Thursday, January 26

The death of Palmroth

(Edit on 24.01.2013: Reader please note that this article is from 2012. And fortunately since then Palmroth has started anew: . You should also check out their facebook pages. There are interesting comments by the Palmroth family below the post. A Definite read.)


I know the title is dramatic, and by all means I don't mean any actual human being. I'm talking about the finnish shoe brand: Pertti Palmroth.
My relationship with this brand is shallow and superficial to say the least. And the recent bankruptcy of Hamken Oy (the company's name) isn't in itself a melancholic event. What saddens me is that this is only one of the signs of a sure downfall of Finland's once glorious shoe industry. It was never internationally glorious, but served it's purpose as the people's choice when there still was no import, and all of those millions of shoes were made just for two nations: Finland and Russia.
Now, for the reasons why the finnish shoe industry has plummeted during the last decades, there's not an easy answer. And frankly, how on earth should I know? All I have are the few small details of what I've heard or seen. So the death of this company shows just the reality of what's going on with the industry.

After the studies last week, I visited the silent factory last wednesday evening. Like I said, I've no nostalgy or emotional ties with this brand. But stepping into the factory and seeing the silent and still space filled with machines, equipment, parts and lasts, made me realize that that place had seen some busy times. For decades people have run across those floors, busy with producing millions of shoes worn by people across the land. The generations have changed, old masters teaching snot nosed kids how to start with their new summer job. There's been good times, and bad ones. There's been families forming and breaking. People dreaming of that something special for their future. Until...

...It all ends.
And a couple of vultures land on the carrion
hoping for a cheap and easy snack:

We're at the front of Pertti Palmroth's factory. The lights are lit only because we're coming to meet the representative.

A general view of a part of the hall. It's quite tidy, I must say!
At the front is the logo stamping machinist's desk. To the right, sewing machines with yellow hoods on them.

In a shoe factory, the amount of required component's is huge. This is actually a small shelf filled with cutting patterns made of steel.

Here's where all the logos to your Palmroth's shoe insoles came from. You can see the metal folio running across the machine on the top of the picture.

Here's the actual logo stamp, sitting alone next to the machine.

Hmmm... I think I've seen this model somewhere. The working just stopped and someone dropped this pair out of his hands and went home.

It's leather! Or is it? I think Palmroth's shoes were somewhat famous for their use of synthetic materials. Or infamous, depending on the view point.

This beauty had been stowed away between the shelves. A prototype?
Even though I was never a big fan of their products, I must take off my hat and bow to Pertti Palmroth for contributing to the finnish shoe industry, and sharing his passion for the rest of us to enjoy.

Rest in peace.


  1. Minulla on nuo valkoiset kaunottaret :)

    On ihan järkyttävää jos Palmrothin toimintaa ei saada enää elvytettyä, minulla on tunneside kyseiseen merkkiin. Tosin vintage-Palmrotheihin enimmäkseen, poikkeuksena nuo viime vuoden valkoiset kävelykengät. Palmrothin vanhat mallit ovat siroja ja kauniita, en ymmärrä miksi jossain vaiheessa ne mallit vaihdettiin turvallisiin tätikenkiin!! Nyt kuitenkin valoa näkyi taas tunnelissa (viittaan taas noihin valkoisiin siroihin kävelykenkiini) ja sitten...

    1. Mä muistelinkin että sun blogissa näin ekan kerran nuo kyseiset, ja hienothan ne on :) Mahtavaa että tuota perinteistä oxford leikkausta on käytetty noinkin minimalistisesti. Oxfordia ei liiemmin näe noin ylensäkkään suomalaisissa kengissä, johtuen varmaan mallin niukemmasta sopivuudesta.

      Ja tällä hetkellä näyttää Niina pahasti siltä ettei paluuta ole, ellei joku nyt satu tuota brändiä ostamaan. En itseasiassa tiedä onko brändi itsessään myynnissä, mutta tehdas ainakin on.
      Mä näin siellä jossain lattian rajassa vanhoja puisia lestejä yhden sarjan, ja ehkä niillä olis siellä jossain kätköissä enemmänkin vanhoja osia?
      Saa nähdä, yritän joka tapauksessa päästä työni puolesta haaskalle :/

  2. I was close involved with Pertti Palmroth. The title caught my attention.

    Even though I like the drama and melancholy of the story, it does give a little bit of a wrong perception of the company that unfortunately has ended. I understand the symbolism in it, but still have respond with some facts.

    Pertti Palmroth did not sell only to Russia and Finland. In 2011 we sold to Sweden, Norway, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, USA, Switserland, Russia and Japan as well. Export was 65% and employment over 60. The company has sold to Bally, Harrods/London, Saks Fifth Avenue/New York, Holt Renfrew/Toronto, Isetan/Tokyo etc. So there was some international success as well in it's history.

    We did sell a lot of all-weather classics. Still if you look at our collection, there was a lot more to it, it was versatile and had great models. We were very proud of it.

    I personally took charge of the company in 2008 and unfortunately was not able to turn it around. We believed in our products and our excellent personal with decades of experience in producing footwear. We had personel from 20 to 65 years old.

    Unfortunately in last years we had some setback and did not have the possibility to get working capital needed for production, making production more difficult delaying deliveries etc.
    Our history and that of the industry did not have the best record and it was in the end impossible to get refinanced.

    New challenges lie ahead for everybody. There has been interest from local in international investers to continue but at this time it is still very difficult to get additional capital from financial institutions for this type of business.

    In general I hope the combination of design, craftmanship and local manufactoring get opportunities in the future and is not only seen as something from the past. I still believe very strongly in it even though we did not succeed with it in the end.

    Mikko Palmroth
    managing director 2008-2011

    1. Dear Sir,
      I have to say I am deeply honored to have you comment on my post. It's a good thing to get some clarifications and facts, rather than just my thoughts on them. I try to prevent generalization, but since my views are very limited and I'm in no way an authority, generalization happens with unfortunate certainty.

      I whole heartedly agree with your last sentence; nothing would excite me more than to see our shoe industry flourish now and in the future. It's a very beautiful industry with long history and lots of skilled men and women producing shoes from vision to product.
      With passion. It's a passionate industry, and I do wish that we'll get to testify fruits of your vision in the future Mr. Palmroth.

      And although this post was a bit over dramatic and incorrect in it's message, I hope that you'll enjoy my blog in the future.

      Otso Mäensivu

    2. Would like to say to Mikko Palmroth that I am deeply sorry that your shoes are no longer. I bought my first boots from PP with my first salary. The boots were black and grey and you could fold them down to ankle boots - loved them! I have bought a lot of ankle boots since then, even though I think you could have done a bette job marketing and selling them in Sweden. I still don't understand why you didn't have more shops selling your shoes here. You had a great design and a great feeling for how shoes should be made to fit the nordic climate. I hope your design find other ways to reach the market in the future.

      Best wishes

  3. Thank you Otso. You always need to simplily stories to make a point and I like drama and passion in a writer. I'm sure I will enjoy your future blogs.


  4. wow what a shame to loose another production site in Europe just as companies and brands are reflecting on bringing back production to Europe from the Far-East.


    1. Thanks for your comment Paul! You need not worry anymore, since the company was bought by another finnish footwear company, quite soon after this article. So maybe there's a lingering hope for the industry yet :)

    2. Hello Otso,
      I am living in the UK, but visit Finland for my business and was in fact hoping to make contact with Pertti Palmroth today to present special materials that would have really enhanced the comfort of their products.

      I did notice your comment here about a takeover by another company, and wondered if you might be kind enough to share their name with me so that I could contact them?

      In any case, I did enjoy your blog, and really felt your feelings of sadness and disappointment about the loss of a "local" brand and its history.
      I see the same things happening here in the UK and it also makes me very unhappy.

      Best regards,

    3. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment! Pertti Palmroth was bought by a legendary finnish slippers producing brand called "reinokauppa". I don't know will they continue making women's shoes, or change it completely, but here's a link to their contacts, hope you'll do fine:

    4. The company's name is "roavvoaivi Oy".

  5. I'm so Very Very disappointed that PP is no longer producing. I live in Atlantic canada and have purchased PP boots every year for many years. I have quite a collection since they never wear out!I have been searching for this years new products and came across this blog.
    Thanks to all that worked in that factory and to the owner for producing beautiful, quality boots for the past years.

    1. Thanks for your input Joni, it's always nice to hear peoples experiences :)

  6. I fully agree with Joni. I'm in the UK, and acquired my PP ankle boots from a friend who bought them in a job lot of second hand shoes in an auction. They were unworn, but I wore them throughout last winter as the smartest, most comfortable and versatile footwear - beautifully made. I had never heard of the manufacturer in the UK, and just researched the company to see if I could buy some more pairs. How very sad. Thanks indeed to all concerned

    1. Thanks Sarah, I guess quality winter boots aren't to be taken for granted are they not?

  7. Just when I searched Pertti Palmroth again I saw this blog and realized that PP has been closed.
    You might not believe that far away from Finland someone in a small island has always liked PP’s boots a lot. I particularly like their shiny short boots, chic and stylish.
    I used to live in Amsterdam area of the Netherlands for some years. 2 times I travelled to Maastricht for holiday I bought 2 pairs of winter boots in Maastricht where a shop selling only PP shoes. For some family reason I left the Netherlands in 2008 and brought along the last pair. The boots became old and no longer waterproof. On 18 Sept 2010 I decided to send an e-mail to PP asking if I could buy a pair of boot and they deliver to me either by post or I would pick up early 2011. I was flying to Zuirch by Finnair in Jan 2011 and wondering if PP would deliver the boots to Helsinki airport where I transited. Such a weird request I did not really expect any reply!
    I even attached a photo of my old pair of PP boots in the e-mail. To my surprise, a lady called Passari replied me by attaching 2 photos of short boots similar to my old boots! Below I quote some:
    [[ The last pair I had was 13574-3-1 which was actually a little too large for me but there was not much sizes suitable for me as I had rather small foot (my shoes are always 34/35 in EUR size) ]]
    [[ Attached you will find few models which should be similar to the ones shown in your picture.
    The models shown in pictures 30329-33 and 30800-33 we have in non-shiny, black All-Weather material with synthetic fur lining in sizes 2 and 2,5(which is approximately 35 in EUR size).
    The boots in picture 30646-10 we have in shiny, black All-Weather material with real fur lining in size 3 (36 in EUR size). Size in this model runs quite small. ]]
    But then after my reply on 26 Sept 2010 asking for the price I got no response anymore.
    I thank for the PP boots which earned me lots of praises when I was wearning them.
    I am Grace, from Hong Kong

    1. Thanks Grace, that was a nice story :) I think some brands touch us more, and if such brand is ceased... well it tends to bum one down. Recently another very old and big shoefactory was filed to bankcruptcy. It's beyond hopeless for the Finnish shoe industry. Maybe with collaboration and genuine reflection we might get this train still moving?

    2. Dear Grace,
      I just happened to enter this page of Otso Mäensivu, after having googled Pertti Palmroth and found the chocking title "The death of Palmroth" in the internet. Mr. Pertti Palmroth, the most famous shoe designer in Scandinavia is my husband and really NOT DEAD. The title is so uncorrect! The factory was closed down for the reason not to be mentioned here, but happily our son Mikko Palmroth has restarted the production in Finland and the first successful year of exports is behind.
      During the 2012 a new collection of Palmroth Original was presented and boots delivered already to 10 different countries. Now the shoe fairs for the new season FW2013-14 have started and the first and successful presentation has taken place here in New York this week.

      We are glad to inform all those persons visiting this site, that Palmroth is also very alive again as far as the products are concerned.

      That is why we ask you, Mr. Mäenpää to change your title "the Death of Palmroth". It was very deeply hurting my husband to read such thing in the internet. And while not even the product Palmroth has died, please kindly change the title as soon as possible.

      We know and are glad to hear how many satisfied customers we have had in those 40 countries we have exported shoes and boots from Finland since 1958. We exported appr. 8-9 million pairs and continue to do this work
      with a lot of pleasure, energy and commitment by our family.

      Hannele Palmroth
      PALMROTH Original

    3. Dear Hannele,
      First of all I'd like to thank you for sharing your thoughts and it's a marvelous thing that the brand Palmroth lives on.

      Now, if you actually read the blog writing, you can see that it's not in any way meant to insult anyone, as it's about my feelings about the diminishing state of the Finnish shoe-industry in general. It reflects my love and passion towards making shoes whether industrial or handmade.

      I'm very sorry if you feel hurt or insulted, which was never the purpose.
      My greatest respects go to you, Pertti and your family for giving such great things to our culture.
      And many prosperous days to come!

      Best regards,
      Otso Mäensivu

  8. Dear Otso,

    I am Dutch, and bought 2 pairs of PP boots about 15 years ago. Then another pair on the Helsinki airport. They are all officially no longer functioning, but I was trying to find a new pair. They are great in wet and/or cold weather.

    First I was sad to read that the original factory stopped production, but I read your blog all the way down. So, I found that the brand is alive and kicking again.

    I will try and find new PP boots again in the Netherlands, since I have really grown to like them. All the best for the new company!!

    Kind regards,
    Marleen van Doorneveld
    's-Hertogenbosch/The Netherlands

    1. Wow, it's starting to be obvious that PP's winter shoes had a solid clientele abroad. So it's good news for all of you fans and I hope they'll have an online shop to provide you with your favourite boots. Check out the links on top of this page.
      Thanks for your input Ms. van Doorneveld :)

  9. My PP winter boots just fell apart during the arctic cold snap we are experiencing on the US east coast this month. I was online hoping to buy another pair and found this sad news about the company. I bought many PP products when I lived in Sweden and Finland and they were miraculous for withstanding the Nordic cold, traction on slippery pavement AND looking classy and beautiful. I remember standing at a snowy Stockholm bus stop for 30 minutes before my feet began to feel the chill. Amazing. PP is such a symbol of Finnish design and Nordic ingenuity. I'm still mourning the loss of my Saab auto, so I hope PP can be successful coming back. Mia in Washington, DC

  10. Where will I get a pair of all weather waterproof boots that can be worn with pride in Italy? A pair that will make italians to wonder if they are Gucci or what? After 25years in London PP boots were the only thing to wear in that constant rain....what will Reino do with the style I wonder.

  11. As a PP customer from Norway - and the only PP shop in Oslo was closed, I had no other choice than to travel to Helsinki to by PP shoes. You don't find shoes like this anywhere else. So I brought 4 pair of shoes with me home from that trip. I sincerely hope that PP will continue their manufacturig of footwear, because next winter I'm gonna need new PP ankle boots.