The project was created as a two-day event with 36 workshops and invited 15 guest speakers from organisations in Sweden and the US to discuss ways in which businesses and students can integrate sustainability into design. Jenny Bergström an organiser from The Swedish Institute said of the event:
“The collaboration with Parsons is very important in this project since it’s a hub and multidisciplinary meeting point within the New York fashion scene.”
This isn’t the first time that the Swedish Institute has promoted a sustainable fashion design focus in the New York market. Eco Chic Exhibit showcased in 2010 at Scandinavia House on Park Lane, which was part of an international project featuring designers Camilla Norrback and Swedish Hasbeens.
Bergström said of the Design Intelligence platform: “To the Swedish Institute, I would definitely say that the creative environment is versatile and business friendly in New York, and the image set in metro-poles like New York or London are important for the image of Sweden”
Speakers in this session came from all divisions of the fashion industry from executive directors to stylists and journalists and other partners in this free program include the Fashion Center, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, The Embassy of Sweden in Washington DC and the Consulate General of Sweden in New York.
- Hazel Clark – Parsons the New School for Design
- Sarah Scaturro – Conservator, Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Gudrun Sjöden – Gudrun Sjöden
- Otto von Busch – Parsons the New School for Design
- Ulrika Berglund – Stockholm University
- Emy Blixt – Swedish Hasbeens
- Rebecca Earley – Researcher, MISTRA Future Fashion
- Eric Stubin – Trans-Americas Textile Recycling Co
- Timo Rissanen – Parsons the New School for Design
- Martina Arfwidson – Face Stockholm
- Annika Rembe, Director-General, Swedish Institute
- Ewa Björling, Minister of Trade
- Joel Towers, Executive Dean of Parsons the New School for Design
The Swedish Institute (SI) is an initiative of the Swedish government and seeks to promote the country’s culture abroad. SI projects cover education and innovation, with a special focus on green enterprises.
“Since we have been working in creating dialogue around sustainability and fashion internationally for many years, we know that these themes make up important parts of the image of Sweden abroad, “ explained Bergström.
Sustainability issues are popular across Sweden, which has been reflected by adopting strong national policies that work towards improving sustainability. Even as early as 1999, according to a Corporate Knights report (1999), all seven political parties of the Riksdag had adopted 15 environmental quality objectives targeted for completion by 2020.
H&M, Swedish’s most well-known fashion company, has amped up its comprehensive corporate responsibility strategy over the last couple of years and have even recently published seven steps to sustainable retailing in its 2011 annual report. As of 2011, H&M has given 3,600 hours of sustainable training to the buyers and designers and it’s ‘Conscious’ collection’s sales reached a 29 percent increase during that year alone.
As more and more of these eco-conscious Nordic companies enter the US market, the Swedish Trade Council, who are a partner of the Design Intelligence project, has commenced further research in the area by consulting established Swedish companies in the US including Nudie, Carin Rodebjer, J Lindeberg and Whyred.
Part of the Design Intelligence event uncovered the findings of the Swedish Trade Council’s study, which has revealed a significant 10 percent annual increase in Swedish apparel exports into the US, making it a growth market for fashion businesses with a proven interest in sustainability.