Nokia boots: Yip, they don’t only make cell phones

Well, I feel like I have walked into a very cold Cape Town winter, but apparently this is Finnish spring. It’s cold and rainy and people are wearing gumboots. Unlike Cape Town, life still carries on as normal in Finland… people walk their dogs, kids play outside and people cycle home, to the shops, wherever (yes, all in the rain). And just like Cape Town, there are glorious sunny days in-between that make everyone happy and bubblely. Ah sunshine – what an invention!

Before I break into song about sunshine, let’s stay focused on the rain at hand. Gumboots are tradition wear for any wet and wild weather conditions in many places all over the world and Finland has not been left behind in this wellie dash… no no, they have invented their very own form of the rain resistant footwear. Clever Finns!

The boots are called “Nokia boots”. Nokia? Yes. Nokia as in the mega company that does cell phones. There was once a multidimensional company that was based in Helsinki back in the 1890s. One of the products they made were what the British speaking world know as “Wellington boots”. I would call them “gumboots”. They were loved by the Finns and led the market for waterproof boots for a long time. At some point they moved the company to the town of Nokia which is just a bit up from Helsinki and started to call the company Nokia, just like the town. In the late 1980s the company split up into various companies and so the Nokia Footwear Company was born. The “parent” company of Nokia turned its focus to cellphones and the rest as they say, is the Finnish Technological Boom.

Many different styles of boots are available to buyers. At the University of Oulu, there seems to be one PARTICULAR style that seems to be the winner. It’s short, stopping just below midcalf, has a white band on the top and comes in an array of colours that would make Rainbow Brite want a pair. I went around university one rainy day and asked strangers if I could take photos of their boots (not an easy task but they worked out pretty quickly that I was a foreigner and therefore prone to do all manner of oddities). So here are the lovely and ever smile inducing “Nokia Boot”. I am VERY tempted to buy myself some, Cape Town does get very rainy after all…

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