Environment More sustainable design shouldn’t be an indulgence, but the first and easy choice for anyone who wants to live consciously, says ARKET Head of Growth & Sustainability, Ville Klemming.
’I think the transition into the circular society is going to be as huge as the difference between before and after the Internet. Both individuals and businesses will have to adapt to a new way of life. We need to slow down and rethink our whole value system; we need to find new ways to live well. The fashion industry is still reliant on a linear business model in many ways, and many customers have a linear thinking as well. There’s a lot of products today that aren’t designed to last, or to be repaired, and customers don’t expect them to. But that must change.'
'A lot of products today aren’t designed to last. But that must change.'
We started ARKET with the mission to simplify good choices and democratise quality, to make long-lasting, well-made products available for more people. The way I see it, a good choice is one based on consideration and thoughtfulness.
We need to redefine consumption and move away from the throwaway mentality that has dominated much of our culture. The second-hand and reselling trend is really promising and something we want to promote and push as much as possible from our side.
A first step is the launch of our new circular store ReARKET, allowing customers to resell pre-owned pieces within the context of our stores. I think it’s interesting to integrate second-hand products into the world of a design-centric lifestyle brand, making it more attractive to live with a lower impact on the environment.
As a modern retail brand, we see it as our responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the negative impact of our products, as well as contributing to push the whole industry forward. It’s our responsibility to design with longevity and circularity considered already at the drawing table. It’s our responsibility to help suppliers become energy efficient and use more renewable energy, to make sure we reduce the use of water and other resources, and promote the use of more sustainably sourced materials.
Unfortunately, making good choices is still more expensive, in many cases, but we want to prove they don’t have to be. However, for products to be affordable, and for us to be profitable, this must be done at a large scale. Growing bigger is the only way we can create a positive impact through our business, and it comes with a great responsibility to do good.
I was something of an environmental activist when I was younger, and studied to become a marine biologist. I’ve always been interested in environmental issues, always been trying to influence the people around me. But I’ve gradually grown to see that in order to make the necessary change happen, we need to influence businesses to think and act sustainably. That’s where the big potential lies. Not only do businesses need to be more sustainable, but sustainability also needs to be good business.
I feel very hopeful when I see signs that sustainability is becoming profitable – when we can offer more sustainable products that our customers buy and like, when waste becomes a resource, when recycled materials become cheaper than virgin ones – because then it’s no longer a price issue, and we’ve suddenly reached a new normal.