Swedish sheep – what’s next?
We’ve been pretty quiet on the Swedish wool front during the summer. This isn’t because nothing’s happening. The opposite in fact; lambs are being born, sheep are being sheared, products are being planned, knitted and packaged. But we didn’t have anything to show you – until now.
For this winter, we’re launching a beanie in addition to the sweater. The same basic ideas apply: the wool is Swedish; it’s un-dyed and we know exactly where it comes from. The only major difference is in the price. We wanted to make our Swedish wool products more accessible, and we feel a simple but high-quality knitted hat is a good entry point.
But for us, the growing Brattlandsgården collection is about more than just wool. It’s a testing and learning ground.
“For starters we’ve learned that wool and wool quality aren’t consistent,” explains Christiane Dolva, Fjällräven sustainability manager. “When we bought wool before, once it had already been spun into yarn, we had no idea about wastage. Now we know that lots of wool that’s sheared isn’t viable for clothing. On top of that, the whole design and buying team have pretty much become wool experts.”
Our hands on approach with Brattlands wool has meant the team now knows what questions to ask to ensure we get the quality we need and the animal welfare and environmental standards we demand.
But the project hasn’t been without its hiccups. “The small spinner we worked with close to Brattlands Farm shut down, leaving us in the lurch a little. Luckily we’d already started looking for larger alternatives, but this certainly added some urgency. We’ve now found another spinnery to work with in Dalarna. But we have to go through the start-up process with them to ensure quality and standards.”
We’ve also started looking outside of Sweden for some parts of the production chain. “We wondered what difference it would make it we moved the washing, spinning and maybe the knitting to a facility elsewhere that can do all three in one place (they don’t exist in Sweden yet) – would this free up time and money to develop other parts of the chain? We still don’t have the answer to this. We’re still trying to figure it out and decide whether we want to move some parts out of Sweden, where we see challenges to doing things domestically. There are a lot of moving parts in this project.”
But despite the ups and downs, so far the outcome has been positive. The Brattland Sweater No. 1 sold out everywhere and other Swedish farms have approached us to collaborate.
“It’s definitely been an interesting journey,” says Christiane. “But it’s been worth it, especially for what it’s taught us about wool quality, animal welfare and land management.”
The Brattlands project was about securing traceability in our wool chain. And as far as our Swedish wool is concerned, we’ve achieved this. Now we’re looking outwards, to our global supply chain. But more on that later. For now, just enjoy the new Brattland Hat No. 1, coming later this year.