In addition to its social conscience, Sweden is also extremely fashion conscious, and recent media debate plus campaigns by local group Rena Kläder (Clean Clothing) have brought ideas about ethical fashion to the forefront. Right on cue, in Sweden's second largest city Gothenburg, an art installation called "Fair Fashion?" exposed fashion's ugly underbelly. Thankfully, though, anyone attending the installation's opening could the very next weekend head to an organic and fair-trade fashion show in Gothenburg's city center.
The definite darling of the show was the founder of D.E.M. Collective Annika Axelson. Three years ago Axelson and a partner started a manufacturing cooperative in Sri Lanka, locating it outside that country's free-trade zone, and decided to offer 'living' wages nearly three times the minimum wage. She called it D.E.M. (Don't Eat Macaroni) after graffitti she had seen on a trip to Jamaica urging people not to eat fast junk food like canned macaroni and cheese. D.E.M. now produces a small line of t-shirts and jeans and makes goods for two other organic/fair trade lines.
Also at the show was Righteous Fashion, a Malmö-based company, showing their first women's wear collection for Fall '07, sleek designs in organic, fair-trade cotton jersey. Though Righteous is currently only sold in a few boutiques in Sweden, D.E.M.'s designs are sold in at least one U.S. venue - New York's Ekovaruhuset, started by Swede Johanna Hofring. ::DEM Collective