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The company had its beginnings in Norway when Captain Helly Juell Hansen and his wife Maren Margarethe started making water resistant clothing for those who worked at sea by soaking linen in linseed oil. In the early 1900s they started producing leisure wear, camping and sailing gear. During the 1940s the company developed new methods of producing water resistant clothing, introducing PVC to the process which they named Linox and Helox.
From the 1960s Helly Hansen began making thermal underwear and in 1970 developed the Lifa® base layer. In 1984 they launched Helly Tech®, a waterproof, windproof and breathable fabric. In the 1990s the label began to be adopted by different subcultures. In the United Kingdom the brand was worn by teenagers in the north of England as streetwear, in Germany skin heads appropriated the HH logo, and in the US black Americans on the east coast integrated Helly Hansen into hip hop style.
From the early 2000s the company focussed on their products for outdoor sports including sailing, skiing and mountaineering.
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