Scandinavia is an incredible part of Europe filled with culture, high quality design and right now, with a huge sustainable development! Characterized by minimalism, simplicity and functionality Scandinavian design is on the forefront of modern interest and appeal. In regards to furniture and fashion; Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland are dominating the market and striking up consumer-talk from all edges of the world. With monochrome themes and crisp natural colors, Scandinavian style is creating a worldly ID within furniture and fashion that is being implemented on a global scale. There is no argument that Scandinavia is at the forefront of sustainable development. Weather it be conferences, business practices or product design development, a key ingredient for the Scandinavian mindset is planet first.
Just like furniture, their apparel aesthetics can be characterized by timeless garments and high quality long lasting designs. With an interest to embrace classic elements and a philosophy surrounded by craftsmanship and heritage, Scandinavian style is reaching a whole other level of slow fashion that is able to combine long lasting design with modern appeal.
Slow Fashion, a sustainable fashion method coined by Kate Fletcher, embraces the appeal of high quality wear and long lasting creations. With an interest in silks, wools, cashmeres, organic materials, leathers, recycled materials and more, slow fashion is on the forefront of the industry and is being pioneered by Scandinavian cool.
The world is full of wonderful aesthetics, but the difficulty is to embrace sustainability and modern appeal. With sustainability in the back of everyone’s minds, Scandinavian fashion has the power to skyrocket this sector to a new level of fashion coolness.
Overall Nordic style has adopted a priceless vibe of edgy creations and slow fashion appeal. With new designers emerging left and right, who knows what holds for the future Scandinavian fashion industry.
After living in Copenhagen Denmark for four years and now Stockholm Sweden, I have decided to select some of my favorite Scandinavian sustainable fashion brands that embrace recycling, organic materials, social entrepreneurship and more!
Fillipa K: Fillipa K is a Swedish high quality modern fashion forward brand embodying the method of slow fashion and minimalism. It is classic Scandinavian design with sustainable creation. Through the use of high status wools, cashmeres, silks and more they embrace the process of attention to detail and everlasting silhouettes. They are also a strong supporter of circular economy and offer rental services. They also know that product care is very important when it comes to making a design last! Even in the stages of washing and mending, they want to make sure their customers know how to repair and keep the circular of goods going.
Nudie Jeans: Nudie Jeans is a Swedish brand that believes in quality over quantity!
All products are 100% organic cotton! They believe in strong social responsibility, recycling, transparency and free repair services. Check out their production site as well! Nudie Jeans knows that it is important to be honest and allow consumers to know where their clothes are made. They believe in people knowing the conditions and materials from the inside and out. This brand offers high quality jeans that are cool and modern.
Aiayu: Aiayu is a Danish brand located in the heart of Copenhagen. They believe in creating strong social responsibility and embracing tradition production. From the start, they wanted to create good through their clothing. To do so, they went to Nepal to embrace their culture of knits and designs to create a scandinavian style. They have expanded their designs to embrace different people and cultures around the world. In India as well, they have developed a zero-waste action plan and only seeing this as a positive move for the industry and their collections. To buy their latest collections and timeless styles visit their website!
Barbara I Gongini: Barbarai I Gongini i is a Danish brand established in the field of international Avant-Garde fashion design and luxury products.Through experimental shapes and grunge edgy looks, Barbara I Gongini is testing the lines of sustainable design and Scandinavian cool. Through her designs. She pushes the boundaries of ethical fashion through zero-waste and upcycling projects. Their DNA focuses around timeless minimalism that is ever lasting style. With an approach centered around the consumers interested in sustainability and luxury, Barbara I Gongini is the perfect brand to embrace your wild side while also supporting the planet.
A Designer Embracing Slovakian Heritage
Veronika Kocarikova is a Slovakian Designer embracing sustainable fashion through her cultural heritage and personal experiences. By creating modern designs that are personal to her, she has landed with a collection featuring family history with threads of emotional design. Slovakia, one of the many countries encompassed by Europe, is home to traditional wear embodying a premise of folklore inspiration and embellished tactile experiences.
Through her collection Almara, which is a Slovakian word describing wardrobes used to store folklore costumes, Veronika takes you on an artistic journey to the past, with a twist of modern day. Showcased during Designer Nest Fashion Show 2017 at Copenhagen Fashion Week, Almara has made way for a revolution of designs featuring pops of color and tactile fabrics. With sustainability at heart, Veronika has set out to create a collection displaying organic materials and themes that are true to her past.
With the fashion industry constantly on a venture to find the latest trends, it is refreshing to instead look back in the past to find beauty for the now! Almara has set a new tone for sustainable design, that not only focuses on high quality, but also cultural inspiration that is true to the designer. With such an interesting take on sustainability, I have had the pleasure to sit down with Veronika and learn further about the inspiring work that went into creating Almara!
What is your design aesthetic and reason for a sustainable focus?
I centre my designs around the idea of return to times of ethical, honest and well-made clothing that is meant to last. My design strategy is built upon creating products that are made with high quality, leaving the people and planet with lasting sustainable profit. I communicate all these values through the process of prolonged production, with a strong focus in attention. I want to encourage the consumer to think of their garments as a lifetime investments, rather than a momentary satisfaction.
Sculptural, monastic and peculiar are three cornerstones of my design aesthetic. I seek balance between volume, shape and weight of the fabric. Drapery has been continuously my starting point for the design process and It is essential for me to form a relationship between the wearer and the garment.
In regards to Slovakian Heritage, I believe it is the quality of the product and the attention to detail they create that I have chosen to embrace. Apart from the inspiration of the traditional garment construction, my main takeaway is the ability to merge eastern and western design aesthetic. I am designing to create a subtle balance between modern shapes, abstract folklore references, historical practices and quality of crafts finalizing in a high quality design.
What is your design process like for your collection Almara?
A starting point for me was the combination of research and inspiration. I did a lot of research into folklore artisan inspiration and based my starting point from personal experience, by focusing on heritage inspiration I found in a family album. All of the historical photographs and clothing I saw I drew inspiration so I could create garments which were connected to my own personal life and family. In regards to materials, a strong focus was placed on natural materials embraced in the past, such as cotton, linen and hemp. I wanted my collection to be raw and natural, combining past Slovakian heritage, family history and modern appeal. I believe that if I have a personal connection to the garments, I will be able to create the same for my wearers. To start the collection process draping, sketching and material experimentation is my favorite path to take.
Why do you think heritage, craft and tradition is important to embrace?
Keeping heritage alive is necessary for cultivating cultures, since it is what makes us who we are. It shapes our personality and allows us to be authentic. Growing up in a region with a lot of folklore craftsmanship, I have a deep respect for people developing craft and design with their hands. My goal is to to mimic a sense of community and well-doing through my designs, encouraging the wearer to acknowledge the process behind each garment, cherish and embrace its flaws. I believe that the movement of ‘hand’ and its work cannot be replaced by a machine. The soul of the product is given through the ‘hand-work’ and the time spent with it. Slovakian design techniques embrace these values as well and put forth an ambition of quality over quantity.
What Sustainable materials and craft techniques did you use for your collection Almara?
The materials I used were sourced in Europe supplied by smaller factories, in support of local businesses and economy. The origin of all the materials are either organic or from a process of naturally-recycled. I mainly used linen, cotton and wool. Organic natural materials, are most pleasant to the body and easy to recycle or degrade. To avoid the harm and excess water use from chemical dyes, I use materials which were vegetable, indigo or dry-dyed.
Overall I love to embrace all crafting techniques. Actively, I use pleating, embroidery and tactile development. In the future I would like to add frame cross-linking and felt weaving as well!
Are there other sustainable methods you want to start implementing?
I would like to implement holistic approaches from the theory of ‘Spiritual by Design’ introduced by Walker. I am interested in re-evaluating the issues of traditional business strategies and embracing a positive impact on the planet. I am focused on creating spiritual enlightenment for the wearer and influencing them towards more ethical consumption. I want to work closely with artisans, craftsmen and other design visionaries to explore the possibilities of cross disciplinary collaborations, by adding a spiritual value to the designs I create.
Sustainability means embracing responsibility, not compromising on materials and creating fair production. It is crucial to design garments that will be appealing for generations to come and last. Quality garments embrace capability to withstand long-lasting change, instead of a going down the path of seasonal trends.
Why is Sustainability Important for the Fashion Industry?
The fashion industry today is a multi billion dollar business affecting everyone around the world in some way! Business are booming, but at what cost to others? Fashion is the second dirtiest industry in the world, following right after oil. Due to speedy production and over consumption, the fashion industry has landed itself on an environmentally damaging path, much different than 100 years ago. Although, the industrial revolution and the creation of ready-to-wear in the early 1900’s may have sparked the initial beginning. It was not until fast fashion took over our closets, that the real numbers started to show.
According to the True Cost, a documentary highlighting the reality of the fashion industry, states that the average American throws away 82 pounds annually of garments, accessories and shoes. Fulling this is the creation of cheap trendy collections, known as fast fashion. Fast fashion bases its business model on high volume collections and speedy production. Because production is so fast and the clothing is right on trend, consumers cannot help to be constantly bombarded with the latest item they must have! The reality is though, we really do not need this much clothing in our lives. According to the documentary, worldwide, we consume 80 billion pieces of clothing a month; which is a 400% increase from two decades ago.
This clothing as well, unless specified as fair trade or organic, contains harmful dyes, toxins and pesticides that seep into the Earth’s system when thrown away. The toxins also carry on into the garments as we wear and cherish them.
Along with chemicals, the fashion industry also uses an intense amount of water, from the start of the process to even the stages of home washing. This high number reality can be seen through the fact that; to make one cotton t-shirt today uses up 2,700 gallons of fresh water.
Knowing what we know, the hard question then is to ask ourselves; how do we change as an industry and how can consumers take action?
For starters the facade of trend desires and over consumption must evaporate. As a consumer it is important to shop responsible and realize you do not need to have every latest piece in the book to be considered fashionable! And in regards to brands, I believe that a shift towards high quality and sustainable methods is the golden ticket!
At the rate of today within western society, we consume way beyond our needs. It has come to a point where enough is enough! But at the same time the fashion industry has listened and there are many incredible brands around testing the limits of design and choosing to see why we need sustainability.
With retrospect to fashion, sustainability has been developed to reinvent the industry through environmentally focused production, design and consumption. From eco friendly materials to new ideas in technology, sustainability is here to develop an industry that does not jeopardize the needs of future generations to come, for the ease of the present.
Sustainability is incredibly important and on everyone’s radar! Even companies such as H&M, Nike, Adidas and Zara who are known for creating fast fashion collections around the world are even working to develop a sustainable shift. Although we have a long way to go, the industry is at least on the right path towards a common understanding and an honest reflection towards what needs to change! But also the power is in the hands of you, the consumer! You have the option to choose and to do so SFSFW is here give some tips on what to look for when buying sustainable garments and what they mean.
Organic: When a garment holds the organic stamp, it means that the materials which were used come from an organic farming process and hold no pesticides. For example organic cotton is grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers. It also contains no GMO’s and follows an according law of standards. Organic materials, especially cotton are very popular right now within the fashion industry.
Fair Trade: Fair Trade aims to protect farmers and workers basic rights in regards to unions, wages, conditions and more. Through fair trade clothing companies are able to make a difference for the lives of the people who grow and make the things we love. By companies holding this stamp on their products, it is an easy guaranteed to understand that the garments they produce comply with the rules of Fair Trade. People Tree is a clothing brand that has pioneered in Fair Trade production. For more than 25 years the have chosen to work with fair trade, primarily in regards to cotton farmers, producers garment workers and artisans to create a more sustainable fashion industry.
Naturally Dyed: Another important factor about the garment is how it is dyed. Today due to a strong interest in color vibrancy and price, synthetic dyes are a strong go to within the production of fashion. However though, by companies choosing to use synthetic dyes instead of natural, heavy production sites end up with polluted water filled with toxins and chemicals. To prevent this, a great method for companies instead is to choose to use natural dyes and materials. By sticking with things such as indigo, turmeric and onion shells the fashion industry can come back to a more historical and natural pace.
Recycled: To be able to create a circular economy it is important to keep the system of materials and goods going. A great way to do this within the fashion industry is to create future collections from either left over textiles or previously used materials. By brands reusing what already exists instead of creating things from new, we can also minimize the use of land, water and labour. A new brand created by H&M called Arket knows the value in materials and has decided to create sweaters from recycled cashmere! With Scandinavian design in mind, their knits embrace a coolness of modern fashion and sustainability all into one package.