Here's How Nordic Designers Are Innovating for a Sustainable Future

Fashion and textiles are the world's fourth largest value creator in the world. The Nordic fashion scene is exploding, becoming one of the fastest-growing export industries and growing three times faster than the total export. However, the impact that the industry has on the climate is vast, with fashion ranking among the highest-polluting industries on a global scale.

The Nordic Fashion Association (NFA) convened in New York City on Nov. 29, to share its ideas for how the global fashion industry can innovate for the future.

The NFA's initiative recognizes that producers of pollution-intensive goods must change drastically. The Nordic countries seek to systematically change the global fashion system by utilizing innovative technology, a respect for nature, Nordic heritage and sustainable practices.

Although geographically small, Nordic countries represent some of fashion's most significant global players. Focusing on sustainability and responsible innovation, the Nordic fashion companies shared pioneering solutions. The Nordic Fashion Association presented Nordic innovations around fashion tech and initiatives, focusing on moving towards a circular production system. Among the presented tactics were climate-positive fibers, carbon farming, near-market manufacturing, tax systems for rental services, baby clothes on rent prescription, jeans connected to dating apps, zero-cotton denim and much more.

The speakers and contacts included:

Gisle Mariani Mardal is the chairman of the Nordic Fashion Association. A designer, entrepreneur and advocate for sustainable practices, he brought together the following panelists for a conversation for a better fashion future. "As we see an increasing desire for Nordic Fashion we need to make sure that our companies can deliver products based on sustainable practices for a better future of fashion," says Mardal.

Elin Frendberg presented "Powered by Technology." As the CEO of the Swedish Fashion Council, a behavioral scientist and a business developer, Frendberg discussed how innovative technology, sustainability, and sociology can combine to refresh and rethink the fashion industry. Frendberg urged during her talk, "We're going from a linear to a circular economic model, which means using better fibers, more strategic design, new business models and technology, and a better planned end of life. We must make a systemic change."

Johan Arnø Kryger presented "Powered by Sustainability." As the chief learning officer at the Danish Fashion Association, Kryger's mission is to overcome the cultural and communication divide that impairs industry-academia partnerships. Kryger presented on the efficacy of programs such as Youth Fashion Summit and the Educators Summit to instruct designers, buyers and industry leaders on sustainable practices. He emphasized during the talk that "We're creating a global language on how to measure sustainability."

Gunni Hilmarsson presented "Powered by Heritage." Hilmarsson is an Icelandic designer, board member of NFA, and a fervent advocate of sustainable practices. "We can´t afford not to act now – we all have to take responsibility for what we produce into this world and adapting old local techniques can help us be more sustainable," says Hilmarsson.

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