A New Sweden is a company hoping to turn Swedish fashion on its head, by making clothes from Swedish wool – 82% of which is usually destroyed.
The company, founded by Lisa Bergstrand, produces all of its garments in Sweden, using solely Swedish materials, no chemicals and no other plastic materials, meaning there is no micro plastic pollution.
The driving force behind the creation of A New Sweden was a “bipolar” fashion industry, says Bergstrand.
“On the one hand there is a lot of conversation around making clothes in a more sustainable way, but every brand that talks about sustainability will still make clothes from materials that have a negative impact on the environment – such as polyesters or polyester blends,” says Bergstrand. “These companies will still try to sell at least four collections of clothing a year, a lot of which still makes its way to landfill, or worse, the incinerator.”
There’s a lot of competition in the sustainable fashion market, but Bergstrand insists most brands only tackle one or two issues, rather than being sustainable inside and out.
“Consumers generally don’t dive much deeper into the topic than the marketing messages that the brands put out.”
The company is based in Norrfjärden, a small town in the very north of Sweden where Bergstrand comes from. A New Sweden, according to Bergstrand, has an angle that cuts through the noise.
Bergstrand founded the company in 2017 with a vision to not compromise on sustainability. “I had worked for labels who had touted their sustainable credentials, but when I looked closer I saw that a lot could have been done better. “While the sustainable fashion market is inundated, I don’t believe anyone is doing it in a way that goes far enough, and it’s for this reason that we wanted to venture into it.”
A New Sweden built its own supply chain to guarantee quality and sustainability of its products, but doing so created a “real challenge”.
“Finding local manufacturers and factories that are willing to process the small amounts we are starting with has also been hard,” explained Bergstrand. “But the challenges are made worthwhile by our community of customers who are passionate about what we are trying to do.”
Bergstrand hopes to inspire other Swedish fashion labels to use Swedish wool rather than importing it from New Zealand, Australia and South America as is currently the norm.
The New Sweden intends to build its collection out, sticking to its “slow fashion” approach. The brand creates one piece a year, with Bergstrand saying this kind of craftsmanship is the “only way” to ensure the garments are produced to the company’s quality.
“Additionally, we intend for each new garment to showcase an innovation in what is possible with local, natural materials. For example our first edition represents the first time a jersey was ever made from Swedish wool. For the next collection, we are looking at taking what we learnt from the first garment, but making it wind and water resistant to perform like a technical garment, but without the use of plastics or chemicals in its manufacture.”
Bergstrand added: “We want to give people an option of being able to buy clothing that is actually made in a holistically sustainable way, and to inspire them to buy fewer better items. We hope that we succeed, and that this success inspires the fashion industry to see local manufacturing and local natural materials as viable options in making clothes.”
Sales are too early to share annual turnover, and the first year profit will be reinvested to make the company’s second edition, as well as investing in a Swedish supply chain.