OBSERVATIONS

The Need for a Fashion Council

KONRAD OLSSON
Observations on the importance of a fashion council (with new comments at the end of this text.)
January 30, 2024

News of the dissolving Swedish Fashion Council comes very untimely, just days before Copenhagen Fashion Week kicks off.

I’m sure we’ll learn more about what’s behind this shift in focus from the Swedish Trade Fedaration in the weeks to come, but here are a few thoughts from the armchair:

• CEO Jennie Rosén has done an excellent job in fostering innovation and setting a new direction for the industry. A journey she started in a time when the word “innovation” wasn’t on the industry’s mind. Stating that the industry needs radical transformation is almost mainstream today. Five years ago, it was outright controversial.

• The SFC incubator program, fostering brands like Rave Review and Hodakova, is an important piece of the fashion ecosystem. Making upcoming a part of the cutting-edge fashion discourse is hard, and with the help of Jennie Rosén and Creative director Robin Douglas, they have succeeded.

• Sweden NEEDS a fashion council. There needs to be an organisation that can unify the industry and becomes an ambassador for all kinds of stakeholders in the national industry, the global market, the legislators, the production line, and more. If the Swedish Trade Federation is not taking on this responsibility, someone else will have to. I have my thoughts on how it should be structured, but I will wait until we know more to say more.

• I will fondly remember the two Fashion X events that took place in 2022 and 2023. The last one, at Stockholm City Hall, is one of Sweden’s most memorable fashion happenings.

Having said that, I will enter Copenhagen Fashion Week with a renewed sense of community in the fashion ecosystem. I got so much positive feedback on my take on Pitti Uomo, and why the fashion industry needs gatherings, not simply for trade, but for insights, networking, and knowledge sharing.

Johan and I spoke more about this on the podcast, apropos his recent visit to the Maison&Objet show in Paris.

That sentiment was also present during our Transformation Talks during Nordic Fabric Fair last week. In my panel with retail expert Linda Pimmeshofer, Staffan Olsson from GS1 Sweden, and our own Doctor in Fashion Redesign Anna Lidström from the Swedish School of Textiles, we talked about the need for redefining the fashion experience, layering digital services on top of physical products, and extending the lifespan of our garments. I look forward to sharing that conversation in an upcoming podcast.

UPDATE: After I wrote this text it was announced that Lili Assefa, PR consultant and investor in fashion brands, will take over as owner of Swedish Fashion Council. While I respect Lili as a professional, it’s concerning that an industry organisation falls in the hands private individual. The question then becomes: will SFC even function as an industry organisation? Or will they lean into becoming an innovation hub – functioning as an incubator for avantgarde designers and organising Fashion X?

I stand by my original statement: the industry needs a unifying organisation.

Let’s hope it will get one.