A NICE Future

  • November 28, 2017
  • By Vilde Noreng
A NICE Future

NICE stands for Nordic Initiative Clean & Ethical and has been a platform for a cooperation between the Nordic countries since 2008, when the Nordic Fashion Association was formed. In 2014, the Nordic Council of Ministers asked how the Nordic region could actually take a lead in the push for a more sustainable fashion and textile industry, and commissioned a ‘plan for a plan’. The work was led by the Norwegian Consumer Institute SIFO, in cooperation with the Nordic Fashion Association, the Sustainable Fashion Academy, IVL and CRI, with the resulting recommendation for a Nordic Roadmap.

The ‘plan for a plan’ was presented at a workshop in Copenhagen in October 2014. It has since been presented in several workshops and conferences around the world, and has gained attention as a bold and visionary plan. However, the Nordic Council of Ministers have not gone forward with implementing the plan, and currently the NICE Plan is still ‘a plan for a plan’. It is, however, being adopted by several small enterprises in the Nordic region who see the value of thinking outside the box.

There are four areas of focus, where three are more Nordic-specific. One is more ‘global’ as it represents what the industry as a whole, needs to address: Reduce CWCW (Carbon, Water, Chemicals & Waste). This is an on-going push that all companies and NGOs currently are addressing, and which is being augmented by the very new issue of micro-fibers. The Nordic region is very concerned about the micro-fiber issue as the sea binds the region together, and many companies are involved in research projects that hope to alleviate the accumulation of micro-fibers in our water-ways and soil

The other three (and more radical) approaches are as follows:
Replace DDT (Design Destined 4 Trash) with W2W (Wonderful 2 Wear). This also addresses the problem of micro-fibers, as the exponential increase in fiber-consumption is mainly based on synthetics and a lower quality, the result of the advent of fast fashion. Thus there needs to be a change from growth in volume to growth in value. When explaining this potential shift, it is tempting to point to ‘Norwegian sweaters’ and Norwegian national costumes. Both tend to be the oldest items in wardrobes in Norway. They also entail handicrafts and a ‘made to order’ sensibility which truly slows the loop.

Redirect OSG (Out-sourcing Globally) 2 OSL (On-shoring Locally). This is part of a global trend where companies are discovering that having out-sourced production to low-cost countries with little control over emissions and social issues; knowledge has been lost. This means that mistakes are constantly being made, waste is rampant and the products are far from efficient for the consumer’s actual needs. Which bring sus to the last R.

Rethink ED (excluding design) 2 ID (including design). In all other design-fields except fashion; the consumers’ needs are at the center. This needs to change drastically, as the textile and fashion industry is currently the least effective of all design-driven industries. Why? The over-consumption which has been spearheaded by the ‘fake news’ of constant new trends has not lead to ‘better’ consumption or more satisfied customers, but the opposite: Dissatisfied consumers who are less happy than ever with their appearances.

Luckily, NICE has been involved in several projects that have looked at some of these issues. In the KRUS project (see separate projects info) there are work packages that look at ‘localism’ and wardrobe studies; new approaches to finding better approaches to sustainability than the current approaches that sustain the status quo of ‘business as usual’ with slight incremental adjustments.

NICE has in the past been a tool for designers, but as the world is changing at a pace it is hard to imagine, Facebook has become our chosen arena for information-sharing. Follow the NICE Fashion page or join the NICE Fashion group for the latest news.

The ‘plan for a plan’ report from the Nordic Council of Ministers can be downloaded here.

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