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11 stand-out brands from PROJECT Digital 2021

Continuing the new normal, already in the second month of the new year, fashion continues to find creative, digital ways to reach out. As an effect of the pandemic, the industry has slowed down and consumers have become more and more selective with what they want to invest their money in. Spending the majority of our time at home and outside in nature, comfort and quality have become even more important than keeping up with new trends. Project Digital brings together brands with environmental awareness and digital innovation for America’s largest fashion trade shows and here are 11 of the forward-thinking ones to keep an eye on.

FTC Cashmere

Founded in 2003, FTC Cashmere (Fair Trade Cashmere) has had sustainability and innovation as a priority since the start. The brand uses high-quality fabrics to present elegant, pure, and coveted fashion and luxury articles. Their strong ethos includes taking responsibility with respect to ethically correct manufacturing conditions such as fair business dealings for all parts, sustainable pricing, and humane conditions throughout the production chain. In 2008 they launched the FTC Cashmere Goat Breeding Farm & Cashmere Farmer Protection Programs to improve the life of farmers and animals and in terms of innovation, the brand’s created their own trademarked fabric named SeaCell. The materials used are cashmere and especially processed brown algaes and together they create a quality product that is not only super soft but very gentle on the skin.

Whitesky

The innovative brand Whitesky offers technical luxury outerwear made in Canada. With inspiration from the country’s diverse architecture and natural landscapes the company has created innovative designs that are made to enhance the possibilities of navigating through different territories without compromising who you are and understanding the balance between nature and city, work and discovery. To create a top performing outerwear jacket White sky uses Down insulation technology that’s measured with a Shield insulation Guide that helps customers know which insulation fits their lifestyle. The brand has an innovative process called Down Heat Seal Insulation that prevents any loss of any down or feathers. D.H.S.I is an innovative process of heat sealing two fabrics together prior to filling the jacket with down creating a solid bond between the two fabric layers. The Whitesky jackets have a clean aesthetic and featherlight look and provide versatility in all winter conditions.

Norden

Back in 2018, Norden wanted to fill a void, or rather several voids, in the fashion industry. Outerwear was seldom high-quality, affordable, ethically produced or sustainable. Specifically not all at once. Three years later, the brand is now picking up speed with its problem-solving approach.

They have implemented a buy-back program, which allows you to trade in a coat from another brand in exchange for a discount. There’s also the closed-loop philosophy where you can return an old Norden jacket to get 30% off if you buy a new one. On top of this, every aspect of its manufacturing process is transparent and traceable. The brand is not only repurposing what the world has too much of , plastic waste, the jackets are entirely free of animal by-products.

Barbour

Famous for their waxed cotton jackets, Barbour has functional clothing in their heritage. Destined for the outdoors and designed to last, Barbour has attracted collaborations from Supreme, Norse Projects and NOAH to name a few.  Barbour offers customers to get their old jackets waxed for free to keep the garment functional and lasting for a lifetime. 

Pendleton

The American brand Pendleton with a passion for quality is famous for their woolen garments and blankets. Their patterns are inspired by Native American designs and legends and honors the Native American arts & craft act who protects native artists, communities and heritage. Their pieces are made to be durable, functional and good looking without having to take consideration of changing trends. 

Benson

The father-and-daughter business Benson focuses on a long-lasting and timeless quality. Even if the garment is worn every day, all pieces from the collection are meant to last a lifetime. That requires the company to put a great effort into material choices. Benson partners with the best mills to source the finest materials, blending natural fibres with the latest innovations. The latest material is a Supima cotton and cashmere blend that is used in the Elevated Essential collection.

Whitman

The basis of the bespoke menswear brand Whitmans are; work ethic, transparency, honesty with the team and clients and caring for the environment, something all brands should aim for. As a brand, they work with sustainable solutions and to create a wider social and environmental awareness. As a part of their journey of becoming more sustainable, they use 100% biodegradable buttons made from tagua seed or wood. Plastic is the material that generates the most pollution to our planet and it’s therefore completely eliminated from Whitman’s collections.

GoFranck Outerproofs

The brand’s on a mission to make the best fresh and technical waterproof outerwear, that includes being a sustainable brand. Their philosophy is that technical details and waterproof garments don’t have to compromise style. GoFranck believes that it only makes sense to enter the domain of weather in clothing that can actually TAKE the weather. Using smart design, the brand aims to make more of outerwear and therefore get customers to buy less in quantity and more in quality. The designs vary from puffer jackets to trench coats, mainly in earthy tones.

MOFT 

Aiming to enhance the experience for all laptop users, especially in the remote culture, the brand creates different laptop, phone and tablet stands, phone wallets and carry sleeves. MOFT’s purpose is to make the world your office environment. The products are clean and come in a variety of colours and designs and the accessories range includes headphones organizers and camera stickers. Now more than ever, it should be a priority to make your office situation comfortable.

Codis Maya – Jet McQuiston Pendants collection

Bespoke jewellery with a touch of British elegance. The founder wanted to create jewellery for the world of menswear and founded the brand in 1987. Since then, she’s also worked with some of the most exclusive fashion houses such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Loewe. She now runs the company together with her daughter, former fine jewellery design student at Central Saint Martins, Jet McQuiston. They will be showing a new collection of pendant jewellery. Jet used salvaged gemstones from pieces that have been passed down in her family in her final MA collection. Combining traditional craftsmanship and new technology, like micro laser engraving, all pieces in that collection were made from responsibly sourced materials, such as re-used gold and silver.

Carter Young

Having its roots in classical menswear, the unisex clothing company strives to always create something unconventional yet wearable, since they’re a part of the slow fashion industry. With minimalistic but unique designs that subvert the traditional, while synthesizing opposites, Carter Young continues to keep us interested. 

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Opinion

”Trade shows and fashion weeks are media brands — whether they like it or not”

The Nordic fashion and design weeks have come to an end, the first time as full-on digital operations. The summer edition of Stockholm Design Week was cancelled last August, and Copenhagen Fashion Week pulled off a semi-physical hybrid the same month. Now, a year into the pandemic and four months into the second wave, it’s time to analyze how the shift to digital is affecting the traditional show setup. 

What can we learn from the recently completed digital industry gatherings?

Well, the biggest shift is that the trade shows and fashion weeks are now media brands in their own right, whether they like it or not. The organizations that previously had a business model to provide space and schedule for exhibitions and shows are now hosting their own television talks shows. They are distributing films and other content on their websites that ultimately competes for the same attention as any other media platform. 

(The running joke is that we used to go to a fashion or design week to look at products. Now we are in a never-ending panel talk about sustainability.)

I’m not here to review how Stockholm Fashion Week and Stockholm Design Week fared as digital talk shows. If anything, I think they have done a good job pivoting to an online only format compared to many international counterparts. But it is obvious that this shift has put enormous pressure on organizations that aren’t used to creating content, moderating conversations, and maintaining editorial balance and structure. 

Long term, if trade shows and fashion weeks won’t get their physical groove back, arguably their most unique and relevant selling point, they will see competition coming from the media space. 

”The running joke is that we used to go to a fashion or design week to look at products. Now we are in a never-ending panel talk about sustainability.”

The international design platform Dezeen recently launched a digital showroom as a ”ideal launchpad for furniture and lighting companies, designers and retailers”. The streetwear authority Highsnobiety is organizing its own version of Paris fashion week, called Not in Paris, a “bi-annual digital exhibition celebrating creativity in the age of remote interactions”, held during the “time period formerly known as Paris Men’s Fashion Week”. 

If a trade show with a few thousand people on their email list will need to compete with media platforms with millions of followers, it will be a tough fight. 

My hot tip: find innovations in immersive technologies like AR and VR to heighten the digital experience, something we see much to little of. (To learn more, listen to this week’s podcast episode with Emma Ridderstad.)

For Scandinavian MIND, the jump to digital has made us busier than ever. We are currently producing content and moderating talks for both PROJECT Show in New York City and Pitti Uomo in Florence. Expect to see more of this content in our channels in the coming weeks. 

Finally, I just want to thank everyone that listened in on the Scandinavian MIND room on Clubhouse last Friday, where we discussed this very topic. Daniel Lindström, the host of Stockholm Fashion Week, and Sanna Åkerlund Gebeyehu, responsible for Stockholm Design Week, weighed in with frontline insights. 

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on upcoming Clubhouse sessions and digital panel talks. 

Until next time.