There is an air of excitement, energy and optimism in Oslo that is so infectious. The Norwegian capital has seen major changes in recent years, from the regeneration of the dilapidated docks to a revitalized shopping area with the first Dior boutique in Scandinavia and the historic Steen & Strom department store in the lead. The Docklands district has been transformed into a chic new center of apartments, Norwegian fashion brands and restaurants, including the three-Michelin-starred Maaemo. And overlooking the fjord, two new architectural gems: the impressive opera house with a sloping pedestrian terrace that stretches from the road to the roof and the incredible Munch Museum, the largest gallery in the world dedicated to a single artist.
Oslo has often been voted the greenest destination in the world and, in line with the city’s sustainable credentials, the fashion industry has an innovative and forward-looking ethos. The fashion industry is considered the second most polluting industry in the world, with almost a third of every item of clothing produced never finding a buyer. Norwegian designers aren’t just talking about sustainability in fashion, they’re taking meaningful steps with production processes and on-demand manufacturing initiatives, among others. The annual Oslo Runway fashion event is a joyous celebration with knitwear for all seasons, raincoats designed to last a lifetime, dyed-to-order sneakers and jewelry made only from recycled metals.
Although Oslo Runway Founder Ditte Kristensen and CEO Elin Carlsen are the first to say there is a long way to go before achieving a truly “green” fashion industry, their event is a shining example of sustainable fashion. In a smart departure from the traditional two fashion weeks around the world, the annual Oslo runway every August reminds us all to buy less clothes, emphasizing quality over quality. amount. And from 2023, meeting the sustainability criteria for all brands that want to participate in Oslo Runway will be essential.
Oslo Runway was launched in 2015 to showcase the best of Norwegian lifestyle, fashion design, art and culture, including emerging talent. Norwegian design schools Kunsthøgskolen, ESmod, Oslomet and Sofi School presented their graduates at the DS Fashion Talent Awards, with Margaret Abeshu as this year’s winner. Part of the appeal of Oslo Runway is that each show takes place in a different venue, from the former Acne showroom, a historic department store to warehouses and The Plus, the most sustainable furniture factory in the world. world in the middle of a magnificent cedar forest. A highlight was seeing the beautiful handcrafted leather bags and belts from Oslo-based Cala Jade displayed at an oyster bar owned by the famous Norwegian rapper,
Some brands featured at Oslo Runway have international distribution and all brands are available online, which is good news for customers outside of Norway. From a solid program, here are some designers who really stood out.
Norwegian Rain was founded in Bergen, the rainiest city in Europe, fifteen years ago to produce the perfect raincoat, stylish yet fully breathable and 100% waterproof. They have done just that and their coats and capes in a range of weights and colors are very popular with both men and women. The chic new boutique in the docklands is a must-stop when visiting Oslo.
ESP’s catwalk in the historic former Central Library showed the best of locally produced knitwear and outerwear by designer Elisabeth Stray Pedersen, made from lambswool sourced from free-roaming crossbred sheep in the highlands around Gol in Norway. On the catwalk were timeless blanket coats, pants, knit dresses and scarves in a color palette ranging from camel and gray to mint green and fuschia. Elsewhere, in a popup at Steen & Strøm, ESP collaborated with favorite boutique Fretex Arkivet to show a selection of Norwegian brands and exclusive clothing to order.
Knitwear is naturally important at Oslo Runway. Exhibited in a boutique-gallery called Sorgenfri, knitwear brand Oleana shone. The family business, based near Bergen, is one of the few remaining textile factories in Norway. Oleana was founded in 1992 as a reaction to other textile factories in Norway which were outsourcing their production overseas. With all production carried out in their own factory, they are strongly dedicated to innovative technical production and luxurious handmade details. Their collection consists of standout pieces and effortlessly knit suits, designed and manufactured for true longevity. By mixing patterns and styles, the designs are elegant and fashion-forward, casual and fun.
New Norwegian knitwear brand Ilag showcased its pretty pastel-coloured dresses and pieces, some hand-crocheted, made from surplus yarns and fabrics such as cotton crepe, mohair blends and recycled polyester sateen .
One & Other presented its minimalist designs in the former Acne showroom, a beautiful historic townhouse overlooking a pretty garden. Creative reimaginings of wardrobe classics like cable knit sweaters and oversized coats, in a monochromatic color palette, were showcased. “We are constantly improving the way we work and the use of certified and sustainably sourced products has been a fundamental part of our design and production process from the start. For us, the perfect garment equates to high quality combined with a small footprint,” says Lene Henriksen, creative director of the brand.
Envelope 1976’s bold and timeless designs were beautifully showcased on the pristine white concrete walls and floors of a sprawling warehouse. The design philosophy of the founders, Celine Aagaard and Pia Nordskaug is timeless yet fashionable, with a thoughtful choice of materials, design and color palette – all eco-friendly and natural. Making clothes that can be worn in multiple ways is essential, because it’s not just the material that can affect the timeline of a garment, but the design.
The Plus is a brand new factory located in a cedar and pine forest about two hours from Oslo, near the Swedish border. It’s an idyllic setting to produce Vestre outdoor furniture designed to last a lifetime. In addition to the beautiful surrounding forest, the vast, bright factory has a rooftop terrace with a winding slide down the side of the building that goes to ground level. It was here that Oslo Runway presented two parades and a pop-up in the woods that showcased other sustainable brands.
AWAN (As We Are Now) is a comfort-focused fashion brand based on circular principles. Male and female models strutted around the factory wearing silky, breathable Tencel garments MT from Portugal and designed in Norway. Waste is minimal as the brand produces everything in small batches on demand and only creates a handful of bestsellers in advance.
A second energetic show combined Kmoshon eyewear with Swims outerwear. A new model of sports eyewear is made on demand using 3D printing on the 3D printer closest to the customer, reducing the journey of products to reach customers and eliminating waste.
Elsewhere in the woods of The Plus, smarter eco-friendly ideas were showcased at a pop-up with Varsity Headwear who make wonderfully soft caps and trainers from New Movements that allow customers to bring in their old shoes to rebuild and Kastel which launched an on-demand shoe with a minimalist design that can be dyed to order.
Jewelry was also an important feature of Oslo Runway as Norway is famous for its handicrafts. David Andersen, a jeweler in business since 1876, has an on-site goldsmith’s workshop where artisans handcraft beautiful jewelry with metals, diamonds, and other precious stones.
And near the old quays, a pop-up jewelry store presented strong new Norwegian jewelry brands that only used recycled materials: Aur Studio, Boygal, Diawéne, Hasla, Liv Misund, Mold Atelier and Pearl Octopussy, presented on ceramics by Nellie Jonsson. Each extravagant jewel in gold, silver and pearls recycled by Pearl Octopus can be worn in many ways: bracelets and brooches as necklaces. This young brand launched in 2018 is already in stock at Net a Porter and Matches.
Showing what is possible with local production and bespoke clothing to reduce overproduction, Oslo Runway is a showcase of authentically sustainable fashion, both in theory and in practice, and it’s in a city to watch for l ‘inspiration.