who: Kids, Women
what: Accessories, Clothing
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Money, Fashion, Power:
we talk about the themes of Fashion Revolution Week 2022 with Hannah Granström, founder and CEO of Snella
You have the power to push the fashion system toward the path of sustainability: how do you convey the value of sustainable and ethical garments to consumers?
I try to talk about the benefits for the consumer, but also about the people working in production. Many know that organic products are more sustainable and safer, but may not know exactly why. Not only does organic materials save water and chemicals, but also stimulate biodiversity as organic farming required rotation of crops. Banning B-type cotton seeds seem to be more ethical for cotton farmers and because organic farming is more controlled, work standards are better, especially in developing countries. Reducing the amount of chemical pesticides is not only beneficial to save our nature, but also save workers being exposed to dangerous chemicals causing cancer, disturbs growth and develops respiratory problems. I try to talk about that it’s not very difficult to make organic and more sustainable products, but it does cost a lot more. Buying cheap is an easy way to determine that somebody down the production line is not getting payed and working under very harsh conditions.
I also try to communicate that caring for item post production is equally important as producing fair and organically. Buy less and consciously, hand down, use what you have, mend and wash less. If people would understand the effort going in to producing the clothes we wear, I think we would use our belongings to a greater extent.
Timeless staples over trends: how do you define the aesthetics of your brand? Quality over quantity: which materials characterize your collections?
We produce clothes that are proven classics in a child’s wardrobe. They should always be play-friendly with motifs that children can talk about and relate to. Our clothes are unisex because all children have the right to move and play without having clothes being in the way. Unisex also enables easy handing down to siblings and friends regardless of gender, making them be used for longer. We try our best to make clothes with unblended materials of pure organic cotton. Our next collection will be sewn with organic cotton thread and use interlock for stretch rather than cotton/elastane blends. The reason is that blended materials are extremely difficult to recycle, polyester or elastane blends will never fully decompose thus building up plastic waste and these materials are derived from fossil fuels, which are not renewable.
We value digital printing techniques over other refining techniques as it uses fewer inks and water compared to dyeing and screenprinting. It is also less labor-intense and required smaller facilities, saving on power and building space.
Price tags do not convey the real value of a product: how much does it affect production? How important are the social and environmental costs? In the traditional fashion sector, still too little. The costs related to the image and positioning of the brand and the share allocated to profits have a greater impact. How are your prices made up instead, as a sustainable and ethical business? Is part of the earnings reinvested in virtuous projects?
All our materials are organic and certified, which means that the production from farming to knitted fabric is more regulated compared to conventional cotton products. This has a high price tag, especially as we only buy materials made in the European Union where living-standard is higher compared to developing countries. We do not believe in over-consuming materials to reduce the purchase price, because we want to make sure that the materials we use also can be sold and not go directly to waste. We use freelance seamstresses for production that are in charge of their own business, pricing, work ethic, and living standards and this costs more than mass-production clothing facilities.
Unfortunately, having a price tag that reflects the true costs and time spent in addition to a margin large enough to reinvest in other projects is not realistic. To run a truly organic and small start-up requires a lot of passion and dedication rather than a large salary and investment capabilities. Basically, all money goes into producing the next collection.
How do you keep your ecological footprint as low as possible?
We keep shipping short and only order materials as locally as possible. We do not buy from outside the EU and preferably from Germany. Products are then sent to end consumers and not shipped to other companies. We do not have large storage and workplaces but work from home. We source products that are not derived from fossil fuels unless there are no other options. We use partners that offset their emissions through different programs such as planting trees and we offset our emissions that can’t be avoided through cleaner stoves programs in developing countries. Our materials are organic, which means they use less water and pesticides and stimulate biodiversity.
Thinking about the history and future of a garment is very important, and it is even more so when it comes to children’s clothing: children grow up and often the garments end up being discarded after a few uses. How did you get around this problem?
Our clothes are unisex which makes them possible to hand down more easily to different gendered siblings, relatives, and friends. Second-hand clothing is obviously more sustainable than producing new, but it’s time-consuming to buy, especially for busy working parents. We think that every brand should take responsibility for the products they make, even post-consumer. This is why we are developing a take-back scheme stimulating circular fashion. We offer 25% store credit when handing in used Snella clothes and accessories. We can either resell or up-cycle the pieces and sell the up-cycled items. As we focus on pure and organic materials, we are also looking into composting fabric scraps and fully worn-out materials. When buying from Snella there should be an option of new, pre-loved and up-cycled pieces.
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