Green is the new black
Or so the Nordic Fashion Association (NFA) would like to have it. The fashion industry has long been one not too concerned with the environmental repercussions that stem from making the clothes we all yearn for but there are alarming signs that fashion needs to alter its course regarding production processes, lest we all head for an environmental disaster of seismic proportions, and in a not-so-distant future, too.
According to NFA chairman, Mr Gunnar Hilmarsson who is also head designer of Icelandic fashion label Freebird, Nordic fashion designers and stakeholders in the Nordic fashion industry are taking the initiative to pave the way towards a more environmentally friendly practices throughout the value chain of style. “We want to focus on sustainability and cast the spotlight on the big issues we are facing regarding the manufacturing of what we wear. We want people to ask if the item they are considering to buy was made in decent conditions whilst the workers were being paid fair wages. Also, was the sourcing of production materials done in an ethical, sustainable way? We all have to ask ourselves these questions.”
Hilmarsson explains that fashion is an industry accountable for such a portion of global pollution that both manufacturers and consumers must take some responsibility and sooner than later. “The Nordic fashion industry has a big voice when it speaks in unison and we are already being heard. It starts within our own ranks and the ball is already rolling,” he explains, referring to clothing behemoths H&M and Bestseller who have already taken big strides towards sustainable manufacturing.
The NFA held its 3rd summit this April in Copenhagen and Hilmarsson says a change of attitude is apparent in the industry. “We call our efforts The NICE Project (NICE being the initials for Nordic Initiative, Clean and Ethical) and now that manufacturers and designers have taken notice, consumers are next. “Same goes for the consumers. When we enter a boutique we have to consider if the the path of the clothes, from raw material to the finished article, is one that neither hurt the environment or the workforce. Consumers hold an enormous responsibility in this regard.”
And how do we, fashion fiends, best react to the challenge offered by the members of the Nordic Fashion Association? That’s the easy part, says Hilmarson. “For example, wash your clothes at 30°C instead of 40°C or let alone 60°C, and stop washing your clothes daily. Buy better quality and less often. You’ll end upp with a much better looking wardrobe consisting of items you love, instead of having a landfill of stuff falling apart within a year. These shouldn’t be too much of a task for an individual effort but as a collective effort they will yield results that should prove revolutionary.”
Author – Jón Agnar Ólason