Fjallraven, the iconic Swedish outdoor gear brand, has collaborated with artisans in Guinea, West Africa to create a unique backpack showcasing traditional kankan art. The Fjallraven Kankan Art Backpack marries Scandinavian design sensibilities with vibrant handmade African fabrics. This innovative backpack offers consumers a culturally-connected product while supporting kankan artisans. As interest in artisanal crafts and socially-conscious brands grows, the Kankan Art Backpack provides an appealing option for backpackers and travelers. This article will provide an overview of the backpack, the kankan art tradition it celebrates, and Fjallraven’s collaboration with local artisans.
Overview of the Kankan Art Backpack
The Kankan Art Backpack features a removable and adjustable kankan fabric panel, allowing the wearer to customize the look. Kankan refers to a style of handwoven strip-woven cloth made by the Mande people of Guinea. The intricate patterns and vibrant dyes make each kankan fabric unique. Fjallraven commissioned local Guinean artisans to source variety of one-of-a-kind kankan fabrics for the backpacks.
Below the removable kankan pane, the backpack body is made from Fjallraven’s signature G-1000 heavy duty Eco-Shell fabric. This durable and water-resistant base provides functionality for outdoor use. The pack features ergonomic shoulder straps with an adjustable chest strap system. Smaller exterior pockets and interior laptop sleeves make it a versatile commuter bag.
The Kankan Art Backpack comes in two sizes. The 15” version offers 20 L capacity with a padded sleeve for most 15” laptops. The 13” size provides 16 L capacity for carrying smaller essentials. Both sizes are airport security compliant. The backpack comes in black and deep forest colorways to complement the colorful kankan designs.
The Kankan Art Tradition of Guinea
The vibrant kankan fabric showcased in the backpack has its roots in the rich artistic traditions of Guinea. Kankan fabric originated in southeastern Guinea in the region around the city of Kankan. For centuries, the Mande ethnic groups of this region have woven handspun cotton into strips which are dyed with natural pigments and sewn into larger fabrics.
These cloths play an important cultural role among the Mande, being exchanged during rites of passage, ceremonies, and social rituals. The geometric patterns and motifs encode meanings related to values, history, and identity within Mande societies. Common symbols include animals like crocodiles and lions, masks, suns, trees, and geometric glyphs.
Kankan fabric production is a time-consuming artisanal process. The exacting handwork involved makes each kankan cloth unique. Although labor-intensive, the kankan textile arts have provided livelihoods for Guinean craftswomen to financially support themselves and their families.
Fjallraven’s Partnership with Guinean Artisans
Swedish brand Fjallraven has always emphasized functionality and sustainability in its products. In collaborating on the Kankan Art Backpack, Fjallraven partnered with a Guinean social enterprise called Sewa. This company works with over 400 local artisans to create ethically-sourced and environmentally-friendly kankan fabrics.
Fjallraven commissioned Sewa to source a wide selection of distinct kankan fabrics for the backpacks. This provides a stream of work for the kankan craftswomen while bringing their traditional artisanal skills to a global audience. Fjallraven ensures fair wages for the artisans by adhering to ethical frameworks for craft-based collaborations.
For Fjallraven, the Kankan Art Backpack represents an ideal blending of form and function with conscientious sourcing. The removable kankan panel provides versatility, while proceeds support kankan artists in Guinea. This socially-conscious design fits with Fjallraven’s emphasis on sustainability and craftsmanship.
The Kankan Art Backpack Consumer Appeal
The Kankan Art Backpack holds wide appeal for several consumer segments. For outdoor enthusiasts, the durable base fabric and flexible storage options provide functionality for adventures. Urban commuters will appreciate the laptop sleeve and modern styling.
Socially-conscious shoppers can feel good supporting traditional artisans through their purchase. The removable kankan panel allows for creative self-expression and personalization.
Students and travelers can use the pack as a carry-on, knowing the airport-ready sizing. Those interested in other cultures can connect to West African traditions through the backpack. And on a simple aesthetic level, the vibrant kankan patterns will attract many with their sheer visual appeal.
For consumers seeking a backpack that combines style, function, and social impact, the Kankan Art Backpack delivers. Its unique collaboration between Fjallraven and Guinean artisans results in a product with broad crossover appeal.
Positive Impacts of the Kankan Art Backpack
The Kankan Art Backpack represents innovation in sustainably-sourced artisanal products. By partnering directly with kankan artists, Fjallraven provides economic empowerment to the craftswomen and communities involved. Preservation of cultural heritage is another positive outcome, as the traditional kankan arts are sustained through commissions.
There are also benefits for the consumer in patronizing artisanal crafts. The handmade quality lends authenticity in a mass-produced world. The artisanship connects people more closely to the origins of the products they purchase.
For the kankan artists, collaborations like the backpack provide continued livelihood and growth opportunities. Partnerships with brands like Fjallraven allow them to reach much wider international audiences. This supports the economic and social wellbeing of artisans, in turn enabling them to invest in their families and communities.
Overall, the Kankan Art Backpack demonstrates how craft-based collaborations with ethical brands can be empowering and sustainable. For Fjallraven and the artisans, it represents a success in innovating while honoring cultural heritage.
Fjallraven’s Kankan Art Backpack offers a socially-conscious product showcasing handmade West African fabrics. The unique removable panel provides a versatile design featuring traditional kankan art from Guinea. With its ethically-sourced artisanal craftsmanship and durable construction, the backpack caters to a range of consumers. Those wanting to make a difference with their purchases can feel good supporting the kankan artisans involved. For travelers and commuters needing a functional yet stylish pack, the Kankan Art Backpack is an appealing choice. With a collaborative model empowering West African craftswomen, Fjallraven’s pack connects culture, creativity, and conscientiousness.