Fristads founder, John Magnuson, started his manufacturing in the village of Fristad in 1925. At a time when workwear was unavailable in Sweden, industrialisation was booming and Magnuson recognized the presence of an unexplored market. When his attempts to import garments from America foundered, Magnuson came up with the idea of manufacturing workwear himself. By 1929, Magnuson’s company was the first in Sweden to make jeans and he had created an entire range including bib'n'braces, trousers, overalls, blouses and coats worn by dockers, bricklayers, carpenters, painters, and other craftsmen and professionals.
By designing in-house and employing skilled seamstresses from local farms, thousands of garments were swiftly made and sold across Sweden. In time, demand outstripped supply and saw the acquisition of another factory, subsidiaries in other towns and the purchase of Fristads own weaving mill. As technological advancements were made in industry, so too were they within Fristads’ designs. As the decades rolled, Fristads' collection moved with the times and was by the late 20th century Sweden’s largest workwear manufacturer.
For Kansas brand it started in 1952 when Poul Larsen launched Kansas workwear from a factory that was already being praised for its working conditions and modern views on worker's rights since 1920. It was on this strong foundation that Kansas workwear was built. It was workwear designed with the worker in mind and it was workwear designed with style.
Sales increased throughout the following two decades and Kansas became the name at the forefront of workwear production. Outgrowing its premises in the 70’s, Poul Larsen and his workforce packed up and moved to a newly constructed factory in Odense, not far from Kansas’ home today. Brick by brick, challenge by challenge, Kansas continued to build their brand and perfect the business model that led them to where they are today. When things got tough in the 70’s, with Poul Larsen’s death in ’72 and the economic crisis in Denmark, Kansas was forced to adapt. Financial challenges followed, customers were lost but a renewed sense of identity was also found. Faced with adversity, Kansas proved to be a brand as resilient and hard working as the workers they clothed.
Strong foundations and a strong brand presence ensured Kansas’ survival in the end. The Kansas workforce eventually developed a successful strategy that would move with the times and see Kansas through the challenges stronger than ever. This effort led to Kansas making a fantastic debut in ’84 as a listed company and since then, Kansas expanded internationally leading the way to the merger know as the Kwintet group, which we today know as the Fristads Kansas Group.
FRISTADS KANSAS TODAY
In 2003, the group behind Fristads and Kansas changed its name to Kwintet and in 2005 it was acquired by investment bankers Industri Kapital. This eventually lead to the merge of the Fristads and Kansas brands into one brand: Fristads Kansas. This new brand has the capability to offer the largest selection of quality workwear in Europe and will carry on the proud tradition founded by Fristads and Kansas in the last century. Since May 2015 the group has new owners and has changed its name to Fristads Kansas Group.