Would you dare to wear this dress
Closet of the future
Elin Larsson is Sustainability Manager at Filippa K and has worked for the Swedish fashion label for 21 years. In an interview, she talks about her love of fashion, why she only wears 40 items of clothing for a year and shows us what we can do to appreciate fashion more again.
You are currently doing a self-experiment with a reduced wardrobe. How does this work?
With my "40-piece wardrobe" I try out what the optimal, perfect wardrobe looks like. I only have 40 items of clothing in my closet for a year and I am fine-tuning them until I find what I really need. Every time something new or used is added, I have to sort something out for it. I sell the things that I take out or pass them on to a dear friend. If a garment is worn or stained, it is recycled. When you downsize your wardrobe, it's important that you renew it in a different way. For special occasions, for example, you don't have to buy anything new, you can also borrow or lease something from friends. I'm curious to see what will come of it in the end and what is the best mix for me.
Which items of clothing do you need?
The 40 parts are only clothing, not underwear, sports gear, outdoor clothing or shoes. I have quite a few t-shirts underneath. A colleague who is following this project said to me: 'That's interesting. For me, that would be very few T-shirts, because I hardly wear any ’. This shows that everyone is comfortable with something else. For me, T-shirts are indispensable, as are jeans, trousers, jackets and at least two or three blouses.
Which things are allowed in your reduced wardrobe?
I have to be able to wear the pieces on different occasions. This is very important to me, otherwise it's just a piece that hangs uselessly in the closet. Quality and fit are very important to make me feel confident in my clothes. When I buy a piece, I try to imagine what I can combine it with. I need to be able to combine it with at least five other items of clothing in my closet. Because only then will I wear it often.
casual to work and high
Heels and accessories as a party
Dress. I love the shiny one
“All the pieces are kind of emotional
connected and have
Do you have certain selection criteria when you buy new clothes?
It is important to me what material and under what conditions a garment was made. But sometimes fashion is so emotional, that's the hard part about it. When I have the choice between conventional and organic ketchup in the supermarket, I find it easy to resist the conventional one. But clothing is about how the fabric falls, how it's draped, how it feels. There are times when I buy something even when I know that it is not the most sustainable product. I always think I'll wear it for a long time so it's an improvement anyway. Otherwise, I usually pay very close attention to what I buy. I either buy clothes made from recycled materials or Tencel - I love Tencel - and wool.
Did you have a hard time saying goodbye to your favorite pieces?
For some, yes. I sold my long, black gala dress because I only wore it once. It comes from a limited Filippa K collection from 2013. A Stockholm seamstress sewed it, it's made of silk, just unbelievable. I sold it back to Filippa K. There it becomes part of an auction with limited clothing items.
You now have to look after a lot less clothes and you have a better overview, what is that feeling?
It is definitely a relief that I only have things that I like and wear now. I used to stand in front of my overcrowded wardrobe every morning and didn't even know what to wear. Now it feels light and airy. Sometimes I feel like wearing that one this time. It makes me happier. I save a lot of time and I am no longer frustrated. All pieces are somehow connected emotionally and have a story.
What service would you like for your perfect wardrobe?
I would like a wardrobe service. Someone who comes to my house and shows me how to sort and combine my clothes.
What I also want is an upgrade of subscription models. Because the leasing models we have today leave something to be desired. Most of the time, they only carry clothes for special occasions. When you subscribe to Filippa K or a similar brand, you get two pieces of clothing of your choice every month. This doesn't just include new parts. It's more like a shared wardrobe that rotates among subscribers.
There are many new services from fashion companies. Which do you find exciting?
There are only two services that I use: a return system for clothes and the leasing system. Last year I rented my ski outfit. For the few times I wear it, it wouldn't be very wise to buy this. Plus, it would take up so much space in my closet. We now also offer an online rental service ourselves.
Can these services help things be worn as often as possible?
Exactly. Wearing every garment frequently is the key to sustainability.
Why is that so important?
If a piece of clothing is worn over and over again, it fulfills its purpose and does not become a dust catcher. This also compensates for the effort that goes into making each piece of clothing.
Is it a matter of better understanding the usefulness of the individual items of clothing?
Yes, in any case.
What do we need to be more confident with our clothes again?
We (fashion companies) need to show more positive examples, such as strong women. We have to show that not everyone has to be super-thin or perfectly made up. Clothing is communication, so you are welcome to dare a little more depth.
Why do you love fashion?
I love fashion because it's an art form and a craft at the same time. Most of them do not know how much effort and passion are put into every piece of clothing and how many hands it goes through to manufacture it. They do not know how many resources were used to make it. If everyone were aware of this, they would love and respect their clothes as much as I do.
What is the key to change, do we consumers need a different attitude or does the fashion industry have to rethink?
Fashion should make everyone feel good, we should feel sexy and have fun in it. Fashion companies don't necessarily have to talk about sustainability. They should inspire us, offer solutions and show examples.
Consumers only have to return their clothes (to the retailers) so that they can be recycled or reused. If they are rewarded for it, so will they.
The interview was conducted by Friederike von Wedel-Parlow
Translation: Christopher Mühlenberg
Photographer: Andreas Öhlund
Assistant: Charli Ljung
Hair & Make-up: Veronica Lindqvist
“Wearing one frequently
Garment is key
to sustainability. "
»The sweater is made from recycled material
Cashmere and was made in Italy
Elin Larsson is currently testing her for a year with
only 40 pieces of clothing gets along.
With a reduced wardrobe made of high quality basics,
including jeans, t-shirts, blouses, dresses and blazers.
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