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Insights/fashion
”Ultimately, it’s the customers who shape the future — brands must inspire them to make the right choices”
On combining hyperlocal production and integration
PER ANDERSSON
11 Oct 2023

Since founding the store Nostalgi in 1997, specialised in dead stock clothing from the 1940s to 60s, Per Andersson has been a player to look out for in the fashion industry. Garnering a niche customer base of creatives inspired him, and in 2001 he established the brand Velour by Nostalgi. Continuously breaking the mould of the industry, one such feat being the launch of the world’s first Nordic Swan Ecolabel jeans in 2017. We talk to him about one of his latest projects, one fueled by a sustainable mindset and a drive for integration: Lokalt by Velour.

What is ”Lokalt by Velour”?

— When we established our advisory board in 2016, we had many insightful discussions regarding Velour by Nostalgi and our purpose. This led to a pivot in our focus and from 2017, we devoted ourselves to making jeans as sustainable as possible. Parallel to this, seeing as Sweden had received many refugees in recent years I thought that there had to be people skilled in sewing among them, and that gave me an idea. That was to manufacture jeans locally while making use of the competence of these new arrivals and integrating them into the process. They are more than refugees, they are artisans.

Why is a project like this important?

— To combat the issues of growing social disparities, integration efforts are crucial. Lokalt by Velour contributes to those endeavours by recognising the unique talents of our skilled artisans who make our jeans. Through this focused work with new refugees, we aim to inspire other companies to realise the potential of this group and to hire more of them. 

This approach to denim might be considered a bit unconventional to the everyday consumer – Has that created any challenges for you?

— We’ve adopted a slow-fashion approach to this project as well, where production first starts once an order is placed and with a delivery period of 2-3 weeks. We’re humble towards the fact that this is a new concept for many brands to work with and building volume takes time. But seeing as volume drives integration, our goal is always clear.

The Lokalt by Velour label.

How come you based the production in Borås?

— I was initially looking for a production setup when a former employee reached out to me about another design project at his company in Borås. I seized the opportunity and shared my vision for Lokalt by Velour. They were on board with the project and that is how we came to locate our production in Borås.

You’ve had quite many years of experience when it comes to working with denim. How has the approach to sustainability changed according to you?

— The advancement of environmentally friendly processes within the production facilities. When we first started producing jeans in Turkey, there wasn’t an as developed sense of sustainability in the factories. I am certain that our initiative and diligent work to certify our apparel line through the Nordic Swan Eco-label in 2017, led the way for more of the factories in the region to invest in more sustainable production alternatives.

How has developing Lokalt by Velour differed from developing the Nordic Swan Eco-label jeans?

— With Lokalt by Velour we know the production process very intimately since our main focus is social integration and small-scale production. We have an ongoing dialogue with the local community. It poses a different challenge when a third party in a faraway is being employed. Then you need to inspire steps being made toward more sustainable production as an integral part of their operations, with one such way being through environmental certifications like the Nordic Swan Ecolabel.

After launching, what else do you have coming?

— Our primary focus right now is to inspire a wider demographic of customers to try locally-produced denim. Not only is it an investment for your wardrobe, but it contributes to the integration of new refugees here in Sweden through the work it enables. Contributing to the local community with the help of this project is a really exciting feeling.  

— It wasn’t too long ago that I was invited by Lunds University to speak about the Lokalt by Velour project to the students of Industrial Engineering and Management. The recognition from both media and institutions is key to to taking this project even further.

Has there been any developments concerning circularity, sustainability and traceability within the industry as of late, that you find particularly interesting?

— Circularity, sustainability and traceability are all pivotal for the industry as a whole. Efforts like the ones by Renewcell are highly commendable. I consider myself a small entrepreneur who aims to inspire the industry with new agendas and I enjoy brands that are driven by a purpose with their business. Ultimately, it’s the customers who shape the future with their choices. When they open their wallets, they take a stand for the world they want to see. And with that said, brands must inspire them to make the right choices.