Businesses in Harvard Square can’t seem to stay put. Case in point: American Apparel shuttered its Harvard Square location last month as another store opened next door. Where Free People once charged exorbitant prices for flimsy bralettes and sweaters ripped just so, we now have the Swedish outdoor brand Fjällräven. This new shop might just stick around, since it offers a roomy update to a classic campus staple we all can get excited about: backpacks.
For their late-March grand opening, Fjällräven gave away free Kånken backpacks to the first 50 people at the store on March 24. Some students (ahem, me) arrived at 7 A.M.--three hours before the store opened--to score a free Kånken. Before this giveaway, I didn’t know what was so special about the boxy bag that had increasingly popped up on campus of late. But some die-hard lovers of the brand swore that the Kånken was the best thing to happen to backpacks since, well, anything.
A selection of backpacks at the Fjällräven store in Cambridge.
So what is it about the Fjällräven Kånken that made students forsake sleeping in on a Saturday morning?
For one thing, the Kånken’s design is, dare I say it, good for you. Its original design was made to prevent back pain. Since its launch in 1978, while expanding to include kid-sized bags and greater dimensions, the Kånken has kept its original form for its emphasis on comfort. Not that you need a new backpack to correct your posture or back aches--but it’s better justification for a purchase than “treat yo’ self.”
It’s also versatile. The Kånken comes in various colors and sizes, which can go straight from class in the Yard to a hiking trip outside of the Harvard bubble. I chose a gray-hunter green shade for my free pack, and found that it easily pairs with polished outfits for my job and senior-swug attire alike. Best of all, it can hold my 13” laptop alongside the small army of things that inevitably end up in my bag over the course of a week.
Time will tell if Fjällräven can keep up the excitement for their brand in a Harvard Square that never seems to stop changing. Compared to other popular brands on campus (re: the ever-growing flock of Canada Goose jackets) their slightly affordable price point might help their cause: Fjällräven items range from 35 to 250 dollars. For now, this author can say that the Kånkens is a useful update to her wardrobe.
Fjällräven is located at 63 Church St. in Cambridge.