Knitwear is a focus of House of Dagmar.

For a small business, House of Dagmar has big ambitions — for sustainability.

The influential Swedish brand, which had retail sales of $6.7 million last year, in February will open its first store at Grev Turegatan 18 in Stockholm, where it will sell only sustainable products with Good Choice hangtags, indicating that the items are part of a responsible collection. Additional circular services will include clothing rentals for special occasions.

A portion of the label’s e-commerce site is dedicated to sustainable items such as the Kin dress made of sustainable FSC-certified viscose for 3,195 Swedish Kroner, or $333, and Naoko chrome-free leather pants for 5,995 Swedish Kroner or $626.

House of Dagmar is committed to becoming climate-neutral by 2025, and offering 100 percent sustainable collections. It’s planning to open a green flagship and Dagmar Decades store where consumers will be encouraged to hand in and buy secondhand clothes.

The brand is one of the first European fashion labels to reveal climate-impact results, which it began measuring in 2017. European Clothing Action Plan and Anthesis Group monitored House of Dagmar’s efforts. The environmentally friendly materials in collections received international certificates ensuring that they were produced with less CO2, less water, fewer chemicals and less waste.

“We decided to go all the way in the last two years,” said Karin Söderlind, House of Dagmar founder. “We’re not 100 percent sustainable yet, but we decided that we can still inspire other brands. We’ve gone through a good transformation. We’re celebrating 16 years in business this year. It’s time to be transparent. It’s all about communicating and educating. No one in our fashion segment is doing this at the moment.”

Kristina Tjader, founder and sustainability driver at House of Dagmar, said 71 percent of House of Dagmar’s carbon dioxide emissions are a result of fiber production. “That says a lot about what companies like us should focus on to help improve the environment,” she added. “By starting to measure our climate footprint, we learned a great deal and made several major changes, and increased the amount of fibers in the production by no less than 185 percent in the first year.”

Production of viscose, cotton and wool take a big toll on the environment. “Viscose and cotton need a lot of water and a lot of energy,” Söderlind said. “What we didn’t know is that they use a lot of bad chemicals that go into the ground water and spread to villages and farmers. Trying to use as much organic cotton as possible is very important. You need to put pressure on the factories to have this closed loop. We’ve done a lot of research and have found good factories that see this as the only way forward because they see the demand for sustainable fibers.”

House of Dagmar in 2018 replaced all of its conventional cotton with GOTS-certified organic cotton, and used cupro, a sleek and smooth material that feels like silk, instead of some of the viscose in the collection. “We’re working together with chemists to melt down old fibers to make new fibers,” Söderlind said. “We’re trying to make new fibers from old clothes. We’re on our way to finding this perfect fiber. There are lots of interesting projects going on, but we’re very early in the process.”

Sustainability has reached an inflection point with consumers, who are starting to recognize the gravity of the issue. “In the past, the customer hasn’t been interested in it and the market wasn’t ready,” Söderlind said. “People get tired of it. It’s not so sexy and kind of boring. But now, when we’re out talking to women and meeting them in different situations, they’re saying they want to start buying sustainable clothes.”

Söderlind admitted that producing sustainable garments “does cost a little bit more, but not too much more. It costs a lot to start out and search for materials and find the right production. We want to launch this forward in our financial statements, as important as financial accounting. Maybe you don’t do a fashion show, and you do a  presentation,” she said. “This year, we chose to do a presentation instead of a show.”

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