Making fashion sustainable

Like any business, fashion can’t ignore the threat of climate change. The Swedish fashion industry invests substantially into research, striving for more sustainable ways.

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Photo: Simon Paulin/www.imagebank.sweden.se

Making fashion sustainable

Like any business, fashion can’t ignore the threat of climate change. The Swedish fashion industry invests substantially into research, striving for more sustainable ways.

Pioneering companies

The aim is to go from linear production to circular, where materials are not discarded after use but instead recycled or used in other ways so that the waste is kept to a minimum. New business models are currently being explored, often based in a radical redefinition of what the term ‘fashion’ constitutes.

Traditionally, fashion has been defined by change and a desire for constant new designs; however, now companies also actively work to make sure that their garments last longer, even though it might mean they make less money on their products in a short-term perspective. Many companies have also started to collaborate to find solutions and share their knowledge in order to speed up the progress.

The ambitious research programme Mistra Future Fashion strives to implement a systemic change towards sustainable fashion. They focus on four areas: design, users, supply chain and recycling. They make sure that the scientific results reach the fashion industry and work with a number of key industry partners, such as H&M, Lindex, Eton and Nudie Jeans.

Long-lasting garments

Filippa K is at the forefront among Swedish brands when it comes to integrating sustainability with the company. One of their most successful approaches to creating a sustainable fashion brand has been Filippa K Lease. Garments from previous seasons are rented out, so that a ‘library’ is created with a growing selection of garments. The Lease-concept allows them to explore a new business model and more sustainable ways of consumption. When no longer suitable for leasing, the garments will be sold second hand.

Gothenburg-based Nudie Jeans have committed themselves to a strict code of conduct, which means that they only work with a carefully selected group of suppliers, demanding that they continuously supply Nudie Jeans with reports, action plans and certifications. They also repair your old Nudie-jeans so you don’t have to buy new ones, which challenges the idea that fashion should always be defined in relation to what is new and in style.

Last updated: 27 January 2017

Philip Warkander

Philip Warkander

Dr. Philip Warkander is Assistant Professor in Fashion Studies and Affiliated Researcher with the Centre for Retail Research at Lund University. He also works as a writer and consultant for magazines, newspapers and journals on fashion-related subjects.