A European staple for decades, Odlo is one of the most imaginative brands in technical base layers.
It all began in Norway in 1947 with a man named Odd Roar Lofterød. He started manufacturing women’s underwear. He was “never short of ideas,” said Kit Ha, head of marketing at Odlo, “but he was short of raw materials, which were very hard to come by at the time.” Odd Roar quickly changed gears from women’s underwear to technical base layers when his son started training with the Norwegian junior speed-skating team.
What his son needed was better gear to protect against freezing temperatures while still allowing aerobic exertions. That’s when Odd Roar designed a special training suit from Helanca® fiber, a nylon-polyester blend with extraordinary stretch. The word got out about this new training suit, and it wasn’t long before even top athletes wanted to try it out.
Elite athletes flocked to the brand, now stationed in Switzerland. In the 1964 winter games, the Norwegian team wore Odlo’s warm, stretchy, high-performance suit for cross-country skiing and speed skating. By the ’72 games, 22 national teams competed in Odlo gear.
Odlo’s elite ambassador team and experience in outfitting teams in the winter games show the importance of athletes from their early days to today. “Overall, international competitions offer our designers the opportunity to work closely with athletes and showcase our advanced technology to end consumers,” said Kit.
Seventy years later, Odlo is known for being ahead of the competition in the base- and mid-layer markets. Their motto, “a step ahead of everyone else,” has helped them snap up quite a few firsts:
- 1963: First functional stretch outfit for cross-country skiers
- 1973: First fully synthetic sports underwear
- 1986: First activewear employing the now-standard three-layer system
- 2015: First IPSO award, honoring extraordinary sports products, for innovation for the Blackcomb line
Blackcomb is their most innovative line of product yet. The seamless knitting technology provides ample comfort with no chaffing, and the body mapping (which addresses different body parts needs for different fabrics) offers warmth, ventilation and moisture management. They haven’t stopped innovation there.
Recently Odlo and Zaha Hadid Design, the iconic architectural firm, have partnered to create a revolutionary new line of clothing that will be out in fall of this year. “Architecture designers and garment designers have a lot in common. The discussions between both teams first led to Organic Body Mapping, the most advanced body mapping on the market,” said Kit.
It’s a top secret production—so for now, we’ll all just have to wait.