The Business

"This is our passion"

Text: Ulf Wiman
Foto: Patrik Olsson
September 21, 2023

They must be comfortable, practical, durable and sustainable. When the demands on modern work clothes are high, it's best to do it yourself.

“We are 16 people in Gothenburg who handle product development and certification from beginning to end,” says Sofia Willén Ryman, Category Manager Clothing at Alligo.

On 20th May 1873, the wife of a miner walked into Jacob W. Davis’ tailor shop. She needed sturdy work pants for her husband. Pants that held up to the wear and tear in the mines. Her wish laid the foundations for the world’s first work garment – and one of the most famous brands in history. Davis teamed up with his friend – Levi Strauss – and the rest is denim history.

STRAUSS WOULD swallow his sewing thread whole if he knew what today’s work clothes can handle. Everything from flame protection to portable sensors. However, the basics are the same. Clothes are still based on customers’ wishes and needs.

“We have a strong desire to understand exactly what the customer needs. We burn for this, it should always be easy to be our customer,” says Sofia Willén Ryman, Category Manager Clothing at Alligo.

Unfortunately, it is not only the customer who decides. Work clothes must also meet industry standards and regulations – as well as any requirements for sustainability. This creates a diverse market for manufacturers and suppliers. But here too, we can learn from Levi Strauss and Jacob W. Davis. Because they developed their clothes themselves, they had more control. The same applies to Alligo

“The basis of our offer is the own brands. We then complement this with purchased quality brands to create a comprehensive assortment. With our own brands, we have better control over the supply chain as well as the product’s properties and quality,” says Sofia.

Alligo’s eight prioritized industry segments

  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Public services
  • Transport and storage
  • Oil and gas (only in Norway)
  • Repair and maintenance
  • Agriculture and forestry
  • Fisheries and aquaculture (only in Norway)

ALLIGOS OWN BRANDS for workwear are Björnkläder, Gesto, Univern and 1832. Björnkläder is a premium brand with a long history that focuses on craftsmanship, flame customers and industry. Gesto is Alligo’s youngest brand, founded in 2013. The Univern brand originally comes from Norway and focuses on clothing for extreme outdoor weather such as wind, water and the cold. 1832 is Alligo’s brand for basic products for all occasions.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF a new collection can take up to two years. Alligo works on four to five collections simultaneously, from design to extensive testing and production. Sustainability is crucial in all parts of the value chain. For example, all new work clothes developed internally are OEKO-TEX certified.

“We are 16 people in Gothenburg who handle product development and certification from beginning to end. The most important thing is knowing market needs, and there we get a lot of help from our stores and our processing salespeople and customers. We also regularly conduct customer surveys,” says Willén Ryman.


The customer's needs come first. But standards and regulations also put demands on the design of clothes.

We have a strong desire to understand exactly what the customer needs. It should always be easy to be our customer.

CUSTOM DESIGNED COLLECTIONS start with an initial meeting together with the customer. There you go through what type of garment they need, whether special certifications are required or any other requirements. Most often, you start from a standard model and then develop it with fabrics, details and accessories.

“We go through the various profession-specific working conditions with the customer. For example, do you work on your knees? If so, on what surface? We also look at which tools the wearer should be able to take with them to their workplace. We always try to have a dialogue with people who will actually use the clothes. What is most important to them? The clothes must work in their everyday lives,” says Hallbäck.

Craving custom-made?

IT IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY common that companies want custom-made work clothes. It can be about adapting clothes for unique professional needs, but also a wish to put the company’s own stamp on them.

“We make several collections in close collaboration with customers, especially in procurements where there are higher volumes. This means that the customer can get exactly what is required for their business,” says Kristin Hallbäck, Product Manager at Björnkläder, one of Alligo’s own brands.

ONE EXAMPLE IS a customer who chose to sow an iPad pocket on the back of a jacket to maintain freedom of movement. An important part of the process is that a sample collection is provided for testing over several weeks. This way, you can see that the garments work as intended and make any adjustments before they are delivered.