Helly Juell Hansen was a Norwegian Merchant Captain who spent many years at sea during the late 19th century. In 1877 he and his wife Maren Margarethe began producing practical water resistant clothing for sailors. The clothing was originally made of coarse linen soaked in linseed oil to repel water. They made sou’westers, oilskin jackets, pants and also tarpaulins which were all welcomed in the ocean going community due to the high quality of their products.
Things went so well that in 1878 the company displayed their products at the Paris Expo and ended up winning a special diploma for excellence. This prompted a move to begin exporting their products and within 5 years the company had sold over ten thousand of their products to eager buyers. A remarkable success story from such humble beginnings.
Entering the 20th century, the Helly Hansen company began to push the envelope of technology to improve their products and stay ahead of the market. They began to use a special layering technique that sandwiched a thin layer of plastic sheeting between canvas to produce waterproof protection. This technology did away with the oil soaking techniques used previously. This new process put Helly Hansen out ahead of the market yet again and by 1949 they were producing 30,000 coats every month!
Fleece fiberpile became the fabric of choice for work coats in the 1960s and that technology is still in wide use today because of it’s ability to protect against the cold, but also to breathe. In the 1970s new types of fibers that improved on fleece were invented and Helly Hansen made quick use of them. That improvement continued on into the 1980s.
Today Helly Hansen still makes un paralleled products for world class high activity outdoor sports and work conditions.