The Conference & Updates

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Swedish wool on Mount Everest – opportunities and challenges for a traditional fiber in a new context

Erik Blomberg is product developer and designer for Fenix Outdoor, with brands such as Fjällräven and Tierra. When he read in the newspapers that a large amount of Swedish wool was wasted, he wanted to make a difference. As wool is a perfect material for sustainable outdoor products, Erik started a project for using Swedish wool in the company. It was not that easy at first, but with innovation and creative thinking most problems were solved. 

Fenix Outdoor produces clothing and equipment for all sorts of outdoor activities. Their mission is to inspire the world to walk with nature and their vision is to be the most premium and sustainable global outdoor brand. They aim for a sustainable production where non-renewable materials are replaced with renewable ones and to recycle, reuse and reduce materials. 

The company has a long tradition of using wool, but in 2016 they didn’t use any Swedish wool at all – though they wanted to. The problem was that everybody said it was impossible, as the wool was of too uneven quality, coarse, dirty, etc. Now they have worked with 40 tonnes of Swedish wool in three different products. The secret is to work with the material in the product development and to adapt the product – not the fibre!

One project was to use Swedish wool from the newly developed Jämtland sheep breed (with a wool type similar to merino) in knitwear. It was successful but didn’t increase the use of renewable materials as merino wool was exchanged with local fibres. So they started to develop a new product where Swedish waste wool could replace plastic foam in backpacks. For this product they used needle punched and pressed wool in different colors from different breeds. (So uneven and coarse quality was not a big problem).

They also developed a wool padding for jackets. This was challenging at first but in the long run Swedish wool turned out to be very good for padding as it has some extra stiffness. And the users like wool padding because they don’t need to change clothes as often as with polyester padding! 

The next step will be to single out the wool with best qualities and add more value to it by making both knitted and woven fabrics. The lower quality wool can be used in backpacks and padding. Here a system for classification of Swedish wool would be needed. Fenix Outdoor also wants to continue to build and support a more local wool industry.

Right now the company has access to enough wool but they want to buy more in the future. There are good scouring facilities in Sweden, but we could need other companies processing after scouring and that could be done in the Baltic area!

Baltic Wool Conference

7-9 October 2021

The Gotland Region believes that there is a great deal of knowledge and a great potential for development around the wool business in Gotland. Partly in entrepreneurship, but also locally in the micro industries. We would like to contribute to the development of the wool industry. We strongly believe this conference in the long term will contribute to many of our strategic focus areas. It will be a visitor occasion in October, it will lead to development of the wool industry and it will strengthen craftsmanship and a living cultural heritage.

Nils-Erik Selin, Head of growth and development, Region Gotland

The National Swedish Handicraft Council (NFH) is a government agency under the Ministry of Culture with the task of promoting handicrafts. Important partners for the Authority’s work are the country’s regions, civil society organizations and other cultural authorities. Priority areas include sustainability, cultural and creative industries as well as working with the intangible cultural heritage.

Since the autumn of 2018, a national developer has been focusing on sustainability and wool issues at NFH. The goal is an agenda for how the wool issues, like classification and infrastructure, should be solved at national level together with various actors and authorities. This is done in the form of seminars, conferences and networking, both within Sweden and abroad. The initiative “Baltic Wool Conference” is part of the work to promote the Swedish wool industry, create new contacts and opportunities for further development together with the countries around the Baltic Sea.

Annkristin Hult, National Developer

The Rural Economy and Agricultural Society Gotland, which hosts the Baltic Wool Conference, works for developing business in the countryside. Lamb production is an important industry in Gotland that provides both tasty lamb meat, shimmering lambskin and wool for many uses. Grazing animals keep the landscape open and provide biodiversity. We believe in the development of the Swedish wool industry in collaboration with our neighbors around the Baltic Sea.

Mats Pettersson, CEO of Hushållningssällskapet Gotland