Pauline Ström Gunnér. Image: private

“The solutions are literally all around us”

The Swedish Fashion Council aims to support the Swedish fashion industry to become more sustainable. We asked their Head of Sustainable Business Pauline Ström Gunnér about the current state of affairs when it comes to Swedish fashion brands' level of sustainability.

”In my opinion many Swedish fashion brands are progressive and innovative. We are also good at collaborating and sharing both successes and downfalls, which is key to a sustainable future. But I believe we must practice more on communication, as we are often quite modest. I’ve seen green-muting happening as an effect of brands fearing to lift accomplishments. One solution may be increased transparency and for us to talk about the thresholds, mistakes as well as our success along the road. If we do so I believe consumers will be supportive in the process and not only judgmental. There’re are many genius innovative people in Swedish fashion who genuinely strive to drive their business in becoming less bad and more sustainable, I cannot get enough of seeing and listening to what is happening at the moment.

There are also a lot of challenges, but we need to remember that the solutions are literally all around us. One challenge is the idea of a traditional business model. Another is that the consumers’ idea of a reasonable price has been altered over the years due to excessive amounts of sales and outlets. We also need to remind ourselves that we in the western world are the developing countries in terms of sustainability but the developed world in terms of economy. We are the ones that need to drive the investment in a sustainable direction. And we are the ones that need to both make a change and pay for it.

 

« I’ve seen green-muting happening as an effect of brands fearing to lift accomplishments »

When it comes to interesting areas of innovation, the overall aim to innovate the fashion system to become circular outshines them all. But more specific innovations are 3D prototypes instead of physical test collections, VR-showrooms and catwalks, Frontrow Forensics (a Swedish research project focusing on reducing slack in the supply chain), ultra-fast-fashion where clothes dissolve after 48 hours or clothes made of air. These are all amazing and innovative ideas. Also the research around reducing micro plastics or separate mixed fibers. But above all the most important thing is scalability – to take these innovations and put them on the market and target mass consumption. This is the tricky part.

When looking at the younger generation of fashion designers, I would say that the idea of sustainability is built into their business models already from the beginning, it’s not something that’s added on at a later stage. Some of them even argue that there must be a deeper thought behind the brand to have the right to exist. For example, we have products designed using waste raw materials, or using sustainable local production. Many of the items are designed unisex, in small quantities in a carry over and slow-fashion manner. Some say it is about encouraging the consumer to care for and become one with the garment, and in that way, build respects and a stronger bond to the products. This is important and something all brands, and consumers, should practice more on; build respect for what we produce and consume.”

/Pauline Ström Gunnér
Visit Swedish Fashion Council here.

Swedish Fashion Talents (here looks from SS17) is a project managed by the Swedish Fashion Council since 2005.

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