In recent years, several initiatives have sprung to life to change the textile and fashion industry, and fashion designers are working hard to reduce the industry’s big carbon footprint.
"My business idea is all about recycling polyester: when a garment is starting to get worn out, the client can send it back to me. I’ll upcycle the fabric and use it as a source for new garments," Emelie says. "The idea also revolves around transparency. Any customer should be able to find out where and how a garment is produced, either through a sewn-in chip or by scanning a QR-code."
"When talking about sustainable fashion, most people think primarily of working with cotton and/or hemp. However, these materials are largely linear, meaning that the fabric fibers are destroyed and cannot be extensively reused," Emelie begins. "I do the opposite. There is a lot of polyester that can be recycled; and the nature of the material allows it to be melted and re-built. It’s a durable fabric that also keeps its colors saturated. It’d be fantastic if we can upcycle, re-use, and re-value what usually gets thrown away."
Of course, no material is perfect – and polyester, despite its positive sides, has its quirks. "Polyester emits microplastics," Emelie explains. "To counter that I am aiming to sell garments with laundry bags that catch the microplastics. In this way, we can recycle and still feel safe."
"I wish we talked more about sustainability when I was a student. We didn’t really touch upon that at all, sadly," Emelie begins. "The concept of sustainable fashion came a lot later and can be hard to navigate as it encompasses so many different bits and pieces. The business model of our modern fashion industry is so linear that it’s hard to get an overview; especially as production is continuously on the rise."
Another way the fashion industry is different today can be seen in the rise of social media, giving consumers access to knowledge and information that might've otherwise been more well-hidden. "When I was in fashion school, social media hadn’t really had its breakthrough yet – a completely different scenario from those getting a fashion education today. Social media opens up possibilites to really hone the aspect of social sustainability in terms of transparency," Emelie says.
And there are so many areas within the industry that needs to grow and evolve.
"When we talk about sustainable materials and sustainable fashion, I think we often lack an ethical aspect. It’s important to remember social sustainability – and not only ecological sustainability," Emelie says. "Who is involved in the production of fashion? Under what circumstances are they working? Do they have access to unions, social security – and are they fairly compensated?"
When COVID-19 came around, we saw a mass-cancellation of fashion shows and a mass re-thinking of what fashion shows could be. For Emelie, it became an opportunity to experiment with the creation of virtual collections. (Read more about virtual fashion and digital clothing in our blog post.) In a team of seven, Emelie showcases her garments on specially-designed avatars in unique environments.
"By turning digital, I can create my own fashion shows and get to decide everything myself. If I were to showcase my garments at a physical show, I'd have to go through a modeling agency and choose from a very limited selection of models," Emelie says. "Diversity is lacking in a lot of cases, and I envision MLÌ by Svensson to be an inclusive brand. Getting to design my own avatars is a huge advantage in the aspect of diversity; both in terms of ethnicity, gender, as well as body shape."
MLÌ by Svenssons virtual collection is inspired by solarpunk; a utopian vision exploring what the future might look like if humanity managed to solve major contemporary challenges, with an emphasis on sustainability, climate change, and pollution. Emelie’s collection is called "Emerald City Green Shading Black" and will be showcased in the Digital Village Multiverse.
As for her own style, Emelie seeks inspiration from cultural clashes which has landed her in what she describes as couture x street style. At MLÌ by SVENSSON, she uses a lot of plastic materials and a lot of color. "I’ve noticed fans of electronic music also like my fashion. It’s like the EDM of the fashion industry."
Until Sunday March 13, 2022, creative entrepreneurs and fashion designers like Emelie Svensson can apply to NEST – New Entrepreneurship for a Sustainable Textile Industry, where four leading Swedish incubators offers a free acceleration program to disrupt, re-invent, and re-think the fashion industry.
NEST is challenging the fashion industry – are you in?
Nytt initiativ för att ställa om textil-och modeindustrin med innovativa lösningar för en hållbar framtid (in Swedish)
Från linjärt till cirkulärt, från vertikalt till horisontellt – att förändra textil- och modeindustrin
This article is originally written by Caroline Wendt and is adapted from Future by Lund.
Förra veckan höll NEST ett spännande panelsamtal om framtidens textilproduktion. Slow vs. fast fashion: hur ser framtidens textilproduktion ut? Vad är egentligen hållbart? Se samtalet här!Read more
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