The shoemaking tradition in Aurland has roots going back to the 1880s. Many believe that the English salmon-fishing aristocracy who came to Aurland at this time were an important reason why shoemaking flourished in Aurland. The 'salmon lords' needed help repairing their shoes, which may have inspired the trade.
Nils Tveranger and the first Aurland Shoe
The early version of the Aurland shoe probably appeared on the market in 1908. Nils Tveranger came to Aurland as a young man, having learned shoemaking in America, and set himself up as a cobbler. He developed the first version of the Aurland shoe, which had laces and eyes and went under the name of National Shoe. Tveranger made the cobbler's art into a profession. With Hansine Toraldsdotter Onstad, he produced 4 children and some of his descendants still work at the shoemakers today.
While the 1930s were a time of depression, in Aurland there was optimism.
Nils Tveranger developed the Aurland moccasin, which had similarities with the Norwegian Teseskoen, and was later named the Aurland shoe. It was highly coveted in the decades after World War 2 and became a fashion shoe for both men and women. It was exported to the UK, Canada and the USA and even became popular in remote Svalbard.
Hard times and decline
Towards the end of the 1960s, the Norwegian shoe industry hit hard times. Increased competition led to many closures of shoemakers across the country and this also affected shoe production in Aurland. From a time of 19 shoe factories employing 100 people, there were soon very few left. One who did however try to carry on was Ansgar Wangen, who with his wife Eldbjørg and son Svein Odar maintained this longstanding shoemaking tradition. Since 1989, the Aurland Shoemakers have been the only manufacturers of the Aurland shoe.
Visit The Aurland Shoe and find our more about its history in the Aurland Shoe Économusée, a living exhibition centre for this craft tradition.