the product range and focus on its core expertise: the manufacture of quality rubber boots. Nokian Tyres left to form its own company in 1988 and two years later the company Nokian Footwear Ltd was founded. The parent company Nokia, on the other hand, embarked on its domination of the telecommunications market.
Quality rubber footwear had been made in Finland for more than a century. After the turn of the millennium, however, the domestic rubber boot industry faced its biggest crisis. It was no longer possible to manufacture quality rubber boots profitably in Finnish factories. Finland’s high labour costs and falling market prices represented an unsolvable equation.
A part of Nokian Footwear’s production was transferred to Central Europe, to be handled by the industry’s most expert and experienced rubber boot manufacturers. The company decided, however, to keep design and product development firmly in Finnish hands.
A world citizen
In 2005 the Finnish family business Berner bought Nokian Footwear. Berner assumed ownership of the Nokian Footwear brands and closely guarded rubber recipes as well as lasts that had been designed expressly for the Finnish foot for more than a century.
Berner’s history extends back to 1883. The company has unique experience of the long-term building and marketing of strong brands.
Every Nokian Footwear rubber boot is manufactured carefully by hand from dozens of parts. Manufacturing a rubber boot is a multi-stage process that requires experience, precision and manual skills. Only a few companies in the world have such expertise. Nokian Footwear’s products are made by the world’s most respected professionals, mainly in Central Europe. Finnish footwear designers have close control over production, from the choice of rubber compound all the way to retail outlet shelf.
Cooperation between Finnish designers and the world’s best rubber boot manufacturers has resulted in increasingly advanced rubber footwear. The classics of the tomorrow sit alongside Kontio, Hai and the other great favourites of the past.