Danish fashion label Stine Goya has recently published its latest sustainability report. Reason enough to talk to Thomas Hertz, Stine Goya’s CEO, about the ‘greener’ path the company wants to take.
Could you sum up the specific goals that Stine Goya has in terms of sustainable production and social responsibility until 2025?
We have identified five main goals in our updated sustainability policy for 2021, which are more ambitious than ever before. First and foremost, we aim to use 90% sustainable and/or recycled material across our collections by 2025. This year, we will also launch an online rental concept to implement circularity into the Goya experience, and aim to work on transparency and traceability with our top suppliers. Last but not least, are investing in diversity & inclusion programs such as a newly launched partnership with Mentoring Matters, a global mentoring scheme for candidates from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds that aims to redress the balance of equality and opportunity within the creative industries. We will be working together to provide a three-month, paid work placement for one of their candidates, at our Copenhagen based HQ. The successful candidate will gain an insight into the inner workings of Stine Goya and will experience a wide variety of jobs that make our brand what it is. This is an opportunity to gain hands-on experience within our team and to be involved in the creative and collaborative day-to-day running of our business.
Our sustainability policy is focused around three key focus points: Product, Planet, People. By focusing first on our product, researching our material compositions and establishing a Fiber Matrix System, we were able to set distinct parameters and a progressive plan for change. With that in place, we were able to exceed our goals in 2020, which lead us to update and set our goals for 2021 even higher. We are reviewing all achievements regularly, so that each collection and our business structure become more and more sustainable and diverse.
Do you think more government regulation would help to make fashion become more sustainable?
Brands and industry players can definitely drive a lot of change with implementing and establishing more responsible methods in their businesses and educating their customers. Copenhagen Fashion Week is a great example for how to push sustainability within the industry by simply making it a top priority for brands to participate. However, if we want sustainability to flourish further, we need the governments to pave the infrastructure for it. We need support for a more sustainable supply chain, transport and production, and we need regulations that ban outdated, unsustainable practices.
One accusation towards the fashion industry is often that most sustainable initiatives are only greenwashing and marketing-driven. What's your response to that?
It can be hard to identify if there are true sustainable efforts behind a will for change – or if “sustainability” is maybe used more as a marketing tool for a quick brand polish. In my opinion the key is full transparency – to be open not just about your achievements, but especially about your weaknesses. There are so many amazing brands out there that strive for improvement as much as they can. It's important to spotlight these brands and celebrate their honest ambitions.
The pandemic has presented itself with so many unexpected challenges. Sustainable production is no exception. Many of our producers are impacted by the crisis and while implementing sustainability is a key focus for both our partners and us, we see ourselves confronted with more obstacles. We are proud that we could nevertheless stick to and succeed our Sustainability Strategy from 2019–2020. The unpredictability of the past year has put a great many things in perspective and has brought collective awareness and the urgency of becoming a more sustainable brand to the fore.
Apart from production, what's your idea of modern fashion retail concept?
We live in a world where consumers, especially younger generations, have really been changing the paradigm. There has been a shift of consumer behavior towards a circular economy and digital landscape. Usage has become more important and we can see a more seasonless approach becoming stronger and stronger. We believe this offers great potential for a less waste future. We opened Goya Gallery in Copenhagen last year – an archive concept, offering our customers exclusive access to one-of-a-kind pieces, collection classics, upcycled samples and studio prototypes. The opportunity to buy into rarer items and pieces that are no longer available has reignited our retail strategy. As an extension to this, we plan to launch our own online rental concept this year–offering customers the opportunity to invest in and experience ‘The Goya universe’ in a more circular way.
Stella McCartney has long been doing an incredible job in reshaping fashion since launching her first collection in the early nineties. She is a pioneer of alternative materials and cutting-edge technologies. Apart from that, I am always amazed to see so many smaller independent labels like Marine Serre and MaisonCléo having the guts to really stand up for and exercise their belief in a more sustainable industry.