Fair Fashion by Wyilda af Norden

Photo: Thomas Ohlsson Photography

Letz­te Woche haben wir bereits all­ge­mein über Slow Fashion berich­tet, jetzt wol­len wir euch ein neu­es Lab­le vor­stel­len, das nach­hal­tig pro­du­ziert. Wyil­da af Nor­den wur­de vor fast einem Jahr von Han­na Wal­lo und Petra Salen­vall in Schwe­den gegrün­det und wird im kom­men­den Jahr eine ers­te Kol­lek­ti­on an nach­hal­tig pro­du­zier­ten Schals her­aus­brin­gen. Wir haben uns mit Petra über Wyil­da af Nor­den, Nach­hal­tig­keit und ihre Pro­duk­ti­on in Chi­na unter­hal­ten.

How did your brand “Wyil­da af Nor­den” come about?
Han­na and I have known each other sin­ce child­hood. One of my ear­liest memo­ries invol­ves watching Han­na make intri­ca­te fashion drawings. She has lived and bre­a­thed fashion for as long as I can remem­ber. I always knew that Han­na had a future in fashion, that was clear to me from the start. I did not know, howe­ver, that one day, our care­er paths would cross.
I have a back­ground in busi­ness and poli­tics. When I hit thir­ty I star­ted thin­king more about whe­re I was hea­ding, and what I want to get out of life. Ins­te­ad of just tal­king about labour rela­ted injus­ti­ces and pre­ser­ving our earth, I deci­ded to do some­thing about it.
During this peri­od Han­na and I star­ted play­ing with the idea of a fashion brand that focu­sed on design, sustai­na­bi­li­ty and soci­al respon­si­bi­li­ty. So, a litt­le more than a year ago we deci­ded to beco­me busi­ness part­ners, and in Janu­ary 2017 Wyil­da will be laun­ched. Doing things right takes time.

How did you choo­se the name “Wyil­da af Nor­den”?
Han­na and I grew up in Hapa­ran­da – a small town­ship loca­ted in the North of Swe­den. Gro­wing up sur­roun­ded by forest, crea­tes a spe­cial bond with natu­re. The forest was whe­re we went play, pick ber­ries and do win­ter sports. Some days I even ski­ed to school. We are child­ren of the North and we wan­ted our brand to reflect that. Wyil­da is our cele­bra­ti­on to the Nort­hern way of life. The name Wyil­da plays the wor­ds: Wil­der­ness and the Wild. Wil­da is also a name in Swe­dish.
All this boi­led down to a fic­tio­nal cha­rac­ter that we call Wyil­da (you can read the full sto­ry of Wyil­da on our web­site). She is a sym­bol of cou­ra­ge, strength and kind­ness. Wyil­da is in all of us. We hope that the scarf can be a remin­der of that. Whene­ver you are sca­red to take the leap: Be Wyil­da.
This is how the brand got its name.

You call yours­elf the “first brand to bring Scan­di­na­vi­an sustain­ab­le-luxu­ry access­ories to women who refu­se to com­pro­mi­se on ethics and aes­thetics”. What do you mean by that?
When sustain­ab­le fashion star­ted beco­m­ing a thing, a com­mon mis­con­cep­ti­on was that sustai­na­bi­li­ty meant com­pro­mi­sing on design. We want to right that wrong. Hence, our man­tra: we refu­se to com­pro­mi­se. For us design, sustai­na­bi­li­ty and soci­al respon­si­bi­li­ty are equal­ly important. Actual­ly, qua­li­ty is ano­t­her value that we don’t com­pro­mi­se on.

You say you have “com­ple­te con­trol of our pro­duc­tion in deve­lo­ping coun­tries”. How do you make sure of that?
We are not in con­trol of our pro­duc­tion in Chi­na. Our visi­on for the future is to be in com­ple­te con­trol of our pro­duc­tion in deve­lo­ping coun­tries. We are a small brand about to launch our first collec­tion, need­les to say, our finan­ces are very limi­ted. If Wyil­da is a suc­cess and we can pro­du­ce lar­ge enough quan­ti­ties, we will find a con­tract fac­to­ry that pro­du­ces exclu­si­ve­ly for Wyil­da. That way we can set the con­di­ti­ons for the col­la­bo­ra­ti­on. That puts us in a posi­ti­on whe­re we can set the stan­dards. The­se stan­dards should be the same regard­less of whe­re in world the employees are sta­tio­ned. And when we talk about good working con­di­ti­ons, we use the Scan­di­na­vi­an coun­tries as role models.
The fact that we are not in a posi­ti­on to con­trol our pro­duc­tion, forces us to find other ways to help impro­ve the working con­di­ti­ons for women in fashion fac­to­ries. That’s why we have deci­ded to part­ner with Awaj – a well-renown tra­de uni­on for women working in Ban­gla­de­shi fashion fac­to­ries. We will dona­te five per­cent of our pro­fits to Awaj, and in return they have agreed to edu­ca­te us on the working situa­ti­on of their mem­bers. This helps us pre­pa­re for the future.

Photo: Thomas Ohlsson Photography

Pho­to: Tho­mas Ohls­son Pho­to­gra­phy

How do you moni­tor your pro­duc­tion in Chi­na?
Our cur­rent pro­duc­tion part­ners fol­low the legis­la­ti­on set by the Chi­ne­se government. We have also been in con­tact with ILO to check if they have any issu­es on our pro­duc­tion part­ners. They do not. By publi­shing our list of sup­pliers, others can help moni­tor our part­ners. Any signs of unethi­cal beha­viour, and we will chan­ge our sup­pliers. This is basi­cal­ly all that we can do, with the resour­ces avail­ab­le.
Also, let us be clear about one thing; we did not choo­se pro­duc­tion part­ner based on pro­duc­tion cost. The unit pri­ce per scarf is the same as in Ita­ly. In fact, we cho­se the one fac­to­ry that could show Oeko-Tex cer­ti­fi­ca­ti­on for every sin­gle com­po­nent that goes into the scarf (Oeko-Tex tests for hazar­dous che­mi­cals). We have also con­fir­med that the cer­ti­fi­ca­ti­ons are valid in the Oeko-Tex data­ba­se. The qua­li­ty of the fabric is also fac­to­red in. We only work with the best raw mate­ri­als avail­ab­le. The high mom­me count that we use was a bit dif­fi­cult to find. It took us one year, and a visit to Pre­mie­re Visi­on in Paris, to find our pro­duc­tion part­ner. During the first year we con­tac­ted clo­se to one hund­red fac­to­ries around the world. Again, try­ing to do things right takes time.

What, in your opi­ni­on, is the most important thing to look for in ethi­cal fashion?
When it comes to ethi­cal fashion trans­pa­r­en­cy is key. I have the utmost respect for brands that dis­c­lo­se their full sup­ply chain. Trans­pa­r­en­cy is the only way for others to con­trol how the clo­thes are made. I wish the­re was an easy way for peop­le to veri­fy that a garment is ethi­cal­ly made, but unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, the­re is not. I hope that this will chan­ge in the future. In Janu­ary, you will be able to find our list of sup­pliers online.

Thank you so much!


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