Text Jennifer Paccione
The city of Stockholm carried a different air this season during fashion week. While collections showed, fashion continued and crowds gathered, there was an underlying uneasiness regarding the upcoming election that generated throughout the energy. Swedish contemporary brand, HOPE took absence this season- in light of the election- and rather took a political stance instead.
Choosing not to carry traditional presence this Stockholm Fashion Week, the brand debuted a campaign spotlighting the diversity of Sweden. A collage of individualistic faces speaking in strength, whilst encouraging society to vote for humanity. HOPE- who includes both male and female sizing on each garment tag to encourage genderless dressing- opted to host an intimate dinner, with the central discussion of inclusivity within the fashion industry, at table.
An evening at Trattoria Montanari. Guests included designers, musicians, actors, journalists, creatives, activists and opinion leaders within social and political fields. Provocative questions inducing thought and conversation were placed at each table. The CEO of HOPE, Åsa Sånemyr spoke to the mission driving the brand, one that involves using the brand’s platform for change and to spark a manifestation wave of creative spaces that are inclusive.
“How can we open the doors of the fashion industry to a more diverse group of people?” asked Åsa Sånemyr, followed by a mention to personal friend and Swedish artist, Seinabo Sey- who stirred sentiment during a speech prior that week, at Stockholm’s NK Gala. Seinabo Sey spoke to the lack of diversity and representation relating to both sizing and race, reminding the industry that although it has come a long way, there is still a distance to go.
The conversations spoke of social stigmas in every aspect. The lack of representation of plus size males within the industry. The reluctance for normality- unrelatable beauty is often portrayed as diverse. Today, is diversity used more so as a marketing advantage rather than brand value and ethics?
One guest spoke to the initial lack of afro-culture recognition in Sweden and expressed frustration as motivation to create a space for such. Another referenced our generational culture igniting a social regression and in return, a regression igniting further change within our generation. Included in conversation was a dialogue surrounding the unspoken language of male eating disorders.
Whereas the evening’s topic exemplified the issues very much present in today’s society, a final thought was concluded in optimism. The Swedish School of Textiles show during Stockholm Fashion Week sent a reminder that the next-gen designers are portraying a message- one of body positivity, diversity and a normalized beauty standard. A collective in which creativity was present and commercialism was not. Diana Orving debuted her collection with a cast speaking to diversity, inclusive of all shapes and ethnicities- not to disclude pregnancy. With this notion, it was further confirmed that eventually, as there is a generational transition in authoritative roles, the fashion industry will begin to experience a revolutionary change- a change offering inclusivity and with that, there is HOPE.