Forget cashmere and make a statement in polyester or lyocell

Elin Frendberg,  CEO of Swedish Fashion Council, talks about natural materials. PHOTO | COURTESY
Elin Frendberg, CEO of Swedish Fashion Council, talks about natural materials. PHOTO | COURTESY  

While silk and cashmere make the most luxurious clothing, designers globally are now turning to recycled polyester and lyocell—a versatile mix of synthetic and natural fibres.

As the fashion industry evolves, what is in vogue right now is clothing made of environment-friendly materials such as lyocell fibre, a material which is as cool as linen, as soft as silk and as warm as wool.

Genderless wear

Elin Frendberg, the CEO of the Swedish Fashion Council who was in Kenya for an event that showcased local and Swedish designers said there is a special focus on natural and sustainable materials globally.

‘‘Ecological cotton or lyocell made from cellulose or wood fibres is especially big right now together with recycled polyester. There is also a big interest for responsible innovations such as dyeing techniques that use gas instead of water,” she said.


Also, she said the big trends in developed fashion markets are genderless wear and street styles. Many of the new designers are creating fashion for all instead of labelling it as menswear or women wear.

Favourite designers

Elin said what has helped many designers in Sweden to sell is new business models.

‘‘A few designers are leasing out their collections in different stores including second hand outlets with only their brands found in the vintage store,” she said.

Fashion is Sweden’s fastest growing export industry today, thanks to digitisation.

Her few days stay in Kenya allowed her to interact with some of the local designers whom she said are ‘‘exciting and vibrant.’’

A few of her favourites who have potential in cutting a niche in the international runways include 2manysiblings, thriftsocialnairobi, Katungulu Mwendwa, Nur Clothing and Kepha Maina.

However, moving from a local to an international brand name is not always an easy fit. Although a small country, what has put Swedish fashion on the global map is aggressive marketing, she said.

“Swedish brands are strong in marketing, that has made them so successful. The fashion industry is today the fastest growing export industries of all despite the country being small with only nine million inhabitants.

Nobody outside Sweden speaks Swedish, that means that designers have to adapt to the world around them to a big extent and they have to be flexible about what works in other markets,’’ she said.

Swedish fashion is functional, sophisticated and wearable and this has worked for many customers globally.

Elin admits that it is takes hard work and time to build a known brand which thrives as it turns into a shortcut for many people who are not that strong in their personal style or expression.

It is like a quality mark and a time saver to go with the brands you love and are known.

Christmas wear

So does she always wear your favourite designer?

“Personally when looking for a new dress or new outfit I usually go for designs that wow me even though it might come from a designer who is now well known. And it definitely doesn’t have to be expensive, much of the fashion nerve depends on the styling,” she said.

Her word of advice for your choice of wardrobe during the holiday season is styling in layers and combining different colourful prints.

These are the three existing trends in the global fashion scene at the moment.