Sustainable fashion is having a moment. After years of fast fashion dominating the scene and subsequently polluting the environment, small designers and big companies alike are turning to more sustainable methods to produce everything from sneakers to jeans to T-shirts. And while all of these are important innovations, there's one long-standing, majorly unsustainable fashion piece that, until now, has forgone an eco overhaul: stockings.
Stockings and pantyhose are made primarily from nylon, an unsustainable fabric created through a coal-, water-, and energy-heavy process. Not only that, but stockings are notoriously flimsy fashion items, known from runs and holes that render them useless after just a few wears. In general, they are more or less considered disposable.
This isn't without consequence. Nylon is non-biodegradable and takes 30 to 40 years to fully decompose. That means all the stockings of office-attire past are likely still with us, sitting in landfills and leaching harmful chemicals into the environment.
Enter Swedish Stockings, "a sustainable hosiery brand for the modern, conscious woman," as co-founder Nadja Forsberg told Vogue.
Swedish Stockings are made from recycled yarn and natural fibers, and the process by which they are manufactured is sustainable: the factories use eco-friendly dyes, post-dyeing water treatments, and solar power. The company is also working on developing a recycling program to collect hosiery from around the world and grind it down into a filler material in glass fiber tanks.
It doesn't stop there. The founders are also working on new high-tech fabrications, like separating nylon from elastane to make new stockings out of olds ones.
“That’s turned out to be the biggest challenge," Forsberg told Vogue. "Working with new innovations and materials within a very traditional business, [you] hear a lot of ‘No, that’s impossible,’ but you have to be persistent. We’re constantly looking out for new, exciting materials, and that’s pure chemistry. We’re not chemists, but you learn fast!”
The stockings are more than just sustainable, however; they're also modern and stylish, recreating the classic black opaque stockings while also upping the game with fishnets, lace and leopard tights, among other styles.
“No one wants to buy something that doesn’t look nice just because it’s sustainable,” Forsberg's co-founder Linn Frisinger told Vogue. “Look at what Tesla has done for electronic vehicles. The design was a big factor in creating the brand—everything [in the hosiery market] looked the same to us, and we felt it needed to be modernized in terms of packaging, design, and quality. We wanted to reintroduce hosiery as a fashion item and accessory.”