TEXT: LIZ LONGDEN | PHOTOS © SUPERSTUDIO
Börje Salming’s name is already engraved in Swedish history as one of the country’s all-time greatest athletes, a man who achieved legendary success on a global level. The sports performance brand that he founded, and which bears his name, aims for no less.
An unconventional trailblazer, born and raised in the rugged beauty of Lapland. A proud athlete of Sami descent, who went on to become one of the NHL’s greatest ever players. A man famed for his strength, his hardiness, and his unswerving desire to continually develop and improve. There are many things that can be said about Börje Salming, the Swedish ice-hockey legend who helped pave the way for future European players in North America. Some people would settle simply for ‘legend’.
The same striving for excellence without compromise, which hallmarked Salming’s sporting career, also characterises the brand he founded in 2001. Since that time, Salming Sports has gone on to establish itself as a leading producer of sports footwear, clothing and equipment in the disciplines of running, floorball, handball, squash, badminton and volleyball. Major markets are Sweden, Norway, France, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, with sister companies operating in Germany and in the US and Canada.
“The values of the Salming brand are an extension of Börje Salming’s personality, both on and off the ice,” explains Thomas Nord, Salming’s head of design and creative director. “His attitude was to always give 100 per cent, whether it was a match or just training, and his willpower and fighting spirit is the core around which we build everything we do.”
Over 50 per cent of Salming’s turnover comes from footwear, where the company has earned the reputation as an innovator, picking up numerous design awards over the years. Most recently, the yet-to-be-released Salming iSpike took the gold winner award for Best Product in the category ‘Health and Fitness — Trailrunning Shoes’ at the 2018 ISPO Awards. Developed in collaboration with the Italian rubber outsole specialists Vibram, the state-of-the-art winter running shoe distinguishes itself with its ultra-lightweight, high-performance gripping outsole with spikes, which makes safe and enjoyable running possible in icy conditions.
Salming has also picked up two nominations for the Svenska Designpriset (‘Swedish design prize’), including in the category ‘Product Design’, for the Salming Hawk shoe, which was launched in tandem with the handball Velux EHF Champions League finals last spring. The Hawk shoe employs technology inspired by hiking shoes to create a rollbar, smooth contoured edge, ensuring greater contact with the surface, along with Salmings ‘Recoil’ energy return foam, which improves athletes’ gait cycle. Other design features promote better shock absorption and greater stability, not to mention improved durability.
For Nord, this relentless investment in design innovation is a natural and intrinsic part of the company’s philosophy. “Salming is a sports performance brand, so innovation and continuous development are central to our survival,” he says.
This reputation for innovation excellence, coupled with the company’s growing global presence, made Salming an obvious choice for official partner for the European Handball Federation’s (EHF) Champions League, Women’s Champions League and both the men’s and women’s European Championships.
Handball is already well-established as one of Europe’s most popular sports, and interest in pan-continental tournaments at both club and country level is increasing year-on-year, with an average of ten broadcasters covering each group phase match in last year’s Champions League and, for example, record viewing figures in France. This year’s competition will continue to develop and increase the sport’s profile, with the first ever UHD production and broadcast. Salming will be at the heart of this sporting celebration, as official provider of shoes and clothing.
In terms of its wider growth strategy, Nord explains that Salming is now preparing for ‘phase two’ of its development, to consolidate its market position within its specialist disciplines. Nevertheless, its ethos, he stresses, will continue to be built around the values instilled by Börje Salming.
“Our unique background is rooted in Norrland heritage and a culture of iron willpower and perseverance, which permeates everything we do, from how we develop our products to how we bring them to market,” he says. “Our products are made for physically active people who appreciate transparency and honesty and for whom Salming is a conscious choice. It is as simple as that. Our slogan says it all: ‘no nonsense products for no nonsense people™’.”