Iconic Swedish brand Fjallraven opens first Aussie store

Fjallraven’s Kanken rucksack is said to be the world’s best selling backpack. The colourful, angular design has become beloved the world over since it was first launched by the Swedish outdoor brand in 1978.

But if it’s not already instantly recognisable to you, it soon will be, with the opening of the first Fjallraven bricks-and-mortar store in Australia on Thursday.

The store at Melbourne Central shopping centre, which is in fact Fjallraven’s first in the entire Southern Hemisphere, will stock the iconic Kanken bag alongside a broader range of outdoor gear, including jackets, pants and tops.

Fjallraven’s ANZ brand manager Susan Park said the customer response has been strong since local wholesale distributor Zen Imports first brought the brand to market 18 months ago through partnerships with retail partners in Australia and New Zealand, as well as an e-commerce site.

Online month-on-month sales growth has been “astronomical”, according to Park. Reportedly, about 50 per cent of sales are Kanken bags.

Introducing ‘fika’

That response was a significant factor in Fjallraven’s decision to open a bricks-and-mortar store in Australia, which it sees as an “essential” part of creating an integrated brand experience, according to Park.

For example, the retailer will be serving complimentary coffee, tea and small snacks to customers in its Melbourne Central store at certain times of day and inviting them to spend time in the store and chat with staff.

“The idea is to introduce the concept of the Swedish ‘fika’ to our customers, which basically translates to a coffee break, but in Swedish culture it’s more about using coffee as an excuse to slow down and enjoy the moment,” Park explained.

“We felt that really resonated with the Fjallraven identity, which [as an outdoor retailer] is not about being the first or fastest, but rather about creating clothing and equipment that allow you to enjoy nature at your own pace.”

But there’s another layer to the ‘fika’ offering, since the people serving customers will be trained team members from the Social Foundry, a Melbourne-based social enterprise that Fjallraven is partnering with in Australia.

The organisation seeks to empower communities to mentor, nurture, and impart life-skills to at-risk people in their local neighbourhoods.

“Things like that are really important to anchor our brand in the local space, so it’s not just another store in the mall. We want to give people a reason to come that’s more than just stuff we want to sell to them,” Park said.

More stores to come

Park described the Melbourne store as a “proof of concept” and said the company hopes to open further bricks-and-mortar stores in Australia in future.

But she said the brand still has a long to go in Australia and New Zealand to catch up to markets like the US and South Korea, where it has dozens of stores.

“Australia is still very small compared to all the other countries in the world, so it makes sense that we’re not quite there yet,” Park said.

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