Written by Pari Damani

    Edited by Meghan Scott

    Next year, in 2020 Aesop celebrates 33 years as a brand and are releasing a 336 page book. The book is filled with deep insights into the brand, what makes Aesop authentic and how they have come to survive the fast evolving beauty industry. The book is carefully curated in the true aura of the world that is Aesop, wrapped in a soft beige linen fabric and filled with photographs taken by Yutaka Yamamoto, speaks a language of natural light and shadow play that is very much the brand.

    Aesop was founded in 1987 in Melbourne Australia by Dennis Paphitis, the name comes from a greek fabulist and is pronounced ee-sop. Back then Dennis had a hair salon called Elemis, this is where the saga began, and where the first products developed that we today know as Aesop.

    To me Aesop has always been a soft, sensual world of wonderful textures and skincare. I was first introduced to the brand about 12 years ago when a friend took me to the shop on Redchurch Street in London, and I have since then always had an handwash among other of the brand’s products in my bathroom. The textures aren’t only present in the beauty they create, but also every time you enter a shop. Every location is carefully designed, depending on where the light hit the windows to gather the natural light that compliments the interior and architectural thoughtfulness.  You might wonder why they're releasing a book on their 33rd year. I recently had the pleasure to meet their co-founder, Suzanne Santos, Marsha Meredith (Creative Director), and Kate Forbes (General Manager of Sustainability and Innovation, R&D), and learned about many insights, one of them being that uneven numbers are aesthetically popular within the brand. You will never see products lined up on the shelves of an Aesop shop evenly.

    I had the chance to sit down with Meredith and Forbes and asked her a few questions.

    Q&A with Marsha Meredith, Creative Director of Aesop:

    PD: How long have you been with Aesop? And what did you do before joining the company?
    MM: Five years now. I was working in advertising, but I always enjoyed working on projects besides advertising between the art world and the community. Ideally a project that would use creativity to assist in a community in some way. I think looking back, that was why I was suited to the role with Aesop.

    PD: Was it an instant yes to joining the brand?
    MM: I think Aesop is a company that is very alluring for anyone who is a creative person, there is a tremendous subtlety in it’s expression. I have always admired Aesop. And then when I had my interview with CEO, Michael O'keefe, I asked him what the plan was for the company and he said that he wanted to maintain and enhance our differences moving forward. I remembered that when he said that to me and my heart sort of moved, and I felt this is the company I want to work for. The other wonderful thing with company is that you are experiencing us now… from the outside. And you know that it's an aesthetically driven company, it’s beautiful and the service and products are good. The more you get to know Aesop, the more you understand the values of the company are what drives it. It is an ongoing relationship that only improves.

    PD: What made you decide to create a book about Aesop?
    MM: It had something to do with our 33rs year as a company, we are heading in to our 33rd year and we’ve created a book with 33 chapters.

    PD: Ah ok uneven numbers I hear…
    MM: Haha yes exactly and each chapter delves into different parts of the business, from collaborations and partnerships, our approach, to hosting, and service to our artistry and product design.  And our store design as well. But really what I would hope is that when you read the book, what will surface through the words is our tremendous dedication that underpins the gestures that we do at Aesop.

    PD: Did you have all the 33 chapters done in beforehand?
    MM: No, we of course had more than 33 and also subchapters within each chapter. I think one of the beautiful things about working on a book is the editing process. I always believe that you should make more than you need and then you can start to cut down and we definitely had a lot of editing to do. My favourite chapter is the quote on the first page:

    If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work,and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and open sea.’
    -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    PD: Such a beautiful quote!
    MM: Absolutely! It’s a company that everyone is inspired by, everyone is working to their highest caliber within thinking and execution. We are all inspired by each other. This is an incredible quote so summarise Michael’s style of working as a CEO.

    PD: When did you start with the process?
    MM: It’s funny because I thought I heard someone say that it was 12 months, but I feel like it was only six months, to be honest. We did it quite quickly, we set quite a pace, and when we handed it over, which I was surprised that we did actually hand it over. I almost wish we could start it over again. I feel like we could make another book!

    PD: How did you choose the photographer? When I think of Aesop I get this Japanese feeling overall, is that intentional?
    MM: The photographer is definitely Japanese, he lives in Paris, we have a lot of store photography which you can see online. We wanted to have a different expression for this book, a more poetic expression and Yutaka really delivers that. I agree with you that you get a Japanese sensibility from it. I think it’s an appreciation of light, more importantly, he shoots with only natural light. He’s very good at capturing a mood and an ephemeral quality to space. It's because he only focuses on light and shadow.

    PD: Did you have any challenges with creating the book? What was the biggest one?
    MM: The most challenging was that we have collaborators across the globe, we had a Japanese photographer, an Australian writer, Swedish designer, Scottish editor and I was based in New York. And to find the language and the time to meet was a little bit challenging at times. I think the results are far greater for the talent we had involved, so I am very happy that we did that and even though it was not the easiest way to do things. And the other challenge for us was handing it over to Rizzoli and saying, “Ok, it is finished”. I never felt that that day was gonna be real! I’ve never done a book before, so I feel more than privileged to be able to do it for Aesop. I’m glad that it's a way of expressing my gratitude to Susanne and Dennis.

    PD: Did you have a certain inspiration, besides Aesop, for the book?
    MM: To be honest when we decided to make a book for Aesop, I quite quickly wrote down a list of themes and chapters, I feel I live and breath Aesop every day, so it wasn't a struggle. I worked very closely to Dennis with it which was an absolute pleasure as well, the most joyful project.

    Q&A with Kate Forbes, General Manager of Product and RND, Sustainability, Focus of Today, of Aesop:

    PD:How long have you been with Aesop?
    KF: 19 years now, I joined in 2000.

    PD: What has made you stay in the position of developing products?
    KF: What’s kept me is staying true to the brand’s history and that's why it felt like the moment to create this book. There has been this thread carried throughout and it’s important that we talk about that and share it with our internal employees, as well as people who have been loyal and a part of our journey for this time.

    It’s been a big and incredible journey, the brand was actually small when I first started and we were just a wholesale business. The first store opened in 2003 in Melbourne. In 2000, Aesop was already a global business, Dennis had these wholesale relationships, some concept stores in Japan and New York. So, actually he was developing products with a global mindset from outset. Which is what has helped us become such a global brand, we are not seen as an australian brand.

    I personally think the product range was very small back then, so there's been a huge opportunity. We then had 30 products and now have more than a hundred. To be able to develop and explore the range, but all very carefully and slowly. We introduce 4-5 products every year, so it’s been a slow expansion. Everything feels like it’s constantly moving with Aesop, growing and expanding and slightly changing.

    PD: How much research and development does it take to create a product?
    KF: It’s slow, it’s certainly slow skincare. That's what we do at Aesop, slow skincare and development, every product is created inhouse. We have our laboratory in Melbourne and our products are developed from scratch, every time.

    It probably takes us about two years to bring a product to market. In the initial stage we look at what ingredients we need for a certain product. We have just launched a skincare product for sensitive skin, Seeking Silence Facial Hydrator, with that product it was about knowing that we’ve heard our customers globally, so many people were talking about having sensitive skin. We had products suitable for sensitive skin, but nothing formulated specifically for this need. It was really about every single ingredient, why do we put this ingredient in and what benefit does it have when considering sensitive skin. What do we actually want to help treat or what are the symptoms people are talking about, how could we incorporate different ingredients that helps them feel more comfortable. This takes time, because we may test a few products, but then there is always room for improvement, so we keep utilating until arriving to the point where we have a product that we are really proud of.

    PD: Please tell me about the Poo-drops, how did you come up with the product idea?
    KF: Haha, it’s such a great story! This was not a two year development, but actually a product that we were using in the office. We were blending all of our essential oils in our laboratory and making them into bigger batches and then sending to our production facility. There is always a little oil residue in the end of the cannisters of rose, orange and bergamot and we were using ethanol to rinse out to make sure it was clean. Then we’d decant it in bottles and thought, ‘What are we gonna do with these?”. So we started to use the new solution as toilet deodorizers in the office and it worked. One day we thought, “Why don’t we just launch this as a product? It’s really effective.” We were a bit hesitant to launch it in the beginning, but it’s been incredibly successful. Particularly at christmas time, it’s a really interesting gift that people like to add.

    PD: I’ve seen Aesop bottles being filled up with other brands, why do you think that happens?
    KF: Haha we’ll I would have hoped that the product itself makes them feel good as well! But, I’m not sure, there are stories about restaurants doing the same thing and if we do find it, we usually try to tell the manager. It was never intentionally designed that this Aesop bottle was gonna be a canister or dispenser. We designed it because it was a good design, but it is common, hopefully not too common. The refilling thing does happen, I guess. I think for us, we are looking at ideas about making those everyday experiences more enjoyable and I think that happens visually by the simple clean look of this bottle. Hopefully, it happens aesthetically or in a sense of smell and touch, actually using the product itself, just the art of washing your hands, can just be a little bit more enjoyable.

    PD: What are your favourite travel buddies from Aesop?
    KF: Since I have a job where I have to travel so much, as yourself, it’s hard on my skin. Being on planes all the time, not being able to have a normal routine, forgetting to drink water, it has such a big impact on your skin. I probably have two or three go-to products that are always with me. We have a product called, Blue Chamomile Facial Hydrating Mask, it's a hydrating mask, but it has an invisible shield as you put it on your skin, you can’t actually see that you have it on your skin. It’s not like a sheet mask. I’ve actually used it on the plane, it delivers hydration and locks in moisture and makes a big difference when traveling.. The resurrection hand balm is always something that is always in my handbag, in a tube. We launched two travel kits this year, ‘Departure’ and ‘Arrival’. The departure kit include products you may need during your flight like, Blue Chamomile Hydrating Mist and lip ointment.. Arrival are the products you would need in the bathroom when you arrive, shampoo, conditioner, body cleanser and body balm. Both come in travel size packaging.

    PD: During your 19 years with Aesop, has the skincare changed much?
    KF: Some of the formulations have actually been in our range for a long time, we are not constantly changing our formulations or are tied to how we develop. What ingredients we use in what has not changed. We are 100% consistent in what we do. The type of formulations that we’re currently developing are implemented in different ingredient technology. We are able to do things that we couldn't do before because the process didn’t exist. The way some ingredients are sourced, different textures to be able to have, different types of emollient ingredients that can give you that rich hydration, but not a heavy afterfeel. In terms of those different ingredients that are available, has changed. Our way and approach of our formulations are so consistent and that is something very much a part of our DNA and what we do.

    PD: Is that why you have such a stable customer base? Once you meet Aesop, you are hooked.
    It's also the experience, and the products I hope, and that ability to have an open honest conversation with the consultants that doesn't feel like people are trying to just push you something or sell you something. It’s really about what's the right thing for you, giving you the ability to try it, test and sample it, smell it, get the full sensory experience and I think people really appreciate the time that they’re getting in our stores. Some people can feel uncomfortable, but that ability for someone to be able to really show you what this product can do and to demonstrate it, is so powerful.

    PD: What are the challenges in having a beauty brand in 2019, with new beauty brands constantly launching?
    KF: Yes, there’s different competition now from when we started, different ways customers are shopping, getting information as well, so there’s probably still a lot of misinformation. We’ve always stayed true to ourselves, and if we continue to stay true, I feel that we can continue to be different and have a point of difference. Experiences that people get walking in to our store, there are other brands that might offer products that report to do the same thing, but I don’t think there’s anyone else that offers the experience that we have and the connection we provide.

    PD: Lastly, what is the it Aesop ‘must have’ product, if there’s someone out there who has never tried anything, without any particular need?
    KF: If you just want to try a product to know what the Aesop experience is, the obvious answer would be the Resurrection Hand Wash. The Geranium Leaf Body Cleanser is a beautiful body wash to use and has such a different aroma to what other people are using. I would love for people to try one of our fragrances, we only have three, and the one that I think is the most representative of Aesop is, The Marrakesh. It’s the fragrance we first had in our range, and it’s something so unique and intense, there’s nothing else out there like it. The hand cream is also another obvious answer, always in my handbag, and the Resurrection Hand Balm.

  • photography by BEATA CERVIN /

    Acne Photography
    stylist IDA KLaAMBORN
    hair & make up INA PALM
    models MONA S & SIGINEYS / Mikas
    all clothing by IDA KLAMBORN
    shoes GREEN LACES

    IDA KLAMBORN, A Conscientious Rulebreaker

    Written by Ksenia Rundin

    Representing a big business, fashion has never before been such a personal storytelling as it currently appears to be. Cultural heterogeneity has emerged into a big designer mood board, leaving the consumer with a tremendous space for a personal stylistic interpretation. However, with the freedom of artistic expression follows the consequential responsibility of choice. As a modern fashion designer, you share the burden of responsibility with your clients by trying to understand your own role within the fluctuating world of fashion.

    Fashion designer Ida Klamborn perceives her ontology as a fair and transparent player with strong personal ideas and beliefs, which she generously bestows her clients with through her expressive postmodern aesthetics. In her skilfully tailored fashion mini-empire, transparency literally takes its place to celebrate the female body, both when it concerns design and communication. Another important element is the feeling of community that never disappears, not even backstage. Ida turns fashion experience into a welcome-home party, where everyone can create a value and find a meaning. It also conceives an auspicious environment for comprehending the causality between the choice you make and the impact the latter has on the world around you. Furthermore, daring to break the rules, the designer places her own fears at stake, setting up an engaging discourse regarding ‘comme il faut’ and ‘faux pas’, embracing different spheres of the social existence.

    What made you choose your designer education, and Borås in particular?

    Well, there is an immense answer to that. Back in my childhood, my interest in clothes was very intensive, especially because I was quite shy and found my expression preferably in garments instead of words. I did not discover a possibility of being a designer till I turned twenty one. At that time, following my desire to change the place of living, I randomly moved to Gothenburg and enrolled in an evening class in pattern making. There, I learned about Borås and realised that I could actually study fashion design at the Swedish School of Textiles. I sent my application to the school and was offered admission. 

    What have you learned under the years in Borås that stays with you even today?

    You always have to try, even though you are afraid of making a mistake and failing. Takeaways from your own mistakes follow you to the next project and develop your skills further. It is a certain constructive problem-solving strategy, where you grow as a professional and as an individual. Without committing such mistakes you are not able to create something really beautiful.

    Your Bachelor’s Degree collection received the Italian Fabric Award, which resulted in a collaboration with an Italian fabric company and an exhibition during Milan Fashion Week 2012. How did you feel about being thrown directly into the heart of the fashion world?

    It was a lot of fun. The positive thing about it was that I ended up in an international context, where I could meet people, talk to and learn from them. After having gone to school and being busy with practically only the studies, it was very refreshing experience to come out and speak for myself. However, the biggest challenge was to deal with my timidity. It became my first Fashion Week ever and I was there on my own, representing myself.

    Your collections bear rather special titles such as ‘Mono’, ‘Trace’, ‘Made You Look’. How do you appoint a title for your collections?

    Often, it is an association game that includes at least one personal fragment in my creative process, which I build a new story on, leaving the working title unchanged. That was the story with ‘Messy Love’ (2015), for example, which had derived from an unfortunate love narrative.

    Red and pink hues have appeared in almost every collection that you have created. What do you consider special with these two particular hues?

    As a child you used to learn the classic rule that pink and red should never be combined in the one and same outfit because those are contradictory. It has given rise to a desire to merge these colours together and to thus, break the rule. Furthermore, pink is considered to be a girly colour and as a child, I admired that aesthetic. Growing up, I started realising that pink actually was not perceived as something fancy and chic. Due to the society’s celebration of male coded attributes, it became quite intrinsic that the colour assumed to be femme and girly and, presumably, less important. Seemingly, I feel that under my entire career I try to justify the status that pink and its aesthetics deserve as a colour on a wardrobe level and also worldwide. In addition, the colour has frequently been applied within the fashion industry under the last three years in many different intriguing ways.

    You have introduced at least one garment with a transparent element or an entire transparent garment in every collection. What is the message behind that transparency? 

    In 2018, I made a small collection, showed on a tiny space had my friends as models, is was very much about a self-gaze and the female gaze. My intention is alway to recant the public eye following the body that transparency leaves exposed. It is for the purpose of protection of one’s own body, but also for an artistic reason as well. It creates a peculiarly beautiful contrast betweenm a fragile side and a robust one, of the human body and personality.

    Have the models, introducing the transparent garments, said anything about their experience of wearing those?

    The most of the models actually like wearing such items. For the show Autumn/Winter 2018 show I made an entirely transparent white, tight dress with a great portion of glitter, which was presented by a model, who was a friend of mine. She wore the garment on her naked body, where her vulva was clearly visible. Surprisingly, the dress made her feel strong and attired, in spite of its transparent nature. It gives rise to an intriguing disparity though.

    Additionally, in one of our recent photo sessions we used a top, which was entirely transparent. The model wearing the item, felt slightly nude but we solved it by putting small diamond circles on her nipples underneath the top. Such a small manipulation made her actually feel dressed and it became a nice, sort of, ‘Instagram’- friendly version of it.

    How do you choose models for the demonstration of your creations?

    Usually, I follow my gut feeling and a girlfriend-sense. At my first show I had agency models but for the next show I wanted someone out of my own social circle. However, there is nothing wrong with professional models. The reason is that during photo sessions andm shows I would like to have more personal atmosphere backstage. It also has impact on the way they are walking during the show. Having a couple of friends backstage, makes all the participants become harmonious and self-confident. Later when the show starts, they go out on the catwalk as their own community and make the best of it. They create an authentically positive feeling, making the show more real and thus, more immersive for the audience.

    You once had a collaboration with photographer, Patricia Reyes, celebrating  fifteen Swedish women. What product do you think you and Patricia have created letting fashion and fashion photography meet in an intriguing show-room context?

    Patricia and me are both quite empathetic and headstrong at the same time, what have created a fruitful and stimulating teamwork. Our collaboration started with me being offered to show my
    garments at an exhibition. Nevertheless, the idea continued growing and taking shape and we decided to invite different women to be a part of that exhibition instead of merely filling up the exzhibition space with clothing. It resulted in a three-meter high women-tapestry that we covered the whole room with.

    She would have an idea and people around would like it. Everything felt very organic during the working process. We worked with a mood board, mostly visualising our thoughts there. The ideas were emerging during the photo session and we just let it happen, following in the process after our ideas. I would make a suggestion and we would take it or leave it aside and the same would be for Patricia. Hence, we were conceiving the product ‘live’ by letting our ideas emerge during the creating process as such. The result was not predetermined, what also felt slightly frightening but we succeeded.

    Your design looks to be inspired by the 1980s aesthetics but you seem to make own 1990s interpretation of it. What do you usually become inspired by?

    I am inspired by people and how they wear their clothing. Older ladies is a special issue, because I find them very inventive. It is admirable how they can put together an outfit out of practically simple things, such as a shawl for example. I used to sit at a café watching older ladies to pass by. Further, I also find other people’s creativity inspiring. It could be anything, art, fashion, film or photography.

    Recently, you have chosen to abandon the so called ‘runway format’. How do you work now?

    When you compare the experience of attending a classic fashion show with the mood of an intimate collection presentation, you suddenly realise how personal and authentic the latter format feels. Feeling as a part of the event, the audience perceive the concept in a more advantageous way. And I also have an opportunity to talk to them in person. Accordingly, my brand stands out in a clear and concrete way. Undoubtedly, you reach a broader audience with the ‘runway format’. However, in my case the intention is to create a universe around my brand, where I want to be and where I want my audience to came to. I want also to have a certain type of music and to invite people I would love to see participating in my shows.

    Does you decision have something to do with the aspect of sustainability?

    Currently, I am at a crossroad since two years back, pondering over my relationship with the fashion industry, which I am actually a part of. My main puzzle is how I can make a difference by conducting changes in the parts of my own business. For me it is much easier to look over and modify my routines or strategies than for a big brand to change the whole ecosystem around with suppliers, retailers, investors and other stakeholders. It feels like I have put the collection format on hold. Now I have conducted Spring/Summer 2020 collection, which actually consists of quite few pieces. I produced only pieces that I think my clients may like and nothing beyond that.

    When did you actually realise that you had become a brand?

    I think it happened three years ago, when I had a big fashion show, became depicted in Vogue and commenced a few collaborations. All of a sudden, I felt that I should treat my activity as a brand, in order to keep myself apart from it. It had been very personal from the beginning but it was time for a change to avoid the whole idea
    to become messy.

    What project are you currently working on?

    Now it circles around a textile fair in Paris and later I will start up an independent project, concentrating primarily on sustainability. It will be kept out of limelight for a long period, because I want to deepen into the managerial part and form a structure. However, it is going to be a smaller sub-brand in an affiliated company with ’Ida Klamborn’ as a parent brand. My intention is to conduct a research on some textiles and test recycle alternatives and production opportunities by following the whole production chain.

    What could you tell us about influencers when it comes to your brand?

    I have a mixed feelings about that phenomenon. Five or six years ago I would put a top on a friend and let her take pictures and post
    those on Instagram. The whole scenario would be a kind of influencer strategy. An influencer is the one who can have a strong effect on someone or something. However, there is a risk for inflation if one just posts photos of different products, while losing own personality. I find it more exciting to behold someone, who is doing something that he/she really enjoys. Then, I feel a strong connection to my own creative activity and therefore, perceive it as something authentic and trustworthy.

    What do you think will happen to fashion in general and Swedish fashion in particular in ten years?

    I think that those big clothing chains might disappear because they will be too big to be able to keep control over consumers, who become more and more aware of what is going on and what should be done. It felt slightly liberating not to have a proper Fashion Week in Stockholm this year. Apparently, things were happening anyway and there was an artistic feeling about it. Maybe it is a beginning of a paradigm shift and something new is about to emerge. Stockholm Fashion Week started in 2001. So, it is time to have some changes. Let us see what to expect.

    Do you have any dream project?

    I would love to work with a film production, making character costumes and especially working on the image part. To be able to create a contemporary story with female characters wearing those costumes would be a dream.

  •           photography by KATRIINA MÄKINEN & VIKTORIA GARVARE

    Swedishness Extended

    Written by Fashion Tales

    Ludmila Christeseva in dialogue with Ulrika Skoog Holmgaard

    The trend to buy cheap and accessible clothes, otherwise known as “fast” or “democratized” fashion has over the last decades established excessive consumer behavior globally, sparking the debate on unsustainable character of fashion industry. Swedish fashion scene has witnessed the rapid development over the past two decades successfully contributing to the development of this trend. Known as the home of the H&M brand, Sweden also gained its influence in the late 2000’s as a fashion capital through introducing a sustainable style of Swedishness to the rest of the world. Such successful brands as Filippa K, ACNE, Carin Rodebjer, Tiger of Sweden promote conscious fashion design and production practices. Their Swedish `Fashion Wonder` is characterised by simplicity of forms, discreteness of color palette and timelessness of design, establishing a less-is-more philosophy, without sacrificing creativity. In general, mass-produced fashion may make quite a few people happy through providing disposability and thus, affordable variety. Yet many people understand that this disposable form of clothing comes with other costs such as global environmental issues, wasteful overstock of out of date fashion, and underpaid female workers. 

    Being born in Belarus and raised during times of scarcity, which defined the consumption culture in the Soviet Union, I still remember how I was used to mending and redesigning the clothes of my older sister and our cousins. The social conditions and the deficit of the basic wardrobe elements such as nylon tights, lingerie and shoes forced us to be extraordinary careful with clothes that we possessed.  The DIY (Do it Yourself) principle, so popular nowadays among hipsters, was our know-how. We tie-dyed our trousers so they looked like fancy jeans, we re-modelled our fathers’ old shirts into party dresses and we shared accessories we had among friends. Moving to Sweden made my world turn upside down. I no longer needed to mend and sew my own clothes.

    Some fashion consumers might not want to purchase products which are mass produced in sweatshops, but they often do this despite good intentions, since the practice of buying disposable fashion is built into our cultural constructions, and as mass produced fashion is readily available for purchase. We do it because we can. There is an abundance of affordable wear, enough to change a full set of clothes every season. Mesmerised by the shopaholic paradise of sales and discounts, we get used to uncontrollable shopping, which goes against the principle of sustainability. And it comes at a price — toxic production waste which destroys ecosystems and people’s health; greedy profiting results in slave labor at factories in many third world countries. Does our craving for status, position and well-being create a necessity to neglect the world around us? Perhaps other cultural experience of fashion production could contribute to a change from such habitual manner to consume. How would such change impact our identity? What, really, defines Swedish identity when talking about fashion? Who knows, perhaps, my slightly forgotten experience of sewing and remodelling clothes inspired all these questions as well as paved the way for me to make art from left overs, promote conscious fashion design practices and support couturiers who try to rise against the fast fashion paradigm.

    Wednesday, 28th of August, fifteen incredible Stockholm women; working in various industries, brightened up Stockholm in spectacular dresses and beautiful costumes designed by the Belarusian fashion brand Historia Naturalis led by Polina Voronova. The aesthetics of the brand are inspired by the laconic nature of Swedish style, with its functionality and pragmatism. The colourful march “100 Shades of Nature”, full of conspicuous playful motives, started at Norrmalmstorg, in the restaurant Vau de Ville and joint along the path of sunny Strandvägen. This magnificent parade danced across the streets, leaving observers with a smile on their faces.

    100 Shades of Nature” has brought together some really inspiring women of Stockholm, all with a special history that deserves its own chapter and all are concerned with the issues of sustainability. One of them is the Swedish Ambassador in Belarus, Christina Johannesson. Christina was leading the procession of the conscientious consumers, while holding a stylish string bag created by blind crafters in Belarus and transformed into fashionable accessory by Historia Naturalis. For the Swedish Ambassador in Belarus, to support and be part of a cultural exchange between Belarus and Sweden was an obvious way to support a good cause.  Whether it is art, performance, fashion, music or theatre – Christina joined the discussion between our ‘fashion nations’, with many differences and possible similarities. Sustainability seems to be a trend for contemporary consumers both in Sweden and Belarus, but the meaning of the term is still not precisely defined. Despite these facts; emphasis on sustainability resonates strongly with what the contemporary consumer wants or calls for globally. That is why sharing professional experience across the borders might pave the way for creative solutions towards more principled practices within the apparel industry.