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LOVIA wants to change the way of thinking about fashion by producing sustainable bags from industrial waste. LOVIA is committed to the Sustainable Development Goals 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 13 (Climate Action). LOVIA does not only contribute to a Circular Economy by recognising industrial waste as a resource but also inspires the fashion industry by setting new standards for innovative fashion production. Additionally, its business model serves climate action as less resources are required for the production and as the products are sourced and manufactured within the European Union.
The objective of LOVIA is to create sustainable bags that allow the customer to trace its origin and story. The journey of a LOVIA product starts from the “waste” of various Scandinavian manufacturers. The focus lies on sourcing in Scandinavia to reduce transportation and thus carbon emissions. Examples of discarded materials could be excess leather and textile such as cutting waste from the furniture industry, elk hides from population control hunting and salmon skins as a by-product of the food industry. In the next step, LOVIA’s designer transforms the material at hand into modern bags inspired by Finnish nature. The available material from the suppliers dictates how and what can be designed. By producing its bags out of industrial waste, LOVIA shows an innovative approach to upcycling natural resources and recognising waste as a resource.
In 2014, the designer and founder of LOVIA, Outi Korpilaakso, found herself in an ideological crisis as she was not able to retrace the material through the complex supply chains and thus was not able to guarantee sustainability. Garment factory collapses or water pollution through toxic dyes are examples for the horrific social and environmental catastrophes in the fashion industry in the past. Furthermore, Western fashion companies utilizes subcontractors to escape their responsibility to improve the working conditions. Therefore, Outi ventured out to establish new rules for her job as a fashion designer and for the production of fashion. The only way that felt right for Outi was to let wasted material speak, design for purpose, get to know the producers and share their voice with everyone. With a strong designer background from both design brands as well as the largest department store in Finland, Outi saw that she could discover new ways of fulfilling her passion for design. After several years of sourcing for the right partners in both material and production, the first commercial collection saw light in early 2017.
LOVIA’s business contributes to the three dimensions of sustainability namely ecological, economical, and social sustainability.
First, from an environmental perspective LOVIA offers customers a sustainable alternative to standard fashion. The aim of LOVIA is to create a modern circulation that resembles the ways of nature. In nature, there is no excess, but all resources are a part of a larger cycle. Similarly, LOVIA utilizes discarded materials as a new resource and therefore reduces the waste of their corporate partners and the carbon footprint. For instance, by using excess furniture leather for their Hilla Belt bag, the total emission of this bag is 3,3 kg carbon emissions. However, if the bag was created using new cow leather the total emission would be 66,99kg. Additionally in the long-term, LOVIA is constantly trying to become even more sustainable by looking for new material innovations to heighten the percentage of recycled side materials. The dust bags and packaging materials are also made out of recycled materials.
Second, LOVIA positively impacts the fashion industry by showcasing an example of sustainable fashion. LOVIA has designed a unique transparency concept, the Product DNA. The Product DNA allows customers to look closer into the history of their bag or jewellery, telling the stories of the makers, materials, locations, production methods and even transparent pricing of each step. Lack of transparency and complex value chains make sustainability an even harder goal to truly achieve. Thus, LOVIA aims at breaking the negative image surrounding the fashion industry by creating a short supply chain with close relationships to the suppliers. LOVIA partnered up with suppliers and producers that share the vision and values of sustainable production. LOVIA passes the voice of the suppliers and producers on to the customers through their products and brand.
Third, supporting a family company in Italy is part of the social sustainability by creating decent working conditions and working towards a shared purpose.
The difference of LOVIA to most other companies is that the whole brand was created based on sustainability. Thus, the business concept itself represents the innovation and it is not possible to separately state what would have been the impact without the innovation.
By focusing on creating beautiful, highly functional, and durable items from excess material, Ouri was able to grow her team to 5 employees. LOVIA’ staff works together closely and tries relentlessly to change the old underlying assumptions and pace of the fashion industry. Moreover, the satisfaction and well-being of the employees is ensured by pursuing a shared purpose.
Even though the start-up had major investments in the past years and lost an important investor during Covid-19, LOVIA managed to increase their turnover by 160% despite cautious consumer spending. This shows the success of their sustainable business approach.
LOVIA represents an example for a business that benefits environment and society in several ways. First, LOVIA aims at creating a modern circulation using industrial waste from other industries. Moreover, the start-up is continuously trying to minimize its ecological impact by sourcing for new material solutions to heighten the percentage of recycled side materials. Recycled materials help to conserve the environment by saving natural resources, protecting ecosystems, and reducing demand for raw materials.
On top of the environmental aspect, LOVIA wants to be a conversation starter. Lack of transparency and overly complex value chains make sustainability an even harder goal to truly achieve and oversee for the fashion industry. LOVIA wants to act as a role model for other companies. It is important to own up to both the positives and the negatives of one’s own actions – LOVIA still has improvement potential in regard to sustainability (as does every other company). Additionally, LOVIA cooperates with a family company in Italy to ensure decent working conditions for its suppliers and partners.
Emmi Nguyen, Store Manager
Lovia is a sustainable fashion company from Helsinki, which is committed to reducing waste and promoting transparency in the fashion industry. To make their bags and jewellery, Lovia transforms waste from other industries into long-lasting products with a purpose.