Design to the people
By Gisle Mariani Mardal, Chairman Nordic Fashion Association.
Scandinavian design is a celebrated stylistic direction fashioned by our natural elements and characterized by a functionalistic approach to form. A concept based on a modern way of life, that reflects our society, culture and relationship to nature, which is unique to the world. Add the tech savviness of Finland and the quirkiness of Iceland and you have the Nordics – a region in its own league of style.
As a value proposition, this provides opportunities for Nordic export, especially in fashion and design. Let me explain:
From my own experience working with export initiatives on behalf of the Norwegian fashion cluster Norwegian Fashion Hub, and as chairman for Nordic Fashion Association, I have truly come to understand the value of Scandinavian design as a concept. Why? Firstly, because it has international recognition. And secondly, because as a region we top the list as the most successful societies in the world. We must actively use our values as a platform when it comes to export. By focusing on the uniqueness of our way of living we are better positioned to succeed internationally. Because our values is the very advantage that sets us apart globally.
Values like open democracies, gender equality, and sustainable societies, combined with effortless aesthetics are explanatory factors for why Scandinavian brands get international recognition. Examples are Norwegian Rain with their distinctive and elegant coats adapted to severe weather, inspired by the Westcoast of Norway. Or from Sweden, BACK -a brand focusing om empowered female characteristics.
In this day of age, we are also meeting an increasingly value-based relationship to consumerism. It’s an opportunity for Nordic brands to fully take advantage of our regarded position as a responsible region, to design and manufacture products which are truly sustainable. Hence, we must strengthen our national competencies and take greater ownership of our legacy. This applies not only to design but also to production and craftmanship.
We live in an age of exhaustive global transformations. Our response as a region should be to strengthen our position through collaboration, and to stake out a new direction for Nordic Fashion which is both sustainable and profitable.