Swedish outdoor brand Lundhags continues its expansion, while disrupting the industry with fresh, sustainable strategies. CEO Henrik Ottosson gave us the lowdown.
Founded in the Swedish region of Jämtland by shoemaker Jonas Lundhag in 1932, we’re an authentic outdoor brand with roots in boot craftsmanship. The brand’s based on four pillars: authenticity, functionality, sustainable and Nordic – in that we develop functional products for hiking and outdoor activities in the harsh climate of this part of the world in all seasons. The classic outdoor-tradition is our DNA and the most important thing to us is to make product that lasts. We want our customers to keep their Lundhags pieces for many years and we design them – quality-wise and aesthetically – so that you’d want to hang on to them.
What sets the brand apart from the competition?
Product-wise, our shell principle and fabric choices characterize the way we work. We don’t believe in boots with a heavy lining as we want customers to be able to regulate their temperature with the help of socks, meaning the boots dry very quickly. Our clothing collections are built in the same layer-friendly way, using different performance materials to create the ultimate hiker wardrobe.
The boots, to mention one category, are both functional and distinctive-looking. How do you strike a balance between aesthetics and function?
Function drives the aesthetic and we’re talking style rather than fashion. The look has to be timeless – our mindset when working on new styles is that they should be attractive and practical enough to become future classics.
You recently challenged the apparel system by introducing a one-a-year collection drop. Tell us about this strategy and how it has benefited you so far.
We decided to do our bit in trying to slow down the speed of the industry creating and presenting one collection a year only. Why not develop products that we’ve worked through and tested thoroughly and present it all in one go? This way, we’re able to focus more deeply on the product and get a better balance between winter and summer wares, which consumers often like to consider at the same time, particularly when it comes to outdoor gear.
Moreover, it results in fewer products and we’re able to work more extensively with carry-over products. Sales-wise, it’s hugely beneficial as it allows us to plan the collection much further ahead. And this trickles down the chain – our wholesale partners are able to give their store staff much better training. On a practical level, the new system requires less travelling, which makes business greener.
What other steps are you taking to make Lundhags more sustainable?
We continuously develop our signature weaves to be more sustainable, using organic cotton and recycled polyester. The aim is to use these types of sustainable fibres throughout the whole product range, not only portions of it – and we’re making good progress. Some of our boots are still made in the factory in Järpen, and customers are free to bring in their old pairs to be repaired for a fair price. We’ve had customers coming in with boots they bought 20 years ago, and we’re able to take them apart and add new sections if need be – the word “disposable” is not part of the Lundhags vocabulary.
Any news on the product front for 2018?
We’ll be introducing a new backpack series, including small daypacks and large trekking packs. They’re made of performance material crafted from recycled polyester and organic cotton. The same type of material, LPC (Lundhags Poly Cotton), is also used for our popular pant range. Also, we’ve refined the logo and will apply a subtle sigil to our products for 2018.
You recently collaborated with Sami-inspired denim brand Sarva. How did this collab come about?
We met a likeminded soul in Sarva – they share our sustainable values and love of craft, so the partnership came about organically. We wouldn’t strike up collaborations for the sake of it, but we’re very happy with the boots we’ve created together with Sarva.
You have two stores in Sweden currently. Any plans to open further shops?
Our two stores are doing really well. We have no plans as yet to open further stores as we’re currently pushing the e-commerce side of the business, while nurturing our wholesale network.
Which are your strongest markets aside from Sweden and Norway? Do you have your eye on any new territories – if so, what makes these particularly Lundhags-friendly?
We’re seeing very strong growth in Germany. It’s our third most important market following Sweden and Norway. We’re eyeing a few new territories, including the UK – it has clear Lundhags potential so we hope to enter it soon.