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  • Claire Kalikman

HOW TO REALLY MAKE FASHION CIRCULAR, ACCORDING TO TWO FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS


Vendela Ragnarsson, top left, Linn Frisinger, bottom, Clare Press, top right.

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM STOCKHOLM FASHION WEEK’S CIRCULARITY PANEL. If we’re really going to make fashion circular, we need creative solutions that go beyond traditional thinking. Stockholm Fashion Week brought together two of Sweden’s sustainable fashion leaders  for a talk on how creativity can help - Linn Frisinger, co-founder and CEO of sustainable hosiery company Swedish Stockings, and Vendela Ragnarsson, of ReRobe, a new startup for secondhand retail. You can watch the whole conversation here, and read our recap below.

1. LOOK for opportunities in your own wardrobe. Resale allows clothes to have a new life. Ms. Ragnarsson noted that almost no one can honestly claim to wear all of the clothes they own. Fashion United reports that people only wear 50% of their clothes, but Ms. Ragnarsson thinks that, for some, that number could be as low as 5% in Sweden. She also acknowledged that many of us love buying new clothes, and argued that doesn’t have to stop. Buying second-hand reduces your carbon footprint and can often be as inexpensive as fast fashion, she said. According to Mistra, “80% of the climate impact of Swedish clothing consumption stems from the production phase. In other words, most of the impact happens before the garments even hit the racks.” Consumers can help reduce that impact through behavioural change. “Prolonging the active lifetime of a garment by two, that is using the garment in its originally intended form twice as many times compared to average, will decrease the climate impact by 49%.” Read their Impact Report on Swedish Clothing Consumption here. 2. CREATE new methods. When you hit a roadblock, innovate. The tech’s not there yet for Swedish Stockings to recycle old tights into a new pair, but that didn’t stop Ms. Frisinger from being determined to close the loop somehow. Thanks to the brand’s take-back scheme, thousands of pairs of old tights were piling up in the Swedish Stockings warehouse. So she came up with a totally out-of-the-box solution - and turned them into tables. You can read the full story on how this works here. By not limiting herself to just thinking about the fashion industry, she was able to come up with a creative solution.

3. EMBED solutions. Recognising the dopamine hit that buying something new gives us, ReRobe adopted the strategies fast fashion employs to entice consumers to buy second-hand. The company keeps prices low, styles in line with current trends, and pushes “novelty” on social media. A second-hand platform with a high churn rate? They might just beat fast fashion at its own game  

4. SHARE knowledge. There’s a lot of talk about collaboration and open source, but old-school brands still tend to be wary. The future’s less competitive. “We want people to copy us,” said Ms. Frisinger. “Partnership is the new leadership.” Swedish Stockings is happy to share their hard-won knowledge about circularity because they acknowledge that that is how the fashion industry will create big change.

By Claire Kalikman.

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