Sustainable Lifestyle: green is the new black
International markets value and perceive the importance of lifestyle brands being sustainable, ethical, and transparent differently. Scandinavia in particular is well-known and praised for standing at the forefront of sustainable development. Ranging from fashion weeks in Copenhagen and Stockholm aiming to be fully sustainable, to fashion brands having high sustainable standards, it is now challenging to find a Scandinavian fashion brand that does not use sustainable materials or openly shares its production processes.
Two models which work exceptionally well for fashion and lifestyle brands are circular and slow. We have gathered exclusive insights from 3 Scandinavian-based sustainable fashion brands to find out more about these models and how to implement them.
There are multiple ways in which brands can now engage in a circular fashion, the most common way that sustainable brands use is to facilitate the recycling opportunities of a product. It is essential that brands guide consumers on how to recycle their products by the end of use. It is also worth noting, that circular fashion is not only about the use of sustainable and re-purposed materials, but also includes pre-owned selling and buying which has been rising in popularity.
Vintage fashion is no longer described as outdated, but has become sought after and recently expanded 21 times faster than conventional apparel model commerce since 2019. Pre-owned fashion brings fashion one step closer to being circular and is the most obvious way of extending the lifetime of a product.
The concept of circular fashion is fast-growing and is gaining much attention among sustainable fashion brands, as the fashion industry is facing pressure from a new generation of consumers who demand more sustainable options within fashion. In fact, the potential value of fashion’s circular economy is said to be at $5 trillion. Making circular fashion processes an attractive and promising alternative to fashion’s linear production model.
VOCAST spoke to two entrepreneurs who both founded circular fashion brands so you can learn more about what it means in the Scandinavian market:
Industry insight: The Vintage Bar & reWear it
Marie Louise Schultz | Founder at The Vintage Bar
At the end of 2017, Marie Louise Schultz started The Vintage Bar with a clear mission, she wanted to inspire people and make them inspire others by showing that secondhand can be as cool as new: “I hope to inspire people to sustainably participate in fashion by selling and buying secondhand. I knew I wanted to start something myself, and I was aware of the impact of the fashion industry on our planet, so it was also important for me to support conscious behavior.”
Yasmin Matos | CEO & Founder at reWear it
Yasmin Matos is the CEO & Founder of reWear it, Denmark’s fashion rental mobile app. Yasmin is Brazilian and moved to Denmark to launch her startup. The app was launched in the market last July: “Our platform was built for women who love fashion but also want to reduce consumption, giving them access to brands they desire at a lower cost. They can make an extra income lending their unworn items, and get to wear new clothing with more frequency, fulfilling the desire for fashion.”
In your opinion, what are some common perceptions consumers have about circular fashion and brands that market themselves to be sustainable?
Marie Louise: As we come out of the COVID-19 crisis, consumers are looking for even more purpose from brands than before. They are expecting brands to be authentic to who they are and to offer products with value. Furthermore, consumers are having higher expectations of brands when it comes to their sustainability goals, and also when it comes to the fashion life cycle, such as overproduction and overconsumption.
Yasmin: I believe that many consumers understand how important it is that fashion brands take sustainable initiatives but also that only “initiatives” are not enough. Fashion circularity is not a concept fully understood by many, but most of them are aware of the necessary actions. The problem is so big and the whole industry needs to change, but consumers are also changing by themselves as the industry is not really doing enough; choosing to buy less, going for second-hand shopping, upcycling, renting, and so on. I believe consumers will definitely appreciate seeing brands changing and taking major steps towards circular fashion and sustainability, but being very honest and transparent about the impact they still may cause.
What kind of role do you think that the Scandinavian lifestyle industry is playing in the global conversation about sustainability?
Marie Louise: Being the home of some of the most sustainable brands, Scandinavia is playing a major role in the global conversation about sustainability by showing forward-looking and innovative business models. Globally, the lifestyle industry is of course doing things to reduce the enrivonmnetal impact of fashion, but Scandinavia is without any doubt speeding up the industry’s transition in a more sustainble direction. With events like the Global Fashion Agenda (Copenhagen Fashion Summit), the Scandinavian lifestyle industry is guiding the global industry to take action by introducing more conscious and innovative approaches. These event gather an important list of stakeholder to spread the word.
Yasmin: I chose to found a sustainable fashion-tech startup in Denmark specifically because of the role Scandinavia is playing when the talk is on green solutions. Scandinavian lifestyle is all about being part of a community, making life simple, practical and meaningful, and these are essential values when considering changing our habits drastically to help the environment. The whole world is watching what we are doing here, to see how it goes, how it works, and I do think that Scandinavian companies are working to lead the actions.
Have you noticed any trends in circular and sustainable fashion brands when it comes to marketing?
Marie Louise: More than anything else the tone of voice has changed to a sustainability narrative that is attractive to the specific target audience.
Yasmin: The most recent campaign by Levi’s in the Nordics has the same saying as reWear it’s pitch deck (“Global clothing consumption has doubled in the last 15 years. We can change that.”), so I believe that mentioning a green solution in the same package of a new pair of jeans or a nice dress, is definitely a marketing trend nowadays. Many brands are using and will use that but as said before, the consumer is getting every day more aware of the problem. I believe that it’s also a trend that we will have tools to measure which brands are really making real efforts before buying them and which solutions really work.
Slow fashion: a discussion with Buena Onda
The second model that fashion and lifestyle brands can implement to be truly sustainable is the slow fashion model. A slow fashion model follows the opposite principles of fast fashion meaning that collections are fewer, pieces are more specific and waste is rarer. Slow fashion brands tend to follow the idea that creativity and authenticity to the artistry, production, durability, and wearability are worthy of as much time as it takes to get the product right for the consumer.
Designers are given as much space as they need to create their art, tailors are given proper time to construct the products in a safe and ethical environment. This model easily leans into ecological sustainability because products are designed in such a way that will naturally produce less waste – in essence, they are created for honest direct demand rather than inauthentically driving sales.
Founder & Creative director Farah Ragheb sat down with VOCAST to discuss some of her insights as a brand builder and consultant on what slow fashion really means and how the industry can learn from a slow business model:
Farah Ragheb | Buena Onda Founder & Creative Director
Farah Ragheb is a visionary with 15+ years of global experience in the retail, fashion, and lifestyle industry. She is the founder and creative director of BUENA ONDA, the first brand in the world to release only 3 items a year taking slow to ultra-slow. In March 2021 she launched the ‘Simplified Retail Model, Elite MaterClass‘, empowering entrepreneurs, game-changers, and global businesses to achieve true sustainability driven by positive impacts.
What are some common perceptions brands have about what slow fashion means, and what advice can you give to those wanting to implement a slow fashion model?
Farah: Before I got into this space, some brands released six to eight or even up to 36 collections a year if not more – and when I used to read about slow fashion in the media, it usually highlighted the quality, craftsmanship and storytelling. So when the idea for Buena Onda came, it was to step away from everything I’ve known to do things my way – I went slow because I saw the industry in front of me going really fast and that model not really working.
Creative directors can’t be creative at the snap of a finger, human creativity just doesn’t work like that. So we also started to see that sustainability elements and positive impact elements were becoming a part of the more simplistic model by default.
“The principle about starting a slow brand is putting you back in the equation.”
Would you also say that it’s not just about ecological sustainability but also humanitarian sustainability – people’s working and living balance for example?
Farah: Yes, it’s a holistic approach, we follow a full circle model meaning we radiate positive impact at every level of operation. So when you’re good, your business is good, nature is good and when you’re good to people nature and yourself your soul is good.
This holistic approach to brand building gives people the space to be human and give them time in what they are pursuing. It’s a mindset shift to go into this slow pace. What you see in the industry and on social media can make you feel like you’re out of the loop but you take the decision to be out of that loop.
So would you advise consciously removing yourself from the societal exceptions?
Farah: Yes, and I work with a lot of founders and co-founders consulting them on their brand building and the beautiful thing when they do slow down is that their engagement numbers go up, why? Because their quality is going up. So I would really advise those wanting to be a slow brand is find where their bliss is, how can they work in a way that suits their lifestyle, their mindset. So design a brand in a way that suits you and makes you feel blissful more often than not.
What kind of role do you think that the Scandinavian lifestyle industry is playing in the global conversation about sustainability?
Farah: Well, Scandinavia has some good PR across the globe about an area that is very conscious sustainably – it has a good reputation. In the space of fashion, having come to Copenhagen to consult for some major fashion brands here, I think that a lot of brands are still following a fast fashion model. So I believe that there is still a long way to go in terms of changing the mindset of the businesses in the fashion space, but I think that the majority of them are taking big strides towards that which is pretty incredible. I believe that they have the right intention around it but for any company running for X amount of years, it takes time to shift and change.
It really is about a mindset shift and it would be absolutely amazing to see more Scandinavian brands take that route and think smaller. I will say though that Scandinavia is having a great global conversation especially with the launch of Vogue Scandinavia with a perspective no Vogue has had before. But in general,
“we’re coming to a point now when consumers aren’t having it any other way and brands will be driven by consumer demand and it’s a beautiful thing.”
Have you noticed any trends in slow and sustainable fashion brands when it comes to marketing?
Farah: Sustainability isn’t just about the materials we use and the packaging we use, yes it’s intertwined into that but for us, we follow a path of true sustainability so that means the essence of how we do things is sustainable. Our marketing is very human-centred – we don’t say B2B or B2C it’s human to human for us. We don’t bombard our community pushing them to buy products from us, we tell stories, share chill summer destinations and share blissful imagery. We post our campaign and when our consumers wear them we repost them and people see them around.
“From a communications standpoint, our sustainability message is what we are – our brand speaks for its self: its three items every summer and every collection connects to the next over the years.”
Greenwashing: the do’s and don’ts of sustainability marketing
With the relevance of sustainability in lifestyle marketing, it is essential to use it as a valuable aspect and not turn into what could potentially be considered as “green washing”. Greenwashing can be defined as when a company uses false claims to suggest its eco-responsibility, making it challenging for consumers to have a clear overview of how sustainable a brand is. It is for that reason that a brand’s sustainability claims should be humble and specific, sustainability is a journey and there is always work to do before reaching a point that fully satisfies consumers.
There are various ways in which brands can reach a stage of transparency through honest marketing strategies, while also avoiding any reference that could possibly be considered as greenwashing:
Use numbers instead of words
Avoid using words such as “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” without presenting any numbers. Consumers find numbers more meaningful. Present the sustainable goals of your brand through science and data. If your products are made of recycled material, be clear about what percentage of your products are made of recycled materials.
Offer visual engagement
Consumers enjoy being informed on what a company does and how it contributes to sustainability. A relevant way to offer informative sources is through pictures and videos, demonstrating what causes a company to stand behind, while also informing and encouraging the audience to get involved.
Sustainability goes beyond green
As a company, go beyond caring for the environment. Diversity and inclusion are huge assets when ensuring sustainability. Acknowledge and be transparent about diversity and gender equality within the company. Diversity, gender equality, and work ethics are of growing relevance, and consumers appreciate knowing that they are purchasing products from a brand that supports equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Facts & figures:
- 57% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to help reduce negative environmental impact.
- 71% of consumers indicate that transparency is important and they are willing to pay more for brands that provide that.
- 46% of consumers are value-driven in the clothing and footwear industry, while 35% are purpose-driven.
- 45% of consumers look for brands that are sustainable and/or environmentally responsible.
- 72% of consumers are willing to pay more for brands that are sustainable and/or environmentally responsible.
Sustainability across 10 markets
What kind of magazines, influencers, media can we find on the Danish list?
This curated list includes sustainability influencers, online platforms, and sustainability advocates. Many of the influencers included in the list are incorporating sustainability in their everyday life, their platforms aren’t solely focusing on sustainability – but they are focused on living a sustainable lifestyle and inspiring others to do the same. The common belief among the contacts of this list is; that even the small things matter in creating a sustainable future.
How do these contacts reflect the current view on sustainability in Denmark?
Sustainability has become an integrated part of Danish society and is somehow almost expected amongst brands and large corporations to be incorporated. This change in society is a reflection of a rising interest in sustainability among Danes. Many contacts in the list are into re-using, and how to be more sustainable simply by being more aware of your consumption and re-using what you already have; Signe Hansen and Ann P. are both advocates of re-using.
Sarah Friis – Danish Lifestyle Researcher
What kind of magazines, influencers, media can we find on the Swedish list?
This curated list is a mix of influencers, editors, online platforms, and other creatives advocating for a sustainable lifestyle. Some are opinion leaders traveling around Sweden giving lectures like Johanna Leymann, while others simply want to inspire people with their choice of consumption and through the brands they’re interacting with like, Signe Siemsen.
How do these contacts reflect the current view on sustainability in Denmark?
Most influencers and editors on the Swedish market are interested in sustainability and make sustainable choices from time to time. But they don’t live a sustainable lifestyle. The contacts on this curated list want to inspire others and make a difference, either through their social media profile or in their profession. They don’t brand themselves as sustainable, even though they have the aesthetic, but educates their audience through their content. The slow-living lifestyle that is so prominent on the Swedish market is dominant on this list.
Josefine Forslund – Swedish Market Coordinator
What kind of magazines, influencers, media can we find on the Norwegian list?
The sustainable lifestyle Norway list comprises a variety of different contacts. The selected contacts present various approaches to sustainability, including influencers that promote more mindful consumption and sustainable brands, magazine editors that put sustainability on the agenda, to entrepreneurs of more eco-friendly lifestyle businesses. This illustrates how sustainability is present across numerous lifestyle practices and businesses.
How do these contacts reflect the current view on sustainability in Norway?
Norway has implemented sustainable approaches and business processes from early on and has thus earned a reputation as an environmental nation. In recent years, there has been an increased focus on environmental concerns, especially among the younger population. This is also seen among influencers and editors. While there are few influencers that fully devote their brand and content to sustainability, they do to a larger extent than before strive to make sustainable choices. These contacts can effectively spread the message of more environmental consumption.
Sara Linvåg Næss – Norwegian Market Coordinator
What kind of magazines, influencers, media can we find on the German list?
This curated list summarizes the most relevant German contacts when it comes to the topic of sustainability. Here you can find influencers, magazines, podcasters, editors, blogazines, and freelance journalists, of which all have one thing in common. This is, having a conscious lifestyle at heart and writing essentially about what inspired them.
From relevant online magazines such as „Viertel Vor“ & „Fashion Changers“ to elevating personalities such as Kim Gerlach and Annemarie Bernhard, this list has united all advocates for responsible living.
How do these contacts reflect the current view on sustainability in Germany?
The topics of sustainability and conscious living have received a lot of attention in recent years. Climate change and our natural habitat dissolving have convinced many Germans to change their views and look out for sources that promote a lifestyle that encourages dealing with resources more responsibly. Political uprising underpins this movement, with green parties and entities all over the country gaining popularity. Editors, Magazines, and Influencers are interested in sustainability and the incorporation thereof in their content in one way or another. A mindful way of life that focuses on the „right“ choices characterizes this list.
Kevin Pretzel – German Market Coordinator
What kind of magazines, influencers, media can we find on the French list?
The sustainable lifestyle list for the French market consists of some of the most prominent sustainable influencers. Covering topics such as sustainable fashion, tips to living a zero-waste lifestyle as well as inclusivity and body positivity. The list also consists of various media such as podcasts about sustainable fashion and online publications that focus on sustainable lifestyles and brands.
How do these contacts reflect the current view on sustainability in France?
Most of the contacts within the french sustainable lifestyle list are passionate about sustainability and want to encourage their followers to have a sustainable lifestyle as well. The other contacts are interested in specific aspects of sustainability, such as nutrition and interior, and are rather seeking to inspire their audience. Lastly, many influencers, editors and magazines, in the French market, do not only consider “being sustainable” as only caring for the environment, but also value inclusivity and diversity, and consider it as being as essential as sustainability.
Ema Laurenzana – French Lifestyle Researcher
What kind of magazines, influencers, media can we find on the Italian list?
The lists include the main contacts when talking about sustainability and the environment in Italy. From sustainable fashion to healthy food and lifestyle tips in general. Along with influencers and sustainable editors for the main magazines, the list includes magazines such as DailyGreen (which covers all topics concerning the environment, green economy, and lifestyle), Solo Moda Sostenibile (about sustainable fashion), and so on.
How do these contacts reflect the current view on sustainability in Italy?
Italy is getting there when it comes to being sustainable, many influencers promote a healthy lifestyle and more people are becoming involved in second-hand buying or recycling of products and materials. I think the list matches the overall interest that Italy has towards become more sustainable. However, the country is still in the early stages of the process.
Federica Manzi – Italian Lifestyle Researcher
THE NETHERLANDS 🇳🇱
What kind of magazines, influencers, media can we find on the Dutch list?
The Dutch sustainable lifestyle list consists of influencers covering subjects such as sustainable fashion, plant-based food, and also sustainable home interior. The list also includes various media focusing on sustainability, such as online publications and podcasts. Lastly, there are also contacts within the list who do not specifically define themselves as “eco-friendly” but rather cover subjects such as inclusivity and self-love.
How do these contacts reflect the current view on sustainability in The Netherlands?
Sustainability in the Netherlands is very important, and it is becoming inevitable to not find a media or an influencer that does not take a stance on sustainability. Most of the contacts within the list are really seeking to inspire people to make a change, whether it be in terms of consuming habits or nutrition. It is also important to note, that some of the contacts consider their lifestyles as being fully sustainable, making them particularly selective when it comes to working with brands.
What kind of magazines, influencers, media can we find on the Belgian list?
The curated list for the Belgian lifestyle market consists of influencers that stand for sustainable fashion, interior, nutrition, and also traveling. Furthermore, the list also includes magazines, editors as well as chefs, covering sustainability as their main focus.
How do these contacts reflect the current view on sustainability in Belgium?
Most of the contacts in the list are interested in sustainable fashion or interior but do not fully live a sustainable lifestyle, although they are still careful when selecting brands or products that they use or wear. While the magazines and chefs within the list, are seeking to inspire others to shop and cook sustainably.
THE UK 🇬🇧
What kind of magazines, influencers, media can we find on the UK list?
This curated list contains a mix of magazines and influencers all advocating for a sustainable lifestyle. The majority of the magazines are online publications and cover all areas of lifestyle such as fashion, home interior, beauty & wellness, food & gastronomy, family life, and even travel. The influencers in this list vary from boho-chic green living advocates to city-dwellers sharing their conscious life habits with their followers.
How do these contacts reflect the current view on sustainability in the UK?
Sustainability is not as ingrained into the British lifestyle as it is in Scandinavia, however, the eco-boom amongst influencers especially is on the rise and these are the leading creative contacts to get to know. Magazines targeted towards sustainability have usually been separated from other lifestyle magazines in the UK, but recently sustainability editors and segments in traditional lifestyle publications are becoming more common.
Georgina Juel – The UK Market Coordinator
THE US 🇺🇸
What kind of magazines, influencers, media can we find on the US list?
This list is made up of a mix of online platforms, magazines, influencers, and creatives dedicated to sustainability in most aspects of life. Many of the contacts are individual creators such as Simply Living Well who’s showcasing dedication to the suitability movement through home/living content while others like Mikaela Loach take on the role of activist and voice opinions regarding the movement bluntly often while showing off a great sustainable outfit at the same time.
How do these contacts reflect the current view on sustainability in the US?
Those interested in sustainability in the US like to make that clear, as they often, like these contacts subscribe to an idea of the movement that reaches beyond the individual commodity. Although the dedication to the movement in the US is quite the individual standpoint supporters of the movement represent a view of sustainability that is often versatile and involves slow-living/low-impact, social justice, and environmentalist aspects. They are advocates for living well through these practices and gladly brand themselves as such. They won’t hesitate to stress the need and urgency for a shift to a sustainable lifestyle approach to their audiences whether that’s by showcasing sustainable fashion options or advocating for policy change.
Cerena Kulego – The US Lifestyle Researcher
Celine Aagaard – is a veteran in the Norwegian media landscape, and has been the Editor-in-Chief of several leading magazines. Additionally, she has established herself as a fashion influencer, advocating more environmental, timeless clothing pieces, and as the founder of her own, sustainable clothing brand. She currently holds the position of Sustainability Expert at the newly launched Vogue Scandinavia.
Doina – Is a Moldovian fashion influencer based in Milan, Italy. She cares deeply about the environment, sharing tips and sponsoring brands that are sustainable. She is the ambassador of “no more plastic” and she owns a jewelry line made of recycled materials. She has worked with many high-end and luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton.
Flora Beverley – Flora is a health and fitness blogger from the UK. Her blog focuses on beauty, food, travel, physical and mental health, and sustainability. With her blog and social media platforms, she aims to document her lifestyle in a way that inspires her follower to be more healthy in the body, the mind, and the planet.
Jazmine Rogers (That Curly Top) – Through her colorful style and feed, Jazmine approaches sustainability from a specific angle: the intersection of sustainability and race. Shedding a light on the fashion industry, its exploitative working conditions in developing countries, and environmental inequities which are strongly intertwined.
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