With a turnover of NOK 98 million, this Norwegian brand has taken Europe by storm

Customers still come into the store asking for a pair of “Swims”. While the name has become synonymous with rubber boots, the Swims range now comprises much more than when it started back in 2006.

By: Chili Media

The success story began with an Oslo boy’s fascination with his grandfather’s rubber boots. Simple, practical and useful yes, but not particularly sexy. Johan Ringdal, founder of the Norwegian brand Swims, decided to do something about it.

“He developed a new version of the rubber boot with an updated design, which he was quickly able to deploy worldwide. That’s probably part of the reason for his success, that he quickly went international instead of starting locally and building up from Norway,” says Anniken Fegth, Senior VP for Swims in Scandinavia.

In fact, shortly after the launch, the new Swims boots went on sale at the exclusive Harrods department store in London.

“Customers still come into the stores asking for a pair of “Swims”. The name has become synonymous with rubber boots. That’s something we’re very proud of, and we sell thousands of boots every single year,” says Fegth.

Long-lasting products of exceptional quality

Since 2006, the Swims range has been boosted by more than just boots, although the roots of the brand have by no means been forgotten. Water is still a key element when it comes to product design, and revitalising and improving old classics.

“We don’t do fashion, in the sense that we launch trendy collections that change every season. We make and sell long-lasting products that will last year after year, season after season, and that first and foremost meet the needs of the consumer,” explains Fegth.

“The products should be good, reasonably priced, of a high quality and long-lasting.”

Shortly after the brand’s rubber boots became a big success in Europe, the US and the Far East, it was time to introduce the loafer. The loafer was reinvented in rubber, making it more versatile and resistant to water, including salt water.

“All Swims products have a link to water, whether it’s rubber boots, loafers, winter shoes, outer jackets, swimwear, umbrellas or bags. It’s part of the idea and philosophy that has followed the brand. The core features are the technical properties that withstand water, wind and bad weather, but which are intended for urban life in the city and not in the mountains,” she says.

A winter and a summer collection

Swims was among the first to offer just that – clothes with technical properties suited to urban life, and it was the outerwear in particular that quickly became popular with both men and women.

“In 2020, we also launched unisex snowrunners for men and women, which have become very popular in the Norwegian and international markets,” says Fegth.

Outer jackets, balaclavas and snowrunners are most popular in the winter season, while the summer collection has more of a resort vibe to it.

“Here we’ve got swimming trunks, loafers, slippers, towels, linen shirts, sunglasses and whatever else you pack for your resort holiday. These products do particularly well in the US and further south in Europe, where the climate is warmer than here in Norway.

The rubber boots sell best in October, November and December, when there is snow and slush outside. It’s odd that more people don’t buy them as their smart shoes for when it rains in summer, but that’s the way it goes,” she says.

Even so, the Norwegian brand turned over NOK 98 million in Europe last year.

Opened up to younger target group

A couple of years ago, Swims joined forces with alpinist Lucas Braathen, opening the brand to a new and younger target group.

“It really gave us a boost among new and younger customers. Customers we didn’t have before.  We think that’s valuable. We want to make something cool for the younger target groups, because the adults soon follow suit. Nevertheless, we have a range that is just as suitable for father and son as for mother and daughter,” explains Fegth.

In which stores do you think Swims sits well alongside other brands?

“There should be some products that are a little more expensive in the collection, and some that are more affordable. If Swims is the most expensive item in the store, it doesn’t sell as well. Swims thrives best in stores with an assortment that is between medium and premium,” she says.

She explains that Swims is mainly associated with a type of lifestyle.

“It’s about what you do and what you’re about, the quality of the products and the comfort they provide, as well as the brand name being synonymous with a sense of belonging. It’s a lifestyle you identify with, whether it’s in the city, sailing or on holiday.

The orange colour, which is also our brand colour, is key here.

It was a smart move making the first boots orange, which is still the brand’s main colour. From a scientific perspective, orange is one of those colours you quickly notice, which means that a customer also quickly associates it with Swims,” says Fegth.