Scandinavian modern may be synonymous with sleek blonde-wood furniture, but the design movement’s love of natural materials and curvy, organic forms can just as easily be applied to fashion. Considering that many of frontrunners of sustainable fashion hail from Sweden, the Swedish Institute is wasting no time flaunting its best and brightest with a touring exhibition that hit American shores for the first time this week. Eco Chic – Towards Sustainable Swedish Fashion, now showing at Scandinavia House in New York City, is a celebration of design that is high on both style and ethics, featuring notable names like Camilla Norrback, Anja Hynynen, and Johanna Hofring.
THE SWEDEST THINGS
Since its premiere in Belgrade in 2008, Eco Chic has traveled to Minsk, Kiev, Riga, Istanbul, and most recently, Berlin. Its goal: To demonstrate that eco-fashion can hold its own on the style front, while abiding by ecological and fair-trade practices.
Eco Chic’s goal: To demonstrate that eco-fashion can hold its own style-wise without compromising on ethics.
The exhibit itself is modest in scale and carefully edited by Karin Gräns, its architect and curator. Besides Norrback, Hynynen, and Hofring, the roster includes designers and labels such as Julian Red, Nudie Jeans, Pia Anjou, Reflective Circle, Righteous Fashion, Swedish Hasbeens, and Zion.
SUSTAINABILITY OF FASHION
Eco Chic feted its opening with “Symposium: Towards Sustainable Fashion,” a sold-out panel moderated by Hazel Clark, dean of the School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons The New School for Design.
Participants included Marcus Bergman, managing director of The Ecocotton Co., a pioneer in organic cotton production in Peru; Sass Brown, a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and author of the forthcoming book, Eco Fashion, due this August; Karin Stenmar, one of the founders of Dem Collective; and Evianna Hartmann, founder and designer of Bodkin.
Sustainable fashion is a multifaceted equation that goes beyond materials, labor, and environmental impact.
The consensus from the symposium, if there was one to be made, is that sustainable fashion is a multifaceted equation that often goes beyond eco-materials, trade and labor issues, and environmental-impact calculations. In fact, it’ll be the emotional connections we make with our garments—whether it relates to how they were produced or the memories we create with investment pieces—that will usher a new mindset about the way we dress.
Here’s hoping that conversation starters like Eco Chic will continue to serve as catalysts for creating an even more meaningful dialogue between the designers and the people they design for.
Eco Chic – Towards Sustainable Swedish Fashion is on view through August 21, 2010