On the opening day of menswear trade show Pitti Uomo on Tuesday, models strolled around inside a Florence palazzo – in some remarkably nice gardening clothes. They wore stone-coloured overalls with tangerine bucket hats; their forest-green rubber-gloved hands gripped trowels and secateurs. It was one of the most covetable collections we’ve seen so far this menswear season (we’re currently in Florence; Milan and Paris come next). Who was behind it? Fiskars. Yes – they of the orange-handled scissors. The Finnish tool company, which has sold one billion pairs of its signature snippers since 1967, has recruited young Finnish designer Maria Korkeila to create a sharp new workwear-inspired collection.
It’s an excellent branding exercise. The collection, which is unisex and uses recycled materials and vegan leather, enables Fiskars to broaden its remit: to engage with the fashion industry and get on the radar of a cool, design-conscious audience. It’s generally recognised that brands today – all brands, not just fashion firms – resonate best with customers when they inspire and intrigue; when, rather than merely peddling a single product, they build a universe for consumers to inhabit. One standout example is the Japanese outdoor brand Snow Peak, which makes great clothes and deckchairs but also stages camping festivals and hosts tent-building workshops in its stores; there’s a lot for consumers to engage with.
The Fiskars collection is the latest example of how to successfully push a brand outside its comfort zone. But a word of caution: any such move needs to make sense for that brand. If it seems random or inauthentic, customers will smell a rat. For Fiskars, which has long made gardening tools, the groundskeeping gear is a natural move. And it looks good; it’s enough to make anyone want to get outside and trim the hedges.