How hard work paid off: The story behind Abisko Midsummer Trousers
Warm weather trekking sets specific demands when it comes to designing functional, durable, timeless clothes and equipment. Something that designer James Lee knows all about.
James Lee, Garment Designer at Fjällräven, has always cared about art but his passion is spending time in nature. It’s for this reason that he moved to Fjällräven two years ago to join the design team. He wanted to use his skills to make people feel comfortable and confident to get out in nature. His story is a testament to the importance of passion and inspiration behind designing timeless products. As a dedicated member of the design team behind the new Abisko Midsummer Collection he shares with us some insights into what makes him so proud of the new collection and his personal highlight pieces.
All our decisions are made depending on the intended use of the trouser - the form follows the function.
Garment Designer at Fjällräven
A little bit about James Lee
James spent his childhood close to nature due to growing up in the countryside in Lincolnshire, England. Being close to his brother, who lives in Peru, he spent time trekking and camping there as well. “It gave me a unique insight into different ecosystems and climates that have been able to factor into my product design work at home.” James didn’t start out his career as a product designer - instead he followed his passion for art and studying Fine Art & Art History at London’s Goldsmiths College, followed by a postgraduate degree. To balance his love of nature with his education, James decided to move into clothing design with a focus on the outdoors. At this point he decided to work for a company that he could “be proud of, and shared the same values as I did in regards to sustainability and a focus on nature.” Shortly after his move to Sweden, James joined the Fjällräven team.
It gave me a unique insight into different ecosystems and climates that have been able to factor into my product design work at home.
Starting at Fjällräven
James moved to Fjällräven on the tail end of the update of the Keb Trousers. It was during the presentation of the new trouser design that he was inspired by how detailed and thorough the research was. The extensive feedback rounds combined with the very high goals in sustainability, fit and design made him excited to get started with his next task. “This gave me an insight into the focus placed on making the most functional and sustainable garments possible and really motivated me to place the same care, passion and focus on the design of the new collections that I had the privilege to work on.”
Passion makes Perfect: Designing the Abisko Midsummer Collection
For James, functionality is the most important element when it comes to design. “We place a priority on comfort, fit and functionality - and this is taken account of in every aspect of the development process.” In regards to the Fjällräven development process, “all our decisions are made depending on the intended use of the trouser - the form follows the function.” That means there is a huge amount of planning, testing and feedback before a new design is ready to go on the market. From start to finish the design process lasts about two years. It always depends on the complexity of the product and if it involves the development of a new fabric or some other innovation, which can take far longer.
James was a dedicated member of the design team that worked on the new Abisko Midsummer Collection. This collection, which was created for release in SS20, is comprised of the lightest trekking products ever produced by Fjällräven. Specifically designed for warm weather trekking, the products are lightweight, packable, and ventilating. A big part of the design focus was to create garments that were extremely versatile, as warm weather conditions can be extremely different depending where in the world you are trekking. James gives us some insight into the design process behind the new collection. “To account for the needed versatility we produced a new fabric for this series, it is called G-1000 air stretch and it’s combined with a lightweight & breathable recycled polyester with mechanical stretch. This makes products not only lightweight but also durable. They are the perfect trousers and jacket, if you are trekking in warm weather conditions.”
Hard work pays off: The Abisko Midsummer Trousers
The most memorable part of the process for James was when the team won the ISPO Gold Award for the Abisko Midsummer Trousers, which is one of the highest accolades within the outdoor industry. “This was a really proud moment for the team, because it showed us that all the hard work had paid off and that we had managed to create a great product, that we all deserve to be proud of.” It just shows that passion does make perfect, and that is perhaps the most important element behind the development of the new Abisko Midsummer Trousers.