Why is Fjällräven so expensive?


The history of Fjallraven 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 Ake 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, Ake began to tinker with alternative designs, eventually creating what became his
first aluminum framed backpack. Ake sold this first backpack and the Fjallraven
brand was born. Soon after, outdoor enthusiasts exploded onto
the scene in the 1970s, and as a result, Fjallraven became a mainstay in the Swedish outdoor community. Slowly, as their famous Greenland Jacket gave
way to other popular gear like the Kanken backpack, the company transformed into a global
outdoor brand. And at the core of the Fjallraven lies a deep
commitment to the natural world. Much like its counterpart Patagonia, Fjallraven
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 Fjallraven actually an eco-conscious
company like they claim? And does that justify their price? Fjallraven’s approach to sustainability
really started 25 years ago, in 1994, with the arctic fox, which just so happens to be
the logo of their company and the English translation of Fjallraven. As climate change began to drastically alter
the 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, Fjallraven 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 Fjallraven pours its attention
into creating products like the Re-Kanken. A completely environmentally-friendly overhaul
of the wildly popular Kanken backpack. The Re-Kanken 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. Fjallraven was also the first to utilize the
SpinDye process in their production line, which allows pigment to seep into threads
by spinning and dying them simultaneously. Apparently, this process uses 75% less water,
67% fewer chemicals and 39% less energy. And now, Fjallraven is transitioning that
production technique to its other products. In addition, it’s removed PFCs, a chemical
pollutant used to waterproof outdoor gear, from all of its apparel, and drafted a Code
of Conduct for suppliers that prioritize animal welfare, workers rights, and sound environmental
practices. So, Fjallraven 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 trying to
make money. So do their ethical actions justify their
product’s price? When you walk into a typical Fjallraven 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-Kanken
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, Fjallraven 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 upcharge that a recognized brand can incur. In my opinion, if you are looking for new
gear and you have enough money to spare, Fjallraven 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 Fjallraven is doing what it can be given the restraints of an unsustainable industry. But really, as I talked about in my Patagonia
video, the most eco-friendly and cheapest thing you could do would be to buy used gear
or better yet to not buy at all.

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