The Nordic apparel industry is about to be put on a new path thanks to the launch of an initiative designed to strengthen the sector and create a wider platform for developing and promoting sustainable fashion.

The Nordic Fashion Association gathered in Oslo, Norway, this week with a purpose of staking out a new direction and vision for a common Nordic platform for fashion and textiles. With a new and more dynamic cooperation and sharing model, using the dynamics from both crafts and technology – the plan is to "lift sustainability into a new realm".

Gisle Mariani Mardal, newly-appointed chairman of the Nordic Fashion Association, says the goal has long been to develop the organisation and Nordic cooperation through joint projects, country-specific projects and cooperation with the Nordic Council.

"While the Copenhagen Fashion Summit is becoming a yearly, global event and a 'Davos for sustainable fashion'; NICE (Nordic Initiative Clean and Ethical) is evolving also," says Mardal. "Having been a go-to internet site for consumers and designers to gain knowledge on sustainable issues surrounding textiles and maximising their sustainability in a life-cycle perspective; the plan is for a version 2.0."

This, she says, will be a more dynamic and social-media based tool for discussion and engagement. "We need to find a better language for this whole sector to really understand the momentous problems we are facing."

Although each of the Nordic countries considers themselves to be different, the Nordic countries are globally perceived as one market. Mardal says Nordic lifestyle and design is currently sought after globally, providing great opportunities for Nordic companies.

"If we strengthen the cooperation between us, we increase the effect." she adds.

Future collaborative activities will include marketing, product development and strengthening the local value chain in order to reduce the environmental impact. Cooperation with the Baltic countries is also part of the plan, Mardal says.

"We are tied together with the sea as our common link. One thing is the blossoming bio-economy, which can also be related to textiles, but also the growing concern with microfibers and microplastics as the 'evil second twin' to global warming as one of the most pressing environmental issues. Aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals will be high on NFA's agenda.

"To share experience and knowledge will be important going forward. We have to realise that if the industry, whether it be fashion or textiles, is going to be part of the future, we need to be part of the solution. It will be in the cross-section between technology and craft, between local and global that we see the potential for a new take on sustainability."