Fjällräven knows functionality. It is its number one design principle. But it doesn’t just design for functionality. Aiming to be the most premium and sustainable global outdoor brand requires Fjällräven to design with nature in mind. And this means balancing functionality with sustainability.
To keep the Swedish outdoor brand on track and ensure this balance is always obtained, it has four guiding design principles.
What will people be using the product for? Whether long-distance trekking, mountaineering or daily use, there’s a reason Fjällräven puts that pocket there and shapes that jacket just so. If a product is truly functional, it will prove itself time and again.
2. Physical durability
Products should last. It’s a simple as that. Materials are chosen for their ability to stand up to the rigors of the trail. And life. At the same time, Fjällräven must balance a material’s functionality and efficiency with its environmental impact.
Wear and tear are part of outdoor exploration. Fjällräven accepts this and designs for it. And educates outdoor enthusiasts on how to repair their garments.
4. Timeless Design
It’s not enough to ensure materials last a long time. If a product looks dated in two seasons’ time people won’t want to wear it. So Fjällräven designs with timelessness in mind.
Material choice accounts for a massive chunk of a brand’s environmental impact. And it goes hand-in-hand with functionality. A material that might have a lower impact on the environment but that doesn’t do what it’s designed to do – keep you dry, let’s say – then it’s not sustainable as people will just discard it and buy an alternative. That’s why Fjällräven uses a Preferred Materials List to guide its material choice. The list ranks materials based on their environmental impact. Fjällräven’s designers can then choose the best possible material fit for purpose. Together with its Chemical Guideline, Fjällräven can grade different types of material in order to balance functionality with sustainability to continue moving in the right direction. Materials are graded from excellent to ok, with a category reserved at the bottom for do not use fibres and chemicals, such as angora wool and PFCs.
A decade ago perfluorocarbons (PFCs) were found in Antarctic penguins and Arctic polar bears. Although long-term effects were unknown, there were suggestions that pfcs affected the body’s immune and hormone systems. This was enough for Fjällräven. It decided to ban PFCs from all of its products. This decision coincided with Fjällräven’s aim of adding breathable waterproof shell garments to its range. The challenge was to produce a functional, breathable waterproof shell fabric without the best water-resistant, but toxic, impregnant out there: PFCs.
What are PFCs?
Perfluorinated chemicals, also known as PFCs or fluorocarbons, are traditionally used in the outdoor industry because they have the ability to make materials water repellent. However, they don’t break down in nature. Instead, they stay there and can be stored in living organisms working their way up the food chain. They can also affect reproduction and hormone production in mammals and are suspected carcinogens.
The product team got to work developing a shell material that was breathable, waterproof and utilised a durable water repellent (DWR) that was free from PFCs. Using a mix of recycled and virgin polyester as well as a new impregnation treatment, Fjällräven was able to create its proprietary material Eco-Shell. Read more about Fjällräven Eco-Shell here. Since the launch in 2015 Fjällräven’s Eco-Shell collection has expanded from trekking to mountaineering and even everyday adventures and its commitment to pfc-free impregnation never wavers.
This season Eco-Shell is joined by High Coast Hydratic, bringing on-trail functionality to everyday activities. Like Eco-Shell, Hydratic products use PFC-free impregnation and offer waterproofness and breathability in a sustainable and versatile package. The High Coast Hydratic Jackets and Trousers are made using recycled polyamide and feature a protective printed pattern on the inside.
PFC-free impregnation, made with recycled materials, breathable and waterproof.