Nadja Forsberg conveys a great sense of drive that almost seems to be impossible to satisfy. She says that her mission from the very beginning has been to close the loop and if you are not sure what we are referring to here then keep on reading. Nadja together with Linn Frisinger are the co-founders of Swedish Stockings – a brand that produces conscious pantyhose. Ever since watching documentary Light Bulb Conspiracy on how products have been purposefully made to age quickly Nadja couldn’t get this notion out of her mind. One of the products mentioned in the documentary was pantyhose.
“You use them once or twice before you discard them and throw them away.” says Nadja.
“This made me very curious, this sort of trashy time travel that hosiery has made and I started researching pantyhose as a product and looked into production a little bit more. I realised that it is a petroleum product and the production itself is very harmful to the environment so immediately I started looking for more eco-friendly options and I didn’t find any so then and there the idea of Swedish Stockings was born.”
Of course she had no idea how to make stockings but 3 years later today they are producing a product that is made in a zero waste solar powered factory in Italy, they produce their yarn from 90-98% recycled waste and carry out post-production water treatment. If that wouldn’t seem to be plenty, also their packaging is created from recycled materials. But as Nadja points out, there is still a great deal to be achieved. Her goal is to have a circular economy where the previously used product can be fully recycled into a new one aka closing the loop. At the moment the brand encourages their customers to send back the ripped stockings in exchange for a discount for a new pair. As a temporary solution they would recycle them whilst grinding them? down as a filler materials for glass fiber tanks. In this way looking to extend the lifecycle of their products. However, as Nadja explains: “What we are doing long term is that we are working with the Swedish Science Program in Fashion that is called Mistra Future Fashion Funds and they among a lot of different things are looking into the operation between fibres of Polyimide and Elastane and how we are able to recycle our stockings entirely and make new hosiery. So we could be self sufficient of polyimide and never run out of it. That is of course our goal and probably my biggest dream. We are working quite hard on that.” She picks up some of the latest research that is lying on her table and you realise how much of science goes behind creating a sustainable fashion brand.
“I would say now that we have been working on this for 3 years I have been networking with a lot of brilliant people working within sustainability. This really opens up your eyes on how much we actually do and what I think is crucial and also why Sweden is in the forefront when it comes to the sustainability is because we have been establishing policies on a political level for many years. Sweden has promoted sustainable growth for so long that it has been transferred to our behaviour as customers. I also think we as consumers and citizens here feel that we are still very much connected to nature. I think we feel like we are a part of it and we have this holistic way of thinking, I guess, that you can really feel in Stockholm.”
She tells that everything is about balance. Of course, fashion is about fun and inspiration but as Nadja states “We have driven it too far by making it just that and not taking the responsibility for the rest so we just need to find that right balance and merry those two together.”
It is important to realise that business is about profitability and demand “if brands are going to see in a big scale that now everybody is buying ethically made clothes or sustainable clothes then, I mean, it is going to be profitable for the companies making those kind of garments and having those kind of production processes so it’s all about making sustainability profitable.” She finds aesthetics highly important: “I never think that customer will buy a product only because they are sustainable. Not even I do that, I mean, I go to a store and if I like it and it is sustainable – I will buy it but if it is sustainable and I don’t like it. I don’t buy it. That is good if they are doing sustainable but I am not gonna wear that piece. So I always look for combination. I think it is only on that level that you can make a change. If you become likeable and commercial and you grow bigger you can actually have a big influence on this business in a fashion industry.”
In the future Nadja predicts that “Perhaps they will insert a small piece of chip in every piece of clothing that you can just sort of scan and you will get entire list of ingredients what the fabric contains, where it is made, what does it cost – everything. That would be amazing!”
Her wishes might come true sooner then we expected with development of technologies like DNA forensic technology as told by Business of Fashion that might be able to trace the origins of cotton and tell if it has been produced by slave labour.
As Nadja brings closer some of the Swedish Stockings packaging samples she says that:
“When visualising our brand I feel like it is a lot about honesty and capturing moments and sort of documenting women wearing our hosiery.”
She wants to promote real girls and women with different body types. Their products are created with a modern individual in mind. If Nadja seems to be a perfectionist when it comes to production process of their hosiery then it undoubtedly extends even further when it comes to the design of their packaging. “I love packaging in general and I love tactile materials and nice fonts, I love nice photography and this campaign or this imagery.” Their latest campaign was photographed by Paris based Norwegian art and fashion photographer who shot the entire campaign on a polaroid camera to capture the feeling that seems more real like documenting the truth. It is shot in natural light and with model wearing no make-up. “When they are standing in the shelves I would want people to look at this, feel it and touch it. This must be very high quality and of course, add as much value to the product as possible.” tells Nadja. “For instance the actual product is wrapped around a piece of hard paper which has always been done like that; but we said that we want to make the most of this paper so of course it is recycled but we also printed information on it about our recycling program which explains that you can send your ripped stockings to us and we will recycle them thus making sure to use every area.”
What we personally often see as an obstacle for sustainable products is their availability when it comes to distribution and price. Swedish Stockings are able to debunk these stereotypes by selling in more than 400 retailers worldwide and online including brands like Filippa K and & Other Stories. Nadja and Linn believes that sustainable fashion should be accessible to everyone and, although, they wouldn’t refer to their products as cheap they say that most of the people are able to afford them and due to the high quality their pantyhose would generally be used longer than conventional ones.
SWEDISH STOCKINGS | tights
ENVIRONMENT | made from recycled yarn, environmentally friendly dyes, use post dying water treatment and solar power to generate energy for manufacture process, packaging made from recycled materials
ETHICS | made in Italy