Since 2007, Swedish entrepreneur and outdoor enthusiast Andrea Westerlind has been seeking out the most effective, timeless wilderness gear from all corners of the globe. A third generation member of a Swedish fashion house, Westerlind began working as a distributor in 2003—at only 23 years old. In 2007, she would launch the now-ubiquitous Fjällräven Kånken backpack in the US and has since dedicated herself entirely to outdoor gear. After a turning point in 2010, she began offering all her finds through an eponymous retail store and website Westerlind. While her company spans Europe and America, she brings a much-needed fashion sensibility to the sometimes staid world of outdoor wear everywhere.
“There’s an opportunity in bringing the best of the fashion industry with the best of the outdoor industry,” Westerlind tells CH. “There’s very little crossover between the two. For me, that means choosing the best-functioning product and presenting them in the most aesthetic way.”
Now it’s even easier to navigate these meticulously selected items—which include brands like Woolpower, the wool base layers favored by the Swedish Coast Guard; Grundéns, the waterproof outerwear found on nearly every commercial fisherman; or even the beautifully functional camping stoves and water bottles from Japanese brand Snow Peak—via Westerlind’s relaunched site. It takes an innovative new approach to shopping for outdoor gear by melding sublime adventure photography, the storylines of traditional fashion merchandising and the technical know-how of outdoor experts.
It’s not uncommon for novice outdoors people to be utterly at sea in a seemingly endless array of outdoor wear, presented with little or no context. “That’s one of the problems with the outdoor industry,” Westerlind explains. “There’s no Outdoor 1.0. It gets this very extreme focus, with extreme conditions for the experienced outdoor enthusiast, but nothing for the person who doesn’t know how to operate a gas stove or put together a three-layer outfit.”
Westerlind’s relaunched site categorizes gear by the environment in which a customer would use it: from the sea to the mountains to hanging out around the house. The website also couples suggestions from outdoors people like Cole Maness, Westerlind’s manager who rode with the elite cycling brand Rapha‘s Continental team for eight years. For Westerlind and her team, functionality does not have to sacrifice anything for style. “That’s something we try to take from the fashion industry,” Westerlind says. “It’s our enthusiasm for finding cool new products for the customer and telling different kinds of stories.”
Visit Westerlind’s newly updated website to shop goods.
Images courtesy of Westerlind