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  • The history of Fjällräven begins a lot like most other outdoor apparel company origin stories, with a young adventurer unsatisfied with their gear.

  • In this case, the adventurer is a twenty-something Swede named Åke Nordin, who was frustrated with the clunky wooden backpacking frames of an older generation.

  • And so, in 1960, nestled in a town in Sweden's High Coast, Åke began to tinker with alternative designs, eventually creating what became his first aluminum framed backpack.

  • Åke sold this first backpack and the Fjällräven brand was born.

  • Soon after, outdoor enthusiasts exploded onto the scene in the 1970s.

  • And as a result, Fjällräven became a mainstay in the Swedish outdoor community.

  • Slowly, as their famous Greenland Jacket gave way to other popular gear like thenken backpack, the company transformed into a global outdoor brand.

  • And at the core of Fjällräven lies a deep commitment to the natural world.

  • Much like its counterpart Patagonia, Fjällräven sells high-quality adventure gear at sometimes jaw-dropping price points.

  • But, for both, this price point is often justified by their ethics and attention to quality.

  • So, is Fjällräven actually an eco-conscious company like they claim?

  • And does that really justify their price?

  • Fjällräven's approach to sustainability really started 25 years ago, in 1994, with the arctic fox, which also just so happens to be the logo of their company and the English translation of Fjällräven.

  • As climate change began to drastically alter their Scandinavian habitat, these cute little animals began to disappear from the landscape.

  • And by 1994, there were between 40-80 arctic foxes left in Scandinavia.

  • So, Fjällräven did the only thing they thought they could.

  • They partnered up with the EU and sponsored research and conservation efforts for the arctic fox.

  • Since then, the fox's numbers have climbed to over 200!

  • Although this could be seen as a marketing ploy, these values are also central to the creation of their product line.

  • Especially now, as Fjällräven pours its attention into creating products like the Re-Kånken.

  • A completely environmentally-focused overhaul of the wildly popularnken backpack.

  • The Re-Kånken is woven from a single yarn made of 11 plastic bottles, which allows the backpack to eventually be recycled at the end of its use.

  • Fjällräven was also the first to utilize the SpinDye process in their production line, which allows pigment to seep into threads by spinning and dyeing them simultaneously.

  • Apparently, this process uses 75% less water, 67% fewer chemicals, and 39% less energy.

  • And now, Fjällräven is transitioning that production technique to its other products.

  • On top of all that, it's removed PFCs, a chemical pollutant used to waterproof outdoor gear, from all of its apparel.

  • And drafted a Code of Conduct for its suppliers that prioritizes animal welfare, workers' rights, and sound environmental practices.

  • So, Fjällräven is undoubtedly doing a lot to minimize their environmental impact, but they are still a for-profit company.

  • At the end of the day, they're still trying to make money.

  • So do their ethical actions justify their product's price?

  • When you walk into a typical Fjällräven store, you're confronted with two things: well-made products and a big price tag.

  • Flip over the tag for a bag like the Re-Kånken and you'll find a large 90 next to the dollar sign.

  • Or if you're looking to buy one of their Greenland Down jackets, you'll be out 500 dollars.

  • Unfortunately, Fjällräven doesn't publicly disclose how much they spend on materials and labor, so it's hard to say exactly how much of a profit they are making.

  • Their price point seems to be guided by a combination of the cost of quality long-lasting materials, their commitment to the environment, and also the up-charge that a recognized brand can incur.

  • In my opinion, if you are looking for new gear and you have enough money to spare, Fjällräven is a good bet because it's firmly committed itself as an industry leader in eco-conscious production.

  • The unfortunate truth is that it takes more time, effort, and money to create socially responsible and environmentally ethical apparel.

  • And Fjällräven is doing what it can, given the restraints of an unsustainable industry.

  • But really, as I talked about in my Patagonia video, at the end of the day, the most eco-friendly and cheapest thing you could do would be to buy used gear, or better yet, not buy at all.

The history of Fjällräven begins a lot like most other outdoor apparel company origin stories, with a young adventurer unsatisfied with their gear.

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