Fjallraven focuses their sustainability efforts on the longevity of their products, meaning that they make them long-lasting so their customers buy less. The products that they offer are built to last and they are made to be repairable rather than thrown out, which makes them better for the environment in the long term. Overall, Fjallraven has pledged to work collaboratively and take action with other apparel giants in order to address inequalities and environmental issues throughout their supply chain. They have demonstrated their commitment to a sustainable supply chain through their policy initiatives, such as their involvement with the UN Global Compact, as well as collaboration with industry partners. It is clear that Fjallraven cares about supporting environmental and social initiatives, but they still have aspects of their company that could be strengthened to meet sustainability goals. Fjallraven has found an innovative way to reimagine weather-resistant products with less harm to the environment, through their Eco-Shell collection. A criticism that I have about Fjallraven and the Eco-Shell jackets is in regards to accessibility. As a leading outdoor apparel brand, the company has a responsibility to make products for all people in the name of environmental justice, but at the current prices, the products are limited to a certain demographic of people. The garment has won awards for sustainability but is at an unattainable price point for most customers, which inhibits the widespread use of the product. The philosophy of Fjallraven is that their products are meant to last a lifetime, so if you consider the jacket as a lifetime investment then maybe the $500 price point is slightly easier to accept.
Fjallraven’s line of waterproof products is known as Eco-Shell. The goal of the line was to create a functioning “shell garment” to protect people from the weather, but they wanted to create a material that resisted wind and rain without necessarily harming nature. The Eco-Shell jackets are made from recycled polyester, which means the decreased use of raw materials. The recycled polyester that is used in the Eco-Shell jackets comes from “plastic PET bottles, unusable second quality fabrics and fabric offcuts.” The use of these recycled materials reduces air, water, and soil contamination. The company website offers easily accessible Care and Repair recommendations for recycled polyester in order to extend the lifetime of the garment.
Fluorocarbons are commonly added to garments in order to make them waterproof. Fluorocarbons are harmful chemical compounds that don’t break down in the environment, but rather slowly work their way up the food chain and biomagnify in organisms over time. Fjallraven uses a fluorocarbon-free water repellent known as DWR in order to avoid the use of harmful chemicals in their manufacturing processes. This sustainable choice by Fjallraven means that the waterproof nature of their products will wear away over time, which the company calls a compromise for not releasing fluorocarbons into the atmosphere. It is very good to see a company care enough about their environmental impact that they would compromise the performance of their product. In order to make garments remain waterproof over time, Fjallraven sells a fluorocarbon-free spray that can be used to re-waterproof garments at home. Fjallraven understands that the successful creation of a rain-resistant product without the use of PFCs is not the end of the line for their sustainability efforts. On the website, they acknowledge that the company still has a way to go and they commit to continually evaluating production processes to make them more sustainable.
Fjallraven has a sustainable design philosophy that includes using recyclable materials, rather than using raw materials, whenever possible. They state that the type and amount of the necessary material is a key consideration in their design process and that they work with the cut and fit of a material in order to reduce waste. In terms of recycling, Fjallraven states that they hope garment recycling will become more widespread, therefore, they try to include one or two materials in each product for “easier future recycling”. The company has also launched limited-edition apparel lines that are made from leftover fabric in their supply chain. In order to choose sustainable materials, Fjallraven uses a Preferred Materials And Fibres List that grades materials by their impact on the environment. Materials on the Preferred Materials and Fibres List are divided into categories: Excellent, Good, and OK. The company balances the chosen material’s functionality and efficiency with its environmental impact in order to create the best product. For managing chemical usage, there is the Fjallraven Chemical Guideline that the company uses to “navigate the complicated world of hazardous and banned chemicals”. This list is managed by the Swedish Chemicals Group which is overseen by the Swedish Research Institute for Industrial and Sustainable Growth. This management of chemicals by multiple agencies ensures Fjallraven’s compliance with industry standards and regulations. With all of this being said, there could definitely be more accessible information about the specific sourcing of materials.
The company website states that they want to work with other industry leaders to improve working conditions, reduce environmental impact, and eradicate corruption. Fjallraven has a code of conduct that is based on the Fair Labor Association’s Workplace Code of Conduct. This code of conduct covers human rights, animal welfare, environmental protection, sustainable development, and anti-corruption efforts. Suppliers for Fjallraven must undergo training and are supported throughout the supply chain process in order to ensure compliance with the code of conduct at all stages of production. In addition to the training, Fjallraven has third-party auditors regularly check up on suppliers to ensure that everything is up to standard.
Fjallraven is a member of The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which aims to create “a global consumer goods industry that gives more than it takes — to the planet and its people.” The SAC is a group of 80 leading apparel companies that collaborate and share information on best practices in order to have a positive social impact and reduce the negative environmental impact of the industry. In addition to the SAC, Fjallraven has been a member of the Fair Labor Association, whose focus is to improve working and labor conditions worldwide. Fjallraven has stated that being a member of the FLA has allowed them to improve their approach to ethical sourcing. It is clear that the company has a commitment to ethical sourcing, however, I think they could be more transparent about specific sources of materials as well as working conditions because behind-the-scenes work is important, but transparency is equally as important.
In terms of animal welfare, Fjallraven is making efforts to create a sustainable supply chain, but still is using animal products. They make sure that they work particularly closely with their suppliers of animal-derived products, and work with international organizations to follow and create ethical production standards. The website states that the company is working to establish full traceability in all of their animal-derived materials supply chains. Over time, Fjallraven has made considerable strides in tracing the ethics of their animal-derived products. They have done this by breaking down the materials by source and tracing the supply chain while ensuring animal welfare criteria is being met from as low in the chain as the farm level. For wool, they use the Responsible Wool Standard and for down feathers, they have created their Down Promise. Fjallraven has made their sourcing of down, fully traceable. They state that the down they use is a by-product of the food industry, in order to reduce waste. The company prides itself on having one of the outdoor industry’s most transparent down supply chains. The company also has efforts in place to “climate compensate” all Eco-Shell garments. This means that all emissions during production and transportation of the Eco-Shell products are made up for through renewable energy projects.
Fjallraven has a section on their website that is titled Climate Compensation, in which they discuss their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In my opinion, as a leader in outdoor apparel, the goals of the company could definitely be more ambitious. In order to offset their emissions, Fjallraven supports renewable energy projects that have been verified by the United Nations and certified by the Gold Standard, an independent assessment of CO2 emission reduction efforts. In 2021, Fjallraven still has a sentence on their website that says their goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by 25% by 2020. It is unclear whether this goal has been achieved. In order to give customers a better sense of Fjallraven’s commitment to sustainability, it would be helpful to provide this information clearly on the website. The company has also aligned itself with another United Nations initiative, the UN Sustainable Fashion Charter for Climate Change. Through this initiative, Fjallraven partners and collaborates with other industry leaders to “address the climate impact of the fashion sector across its entire value chain”.