Sustainable Fashion Brands in Scandinavia
Published July 16 2016, Scandinavia Standard
I’ve always disliked clothes shopping. Controversial start to a fashion article I know, but stay with me. It isn’t the lights in changing rooms or the questionable music choices in stores that leave your ears ringing. No, the reason is that there’s nothing fun about buying a top for 100 Kroner when you know it’s probably been made for 10, it’s going to start looking threadbare in a year and was likely produced in a sweat-shop.
I grew up going shopping with my mother, a former fashion designer. As we’d stroll down the aisles she’d expertly point out all the pieces’ shortcomings:
“100% polyester. Forget it. Doesn’t allow your skin to breathe.”
“One wash and this top is going to be all over the place.”
“This is hardly sewn together properly.”
It can seem impossible to buy clothes on a reasonable budget that are ethically-made, stylish and good quality. And even though there has been a leap forward in sustainable fashion over recent years, many sustainable labels still remain unknown to the general public. Recently, a good friend of mine was complaining about not knowing where to shop for fashionable, ethical clothes in Copenhagen. Trust-issues with high street brands persist; although they may proudly put their ethical credentials front and centre, their sourcing policies aren’t always transparent.
Here’s a list of top-notch sustainable Scandinavian brands whose core values include ethics and quality:
Buying your first pair of Nudie Jeans is the beginning of a long-lasting relationship. Their motto is ‘Repairing is Caring,’ which they take to the extreme by offering free in-house repairs service in all their shops. The company notes that ” ‘throwaway’ and ‘jeans’ are two words that do not belong in a sentence together.”
In addition, the Gothenburg-based company invite customers to donate their worn Nudie jeans to be exchanged for 20% discount off the next pair. Donated pairs are then either brought back to life and sold as second hand in-store or recycled.
I remember going to school in the early 2000’s wearing wooden clogs, convinced I was setting a trend. To my surprise, it didn’t kick off. A few years later in Stockholm, Swedish Hasbeens brought back the 70s style with a colourful and creative bang, validating my fashion foresight.
Using only ecological and natural high-quality materials, Swedish Hasbeens are made to last. They are made by local artisans using traditional methods and are quite possibly the quirkiest shoes in all of Scandinavia!
Armoire has nailed the classic Scandinavian look. Timelessness, functionality, and nordic simplicity define their design aesthetic.
Sustainability is considered throughout all stages of the products’ life cycle and has been a part of Armoire Officielle’s values since day one. Environmental and social factors are equally important to them; with their products Armoire wish to encourage ‘slow fashion,’ where customers invest in fewer, high-quality things and take care of them. It’s the kind of brand where you’ll find that one favourite piece that works for multiple occasions. They even offer environmentally friendly laundry tips on their labels!
#EcoWedding is a hash-tag I can get excited about. It’s easy to see why when scrolling through Leila Hafzi’s instagram account. Her couture wedding gowns seem to have bohemian romanticism delicately woven into every stitch.
The designer started her brand in 1997 in Stavanger, Norway, and has been a “leading lady” on the scene of ethical and eco-conscious high-end fashion ever since. Leila Hafzi is an award-winning and firmly established brand that has inspired the fashion industry into a global shift and has tirelessly worked to empower women in developing countries.
Vogue France put it best: Ann Wiberg’s Trash Couture is “fit for an Urban Princess.” Eerie, daring and sustainable is what makes this vintage collection unique and has given it a cult status internationally. The brand enjoys an impressive following of A-list celebrities including Penelope Cruz, Kirsten Dunst and Kate Moss.
Established by Ann Wiberg in 2002, the brand uses stunning antique fabrics, laces, beads and unique embroideries for its creations. The entire collection is hand-sewn within the company’s own atelier in Copenhagen, thereby “minimizing the waste of materials and excess production, and ensuring good and controlled working conditions.”
In Nina Skarra’s collections, fairy-tale meets raw beauty in an effortlessness spell of Nordic simplicity. The DNA of the brand is all about transparency, ethical production and quality. The Norwegian designer states that “sustainable change in fabrics and fashion is irreversible” but that she wishes for it to happen faster. Her vision for her brand has been to drive that change instead of just follow it. Nina Skarra uses materials such as silk, wool, babus, soja, organic leather and cotton that are all 100% biodegradable and also contributes substantially towards female empowerment.
Formerly the head womenswear designer at Henrik Vibskov, Maja Brix left in order to start her own line. Rather than creating collections, she’s elected to design a singe suit (Suit 1) that she creates bespoke for each customer. The suit itself lies somewhere between casual and formal, a study of minimalism that discarding all the extras (no breast pocket, no shoulder pads, no front button) and is rendered in organic cotton. The plan is to slowly expand the line (Shirt 1, and so on) to a capsule wardrobe.