From organic food to sustainable fashion. Limitations and opportunities in Scandinavia.
In our conversations with designers, friends and ccntrepreneurs the word ‘limitations’ has been brought up several times but the interesting part is that not once it has been used to express something negative, an obstacle or a bad force. They all seem to use it as a signal, driver or a source for creativity, innovation and opportunity. One of them is Kim Brink, a model and the author behind the blog Love By Kim B who after years of mainstream modelling transitioned to working exclusively with sustainable and ethical brands, having names like Swedish Stockings, Woron and Maska in her portfolio. We met Kim along with photographer and her boyfriend Mikkel Vigholt Petersen during their visit to London to talk about Scandinavia, sustainable development and the rapid advancements in this region. Seems like the Nords are miles ahead when considering sustainability and eco-consciousness, as Kim repeated during our conversation, people ‘actually care’ about their surrounding and environment. But is that true; and how different is the environment in Denmark when we look at commercial sectors?
Kim is half Dutch and half Swedish while Mikkel comes from Denmark but they both currently reside in Copenhagen. We saw this as a great opportunity to gain a deeper insight in how sustainability is perceived in these countries. Mikkel explains that over the recent years they have noticed a substantial change in the general understanding and knowledge in regards to sustainable fashion in Copenhagen.
“The largest agencies and the largest fashion magazines have now taken it as a part of their face saying we want to embrace sustainable fashion and we are making magazine issues focusing on sustainable fashion only.”
He adds that during such an event like Copenhagen Fashion Week there are specific guides, platforms as well as parties being hosted only with a focus on sustainability. Kim mentioned that these brands do it in a unique way, being thoughtful on how much attention they spend promoting the sustainability and investing enough resources in the product development; whilst there still are some resistance towards brands being willing to label themselves as sustainable; and this comes from a concern of being perceived as ‘unfashionable’; it is great to see major players like Filippa K increasingly associating themselves with sustainable fashion.
She tells: “Filippa K started to promote themselves as sustainable brand. They weren’t doing that before but they are doing it now which I think is great. They are also focusing on more different approaches such as leasing their products.”
They both explain that sustainability is ingrained in the general thinking of the society and for the most part it emerged from the consciousness about their food. “The whole mentality about food has really spread. So now it is not only the food, it is the clothing, it is the furniture, makeup, cream. People are suddenly going out and saying: Well I want to buy this chair but what is it made of, where does it comes from, which forest program does it comes from?” says Mikkel adding that people are almost obsessed with everything being organic and locally produced. But they both also realise that with food it is easier because you are constantly bombarded with these messages about food quality whether it is on TV, cookbooks or posters on a street whereas with mainstream sustainable fashion you have only one white T-shirt rail in H&M labelled conscious.
Other aspects are the governmental laws and taxing system. Interestingly both Sweden and Denmark has some of the highest tax rates in the world. For example, Denmark taxes from 150 to 180 percents on a new vehicle which has resulted in people choosing bikes and public transport over driving a car. Kim say that we should look at the long term solutions instead of looking for short term gains.
However, Mikkel adds that this is not always the case: “People are often afraid of changes. It is kind of easy to think that we always have done this so this must be okay, we don’t have to change but often how we always have done things is wrong.”
After talking with Kim and Mikkel we were also wondering if the increasing interest in environmentally friendly living has something to do with high living standards in countries like Denmark and Sweden that provides the disposable income and state of mind to consider sustainability.
When thinking of future Kim and Mikkel seems optimistic. Kim envisions a world where you wouldn’t even worry if the product is ethically and sustainably made. “Like when you go to a grocery store and everything is organic.” Mikkel adds. They recently attended a sustainability conference where one of the companies where specialising in developing a new type of enzyme bacteria that would allow to wash clothes at 25 °C with an effect of washing in 90 °C. So future also seems to be in the technology. On that note Kim explains that just by knowing how to properly take care of your garments you can expand their life cycle by a great deal. Mikkel jokes that this is the reason why he trusts her to take care of the laundry. She suggests that she could write an article on her blog about the lost art of taking care of your clothes and we personally would be very excited to read that.
Lastly, we were more then excited to hear about sustainable brands that they both love and we weren’t surprised about the long list they presented. Kim suggest to engage with the work that Filippa K, Veja sneakers do and follow up the Danish brand Fonnesbech that is known for using innovative fabrics. But she also loves vintage and was excited to go though the second hand shops in London. Mikkel said he really loves Nudie Jeans that they both coincidently were wearing that day, he also suggested to check out Dick Moby sunglasses that is a sustainable eyewear brand based in Amsterdam and lastly a small family owned Danish brand, called Pelechecoco which produce recycled leather jackets and is also loved by celebrities like Pharrell, Gwen Steffani and Rihanna to mention a few.
It is always a pleasure to meet such inspiring individuals who simply don’t consider obstacles as limitations and are driven by positive attitude about the future. During our conversation they proved over and over again that sustainability sector has plenty of exciting things to explore and now is the time to really engage with this. With that we finished our conversation and were convinced to book our tickets to Copenhagen and explore more for ourselves.