Something old, something blue

11 October 2016

Johanna Bjarsch Follin

The threat of global warming has made most of us more aware of our consumption patterns, as we realise that the Earth’s resources are scarce. For companies in the retail industry, the issue of being sustainable is more prevalent than ever, as many consumers are looking for more sustainable options in order to, little by little, save our planet.

Swedish fashion brand Lindex has a vision of closing the loop and be a role model for the sustainable fashion industry and for sustainable retail. The LINK has talked to Sara Winroth, Sustainability Manager at Lindex Group, about how sustainability affects the retail industry and how Lindex shoulders the responsibility for sustainable consumption by helping their customers to make informed choices and to maintain a healthy and sustainable attitude towards consumption.

“We don’t want people to have a wear-and-tear attitude. Remember that what is old to you is new to someone else. Providing opportunities to return old clothes that can be used again, in the same shape or recycled and made into something new, makes Lindex part of closing the loop, part of the circular economy, and part of a more sustainable society”, she tells the LINK.

‘We Make Fashion Feel Good’ is Lindex’s message when communicating the brand, telling the world what they do and what they stand for.

“We don’t stop at only making fashion feel good, as in being comfortable. Comfortable is important, but we also want our customers to feel good about choosing our brand, and we want to feel good providing what we do. That’s why we take sustainability into account in all parts of our business, and we make sure to communicate and inform what we do in order to influence our customers into also adopting a more sustainable lifestyle”, Winroth says.

Sustainability is built into every part of the business strategy and deeply connected to the core business. Lindex’s management team led by Ingvar Larsson, who was appointed CEO in 2014, has played a large part in driving Lindex’s sustainability agenda, building it into every process and also making ‘Act Sustainable’ one of Lindex’s core values.

“We want to be part of the solution for sustainable retail, not only for the consumer, but for the whole industry; in our supply chain, upstream and downstream, and we want to set the tone of the industry to be more responsible, and that is why we have global aims in our sustainability strategy stretching beyond only using sustainable materials”, Winroth says.

According to Lindex, sustainability has two aspects; on the one hand Lindex aims to make their customers aware of the importance of sustainability, to be engaged in the issue, and to help them making informed choices, and on the other Lindex wants to contribute to the bigger picture and make sure to strive towards becoming climate neutral and contribute to a sustainable society, as a company but also infl uencing the industry in moving in the same direction.

Sweden is highly ranked when it comes to sustainability and sustainable living, and according to Winroth, Swedish customers care a lot about being sustainable, or at least being offered sustainable choices. Being a Swedish company, Lindex wants to make it easy for the consumer to evaluate and make their own calls as to whether Lindex fulfi ls the consumers’ requirements on being sustainable, and therefore aims to be transparent with how they work with sustainability and how it affects their business.

“Of course our customers say that sustainability is important when we ask them - who would say they don’t care about sustainability these days?” Winroth tells The LINK.

However, data and evaluations by Lindex show that ultimately, when it comes to the actual purchase decision in fashion, sustainability is not critical for most consumers. Winroth has a theory to these results:

“When it comes to fashion, people care about aspects such as comfort, price and they also want to look good in what they wear. Sustainability adds value, but the other aspects are more important to most of Lindex’s customers, and very few would choose to buy a clothing item only because it is sustainable”, she says.

There is one exception though, and that is baby clothes.

“People seem to care more about what they buy for their babies than for themselves, and sustainable clothes, especially clothes with care for material and non-use of chemicals seem to be important when people buy for the little ones with recognised more sensitive skin than adults. That is why our whole newborn assortment, and the major part of the kids’ assortment is made from 100% sustainable materials,” Winroth says.

The goal is to make 80% of all the clothes in Lindex’s assortment from more sustainable sources by 2020, which includes using sustainable materials, sustainable processes and sustainable production. More sustainable materials include not only using organic, recycled or low impact cotton and fibres, but also about having sustainably sourced materials for zippers and similar. Sustainable processes and production include ensuring that the production process is energy and water efficient, and that no hazardous chemicals are used.

“It is important for Lindex to not only sell sustainable clothes, but also to ensure our business is doing good for the local communities in which we operate. This goes for our home markets in Europe, but also where our factories are located; in China, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Turkey, where we make sure our business do not to compromise with e.g. access to clean water,” Winroth tells The LINK.

Winroth is also proud to tell The LINK that Lindex does more on the home market than only providing fashionable clothes.

“We wanted to see how we could work more to influence our customers to be more sustainable, and we wanted to spread our idea of not seeing fashion as a means for consumption, but instead see fashion as a resource,” Winroth says.

Looking around the closest vicinity for partners that could help them spread the message of using fashion as a resource, and also to spread the importance of social sustainability and doing good in the nearby community, Lindex finally found the perfect partner for the purpose; second-hand shop Myrorna.

The collaboration started in 2012, and it is a great example of how Lindex works even further with closing the loop through reuse and recycling of unwanted and worn-out clothes.

In all Lindex stores in Sweden and Norway, and soon also in Finland, visitors can leave clothes that they no longer want or that are worn out, and Lindex will make sure these are either reused by donating them to Myrorna for second-hand sale, or recycled and made into something new. During the spring of 2016, Lindex launched their first upcycled product; a pair of denim sneakers made out of used denims from Myrorna, and this autumn Lindex will be launching a line of denims named ‘Better Denim’, which is partly made of post-consumer recycled cotton.

So instead of seeing your old clothes as worn-out, see them as a resource for sustainable retail. Return the clothes you no longer fancy for the joy of someone else to reuse. Recycle your old and wornout clothes and denims, and these can be made into brand new shoes. Reuse and recycling make fashion sustainable, one shoe at a time.

Lindex sneakers made of recycled denims 

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