In a surprising move, the Swedish Fashion Council recently canceled Stockholm Fashion Week in the name of sustainability. Think about it: Fashion weeks the world over consume an incredible amount of resources, racking up the greenhouse gas emissions as fashion insiders convene to check out new collections in cities around the world.
“If the industry should have a chance to survive together with the planet, it must self-disrupt. Sticking your head in the sand does not make the problem go away, neither does the traditional Fashion Week format. In order to make the transformation towards becoming sustainable, the industry needs support, new tools, and platforms that extend across industries as well as national borders,” said Jennie Rosén, CEO of Swedish Fashion Council, at the time of the cancellation, in a statement.
Yes, it’s a very, very bold move. But it’s time for bold moves—we have no time to waste in correcting some of the damage done to the planet (remember those effects, from rising seas to less fresh water will be felt more intensively by the people on the planet with less, which is unjust).
In lieu of a fashion week, Sweden instead held the 1st Annual Sustainability Forum at The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce in New York,which included an eclectic mix of sustainably-oriented Swedish brands and innovations.
The evening began with a mix and mingle segment in a room dotted with products made by local artisans from northern Sweden’s Lapland region featuring metal work by Erica Huuva, outdoor hot bathtubs by Hikki, hand-made hats by Catharina Carlsson Millinery, and more.
The forum began with a nod to the strong business partnership between the United States and Sweden. Sweden is a huge hub within the innovation realm, second to Silicon Valley in unicorn companies produced (Spotify was one of them!).
Anna Throne-Holst, President of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce, emphasized that “sustainability is good business,” leading the theme of the evening. Stockholm boasts a thriving fashion district, featuring 150 showrooms open 365 days a year. The Swedes themselves are mainly informed consumers putting their money where their heart is and demanding that companies make a positive contribution.
The forum’s panel featured representatives from brands Fjallraven Kanken, House of Dagmar, Nudie Jeans, H&M, and Gudrun Sjödén. Country Manager for the US and Canada of Nudie Jeans, Corey Spencer, emphasized the importance of consumer habits gravitating towards convenience as the main avenue when shopping and companies needing to absorb this psychological preference. Emily Scarlett, Head of Communications and PR for H&M USA, noted that “fashion should never be a question of price” with the aim of H&M trickling sustainability into the affordable marketplace.
A common theme of the event centered around the importance of technology in innovating the sustainable fashion realm. Companies Spindye, a dying method using less water and chemicals, and Circulose by re:newcell, a fiber made from recycled cellulose pulp, prove that new technology has a great influence on creating a greener fashion landscape with recycling efforts.
Jennie Rosén, CEO of the Swedish Fashion Council, told ID Magazine, “We need to put the past to rest and to stimulate the development of a platform that is relevant for today’s fashion industry … [and] support brands in their development of next-generation fashion experiences. By doing this we can adapt to new demands, reach sustainability goals and be able to set new standards for fashion.”