Fashion and textile companies in Norway have come together for the fourth year on a collaborative textiles campaign. Whilst previous events have focused on recycling, this year’s key themes were textile reduction and prolonged use. Tone Tobiasson reports. Led by the Varner Group, Lindex, H&M, Pierre Robert Group, Bergans, KappAhl and Kid Interior, joined forces with conversation organisations, recycling-giants Fretex and UFF and rental and repair companies for the 2018 campaign – Tekstilaksjonen. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that H&M in Norway now will cooperate with start-up Repair-able and offer repairs of clothes.

“It’s perhaps an obvious question,” said Benedicte Eie, formerly part of the CSR team at H&M Norway, “How come H&M doesn’t make better quality clothing to begin with, that doesn’t need repairing?” Better quality in general was at the forefront of the discussion when prolonged use was offered as a solution for reducing consumption. Rental, co-ownership, sharing and swapping were the recurring themes and very much seen as the business models for the future – also for the major retail brands who are painfully aware that business as usual is no longer an option. It is heartening to note that several companies who otherwise are fierce competitors are now co-operating on sustainability initiatives.

To make the commitment more binding, this year’s textile campaign culminated with all participants signing a five-point manifesto, where environmental footprint reduction was at the top of the agenda. “We have been looking at cutting down the number of styles for each season, as one way of doing exactly that, so that we do not end up with the excess stock which is every retailers main headache,” said Linda Refvik, who heads up the Norwegian Fashion Hub and Varner’s sustainability work. “We have also increased prices, in order to make it economically viable to use better and more expensive raw materials. We did a survey among our customers if they were willing to pay for better quality, which they said ‘no’ to. But once we implemented the price increase, we see that as long as the customer understands why and likes the look and feel of the clothes; they are also willing to pay.”

When the textile campaign begun it was mainly cooperation between the recycling division of the Norwegian Salvation Army in cooperation with H&M, and with focus on increasing recycling – also of textiles that are soiled or ruined. Today, Fretex now asks Norwegians to hand in their used underwear and socks, marking that the bags contain ‘textile trash’. The push from both recycling organizations has led to Norwegians increasing recycling from 59 to 79 per cent.