The ever-deepening trend of outdoor-inspired lifestyle gear is creating ripples. Closer to its epicenter is the acceptance of wearing things like Tevas and windbreakers in everyday situations, far from the trail. Further out, there’s the advent of high-end brands making pricey items with an explicit play for style, and beyond that, there’s the phenomenon of fashion brands adopting silhouettes and materials taken directly from adventure gear. Hiking boots by Prada? Sure. A Calvin Klein fleece? A$AP Rocky wore one at New York Fashion Week two years ago.
Then, where the ripples start colliding with one another and become harder to discern, there’s the outdoor brand x fashion house collaboration; Burton did it with Off-White and Vogue, The North Face regularly works with Supreme. And now Fjällräven has teamed up with Acne Studios on a just-launched 13-product capsule collection.
Outdoorsy types will recognize Fjällräven (even if they can’t pronounce its name) as a purveyor of high-end gear with a decidedly Nordic theme and a recognizable arctic fox logo. The company was born from and for expedition when its founder, Åke Nordin, sought a better trekking backpack. Today, it makes everything from casual wool sweaters to base camp-worthy tents, all with an eye on its three core tenets: functionality, durability and dependability.
Acne’s roots are, expectedly, quite different. The company was founded by Jonny Johansson in 1996 as an all-encompassing design house to create furniture, film, music, books, magazines and more. Generality and a multi-disciplinary approach are engrained in its spirit (and in its acronym-name, which is short for “Ambition to Create Novel Expressions”). Acne caught its stride in fashion through denim — it’s credited with the skinny jean trend of the early 2000s — and after realizing its success expanded its collection through a line of clothing that it describes as “ready-to-wear.” That more or less translates to styles that are easy to wear, meaning they don’t look out of place when not on a runway.
So what does a collaboration between Fjällräven and Acne look like? Like t-shirts and expedition jackets, like zip-off pants and field caps, all of it brightly-colored and playfully retro, as many fashion forays into outdoor gear tend to be. It works because Fjällräven is already considered high-end among expedition brands, because the everyday spirit of Acne is aptly-portrayed through performance fabrics like G1000 and because both brands are so unmistakably Swedish.
It also works because of the Kånken. Fjällräven may not have meant it, but its boxy backpack became iconic in urban centers as an accessory without the help of a fashion collab. With Acne, the Kånken makes its trendiness explicit (and comes in new sizes and colors). It’ll likely find itself serving as the keystone for the entire collection, which, if successful, will encourage urbanites to explore beyond city centers, even if just for a reason to wear their new coats and backpacks.
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