Fjällräven launches Swedish wool project
Swedish outdoor apparel and accessories label Fjällräven wants to relaunch Swedish wool production. Its objective is to ensure full traceability throughout its entire Sweden-based wool supply and manufacturing chain. For this purpose, Fjällräven has set up a collaboration with Brattlandsgården, a sheep farm located in central Sweden. The project's first phase, sourcing high quality wool from Swedish sheep, has now been completed.
Fjällräven had already launched a sustainability initiative in 2013, calling it 'The Fjällräven Way': it abolished the use of PFCs in the manufacturing process, increased the use of biological and recycled materials and established a down traceability policy, its 'Down Promise', which was voted the outdoor industry's best by international animal welfare charity Four Paws.
Because Swedish sheep are mostly reared to produce meat, their wool is rough and degraded, and most of it is discarded, or used to manufacture rugs. Fjällräven wanted to reduce wool waste, and analysed the supply chain in depth, attempting to eliminate unscrupulous manufacturing practices and revive Swedish wool production.
"Traceability is hard to achieve, especially when sourcing [wool] from far-away countries such as Australia, New Zealand or South Africa," stated Christiane Dolva, Fjällräven's Head of Sustainability.
"We often purchase wool from yarn producers, or from fabric producers who deal with yarn producers, who in turn deal with spinners, and so on. We also wanted (...) to set up a wholly Swedish wool supply and manufacturing chain, but this proved very difficult since the process has been externalised for such a long time," she added.
This led to the creation of Fjällräven's best-practices project for Swedish wool, which began with the label purchasing sheep, in collaboration with breeder Natasha Skott and Brattlandsgården, a holistic sheep farm from central Sweden. The sheep belong to a new Swedish breed called Jämtlandsfår, which generates very fine quality wool, with fibre diameter between 19 and 21 micron, similar to merino wool's.
"We have learned a lot about the wool washing process, and the treatments wool can be subsequently subjected to. (...) Our Swedish wool (...) will be dye-free and will only be available in natural hues. This means our customers will have to learn how to take care of it, and (...) wash the finished product by hand," explained Christiane Dolva. A first batch of sweaters will be available for the autumn/winter 2017 season.
Fjällräven is hoping to apply what it learned through the project to its international wool supply chain. It is also working with launderers, spinners and weavers to make sure its output is 100% made in Sweden. The label's future aim is to broaden and expand the project, making wool always traceable.
Fjällräven was founded in 1960 by Ake Nordin in his home's cellar in Örnsköldsvik, northern Sweden. The range features men's and women's outdoor apparel and accessories, including backpacks, tents and sleeping bags, and is distributed in over thirty countries worldwide.
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