business Editor's pick sustainability

We should all take a leaf out of Stockholm Fashion Week’s book

Stockholm Fashion Week‘s decision to cancel this year’s event to focus instead on a more innovative and sustainable alternative, gives the entire industry something to think about.

Due to take place in August, the occasion has been pulled for the foreseeable future as a way of addressing the “major challenges” the industry is facing.  The very role of fashion week is one of those factors, as is how to move towards a more sustainable future.

If we break that down for a moment, there are some key considerations to think about:

Firstly, fashion weeks have undeniably changed at the hands of the digital age. Over the past 10 years they’ve become democratized to the extent that we can question the need for a physical show at all. 

Consumers around the world are now able to see collections in real-time as they‘re revealed, not to mention experience them across all other channels thereafter. On top of that, designers are able to gain awareness in a myriad of other ways for the very same reasons.

The result of this has been heavy debate around moving to a see-now buy-now business model, meaning the show becomes primarily a marketing opportunity aligned with a calendar for real-time consumer purchases as opposed to for industry buyers. This means the trading part of the collection is already done in advance for wholesale.

Alongside this at the same time, mind you, is the broader industry shift we’re witnessing towards a direct-to-consumer model, which negates the need for the third party seller at all. When integrated with innovative manufacturing processes, this can further ensure greater alignment between supply and demand, thus reducing waste.

What that also considers related to fashion weeks under the sustainability header, is a reduction in air miles. As designer Katherine Hamnett said this year at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, an annual event dedicated to sustainability: “We shouldn’t even be reunited here in Copenhagen when we could have done this digitally. We should all be ashamed of our carbon footprint.”

Under the United Nations’ Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, is a goal for the industry to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, something that is a long way off at this point in time. While the bigger challenges lie in everything from raw materials to fulfilment, every little shift – including fewer individual flights – helps.

On top of that is the cost savings that removing fashion week brings. Shows can notoriously cost anywhere in the region of $100,000 for a designer, dependent on all manner of variables. Cutting the need for Swedish brands to spend this sort of budget frees up capital for other endeavors, which the Swedish Fashion Council, which runs Stockholm Fashion Week, is seemingly pushing primarily towards sustainability.

In a press release, CEO Jennie Rosén said part of the aim is to support designers towards their sustainability targets and help them adopt new business models such as rental, repairs and subscription services.

It’s worth noting that Sweden as a country is already at the forefront of implementing tangible change aligned with these goals, for instance by reducing VAT rates on repair services by 50% (from 25% to 12%) in 2017. The move was part of the country’s plans to reduce carbon emissions and encourage more people to participate in the sharing economy. The tax breaks apply to shoes, clothes and bicycles, making repairing each of them all the more affordable. 

Much of the commentary compares this fashion week with its larger counterpart in Copenhagen, suggesting competition as a primary reason to cancel the event. But rerouting budget towards circularity, reducing carbon footprint and moving towards more innovative means of marketing and selling in order to capture higher margins and reduce waste, ultimately seems one of the smartest moves we’ve seen in a while for an industry in such desperate need of change.

“We need to change now to steer the industry in the right direction…We need to put the past to rest and to stimulate the development of a platform that is relevant for today’s fashion industry,” Rosen noted. “The Swedish fashion industry is extensive and growing, so it is crucial to support brands in their development of next-generation fashion experiences. By doing this we can adapt to new demands, reach sustainability goals and be able to set new standards for fashion.”

The council is planning to reveal its new strategy later this year. 

How are you thinking about sustainability, innovation and new business approaches? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more. 


H&M Foundation calls for digital innovations in latest sustainability awards

H&M Foundation Global Change Award
H&M Foundation Global Change Award

H&M Foundation – the non-profit arm of the H&M Group – has launched the next round of its circularity awards, this time honing in on startups focused on digital innovations.

The fourth Global Change Award, will be open as usual to those breaking barriers with new materials and recycling – as has been seen with many previous winners – but there will be an extra eye on those using digital processes to make a significant impact on efficiency, planning and resource use.

“In previous years we ?ve seen brilliant and unexpected entries on recycling and new materials. Orange Fiber, Grape Leather and last year’s winner Crop-A-Porter are just some of the teams developing bold ideas and making great progress. And maybe more importantly, they make us rethink what a fabric is and what it can be made of. But to scale fashion’s transformation, new materials alone will not be enough,” explains H&M Foundation’s innovation lead, Erik Bang.

He pushes instead for those thinking about digitalization for the entire supply chain – from making raw materials to a garment’s end of life. “Digitalization has the potential to disrupt at the root, reinvent how things are done and help producers, sellers and customers to become circular,” he comments.

Such a call comes at a time when the fashion industry is being increasingly held to account for the impact it has on the planet. Both the H&M brand and other players such as Burberry, for instance, have recently hit headlines for the vast volume of unsold inventory they have, and the lengths they’re going to in order to get rid of it.

Meanwhile, a recent report by Quantis called Measuring Fashion, shows that fashion stands for 8.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is about the same footprint as the European Union.

“To speed up the shift to a circular fashion industry, we must find solutions changing how we buy, ship, produce, use, dye and design fashion garments,” Bang notes.

The Global Change Award is accordingly about impact and scalability. Five chosen winners each year receive a split of EUR 1m, and join a yearlong accelerator program. Previous years have seen over 8,000 entries from 151 countries.

Applications for this year’s entry are open until October 17, with the winners to be crowned at the Grand Award Ceremony in Stockholm City Hall in April 2019.

How are you thinking about circular innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Editor's pick film technology

Virtual reality and robots head for Stockholm in latest fashion week technology integration


Virtual reality is the latest plaything of the fashion set, with designers from Tommy Hilfiger to Dior, Rebecca Minkoff and Jean-Pierre Braganza all experimenting with it.

Now, it’s Swedish designer Ida Klamborn’s turn. Where most of her contemporaries have taken VR and applied it as an immersive film experience shot during fashion week and delivered a few months later in time with their collection hitting the shop floor, Klamborn is offering up a real-time initiative live from her front row. Read the full story, including detail of where the robots come in, via Forbes.

e-commerce mobile technology

Future world revisited: Welcome to cashless Sweden


Three stories have really excited my interest this week. And no, it’s not the Burberry ad campaign nor all those pre-fall collections. Instead it’s:

Think about it, that trio of stories is real world-of-tomorrow stuff, the kind of developments people, say 50 years ago, expected to happen sooner. But back then they also expected us to be walking around wearing silver space suits and driving flying cars.

The fact is that we still do normal stuff (wearing jeans, driving cars, doing the dishes, taking the dog for a walk, watching sitcoms…). But the future has crept up on us, if not imperceptibly, at least very fast and in ways we didn’t always expect.

So, to the point of the story. In Sweden, cash is no longer king, according to a new report. If you ask people on the shopping streets of Stockholm when they last paid for something in cash, many have to think a bit. Was it yesterday, or perhaps last week?

Digital payments via card or mobile app have become so widely accepted that many Swedes no longer carry cash at all. Indeed, there’s such a high level of trust in the digital transaction system, even children often pay with their debit cards.

And perhaps it’s that level of trust that’s key – such a situation may take longer to happen in countries like the US or the UK. There even the most digitally-focused millennial still worries about trusting their entire financial life to a card or an app and many parents would be horrified at the thought of giving little Jack or Amy a debit card.

While card and other digital payments are key for retail sales in many other countries too, a scenario where consumers would leave the house without any cash is still some way off. Cash is still a must-have and there are still situations where you’d be laughed at for offering payment via a digital alternative.

But not in Sweden. According to the study from KTH-Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden can currently claim to be the world’s leader in cashless trading. “Our use of cash is small, and it’s decreasing rapidly,” said Niclas Arvidsson, researcher and author of the study. “Cash is still an important means of payment in many countries’ markets, but that no longer applies here.”

In the retail industry in Sweden, about 80% of all transaction are made by cards and this number is increasing, Bengt Nilervall, Head of Payment Systems at the Swedish Trade Federation, said. He added that “we have a big trust in the government, the system, the banks, and the authorities.”

According to the study, in Sweden there is less than SEK80bn (about €8bn) in circulation, a sharp decline from just six years ago, when the total was SEK106bn.

For most private consumers, being able to pay with a card or via the very popular mobile payment app Swish, is convenient, secure, and free. Cards are used for purchases both small and large, and there are many instances where only digital payments are accepted.

Not everyone is convinced, of course and older consumers, plus people who live in rural areas still cling to cash, as does anyone who prefers the anonymity it permits.

On the retailer side, it seems that most welcome the security and convenience of cash-free sales. For small businesses and street vendors, the Swedish iZettle mobile payment solution for cards, or mobile app Swish, allow for easy payments.

But as with traditional credit card transactions, the new digital solutions are also starting to charge fees for businesses, frustrating some vendors who must cover such costs, even for small purchases.

That aside, it’s a model of the future that’s actually working (and working well) today.

This post first appeared on, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

e-commerce Editor's pick film

Björn Borg launches ‘love’-themed game, parodies Apple keynote for release

FPL_Kiss gun in game

Swedish sports fashion brand Björn Borg it set to unveil its latest collection through a web-based game, and has released a trailer that parodies keynotes made by the likes of Apple to introduce it.

Fist Person Lover, as it’s called, is a take on the typical first person shooter game; but this time based on battling evil forces using the power of love.

It consists of 30 minutes of game play in three levels, with “weapons” available including a handgun that fires holographic kisses and an automatic rifle that fires 50 heart-shaped soap bubbles in less than five seconds.

FPL_The Kiss gun
FPL_Bubble blaster

As announced in the spoof keynote (below), The Kiss Gun, as the former is named, is made entirely of rose gold. “It has a revolutionising 3D holographic firing system. We’ve spent hours and hours fine-tuning the recoil. Beautiful, right?” says the presenter.

The game also allows players to shop the collection through an in-game shopping mall.

It was created with Isbit Games and gaming star Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund, and will launch on January 28 via

Editor's pick technology

Avatars take to Björn Borg catwalk ahead of SS15 computer game launch


Gaming was at the centre of Björn Borg’s spring/summer 2015 show at Stockholm Fashion Week last week, as models wore avatar masks striding down the catwalk with a series of robotic movements.

That strategy was part of a teaser for the brand’s own computer game launch – “First Person Lover”, as it’s called, due January 2015. Further details have yet to be released, though head of design James Lee refers to the premise of the game as being about “creating more love in the world”.

“Gaming and digital animation has a great impact on fashion today and we wanted to pick up on this in the collection and show,” he expressed. In a behind-the-scenes video ahead of the launch, he adds that inspiration was found in the different fictitious worlds of a computer game, from underwater scenes to temples and more.

Projections inspired by the game were placed as the backdrop to the Stockholm show by creative show director Bea Åkerlund, who added: “I was really inspired by Björn Borg’s SS15 collection and their ‘First Person Lover’ game and wanted to recreate the experience for the audience. My intention with the show was to merge the full emotions of falling in love with how it would feel if you would climb into the computer game just for a second.”

Check out the highlight reel below…

film Uncategorized

H&M teases digital content ahead of & Other Stories line launch

There’s some nice digital content going on to seed the launch of H&M’s new upmarket concept, & Other Stories.

The womenswear line, which will include ready-to-wear, shoes, bags and accessories, was teased through a one-minute video on this week (as below).

The “Shoes & Other Stories” spot sees a series of polariod frames streamed one after the other as though a slideshow. It features a woman walking around Paris barefoot until she receives a delivery of & Other Stories footwear.

“Documentary-like snapshots tell the story of a day in the life of a Parisian girl while giving glimpses of & Other Stories’ concept and SS/13 collection,” reads the write-up.

There’s also a Tumblr page in action showcasing all manner of inspiration and product shots (including some from the film), as well as a couple of what looks like the & Other Stories team at work in the atelier.

Facebook, Twitter and a website have also launched, the latter inviting fans to sign-up in order to “receive tons of inspiration on a regular basis because we love to share our secrets, tips and tricks with you”.

The line aims, it says, to inspire women to create their personal style, or story. It will launch for spring 2013 in stores and online in selected European countries. Expect lots more to come…