Green Swedish fashion takes Berlin

Green Swedish fashion takes Berlin
Recognised as a country of nature lovers and cutting-edge design, it is not surprising that Sweden has fostered a strong new generation of fashion designers who combine fashion and sustainability, writes Anna Maria Bernitz of the Swedish Institute. Four Swedish eco designers are taking part in the Berlin Fashion Week to take a stand against the overuse of nature’s resources.

Matilda Wendelboe, Righteous Fashion, Dem Collective and Pia Anjou – who will all show their creations at the Green Avantgarde fashion show at Berlin Fashion Week – have an environmentally friendly approach to their work without sacrificing fashion and style. The latter three are also part of the Swedish Institute exhibition Eco Chic – Towards Sustainable Swedish Fashion, showcasing the fact that sustainable fashion can also be chic.

Combining fashion and sustainability could be seen as a paradox. Fashion is about the now and the present, something that captures a moment in time. Sustainability on the other hand is about duration in time and preservation. But fashion and sustainability can coexist.

The global demand for textile fibres has increased and is today estimated to 63 million tonnes annually. The question is, would we consume that much if we knew that cotton farmingis currently the single largest user of chemicals, that the agents used to spray the cotton fields were developed during World War II as nerve gas and that pesticides kill approximately 40,000 people a year and poison three million? The fashion industry faces major challenges. Yet it is possible to change our attitude to fashion and consumption.

“Designers will have a new and more prominent role in the future. Studies show that in the design phase we determine 90 percent of the product’s environmental profile. It’s about the choice of material and the production method, but also transportation, packaging and, not least, advertising and marketing,” says Mathilda Tham, Visiting Professor at Beckman’s College of Design in Stockholm and researcher in ecological design at Goldsmiths, University of London.

One of the forerunners in the field is Johanna Hofring, designer and entrepreneur, who started her store “House of Organic” (Ekovaruhuset) in Stockholm in 2004 and recently expanded with another store in New York. Together with designers like Anja Hynynen and Camilla Norrback and brands like Reflective Circle and Julian Red, Hofring proves that sustainable development is not simply an empty phrase and fashion is not just about appearance.

Eco Chic – Towards Sustainable Swedish Fashion is on show at the THEKEY.TO fair for green fashion in Berlin 20-23 January, 2010. The next venue for the exhibition will be the Scandinavia House in New York, where it opens in May 2010.

Anna Maria Bernitz, Project Manager at the Swedish Institute

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