The “Fashion Capital of the World”, Stockholm, canceled its fashion week last summer in June, flipping the industry on its head. Since then, there has been radio silence. What comes next? SACCNY gathered all the core players in Swedish fashion for Impact Track: Sustainable Fashion Forum on November 21. This was the first public announcement since the cancelation.

Following the forum, we sat down with one of the most prized change-makers in Swedish FashionTech today, Patrik Lundström, CEO of Renewcell, a company that is leading the industry onto a more sustainable path by closing the loop in the fashion industry. He discusses the next steps in weaving renewable materials into the fabric of the global industry. Most recently, the company won the Swedish Fashion District’s award, Encouragement For Action 2019.

Patrik Lundström
CEO of Renewcell
www.renewcell.com

Around five months have passed since the cancelation of Stockholm Fashion Week. How has this affected your ability to address sustainable fashion?
Swedish Fashion Council’s cancelation made a big splash in the industry and was another clear example of fashion starting to confront its terrible environmental and climate impact. Every single event that highlights this helps us prove the urgency that new thinking and new technologies need to be implemented in the industry.

How does re:newcell play a larger role in sustainable fashion?
Fashion lovers, brands and manufacturers are desperate to find options that can help radically reduce their negative impact on the planet. But to get any meaningful change, solutions will have to scale massively. That’s where we fit in. We offer a high quality circular raw material called CIRCULOSE® that could replace the virgin feedstock used for a large share of the current and future textile fiber market.

What does it mean for a garment to be “fully recycled” and how does it differ from other brands when they say their products are made from recycled material?
Fully recycled garments from discarded textiles simply haven’t been possible to make until now. Either the fabric has been too weak and poor quality that you need to blend with virgin fibers, or you need to do it at a minimal scale because the cost is too high. The recycled materials that are on the market in large scale now are mostly recycled polyester, but that’s not recycled from textiles – it’s recycled from plastic bottles. Around 90 million tons of textiles are simply landfilled or incinerated every year, which is almost all the textiles produced. Our new CIRCULOSE® product changes that. We close the loop on fashion by making it possible to create beautiful high-quality garments using nothing but cotton textile waste as a raw material. Here is how: 

What are some misconceptions about the current climate of sustainable fashion that consumers don’t consider?
A big one is the idea that recycled polyester does anything at all to address the problem of textile waste. It doesn’t! All of that recycled plastic comes from bottles, not clothes. It solves the packaging industry’s waste problem, but the plastic fibers from textiles still end up in oceans, landfills and incinerators after use.

Another one is the idea that cotton or organic cotton is somehow sustainable just because it is “natural”. That’s just false – almost any type of cotton is incredibly resource intensive, especially when it comes to water, and creates a lot of both local environmental and global climate problems. We will need to replace cotton and grow food , carbon-trapping forests other useful things on that same land as global populations keep growing.

Another unfortunate misconception is that viscose is a type of textile made from oil, like polyester. It’s not! It’s made from 100% natural cellulose from wood, biodegrades well, and now we can also make viscose from discarded textiles with CIRCULOSE®.

Everyone is a stakeholder in fashion. What is one piece of advice for those looking to refresh their wardrobe?
Take one more look, maybe you’ll find something tucked in way back in there that you like. If not, go for second hand and if that doesn’t work out, get something made from recycled materials. It’s pretty simple really: reduce, reuse and recycle.

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