Tretorn was founded in Helsingborg, Sweden in 1891, and has come a long way since. Today, you can find our brand in stores all over the world, but we remain committed to our living heritage. For us, this means proven expertise in creating products that can withstand Scandinavian weather without getting in the way of everyday life. It also means creating products that are stylish and worn equally by city-dwellers and nature-lovers. Ultimately, Tretorn is about celebrating both style and practicality.
In 1896, five years after the start we produced 1 million pairs of galoshes in Helsingborg and in 1900, we produced our first sneakers. Looking back we have pioneered the sneaker, the rubber boot and even the tennis ball for more than 120 years. We’ve been synonymous with the sport for the century. From our first rubber boots to the world’s first luxurious tennis sneakers.
We’re proud of our history and our legacy. From the rough weather that got us started in 1891 to the continued improvement and innovation that keeps us going, are we celebrating our living heritage. To our first 128 years – and evolving for many more years to come.
January 3rd, 1891 the Dunker family opened up the doors to the new rubber factory that came to be known as Tretorn. The number of employees was 52 and the factory floor about 2,500 square meters. The factory produced galoshes for farmers to protect their feet. The tough Scandinavian weather was challenging for the farmers who didn’t have shoes to protect them from the cold or wet weather. The new Tretorn galoshes were a big innovation, which helped farmers all over the country to stay warm and dry when they were walking the fields. In the next coming year Tretorn produced 39 000 pair of galoshes.
Tretorn’s innovative galoshes in combination with the tough Scandinavian weather, made the business expand swiftly. In only five years’ time Tretorn had reached a production of 1 million galoshes.
As the production increased, Tretorn expanded rapidly and only 9 years after the start increased the number of employees from 52 to 575.
What many don’t know is that Tretorn is the second oldest sneaker manufacture in the world. Right after the US rubber company started producing Keds. The Dunker family were big sports enthusiasts and with the knowledge how to vulcanizing rubber Henry Dunker decided to start going into the sports business. 1st May 1900, we produced our first rubber sole sneaker. A huge innovation in footwear and the beginning of a new era for Tretorn.
The Dunker family took their interest in sports to next level. Two years after the first sneakers launched, Henry Dunker and Tretorn first started making tennis balls. The tennis balls became very popular and were widely distributed.
Tretorn went from only producing protective galoshes for the farmers to produce the first rubber boot, as we know it today. This was a natural progression and made the rubber boot user-friendly to not only the farmers but also to regular customers.
The majority of the factory’s employees were women. So in 1911 Henry Dunker started one of the world’s first private day-care and called it “Barnkrubban”. They took care of the employee’s children whilst they were working. This set the standard on how the relationship and responsibility was developed between the employees and employer. Some say that “Barnkrubban” is the reason for the saying “CSR The Swedish Way”.
In 1915 Tretorn was appointed by the Swedish Royal Court by king Gustav V. Gustav V was a huge sports and hunting enthusiast and a famous tennis player under the pseudonym Mr. G. in Sweden known as V Gurra. Tretorn are still today supplying the Royal Court.
30 years after Tretorn’s first sneaker was produced the canvas shoe had a huge breakthrough on the global market. Sneakers quickly become a global phenomenon and Tretorn became a sneakers brand on the global market. This was the prime time for Tretorn and many other sneakers brands.
During the Second World War all imports of rubber were stopped. In 1939 a nation-wide rubber collection started in Sweden. Tretorn encouraged customers to hand in old rubber boots and rubber waste and they then regenerated the rubber at the factory into new products.
October 15th, 1946 Tretorn produced a tennis ball made of dandelion rubber. The special ball was an experiment and became an innovatio
With innovations like the rubber boot, sneakers and tennis ball on the resume, Tretorn became internationally well known; with global fame Tretorn becomes Scandinavia’s biggest producer of rubber in the 1950’s. With 3000 employees Tretorn was manufacturing 7 million rubber boots a year.
After the war the farming community grew and the demand for protective footwear increased. To create protective work wear boots was in Tretorn’s DNA and we in 1952 presented the classic work wear boot Castor. It was designed with an innersole made of wood to give the rubber boot extra stability and the farmers a feeling of comfort that reminded them of wearing clogs.
Henry and Gerda Dunker started the Dunker foundation. They were committed to offer elderly care for the people living in Helsingborg and donate money to cancer research. After Henry and Gerda’s death the foundation took care of the couples house and made into a nursing home – Villa Hevea that’s still up and running to this day.
As a natural step from the success with sport shoes in the 30’s, we introduced a remake of the Tournament as an on court tennis sneaker. The style is a true original and re-launched in a contemporary eco design for 2019.
In 1955 it was time for Tretorn’s next big innovation. This was the year we invented and submitted the patent for the permanent pressurised ball or pressure less ball. The same tennis ball is used all over the world today.
Pressures less balls are designed differently from regular tennis balls in the sense that pressure less balls have bounce built into the rubber core and cannot lose pressure or bounce over time.
The only time they need replacing is when their cover becomes worn. This, on average, occurs within 1-2 years. Today, TRETORN still produce the most advanced and playable pressure less balls in the world.
In 1960 Tretorn invented low compression balls - a range of softer balls, which moved slower to enable effective and easier development of tennis skills.
First launched as “Davis Cup” and later renamed to “Racket”. This wildly popular original ‘ Racket ‘ sneaker was made for professional court tennis. With it’s robust rubber toecap and the three-layer pimpled sole, that wouldn’t wear out during the toughest of play. It was a innovative tennis clay court shoe that raised to iconic heights. This is a true original icon and re-launched in a contemporary eco design for 2019.
In 1961 Henry Dunker the founder of Tretorn dies. He leaves behind one of the largest inheritances in Sweden at that time. Since he and Gerda Dunker were childless they decided to leave in their will 58 million SEK (a value of 550 million SEK today) to the Dunker Donation Fund and the Dunker Foundation.
The money from Henry and Gerda’s Donation fund are meant to make everyday life better for the people living in Helsingborg. The money from the fund is still today distributed by Helsingborg council to build new culture and sports venues (see year 2002 for more info).
In 1967 Tretorn launched Nylite, the first luxury tennis sneaker in the world. It became a favourite when tennis stars like Björn Borg and Martina Navratilova dominated the world’s stage. Borg wore the shoe both on and off the court, and it rocketed to celebrity status after being used at both Wimbledon and US-open in the 70’s. By the late 80’s we had also established ourselves in the world of fashion. Using innovation to drive both functionality and design our shoes became style staples. The canvas Nylite was named the must-have in The Official Preppy Handbook.
Tretorn starts collaboration with Katja Of Sweden, one of Sweden’s most influential designers at the time. Katja Of Sweden was working with Tretorn, designing fashion lines, riding boots, sailing boots and sneakers for many seasons.
The Olympics took place in Mexico 1968, also known as the design Olympics because of the graphic design campaign, which became one of the most famous in Olympic history. Tretorn was proud creators of the official Swedish Olympic team sneaker and became after this event even more acknowledge as a sports and sneakers brand across the world.
The Olympic was also the official Olympic team sneaker during the winter Olympics in Grenoble.
At the end of the 60s sailing became very popular as a sport and hobby. At this time Tretorn’s classic sailing collection Wings was first launched. The rubber sailing boots became quickly popular and could be seen all over the Swedish archipelago.
In the beginning of the 70’s people were reconnecting to nature by hiking and walking the woods. In 1972 Tretorn’s classic hiking boot Sarek was first launched. Designed to be comfortable during long hikes. Tretorn trademarked the Swedish national park Sarek as a brand name the same year.
The Swedish King (crown prince at the time) was on the cover of Tretorn’s staff magazine called “Skohornet” wearing the Olympic sneaker.
In 1976 Tretorn presented a special collaboration with ABBA, designing special edition Tretorn X ABBA clogs. This was the first music collaboration in Tretorn’s history. A huge opportunity for Tretorn since ABBA was one of the world’s most famous groups at the time.
The year was 1977 and the place was Roland Garros. Guillermo Vilas was playing Brian Gottfried in the French Open final and the Tretorn tennis ball was the official match ball.
Since Tretorn sneakers had built a strong connection to the US sports market Tretorn decided to move the sports shoes manufacturing so it would be “Made in USA”.
The outdoor lifestyle grew in Sweden. People were out hiking, fishing and spending time at their summerhouses. Tretorn’s classic rubber boot Strong was presented for the first time and become popular for the whole family. Strong is still today one of Tretorn’s best-selling rubber boots.
During the 80’s the preppy trend grew in US and the famous Preppy Handbook was written. The book taught the readers where to shop, what to wear and became quickly very popular among young people. Nylite had at that time been seen on several famous people and had a celebrity status. In 1980’s when the Preppy Handbook was released, Nylite was named as one of “the must-have sneakers ” in the handbook. A huge recognition that made the shoe even more popular!
Tretorn launched the new unique pressure less XL Tennis boll. The first pressure less tennis ball with performance that could be compared with pressurized balls. And it rapidly became a big success the next coming years it became one of the most popular tennis ball In Sweden as well as I many other countries, including Switzerland, Belgium, Singapore, Italy and Mexico. It was sold in more than 80 countries and was the tennis ball with the world’s highest sales growth rate.
By this time Björn Borg had been working with Tretorn for many years. But in 1985 he officially joins the Tretorn Advisory team as an expert to help out with product innovation and marketing. He plays an active part in the Tretorn team, giving advice to improve existing products and ideas for new products. His analyses of product development were just as highly quality-conscious as his tennis game.
Like Tretorn Björn Borg was convinced that there are no shortcuts to success. There is no substitute for hard work. Three years after the XL Tennis Ball launch Tretorn launches the PLUS ball together with Björn Borg.
Production of the Tretorn XL and PLUS is based on unique new rubber compound. Application of these materials demanded totally new production technology. Conventional manual methods were replaced by an advanced, computerized production line in which the rubber blanks for the tennis balls were manufactured to meet the utmost criteria for precision.
Björn Borg brings new creativity to the brand and the same year as the Tretorn PLUS Ball was launched Björn Borg plays tennis with Tretorn at the Great Wall of China.
June 14th 1991 Tretorn are celebrating a 100-year anniversary. Legends like Stan Smith and Illie Nastase show up for the celebrations in Helsingborg. A center court was built outside the factory and a tournament held.
Tretorn's micro cellular technology launches and is patented worldwide and recognized by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) as the pioneer in a new category of tennis balls called 'micro cell.' Tretorn's micro cell tennis balls, the Micro X, is neither pressurized nor pressure less. The Micro X ball combines the best of both worlds, resulting in a tour performance ball that does not lose bounce or performance over time.
Tretorn launches pressurized tennis balls and become official sponsors at the WTA (Women Professional Tennis Association).
Dunkers Kulturhus is built in Helsingborg. Henry and Gerda Dunker’s foundation funds the community cultural centre. This foundation also made it possible to build culture and sport venues like Kulturmagasinet, the sports stadium Olympia, Graphic Museum and the Helsingborg city theatre.
Tretorn wins Swedish fashion magazine Café´s fashion award as the year’s sneaker brand.
The revolutionary riding boot Advanced, designed in collaboration with Malin Baryard launches.
Tretorn and Acne goes into collaboration and launches three different co-labs over three seasons. The first Treton X Acne sneakers collaboration was presented in 2007.
Tretorn and Acne present their second Treton X Acne sneakers collaboration.
Tretorn and Acne present their third Treton X Acne sneakers collaboration.
Exclusive sneakers collaboration with Comme De Garçon is launched. The co-lab was very successful and seen on the feet of global music stars like Kanye West.
Tretorn sign official ball partnerships with selected tournaments on the WTA and ATP World Tour, this includes Hamburg, Stockholm, Umag, Zabreb and Båstad.
In 2016 we celebrated 125 years in business, this made us rethink about the companies basic philosophy and what kind of products we want to make for the next 125 years. We have a long heritage of CSR and responsible manufacturing and as we face huge climate challenges we decided it was time to take even greater responsibility. To use our planets limited resources in a more innovative way we decided to start the Eco Essentials Initiative.
Tretorn launches the first Eco Essentials project – the Left Over Project Together with the Swedish outdoor retailer Naturkompaniet we launched a rain jacket collection inspired by natural ecosystems, where nothing should go to waste. We bought leftover fabrics from manufacturers and reused it by creating extremely limited edition collections.
Tretorn and Naturkompaniet launch the second Eco Essentials project. A limited co-lab collection made out of recycled fishing nets, collected to prevent ghost nets in our oceans.
Tretorn is selected and highlighted at UN’s World Ocean Conference as a benchmark company working towards climate goals.
Tretorn and Naturkompaniet launch the third Eco Essentials project. A premium co-lab rain jacket, 100% degradable, eliminates fossil fuel usage with PLA from tapioca and sugar cane.
The unique fabric, Tretorn OCEAN-SHELL®, was launched in 2018 as our next invention within the Eco Essentials initiative. The OCEAN-SHELL® is a three layer fabric made from recycled PET-bottles collected from the ocean outside of Taiwan. The jacket is equipped with hydrophilic membrane also made from recycled PET from the ocean. Making the fabric a full circle renewable source adapted to be recycled again.
The OCEAN-SHELL® fabric at the moment can be found in jackets like the Arch and Sphere jackets. This is a fabric created to innovate the future so you can count on finding it in Tretorn’s collections in many new creative ways from now on.
The “I André Benjamin Will Not Draw In Class” Collection launches. The collection is inspired by Andrés personal connection to the classic Nylite as he grows up in Atlanta. From Andre´s original sketches to the completed line, the classic Nylite has been infused with the style icon’s playful spirit and design sensibility.
Tretorn reinvents iconic sneakers from the 60's, but with a cleaner footprint inte the spirit of Eco Essentials Initiative.