Conscious Fashion

“Conscious design” is a term that gained traction in the world of design in recent years. In essence, it means “accountability”. Another way of expressing it is “sustainability”: from design to production to disposal, the environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle is the fundamental guiding principle.

It is this ethos that lies at the heart of Swarovski’s business philosophy. But it’s not confined to manufacturing processes and creative partnerships—Swarovski also spreads the sustainability message through championing like-minded emerging talents, sponsoring competitions, and supporting platforms that give visibility to tomorrow’s designers. This way, the company helps to drive positive change by advocating a responsible attitude.

So when Vibe Lundemark, a young Danish fashion designer whose label is Tabernacle Twins, caught Swarovski’s eye, the result was always going to be interesting. As part of a commitment to supporting the talents of tomorrow, Swarovski supported her with crystals for the work she displayed at the Copenhagen Craft and Design Biennale in May 2017.

This is an exhibition and competition that provides a platform on which professional craftspeople and designers in Denmark can showcase their work. Each Biennale has a theme, chosen to promote growth in crafts and design. This year, it was Liquid Life, which comes from the term “Liquid Modernity” coined by Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman to describe the conditions in the modern world. What resulted was a visual debate about over-consumption and economics in the West’s fashion industry.

Vibe Lundemark’s response to this theme was entitled Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back: “When is enough, enough?” she asked. “Is it really possible for a straw to break a camel’s back? Does fashion have an expiry date, and what happens when the last drop causes the glass to overflow?”

Balance and sustainability are of huge importance in fashion, one of the world’s most polluting and wasteful industries. Lundemark’s message is clear: a shift in attitude from fast to slow fashion, quality rather than quantity, is crucial.

Her exhibit reimagined classic garments such as a jacket, shirt and dress in silk, cotton and viscose using sustainable printing techniques embellished with embroidery and crystals, and combined with quirky, end-of-life bits and pieces such as whistles and plastic caps to symbolize mass production. Using a high level of detailing and manipulation, she used them to give her garments aesthetic value—a direct response to the Biennale’s theme. Subsequently, in June, she was invited to exhibit her Swarovski-embellished pieces at 3 Days of Design in Copenhagen.

Well-made, thoughtful design and sustainable, ethical luxury resonate with Swarovski’s key principles. This is the driving force behind the company’s support of the young talents who share these values. Many of them have had the chance to learn to use crystal in a Swarovski Application Room at one of the ten colleges around the world that enjoy this facility, and appreciate the renewable nature of this beautiful creative material. This is how conscious design takes root—by spreading the message to the next generation and beyond.

Here you can download the Swarovski Sustainability Report: