Here at Nordic Outdoor Wool is considered one of the most important fabrics around and some of our favourite brands focus their entire collection on using high quality wool to create the most functional outdoor clothing available. Whether we are cooing over the latest Aclima Merino Wool base layers or furiously studying Dale of Norway’s Norwegian Wool providers the Nordic Outdoor office is constantly talking wool. With this in mind, we decided to take a deeper dive into the Fjällräven Re-wool collection to find out a little more about what one of our biggest brands is doing to innovate the wool market.
In the past five years there has been an increased focus on sustainability and the environmental impact caused by clothing manufacturing. This can only be considered a good thing and here at Nordic Outdoor we exclusively work with brands who showcase a clear commitment to creating a more sustainable supply chain. As part of this new focus on sustainability we have seen companies creating new garments from recycled PET bottles, recycled cotton and down. As one of the market leaders when it comes to sustainable outdoor clothing Fjällräven have taken a new initiative with their Re-Wool collection.
Can Wool be recycled?
Here at Nordic Outdoor we like to look at the lifespan of a product rather than focusing what happens to the product at the end of life. Wool, as a natural product, is entirely biodegradable it truly fits with our goal for a circular future. During the products lifecycle however it is important to look at how long a product will last for as we all know one of the key ways to be more sustainable is simply to buy less. The good news is that Wool is one of the highest quality and most durable fabrics around and a woollen garments lifespan can be up to five times longer than that of their cotton equivalent.
Fjällräven however have not simply looked at the end of life for woollen garments to create a more sustainable manufacturing process but instead they have looked at the wastage involved with wool production. By studying one particular location in Italy the brand have been able to come up with an innovative solution to a longstanding problem; what to do with woollen offcuts.
The Story of Prato
By tradition Italy is one of the most recognised textile producers in the world and Italian made has often been used as a byword for quality manufacturing. In the heart of Tuscany sits Prato, a city recognised for their wool production and with a reputation for fine craftsmanship. Not only are Prato’s garment manufacturers extremely skilled but they also have a reputation for shrewdness. Unlike many wool garment manufacturers those in Prato do not discard or burn the woollen offcuts from the production process, instead they collect this material to be used elsewhere.
The issue that arises when you are collecting woollen offcuts is that this mix of fabric can no longer be described as virgin wool, in fact it could no longer be described as wool! The offcuts instead were designated; “other fibres” and we’re sure you will agree that a ‘woollen sweater’ sounds a lot more appealing than an ‘other fibre sweater’.
Fjällräven and Re-Wool
As a brand with a focus on sustainability and a history of creating quality woollen garments Fjällräven identified a problem with the wool industry as a whole. Out with the area of Prato many manufacturers were simply burning their offcuts (which had already been spun and dyed) to avoid the dreaded other fibre classification. After researching the history of Prato and their manufacturing one of the Fjällräven designers Thomas Håkansson brought the idea of reusing this offcut wool to the team as another way to boost their credentials as a sustainable manufacturer.
By teaming up with three family owned manufacturers in Prato Fjällräven have managed to introduce a whole new range to their collection with the introduction of Re-Wool. Re-Wool garments take the leftover wool from sweaters, suits and even the leftover yarn still left on the cone and give this a new lease of life. The woollen offcuts are then colour sorted and shredded before being blended to create the required new colours which will become Fjällräven Re-wool. By blending the old fibres to an exact recipe, the colours of Fjällräven Re-Wool sweaters are so much deeper and nuanced than for many of their other wool garments, that aren’t made from blended wool fibres.
When woollen offcuts are reused in this way it does result in slightly shorter fibres than in virgin wool which can result in a slightly less strong construction. As durability and lifespan is essential to every Fjällräven product the brand have solved this issue by blending a small amount of virgin wool or polyester to ensure the strength of the product.
The real winner with the Fjällräven Re-Wool collection is the environment as the entire process is less energy and resource intensive than using virgin wool. It is the perfect example of taking a item which was otherwise destined to become waste and turning this into a product that can enhance someone’s enjoyment of the outdoors.
Fjällräven Re-Wool at Nordic Outdoor
Fjällräven are extremely proud of the work they have done with Re-Wool and the way they have used this waste material to produce functional and stylish clothing, that doesn’t mean however they will be replacing all their wool with Re-Wool!
For Autumn Winter ’19 Fjällräven have employed this production process in a number of garments including their Greenland Re-Wool Cardigan and Greenland Re-Wool Sweater. Another popular style from the Swedish brand to be given the recycled touch is the Ovik shirt, available online in two colourways.
Our favourite Re-wool garments from the Autumn Winter collection however come from the Norrvage range. The new Norrvage Pocket and Foldsack are a serious way to upgrade your everyday luggage collection with recycled wool and G-1000 interior lining.
If you enjoyed learning about Re-wool and how the brands we stock are working to improve their sustainability then you can read our full sustainability statement here. There are always new findings in the world of sustainability and new approaches that Nordic Outdoor can take to improve our business! If you have any suggestions then we’d love to hear them and you can email us at [email protected]