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Making fashion sustainable

Fashion needs to move towards circular production, with garments being designed to live longer and then be recycled or reused. The Swedish fashion industry invests substantially into research, striving for more sustainable ways.

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Photo: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se

Making fashion sustainable

Fashion needs to move towards circular production, with garments being designed to live longer and then be recycled or reused. The Swedish fashion industry invests substantially into research, striving for more sustainable ways.

Pioneering companies

Swedish fashion aims 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 on a radical redefinition of what the term ‘fashion’ constitutes. Klädoteket is one such business model. It’s a ‘fashion library’, where you can rent designer clothes – see more in the video below.

A long-term perspective

Traditionally, fashion has been defined by change and a desire for constant new designs. 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 brands 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 into the company. Since 2014, the brand has operated by the motto that ‘sustainability leads the way to growth’, with lifespan of its garments as a primary focus. In 2015 they pioneered a new concept, Filippa K Lease, whereby garments from previous seasons were rented out. It allowed the company to explore a new business model and more sustainable ways of consumption.

Houdini Sportswear have managed to turn more make half of their products circular – by prolonging the life of their garments, as well as by offering repairs, rentals and second-hand sales. The brand has also conducted an experiment in which their clothing is composted into food soil.

Inside a Nudie Jeans repair shop.

A Nudie Jeans repair shop. Photo: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se

Repairing the old

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.

The company also repairs 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: 28 August 2020

Philip Warkander & Sweden.se

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.