SUSTAINABILITY & FASHION – Interview with Erik Mannby
Ciao Erik, thank you for taking the time to chat with us about fashion sustainability.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I am editor-in-chief of Plaza Uomo Magazine, co-owner of Götrich & Co (founded in 1730) and co-founder of Pete & Harry – an online shop for curated pre-loved items for an elegant lifestyle. I studied journalism, business and economics, alongside several course in art history.
Originally I am from a small town in north of Sweden, but I have been travelling a lot through my life. I have always been inspired by arts and different cultural expressions, as well as history and craftsmanship. I ended up in Stockholm almost 20 years ago and fell in love with the city. It is small, but still quite international – as it takes in a lot of influences from around the world. Another good reason to love the city is that I met my wife here.
What is for you the definition of fashion sustainability? And what changes are required in fashion industry in order to be more responsible?
Fashion sustainability is almost an oxymoron, as fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the World. But, I think that small artisanal businesses are the ones who do it best – creating beautiful pieces from materials with a low CO2 impact, oftentimes recycled. Printing and colouring processes are also important aspects for a more sustainable fashion industry. As more natural dyes are much less hazardous for the environment and water pollution etc.
Do you personally think that sustainable clothing brands can impact the World in a relevant way?
I certainly hope so, as I work within the clothing industry, and I am also concerned about environmental issues. I don’t really think small artisanal companies are the problem, but by making sustainability “cool” they can hopefully impact the industry on a larger scale. Of course, a lot of the giants in the industry don’t actually care, they just jump on the sustainability train as a sort of trend. But every little victory counts, right?
Fast fashion brands are often considered responsible for the increasing of over productions and wastes. What about high fashion? Is it really better than fast fashion?
If we talk about artisanal and businesses based off of craftsmanship, yes, they are better simply by making more high quality items. These products have a longer life span, because they are more well made. And the people who buy them generally treasure them more. Of course a lot of the consumers who buy high quality still buy in large volumes. But they still don’t let these goods end up in landfills.
FASHION SUSTAINABILITY & COVID 19
The crisis created by the covid 19 pandemic hit the fashion industry hard.
For you will coronavirus pandemic accelerate the shift toward greater sustainable fashion?
I don’t know really. I think the pandemic gave us all a pause, where we could reconsider our normal consumption patterns. On the other hands, it may also have detracted a bit of attention away from fashion sustainability issues. This question would probably need a full thesis to answer it.
How this pandemic will transform the fast fashion? Do you think it will move away from low pricing and high volume strategies?
Perhaps. But I think this shift was coming even before covid hit us. High quality and sustainability has been coming on for some years now.
People’s habits have changed radically over the past year. How this change will be reflected in clothing purchasing behaviour?
There are several signs of a move towards casual fashion. On the other hand, after spending more than a year in sweat pants, some people are probably looking forward to dressing up properly again. I am hoping that it will lead to a more thoughtful way of consuming fashion though.
MADE TO ORDER & SUSTAINABILITY
Do you think that slow fashion is still a niche market? If yes, do you think things will change?
It is still a niche market, yes. But, custom options have been popping up everywhere in the last 10 years, at several price points. So there is a good chance that people who start out with cheap made-to-measure and made-to-order will be open to upping the quality of their wardrobes, by buying from quality makers.
Stefano Cau M.T.O. products are made upon order, so production starts only after customer purchase.
Do you think that waiting time is still an issue within the made to order model? If yes, how it can be solved?
No, I think a lot of consumers are once again getting used to the idea that quality takes time. Of course you can always try to streamline processes, but in the end you have to wait longer for quality.
Last but very important question. Will fashion industry ever be completely sustainable?
To be frank, I am a bit pessimistic. I don’t think it can ever be completely sustainable, but it could be much much better, by people making conscious consumer choices.