Local, Slow and Sustainable Wool: System Change in the Fashion Sector with Wool as the Red Thread

The lecture by professor Ingun Grimstad Klepp and journalist Tone Skårdal Tobiasson invites the audience into the world of textiles, where currently an important environmental battle about how "sustainability" should be defined and understood is being fought. The presenters guide the audience through the sad fate of wool in Europe, both quite concretely (about 80% is thrown away) and in the comparison tools where wool is designated as an even bigger environmental loser. They will showcase the role of the small and local in the inevitable transformation ahead and how green-washing is flooding not only marketing, but also in policy strategies with circular focus.

Image may contain: Sky, Cloud, Eye, Natural environment, Fence.

Photo by Rachel Claire from Pexels.

Wool is a small and marginal fiber in the global perspective, and constitutes less than 1 % of the total market. Synthetic fibers, on the other hand, are more than 60% of the market, and growing rapidly. Not everyone realizes that synthetic textiles are part of the plastic problem, and at the same time as the industry is promoting the increase in polyester, acrylic and other fossil-based fibers over renewable and regenerative natural fibers. Our policy-makers are also indirectly ensuring this worrisome development. How is this possible? The lecture will build on the Norwegian Research Council project KRUS (https://www.oslomet.no/om/nyheter/sluttrapport-ull-prosjektet-krus), an on-going project on rangeland grazing, and also two small projects – WOOLUME and hiWOOL, the latter two financed by EEA Norway Grants, and seeking knowledge-transfer from KRUS to local Polish and Portuguese circumstances. We will aim to offer a peak into the on-going work with local clothes, for example in the Fibershed (fibershed.org) cooperation and the transformation to regenerative farming and grazing practices. The lecture will summarize a book Klepp and Tobiasson have edited and written along with researchers and practitioners from many different fields, varying from Economics to knowledge on Indigenous peoples’ handicrafts. The book will be available later this fall, and is published by Palgrave Macmillan.

About the presenters

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Tone Skårdal Tobiasson (left) and Ingun Grimstad Klepp (right). Photo: Tone Skårdal Tobiasson.

Ingun Grimstad Klepp is Professor of clothing and sustainability at Consumption Research Norway, located at Oslo Metropolitan University. The relationship between textiles, social and physical characteristics and how these are woven together is at the core of her interest. She hates waste and loves to spin threads and words together into texts and textiles as well as to share the joy of developing knowledge. Klepp wrote her MA and PhD in Ethnology on leisure time and outdoor life at the University of Oslo. She combines historical perspectives with knowledge of the textile's technical properties and social aspects.

Tone Skårdal Tobiasson, journalist and author, went from managing editor of fashion magazines in Norway to become a founder of NICE (Nordic Initiative Clean & Ethical) Fashion, originally a platform for sustainable development within the Nordic Fashion Association. Currently she is responsible for dissemination for several major research projects in Norway, related to wool, localism, sustainable, slow and regenerative fashion.  She is a contributor to EcoTextile News and other international publications, and is a Board member of Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion.

Together they have written:
Ren ull (Aschehoug)
Norsk strikkehistoire (Vormedal)
Strikk med norsk ull (Vormedal)
Lettstelt – rene klær med lite arbeid og miljøbelastning (Solum Bokvennen)
Lettkledd – velkledd med lite miljøbelastning (Solum Bokvennen)
Lettfiks – klær med ni liv (Solum Bokvennen)

They have also co-edited:
Local, Slow and Sustainable Fashion Fibres: Wool as a fabric for change (Palgrave Macmillan)

About the event series

The OSEH Environmental Lunchtime Discussion series consists of short, 15 minute presentations by invited guests, followed by a discussion. We invite speakers from a wide variety of fields, both academic and beyond. The presentations are accessible and are aimed at anyone with an interest in environmental issues. All are welcome.

Tags: OSEH, HF, Environmental Humanities, Wool, Textiles, Sustainability
Published Aug. 20, 2021 3:44 PM - Last modified Sep. 2, 2021 8:44 AM