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Make Fibre Choices Simpler

Deciding on which materials to use in your next collection can be a challenging task. It is an even greater challenge when you want to ensure that you are making sustainable material choices. It can be difficult to keep track of which are sustainable, and how they are sustainable. Then there is the added issue of finding out which of the sustainable options would be the most coherent to your collection. This is why we recommend having a Preferred Fibre List - an overview over which sustainable fibres best suit your brand. This enables you to have a base guide for your material choices – your own personalised “library” of sustainable choices that are coherent with your brand’s value and image.

Filippa K is a potent example of a brand that has implemented a Preferred Fibre List within their strategy. Their list contains seven fibres, which they refer to throughout their design process. 

In order to achieve their Preferred Fibre List, the brand first developed a tool that they named the “Fibre Tool”. Put in Filippa K’s Sustainability Manager Elin Larsson’s words, “the tool divides fibres into four categories. Class 1 and 2 are considered as more sustainable fibres, while class 3 and 4 are seen as non-sustainable and will be phased out by 2030.

Focus on the materials you use, do an assessment of what is already out there and always try to have a holistic perspective when classifying fibres. Remember that there is a lot of knowledge out there, so be open minded, ask a lot of questions and collaborate as much as possible.

Elin Larsson - Sustainability Manager, Filippa K


Illustration: Filippa K

From Fibre Tool to Preferred Fibre List

Having this list has proved very successful for Filippa K, allowing a growth in the percentage of sustainable materials used. The graph below shows the brand’s textile fibre usage in 2014, while their 2015 collections already showed a large increase, with 43% of styles containing more than 50% of materials classified as sustainable. 

Illustration: Filippa K

A Preferred Fibre List is a useful tool to ensure that you are implementing sustainability in a way that is coherent to your brand - so to give you advice on how to put your own in place we asked Elin Larsson to provide us a few tips from Filippa K: “When developing the Fibre Tool during 2012, we looked at Made-by’s Fibre Tool, Nike’s Material Sustainability Index (MSI) and the ECO-metrics guidelines. We also went through reports from NGOs and other research reports. We did, for example, a Natural Capital accounting analysis for wool together with Axfoundation and TruCost, where we also looked at social issues and animal welfare. We try to have a holistic perspective when evaluating the fibres, looking at the whole life cycle rather than only selected steps, as most tools do. They usually look at the steps from raw material to ready fibre or fabric. We update the tool on a regular basis in order to keep it as relevant as possible, and to keep it up to date with the latest research.”

Elin Larsson also explains how the tool has been a major turning point for the company. The designers find it helpful in order to make more conscious choices, without there being any major impediments to the aesthetics of the brand. In fact, goals are set each year based on the tool, concerning what percentage of the collection should contain Class 1 or Class 2 fibres. 

At Filippa K, the fact that the tool is used within the company as a ground rule, and that yearly goals are made from it, means that it is easy to measure progress and make room for improvement. Starting with a small step such as a Preferred Fibre List can lead to further improvements within sustainability, be it in the design process or another department.

Almost all part of the company uses the tool, either as guidance for communication, or styling or giving advices to customers.

Elin Larsson - Sustainability Manager, Filippa K


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