Hands of a person sewing in jeans fabric.
Repairs prolong the life of garments. Photo: Tina Axelsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Making fashion sustainable

Fast fashion is out – circular fashion is in. Sweden is in it for the long term.

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.

At The Swedish School of Textiles – part of the University of Borås – there are several promising research programmes in the field of textiles and fashion. Among them, Smart Textiles is about exploring new ways to use technology, such as developing technology to recycle and reuse textile fibres. And Re:textile is a programme aiming to develop design, business and production to enable circular flows in the textile industry.

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.

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.

Fashion council

Since 1979, the Swedish Fashion Council works to strengthen, inspire and support the development of the Swedish fashion industry, to make it sustainable in all areas and position it internationally.