Three fashion entrepreneurs share how to pave the way for change within the industry
The fashion industry is currently undergoing a huge transformation. We speak to three fashion entrepreneurs who share their innovative ways of taking on the industry, leading the way of change forward.
By AYLIN FRANZON
September 27, 2023
Transformation stands at the helm of the fashion industry, and new ground is broken every day. Whether it is innovating embroidery and saving 97% water in the process, fostering communities by swapping clothes with one another or developing a platform where leftover textiles can gain new life with new producers, there’s a strong conviction amongst the industry players to reconstruct it from within.
We talk to three leading entrepreneurs, who have taken it upon themselves to change the status quo of the industry, and doing so with unique and inventive solutions.
With an intent to facilitate engagement towards circularity and community, Lin Kowalska founded Popswap. The app reaches beyond being just a tool for swapping and borrowing clothes.
— It’s a lifestyle enhancer that nurtures community and a sustainable mindset within the fashion world, Kowalska describes.
Being an industry veteran, Marie Jonsson became well acquainted with the problems of large stocks of completely unused fabrics; left once brands were done with their collections. She also knew what she could do to combat this, and that was the birth of Rekotex. The platform carries unused fabric resources that can be mediated between brands and producers within the fashion and textile industry.
— It’s a circular venture where all players involved are winners, but above all the environment, says Jonsson.
Joakim Staberg, the founder and inventor behind Coloreel, explains how the company came to be.
— One thing that really grabbed my attention when I dug deep into the processes of textile production was how time-consuming it was to handle one fundamental component of embroidery: thread and the thread reels. This set off the spark for the Coloreel. Its patented technology allows us to dye embroidery thread on the spot, using 97% less water.
Transforming the state of the fashion industry is a multi-faceted project, and calls for work from multiple angles. One such angle is the one of innovative social strategies that work to reshape the view of clothes and fabrics that are already made. Lin Kowalska explains how Popswap works to communicate its intentions of a sustainable and connected industry.
— It’s about delivering a comprehensive logistical solution that ensures effortless tracking and helping our users find more trusted friends and connections to swap and borrow with. That is in line with our fundamental goal of evolving the swapping and borrowing culture even further.
Likewise, Marie Jonsson of Rekotex worked to raise awareness of the issue of leftover fabrics and then proceeded to establish Rekotex, which aims to foster a circular mindset among brands.
According to Joakim Staberg, what characterises Coloreel’s approach to change, is its innovations of direct thread-dyeing, which effectively minimises wastewater and water pollution as well as continuous, close collaboration with industry partners.
— For every Coloreel unit we deploy in production, we’re not just revolutionizing the process; we’re conserving water resources and reducing thread wastage, Staberg explains.
From what parts of the industry would you like to see more action taken to drive change going forward?
— There’s a significant need for more action within politics, says Lin Kowalska. We’ve witnessed encouraging steps, like the EU’s sustainability-focused legislation, and I’m particularly interested in advocating for more comprehensive measures. For instance, upcoming regulations mandating waste sorting by 2025 reflect a vital shift towards a more responsible approach.
Marie Jonsson pushes on the need for an even more conscious approach throughout the entire purchasing process to be more present.
— The issue of leftover materials has to be primarily targeted at its roots, where material purchases must be methodically thought out, with an active aim to minimise excess production. But when there are still leftover fabrics, we can make sure that they get new life with other actors in the industry.
Joakim Staberg stresses the impact that the textile industry has on our world’s water supplies.
— 20% of the world’s water pollution is a result of the textile industry, it’s high time we change that.
What other observations have you made?
— The fashion industry is at a crucial turning point Lin Kowalska, founder of Popswap, states. With a generation of conscious consumers advocating for sustainability and ethical practices, the industry is compelled to evolve. The future holds great promise as more visionaries come together to create meaningful and lasting impact.
— The importance of cooperation within all parts of the value chain. Established actors need to see the value of working with entrepreneurs to create innovative solutions. together, highlights Marie Jonsson, Rekotex.
— From our perspective, it’s evident that the clothing industry is undergoing a significant transformation, with a noticeable shift towards smaller-batch production. This approach involves finalising products and customising designs once an order is placed. This trend is indicative of the industry’s growing emphasis on flexibility, personalization, and sustainability, says Coloreel creator Johan Staberg.