Manufacture Nordics gaining momentum

Tone Skårdal Tobiasson
Posted on
Wednesday, 7 September 2016
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Is local fashion more sustainable than globally sourced fashion? And is it at all possible to have local production based on local resources in the Nordic region? These are questions being addressed in a new collaboration across borders and amongst industry actors.

As late as during the Oslo Design Fair last week, several meetings were held to discuss the possibility of on-shoring production to our region. “For Norway this would mean mainly production based on wool, but the whole shift to a bio-based economy could mean that waste from fisheries in Iceland and Norway, wood-pulp from Sweden, Norway and Finland, as well as other protein-based resources could become the basis for a whole new and vibrant industry,” says Gisle Mariani Mardal, Head of Design and Branding, Abelia and Board member of Nordic Fashion Association.

Lars Einar Riksheim, from Amatec, a company that sells industry machinery and has participated in a robot-project with the furniture industry, sees the dawning of a new age for local products. “What we do need, though, is more competence and people with engineering background who are interested in textiles.” This was echoed by Signe Aarhus, the founder of the iconic knit-label Oleana, who has seen an entire textile industry “throw out the baby with the bath-water when all production was moved to the Far East. We are now seeing the consequences of a very short-sightedness”.

Inspired by Makeworks Scotland, Kirsti Reitan Andersen, based at Copenhagen Business School, is among several who have called for better cooperation between the few remaining industrial actors left and a mapping may be underways to facilitate both cooperation and better systems for producing smaller runs in our region. The focus on quality over quantity, on provenance and heritage, are factors that are fueling an interest in ‘slow and local’ fashion, again inspired by the food movement.

A report from three Italian companies, claims that the environmental cost of a jacket made in China is 165 % higher than for a jacket produced in Europe, using EU’s Product Environmental Footprint. The three companies are RadiciGroup, EuroJersey Spa and Herno Spa. EU’s PET measures several parameters, including climate change, ozone depletion, human toxicity, acidification, land use and more. More research into this area is forthcoming, and may sway the EU to again look at the import rules from low cost countries with a rather lax approach to environmental and ethical regulations. The Norwegian project KRUS, funded by the Norwegian Research Council and led by the Consumer Research Institute SIFO along with NICE Fashion, is exploring several aspects of a more local approach to raw materials, production and apparel.