A chat about the beginnings of Fjallraven.
When did Fjallraven begin?
Fjällräven began when a young, adventurous boy named Åke Nordin grew frustrated with the lack of functional equipment to take with him in to the wilderness. Ake loved exploring the forests and mountains near his home town of Örnsköldsvik in Northern Sweden and in his industrious spirit, started creating better gear for outdoor use – and here we are over 50 years later!
What was the first product they made? Do they still make it?
The first thing Åke made was a backpack. It was V – shaped to get the centre of gravity as high as possible, attached to a wooden frame for stability. It looks a little strange now, but was such an improvement on what was available at the time that foresters and reindeer herdsmen who he met on his travels asked Åke to make similar frames for them.
What’s the company’s philosophy?
The Fjällräven philosophy is simple – we build durable, functional and timeless equipment that inspire people to go outdoors and discover nature. This is the mission Åke envisioned from the beginning and it hasn’t changed since.
Why do you think its stood the test of time?
Because being fashionable was never the focus. Currently, Fjällräven is most famous for the little square Kånken backpack, but this backpack went to market in the 70’s – long before it became a fashion icon. And we will continue to make it long after the fad too because it’s a great backpack, with a simple design that serves its function well and it’s built to last. This goes for all of our products.
“We’ve been trekking for 50 years. Let’s hope we never get there”. Love this quote on the website. Can you explain the significance of this quote in respect to the company?
This quote from Åke completely encapsulates the Fjällräven spirit because in our view, the outdoor experience isn’t a competition. It’s not about winning or being the first to get anywhere, but enjoying nature and appreciating the journey. Similarly, the company is on an ongoing journey strive for improvement and create better equipment.
How important is it for Fjallraven to be ethical? What form does this take?
Fjällräven’s work with ethics & sustainability is always on going. It’s a huge commitment and there’s a lot that goes in to it, but very simply it’s approached in a couple of ways:
Firstly, by collaborating with international organisations like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and FLA to share best practices and set higher standards for the company and our suppliers. And secondly, by placing a greater demand for on suppliers to meet these standards in all areas such as animal welfare, reducing environmental impacts and improving work conditions.
How has being Swedish impacted on building the brand?
There is definitely a heritage element to our products that give it a distinctly Scandinavian feel and sets it apart from other brands in the outdoor space. Many brands have this emphasis on ‘performance’ materials that come with a laundry list of specs. Whereas much of Fjällräven gear is still made in G-1000 – a super durable and light organic cotton/recycled polyester weave that is impregnated with wax, as well as other natural materials.
How was the brand evolved or changed over time?
The brand has come a long way from being Sweden’s best kept secret to a truly global brand. The range has become wider and more versatile to accommodate for different climates and outdoor activities around the world. We’re also becoming better with reducing the environmental impact of our brand – for example since 2015 all textiles in Fjällräven products have been fluorocarbon free and we’re introducing more and more sustainable materials to our range.
How many people work for the brand now?
Globally, well in the hundreds, if not, thousands!
You have an Ambassador program, tell us how this works and how people can apply?
Our aim for the ambassador program is to connect with and promote individuals in Australia & New Zealand who uphold the same values as us – encouraging people to discover nature and to value environmental stewardship and acting responsibly towards others. Our ambassadors will get special access to our products and opportunities to participate in exciting events from time to time. We’ll also look to our ambassadors for feedback on what we do and content we can share. If you think you fit the bill, head over to: www.fjallraven.com.au/pages/ambassadors
Why do you think Fjallraven resonates with so many people?
Because Fjällräven make top quality gear that will last you a lifetime and then some. That’s been the promise since the very beginning and we’ve kept it. And, it looks half decent too!