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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