Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on July 9, 2009
Exclusive Interview With Designers Kajsa Cappelen Holst and Paula Kermfors
The last time I wrote about this stand-out Scandinavian fashion label, I was lamenting the fact that their website was in Swedish. Righteous Fashion’s beta site had me in the throes of agony and ecstasy: the stunning ethical designs drawing me in; the Swedish lexicon causing flashbacks to numerous frustrating and unsuccessful attempts at assembling Ikea furniture. What was I to do? It all too much for an ethical fashionista with an aversion to plywood to bear.
Well like any good journalist (eh hem), I wrote to Kajsa and Paula to inform them of my predicament, and guess what? They created an English version. Just like that. It’s this can-do attitude, this desire to constantly improve and this patience with the linguistically-challenged that’s been the secret to their success. So without further ado, let’s meet the design duo whose clean lines and organic materials have created waves in the Scandinavian fashion world and beyond.
Sarah: When did the environmental bell toll for you?
Kajsa / Paula: As a company our aim was to work with fair trade, but going to Uganda seeing the impact the production environment had on people, making our clothes ecological as well was a given. To be frank it was the only way.
Sarah: How did you get your label started?
Kajsa / Paula: A very rainy November day 2004 over a girl’s dinner, we started to discuss our lives goals and choices, discussing the life we would like to live. How good it would be to be able to buy nice clothes with a good conscience. In 2007 we presented our first collection to the market, that was a really good feeling.
Sarah: What inspires you?
Kajsa / Paula:Making a difference, making a positive impact. To work with development in poorer countries and see how our combined work makes a difference in everyday situations.
Sarah: If you had to describe your work to someone who hadn’t seen it, what would you say?
Kajsa / Paula: We do beautiful designer clothes that are, ethical, environmentally friendly. Easy on the eye, the conscience and the planet.
For us as a fashion label is the design is crucial with is clean cut design, classic elegance, high quality materials and a perfect fit for the female silhouette.
For us as a organic and fair trade it is important to do the right thing, never stray from the path, never take the easy way out and let profit go before planet and people.
Sarah: Which fabrics are you excited by right now?
Kajsa / Paula: Very excited over the fantastic shimmering organic and fairtrade certified cotton and our new cashmere that comes from the cutest goats in Mongolia and is woven and collard with herbs in Nepal.
Sarah: Where do you source and how do you source / how do you develop your fabrics?
Kajsa / Paula: Our cotton is grown in a cooperative in South West India, then woven, dyed and produced in Mauritius. The cashmere is made from free ranged goats in Mongolia that is dyed by herbs developed in a small-scale production in Nepal. Our accessories such as buttons or bags is made from women that has put together a business in Uganda using natural materials.
Sarah: The challenge you face as a green designer?
Kajsa / Paula: There’s actually two challenges we have to meet. You have to have patient beyond belief. It takes a longer time to develop a production chain and certify that it is 100% green.
The materials that we can use for clothes in the fashion world are somewhat limited. We have cotton, cotton, cotton and a little bit of cashmere. But it has worked out fine so far
Sarah: How has your label evolved since the cooperation?
Kajsa / Paula: The materials are of higher quality, we have learned to put more elasticity in our production deadlines. Communication with our producers is a lot smoother, fewer misunderstandings, more fun.
Sarah: What advice would you give to a budding green designer?
Kajsa / Paula: Do it! It may take little longer but it is such a good feeling! Then figure out your corner of the “green” market, we choose Scandinavian fashion, most choose just to do t-shirts. We would certainly welcome more fashion designers. People need a variety of green lifestyle products to choose from.
Sarah: What is next for you?
Kajsa / Paula: Good question, we have actually a very exciting year coming with a new designer, new markets, fantastic production developments and a children’s collection.
Sarah: What is your favorite green designer?
Kajsa / Paula: Noir
Sarah: The worst examples of green washing are…
Kajsa / Paula: Not for us to say, but a really green car is called a bicycle
Sarah: The biggest threat to the planet right now is…
Kajsa / Paula: Ignorance
Sarah: The planet can be saved if…
Kajsa / Paula: If we all start to care
See more of Righteous Fashion collection at: righteousfashion.se