”We cannot see each other as competitors since we are in need of vast changes to reach the 1.5-degree goal”

On the open letter on how to make one of women’s biggest consumables better
November 15, 2021

Frisinger studied an MBA at Lund University and worked in finance for a couple of years before watching a documentary.

— It was about planned obsolescence — that’s when the idea of Swedish Stockings came to me.

She describes her brand as the first sustainable hosiery brand worldwide. A few weeks ago, she published an open letter to the industry.

— It was partly an act of frustration. From the beginning, our mission has been to change and influence the entire fashion industry to become more sustainable. We wanted to get attention from the big players, those that can make a difference on a larger scale. That’s why we invited them to a discussion to share knowledge and thoughts about sustainability, to achieve progress faster. The response has been varying a lot, both positive and negative. We’ve had some concrete meetings with a couple of brands, but some others contacted us with the request to remove their brand names from the campaign. It was sensitive for some to be called out!

From your perspective, what’s so fundamentally wrong with the hosiery industry?

— Tights are one of women’s biggest consumables. Every year about 8 billion pairs are bought, worn a handful of times, and then discarded. Tights are made from petroleum, the same material as plastic bottles. We want to shed a light on this issue, and we see it as our responsibility to clean up the industry. We believe that transparency, as well as cooperation between competitors, will be key going forward. For the fashion industry to become more sustainable we also think that laws and regulations are crucial, we cannot put all responsibility on the consumer. Therefore, in parallel to the open letter we also sent a proposition to the Swedish Government, resulting in us meeting up with several political parties here in Sweden. Our goal is to make a real difference, a long-lasting one, Frisinger states. She continues:

— For our brand, we have shifted towards talking about responsibility instead of sustainability. This word better represents how we want to act and be perceived as a brand. Over the years the concept of sustainability has become harder to define, and today almost anything can be sustainable depending on what answer you are seeking. We are not only focusing on environmental sustainability, but also economic and social responsibility. It’s not sustainable to use recycled materials if you’re, for instance, not paying workers a living wage and ensuring good working conditions. 

In the open letter, you state how ”partnership is the new leadership”. Can you explain more?

— We cannot see each other as competitors since we are in need of vast changes to reach the 1.5-degree goal. That’s why we are looking both to learn from our competitors, but also looking outside of our own business and industry. An example of this is that we are producing tables from old tights. It’s not the ultimate solution, but it’s the best we can do right now instead of discarding tights in the bin. When broadening our perspective outside of hosiery we can be creative and find new solutions together with others. Imagine how amazing it would be to partner up with IKEA to produce chairs from old tights on a large scale in the future.

Sylvia Innovation Table, made of old tights together with designer Gustaf Westman

What else do you have coming?

— Next year we are launching ”the most comfortable tights in the world”. After years of experience, this is the reoccurring feedback from women — tights are not comfortable enough. We realized that we will not be able to develop this product ourselves, so we have created an advisory board of 350 women helping us in the process. Also, you can recycle your old tights with us, no matter brand, and obviously, there are a lot of objects that can be produced from old tights except tables…