House of Dagmar – three sisters are redefining the future of sustainable fashion

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Karin Söderlind, Kristina Tjäder and Sofia Wallenstam, founders of House of Dagmar, photographed by Tobias Lundkvist

By Hannah Norman

The future of fashion surely lies in technology, not just in terms of the fabrics being employed, but also (particularly in light of recent world events), even in the way seasonal presentations are put together. Luxury womenswear brand House of Dagmar is a case in point.

Founded by Swedish sisters Karin Söderlind, Kristina Tjäder and Sofia Wallenstam, House of Dagmar has always been forward-thinking in its approach. A strong sustainable focus from the outset had always ensured that the brand was a step apart, but with the pandemic putting a halt to physical shows, the sisters had to employ out-of-the-box thinking and cutting-edge technology to create a virtual catwalk as part of Copenhagen Fashion Week.

House of Dagmar's avatar of Maggie Mauer

“This was our way of handling the COVID situation: to put yourself in a place where you can’t be,” Söderlind explains. “We wanted to be a part of Copenhagen Fashion Week and show our collection,” Wallenstam adds, but “without actually being there.” The full AW21 collection was subsequently sent to London to be photographed, where an avatar of model Maggie Mauer was created using a green screen. The avatar was then placed virtually in cityscapes in and around the Danish capital. “It was an amazing result,” Wallenstam smiles, “and as no-one was travelling, the whole production was made in a very sustainable way, and we could use the material from the production in many different ways.”

Sustainability is very important to all three sisters, forming the key cornerstone of the whole House of Dagmar operation. “Our main goal is to reduce the CO2 in the production of our materials – this is so that we can lower our climate footprint as a company,” Söderlind says. “After measuring our footprint, we learned that around 80% of our carbon dioxide derives from the production of our materials. That is why we are focusing a lot more on the materials now. It is also important for us to work with sustainable design, which means that we design and produce products that you want to have in your wardrobe for many years. We want to inspire the importance of caring for the environment, to leave a better climate for generations to come.”

House of Dagmar AW21 (image courtesy of House of Dagmar and Jesse Laitinen)

It’s not just words, either. The fashion house is determined to strengthen its eco-credentials as its international popularity grows. “We are on a constant path of developing our sustainable offering to our customers, with environmentally-friendly products and closer collaboration with our suppliers,” Söderlind affirms. “What we know for sure is that sustainability is not a sales argument for customers – it is an added value in a product they like.” That having been said, the fact that House of Dagmar is now being stocked in SSENSE and Galeries Lafayette, not to mention key stores in Asia, shows that there is an audience who is actively seeking sustainable alternatives to the usual fast fashion. “I do think that consumers are starting to be much more conscious in their everyday life, and they seem to take into consideration what they buy now – much more than before,” Söderlind says. “The feeling for wanting must-have new items all the time has also slowed down a bit.”

There remain, of course, big misconceptions about sustainable fashion. According to Wallenstam, people presume “that everyone works with sustainability in mind, and it is nothing unique. Unfortunately, there needs to be some kind of regulation from a political perspective to promote companies that are working to create a better environment.” Söderlind, meanwhile, believes consumers should take accountability themselves. “I think we all need to change our ground needs and behaviour – we really need to question if we need all these products,” she says. “If we do, then we should invest in garments that we can wear a hundred times.” The clothes that House of Dagmar produces are meant to fill that exact void, with timeless designs inspired by the modern woman and her everyday life.

House of Dagmar AW21 (image courtesy of House of Dagmar and Jesse Laitinen)

With House of Dagmar known for its knitwear and outerwear, it’s perhaps no surprise to learn that the sisters are keen to continue to use wool in their collections. “We really like wool, because it is a fantastic fibre,” Wallenstam says. “It is a fat fibre, which means that it doesn’t really get dirty in the same way as cotton can. If you get dirt on wool, you can easily wash it away with a cloth. You also shouldn’t machine wash wool – it should be enough to air it, and sometimes do a light hand-wash.”

As our interview draws to a close, and with the brand being Swedish, we ask for the best way to spend 24 hours in Sweden. Söderlind supplies an immediate answer: “I would go out by boat from Nybrokajen, in the centre of Stockholm, to eat lunch in Sandhamn on the island of Sandön. I’d sip on a nice glass of chilled wine, while looking at all the fantastic houses on the islands on the way back, ending up in the city by the afternoon. I’d have dinner at one of the nice restaurants by the sea – such as Milles, Oaxen, or AIRA – before ending up in the Spesso rooftop bar.” Sounds ideal to us!

www.houseofdagmar.com

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