We talk a lot about durability and emotional longevity at Fjällräven. They aren’t just buzzwords we use to sell products. Our designers have a checklist they must go through when designing our products; durability and longevity are two criteria on that list. We think they’re the most important aspects of sustainability. A product that lasts is obviously better for the environment – its lifetime carbon footprint is lower than for a product that only lasts a season or two. But it’s the idea of emotional longevity that makes the item truly eco-friendly. And by emotional longevity we mean a product that you actually want to wear many years from now. There’s no use producing a product from durable materials if it spends its lifetime hanging in a wardrobe. You have to want to wear it.
Our Greenland products, from jackets to trousers to backpacks, are some of the best examples of emotional longevity. They’re not our most technically advanced. They’re for the everyday. Day after day. And since we launched our first Greenland product 50 years ago, we’ve changed very little in the aesthetics. So when we decided to update and expand our Greenland collection to mark its fiftieth anniversary, our designers were a little nervous. How could they update a collection in such a way as to preserve its timeless iconic status?
“It was a challenge to keep the uniqueness and history of Greenland, but also make the products more relevant to today,” says designer Thomas Håkansson. “It’s easy to get carried away with the latest innovations and techniques and end up producing an over-done product.”
And this is just the thing that’s so important to avoid when designing Greenland products in particular. It’s their simple designs that ensure they are timeless and treasured for years to come.
“It was a combination of pressure and pleasure,” says designer Sarah Isaksson. “But mostly fun to be honest. Even though we’ve wanted to make small changes and adjustments, Greenland products have been off limits for so long. When we finally got the opportunity to make these changes and create a load of new products, too, it was really fun and rewarding.”
Many of the products required just small updates, mostly in their fits, trims and material choice –all Greenland Updated products are made using G-1000 Eco, a mixture of organic cotton and recycled polyester that’s better for the environment. But some products are completely new, including the Greenland Half Century Jacket.
“We really challenged ourselves with the Greenland Half Century Jacket,” explains Thomas. “We worked from the idea that if Åke (Nordin, Fjällräven founder) were to make an outdoor jacket today he would create the Half Century Jacket. It’s very innovative, but based on our heritage. Something I’m really proud of is our use of taped seams.”
This technique is usually reserved for shell garments because of its ability to keep out water. In fact, many people – including some of our own sales team – were initially sceptical about taping the seams of a garment made from G-1000. But by doing so we’ve been able to create a really tactile, fluid garment that feels light and unrestrictive when it’s on.
“It gives a much smoother look and feel,” says Sarah. “It’s a more contemporary look, but at the same time, because of the Greenland design details, it’s still familiar.”
It also shows we take R&D seriously and want to bring new techniques to our everyday products. It shouldn’t just be our most technical garments that get the VIP treatment. And we’re proud of our G-1000 materials. They offer simplicity and versatility in a way that many other materials don’t.
A plethora of new colours have been added to the Greenland collection too. The inspiration for this came from Greenland, the place that inspired the original items.
“All the buildings in Greenland were originally coloured according to their function,” explains Sarah. “One colour for the police station, another for the fire station. This idea about function is so familiar to us – we design with a specific function or purpose in mind. So we decided to use some of these colours in the new collection.”
But for those of you that like our Greenland products just the way they are, there is no cause for concern. Yes we’ve made some small changes. And yes we’ve expanded the collection. But the same DNA continues to run through the family. The same handy pockets, the same tough materials, the same understated designs.
“I’ve always liked the idea of being able to wear Greenland garments in the outdoors – they’re rough and can take a few hits – but at the same time wear them around Stockholm as everyday garments,” says Sarah. “I think that’s why people love them so much. They can use them every day, building up so many memories and adding their own personality too them.”
Text: Sarah Benton