Odlo was founded in Oslo in 1946. Its founder Odd Roar Lofterød Senior was the driving force behind the company until 1979. His favourite saying was "always make sure you're one step ahead": Lofterød had a reputation for being a creative, unconventional thinker who took off in new, previously unimagined, directions.
Born in Norway in 1915, he grew up during the difficult times of war and unemployment that characterised the early 20th century. But this did not stop his unquenchable thirst for new ideas. Instead of just waiting for a job to come along, he placed an ad saying: "Worker available for 100 crowns". He soon landed a job paying 60 crowns a month working in a factory that made machinery for the clothing industry. Using the technical expertise that he gained in the area of knitting machines, he went on to set up his own company, Odlo Fabrikker A/S. To get the company up and running, Lofterød bought his first knitting and sewing machines from his former employer. He also had the foresight to trademark his brand name worldwide.
Odd Roar Lofterød was never short of ideas, but he was short of raw materials, which were very hard to come by at the time. In 1947 he started manufacturing ladies' underwear, but he soon had a new idea. His son Odd Roar Junior was training with the Norwegian junior speed skating team. To save his son from freezing during training sessions, Odd Roar designed a new kind of training suit using Helanca fibre. As soon as Odd Roar Junior pulled on the suit at the team's training camp, his teammates were blown away. Soon top athletes were keen to try it out - everyone wanted a Helanca suit!
In 1963 he developed a warm, stretchy, high-performance suit for cross-country skiers and speed skaters using Helanca synthetic fibre. The Norwegian Olympic team wore the revolutionary new clothing at the 1964 Winter Games in Innsbruck and by the time the Winter Olympics in Sapporo came around in 1972, there were 22 national teams competing in Odlo gear. The following year, 1973, the company introduced Odlo Termic onto the market, the first fully synthetic range of functional sports underwear. Speed skaters were once again the inspiration behind this innovation. Cotton underwear had proven to be impractical, so skaters tended to just wear a pair of briefs under the Helanca suit, even when it was minus 20 degrees.