Fjällräven (Swedish for arctic fox; pronounced [ˈfjɛ̂lːˌrɛːvɛn]) is a Swedish brand of Fenix Outdoor International, specialising in outdoor equipment—mostly upscale clothing and luggage.

Fjällräven AB
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryRetail
Founded1960[1][2] in Sweden
FounderÅke Nordin
Headquarters,
Sweden
Area served
Worldwide
ProductsOutdoor clothing and equipment
Production output
China; South Korea
Owner
  • Others (18%)
  • Martin Nordin (15%)
  • Liselore AG (14%)
  • Pinkerton Holding AB (14%)[3]
Number of employees
2,492 (including parent company)[3]
ParentFenix Outdoor International AG
Websitefjallraven.com

The origin company was founded in 1960 by Åke Nordin (1936–2013) from Örnsköldsvik in Northern Sweden.[1][2] The company went public in 1983 with an over-the-counter listing in Stockholm.[4] Since 2014, Fjällräven has been a subsidiary of Fenix Outdoor International AG, which is based in Switzerland and listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. The group also includes the acquired companys Tierra, Primus, Hanwag, Brunton, and Royal Robbins. The CEO of Fenix as of March 2018 was Martin Nordin, the oldest son of Åke Nordin.

History

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At age 14, Åke Nordin made a bag, using his mother’s sewing machine, out of strong cotton material and fastened it to a wooden frame using leather straps.[5] His invention caught the attention of the indigenous Sámi people.

During his time serving in the Swedish Armed Forces, Nordin realized that there was a market for durable and lightweight backpacks. Upon his discharge from the military, he established Fjällräven in 1960 and initially operated out of his family's basement.

In 1983, the company listed itself on the over-the-counter list of the Stockholm Stock Exchange.[4]

By 1996, sales had reached 133 million Swedish kronor (US$20.3 million) of which 71% was from exports.[6]

In 2002, following the purchase of the garment maker Tierra AB and the retail chains Friluftsbolaget AB and Naturkompaniet AB in 2001, the Fjällräven group changed its name to Fenix Outdoor. Fjällräven retained its separate brand identity.

Then, in 2012, Fjällräven opened its first store in New York.[7] In 2013, founder Åke Nordin died at the age of 77.

Fjällräven has a strong market presence in the Nordic countries. It is also represented in other countries in Europe. As of 2017, Fjällräven products were available in over 40 countries.[4]

Products

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Fjällräven trekking backback
 
Fjällräven clothing

Fjällräven means "The Arctic Fox" in Swedish (or "The Fell Fox" if breaking down its parts) and their products can be identified by their Arctic Fox logo, often found on the left sleeve of their tops and outerwear. The badge itself either follows the outline of the fox logo, or is in a shield-like shape. Most Fjällräven products also possess a small Swedish flag, usually located on a seam.

Fjällräven's original product was the first commercially made external framed backpack. It used an aluminium frame.[4]

The Greenland jacket was introduced in 1968. It was made from a polyester-cotton blend G-1000 fabric that is used in many other Fjällräven products. In 1973, they brought out the High Alpine Polar (HAP) sleeping bag which had armholes and drawcord foot openings, allowing users to walk around in it.[6] The brand then introduced the Gyrosoft, IGF, internal gyro backpack frame in 1981.[6]

Today, among its more well-known products, are Greenland jackets, Vidda Trousers, the Expedition Down Jacket, and various versions of the Kånken rucksack.

Most of Fjällräven's products are made from its G-1000 material, released in 1968. This is 65% polyester and 35% cotton. It comes in various types: Original, Silent, Lite, HeavyDuty, and Eco, each with slightly different properties. G-1000 can be waxed with Fjällräven's Greenland Wax, which can be impregnated with heat applied from a hairdryer, iron or campfire. This affects the water resistance and breathability of the item. Some products come pre-waxed. The process is similar to that of Belstaff wax jackets.

Termo tents

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Before Fjällräven's entry into the market, most tents were constructed with a single layer of cotton. They weighed around 3–4 kilograms (6.6–8.8 lb) when dry and twice that weight when wet. Synthetic tents were an option, but they were made of thin material that allowed moisture to seep through or was so impenetrable that moisture condensed on the inside.[8]

Believing that users would want to carry as little weight as possible, and not want any equipment inside the tent to get wet, Nordin designed a solution. In 1964, he brought the Termo tent to the market. It combined an outer waterproof flysheet made of a strong, waterproof polyester fabric and a breathable inner tent made from a thin, breathable "Rutarme" polyamide (nylon). This combination allowed moisture to be expelled from the living area before condensing on the inner surface of the flysheet. The tent weighed 1.4 kg (3 lbs).[8]

In 1967, the company launched the Termo G-66 tent.[6]

Greenland jacket and trousers

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In 1966, Fjällräven backpacks and Termo condensation-free tents were taken by a number of the members of a research expedition to Greenland to study glaciers. With praises for the Fjällräven equipment, they told Nordin it was unfortunate that the company had not also produced their jackets and trousers, which were made of boiled wool and leather and had proven unsatisfactory.[9] This inspired Nordin to consider entering the clothing segment. He identified that a fabric that had proven too heavy for use in the company's lightweight tents would be durable enough for a jacket, but he needed to find a way of waterproofing it. Remembering that when he was a child at a local ski jump with his friends, they had prevented the snow from soaking through their trousers by rubbing the wax meant for their skis onto the fabric, he began experimenting with different wax solutions. He eventually developed a solution of paraffin and beeswax which he then applied to the fabric with the help of his wife's hairdryer.[10]

The finished jacket entered the market in 1968. It was called the Greenland Jacket,[4] the fabric was named G-1000, and the beeswax and paraffin mixture was sold as Greenland Wax.

In 1970, the company introduced the Greenland Trousers using the G-1000 material previously used in the Greenland jacket.

Fjällräven Kånken

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Vintage Kånken backpack
 
Kånken backpacks in a shop stand

The Fjällräven Kånken is Fjällräven's best-selling product. It was originally developed as a reaction to a 1977 study of an increasing number of reports that Swedish school children were developing back problems from their more traditional bags.[4] The backpack, which was released in 1978, was Fjällräven's attempt to solve this problem.[11]

In 1977, Fjällräven made prototypes of the "Kånken" and gave it to some kids in Sweden to test it out. During its first year in production, 400 were sold, increasing to 30,000 the following year. As of April 2018, Fjällräven sold the Kånken in 54 different colours.

By 2008, over three million Kånken daypacks had been produced, with 200,000 being made each year.[6]

The range has expanded to include the Mini-Kånken with a capacity of 7 litres released in 2002[6] for preschoolers; the Kånken Laptop, released in 2006 with a back pocket for a laptop; the Re-Kånken, released in 2016 and made of polyester from recycled plastic bottles; and the Tree-Kånken, released in 2021, made from Pine Weave, a fabric produced using more sustainable methods from certified Swedish trees grown close to Fjällräven's hometown of Örnsköldsvik.[citation needed]

Kånkens have a different logo from most other Fjällräven products, which are white and red as opposed to the usual light brown colour. The Kånken was awarded the Guldknappen Accessoar design prize in 2018.[12]

Sponsorship

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Fjällräven Polar

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In the early 1990s, Åke Nordin met Kenth Fjellborg, one of Sweden's leading dog-sled drivers. Fjellborg had participated in Iditarod, the world's most difficult dog sled competition through the harsh Alaskan wilderness, so Nordin decided to create a Swedish equivalent. In 1997, Fjällräven Polar took place in the Scandinavian Arctic for the first time.

The event also provides an opportunity for Fjällräven to test out clothes, tents and other equipment in the winter wilderness of northern Scandinavia.

Fjällräven Classic

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Wishing to encourage and enable more people to get out and enjoy trekking, Åke Nordin at the start of the 21st century came up with the Fjällräven Classic. It is not a competition or a race, but a chance to socialise with other hikers and enjoy the trek. There were just 152 finishers at the first Swedish Classic in 2005 and by 2015 there were 2,136 finishers. Fjällräven Classic now takes place in six different locations around the world: Sweden, Denmark, the US, the UK, South-Korea and Germany.

Fjällräven Center

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For many years, Nordin supported his hometown of Örnsköldsvik's Modo Hockey professional ice hockey club. In November 2009, Fjällräven acquired the naming rights to the club's home arena, which from January 2010 until August 2021 was called the Fjällräven Center.

References

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  1. ^ a b "Fjällräven AB". Nationalencyklopedin (in Swedish). Retrieved 5 March 2011. (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b "The history of Fjällräven". Fjällräven AB. Archived from the original on 9 January 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  3. ^ a b "FENIX OUTDOOR ANNUAL REPORT 2018" (PDF). Fenix Outdoor Group. 2018. Retrieved 2019-10-29.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Fenix Outdoor Annual Report 2017" (PDF). Fenix Outdoor International AG. March 2018. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  5. ^ "About Fjällräven". Fjällräven. March 2018. Archived from the original on January 9, 2017. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Fjällraven History". Compass. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  7. ^ Hochman, David (February 27, 2008). "Classic Swedish Brand Fjällräven Reinvents Itself In An Age Of Hype Beasts". Fjällräven. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "The 1964 tent revolution". Fjällräven. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  9. ^ Renwick, Will (March 6, 2018). "The Quirky Story Behind An Iconic Jacket By Fjällräven - Greenland At 50". Outdoors Magic. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  10. ^ "From Greenland to G-1000". Fjällräven. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  11. ^ "History of Fjallraven Kanken Bags". The Idle Man. November 13, 2018. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  12. ^ "Here is the winner of Damernas Värld Guldknappen Accessories 2018!". Damernas. October 27, 2018. Archived from the original on October 30, 2018. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
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