CPHFW x Polestar: Sustainability and Premium Design

AW24 Copenhagen Fashion Week Talks Innovations in the Supply Chain Tonya Matyu 7 2

“Premium is not premium if it is not taking sustainability seriously.”

As the Official Car Partner of Copenhagen Fashion Week AW24, the Swedish electric performance car brand Polestar hosted our 'Small talks, big conversations' Talk Series in the Polestar Space at Kristen Bernikows Gade in Copenhagen covering a range of subjects and important topics including The Challenges of Working in the Creative Industry and Innovations in the Supply Chain. As part of the initiative, Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week, and Komal Singh, Color and Material Designer at Polestar, discussed the challenges and opportunities within the fashion and EV industry and especially when it comes to innovations in the supply chain without compromising on design or sustainability.

Cecilie, why did you choose Polestar as the official car partner among many other new electric car brands

“Polestar felt like a natural choice to partner with Copenhagen Fashion Week because of their ambitious innovation, being a fully electric car brand and their responsible approach across sourcing, design and supply chains. They are aiming for carbon-neutral production by 2030 and they have looked to the fashion industry consistently for key leaders to collaborate with.”

During Copenhagen Fashion Week, Komal, you participated in a talk on innovative solutions in the supply chain, where the panel mainly consisted of industry-leading profiles from both the fashion and design industries, but also Polestar - an EV manufacturer. Why were you part of this panel?

“Design and aesthetics are part of Polestar’s DNA and in that sense we are similar to a fashion brand. As a performance-driven EV brand we operate in an ecosystem with constant innovation, and where one of the key goals is to create better and more sustainable solutions without compromising on great design. Having to balance between the two applies to all types of designers, whether you're designing clothes, cars or something else” says Komal Singh, Color and Materials Design Expert at Polestar.

When you appeared on small talks - big conversations you mentioned that the fashion industry and the electric vehicle industry face many of the same challenges. Can you elaborate on those challenges?

Komal answers: “The journey towards a more sustainable future is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. Despite the fact that each of us panelists deal with different design processes, we all have one thing in common. We work with innovative and sustainable solutions in the design process.

In addition, we also share some of the same supply chain challenges, especially when it comes to materials. One of the greatest challenges we share is how to cut down the emissions in our production.

With that being said, both industries rely on complex networks of suppliers, where it's important to ensure a responsible and transparent supply chain so we can vouch for the materials we work with. At Polestar, we've partnered with blockchain company Circular to help us track the materials we use in our cars and ensure they are sourced and processed correctly.”

What are some of the current fashion trends in terms of material and textile choices from a sustainability perspective?

“Our talk ”Innovations in the supply chain” posed some brilliant insights into future textiles interacting with the fashion and design industry - I would highly recommend listening back to this talk we released as a podcast on our Spotify. Looking at these innovative materials it's incredible to see how post-consumer waste is transformed into new fabrics, while other solution providers develop textile fiber or leather alternatives from nature-based sources or even food waste.” Cecilie Thorsmark replies.

Komal, how are you inspired by the fashion industry in your role as Color and Material Designer at Polestar?

“I have always observed fashion keenly. I graduated from the National Institute of Design with a bachelor in Design, Fiber, Textile and Weaving Arts. I learnt a lot about sustainable textile practices by working with craftsmen across India and Japan. But later on, I became fascinated by CMF design and how you can work with innovation and sustainability in the automotive industry, which is going through the biggest shift currently. When designing relevant and responsible products, it is important to look at other design fields for inspiration. A lot of my inspiration comes from the fashion industry. There are many interesting innovations happening there that we like to adopt and adapt for our cars.

At Polestar, design is at the forefront, which has provided a unique design opportunity where I can combine elements from the aesthetic fashion industry with electric vehicles. Combining new material aesthetics and our philosophy of Scandinavian design and innovation is at the core of my job and that really excites me."

You've had a key role in the design of the Polestar 3 and Polestar 4, which will both launch in Denmark in 2024. Can you share some examples of how you've incorporated innovation and sustainability into the design process of the two EVs?

Komal answers: “At Polestar, we are committed to eliminating all emissions from the supply chain, manufacturing and dismantling. We're not there yet, but with the launch of our Polestar 3 and Polestar 4, we're taking some important steps in the right direction with mindful and innovative material choices.

For instance, in the Polestar 3 all our Polyester textiles are 100% recycled. The carpets are made from ECONYL®, derived from discarded fishing nets and other plastic waste. And the interior headlining is manufactured using 100% recycled PET.

And for Polestar 4, which has just been launched in Denmark and the rest of Europe, we have had a color material approach called ´soft tech´ where it is all about moving away from more traditional materials such as wood and metal and incorporating more textile techniques that are inspired from the fashion industry.

So, we look closely at what is happening in the fashion industry and it has been very exciting to bring some techniques like 3d knitting into our cars. Our Tailored Knit upholstery is knitted to size with 100% recycled PET bottles., hence minimizing waste in production.

Reycled plastics have a variety of uses in this car. For example, our inlay carpets and the doors are produced with a mono-material approach.

Polestar 4 represents another step on the journey towards circularity. Some parts are made using recycled materials, with others designed to be recycled at the end of their lifecycle. This has also contributed to Polestar 4 having the lowest carbon impact of all Polestar vehicles at launch. The vast majority of materials used to manufacture Polestar 4 are recyclable at the end of the car’s lifespan.”

Cecilie, how have you worked to transform the fashion industry from within by encouraging brands to take a critical stance on their activities in all aspects of their business?

“CPHFW strongly focused on sustainability with our first Action Plan launched in 2020 where we did not only set sustainability targets for ourselves but also launched the sustainability requirements for brands that came into effect at the beginning of 2023. With these requirements, we were the first fashion week to set sustainability criteria for the brands that are on the schedule and we believe that this was a turning point for CPHFW! Our sustainability guidelines influenced our way of working with brands to a great extent where we now talk to brand representatives such as the sustainability or buying teams which we weren’t in much contact with before, meaning we’re getting closer insights on the day-to-day operations of brands alongside supporting brands through various knowledge sharing activities. Within the coming months, we’re launching our first revision of the Sustainability Requirements, where we have raised the bar on the requirements to keep pushing change within the operations of the CPHFW brands” says Cecilie Thorsmark.

What are some of the innovations you are working with at Polestar?

“First of all, it takes a lot of collaboration between all stakeholders but also collaboration within the company. And that is where being a design led company helps as it’s not so much choosing things off a shelf but rather mapping out the most interesting innovations out there and working with them at the lab from the ground up and adapting them to your production. We challenge ourselves and our suppliers to source innovative, more sustainable premium materials

A key focus for us is to use fewer materials while maintaining durability. We are designing our interiors with a mono-material approach.We also want to ensure all our plastics are recycled, Blockchain has helped us with bio-based materials. We are working with some groundbreaking Natural fibre composites that are made from European grown flax that save on weight and virgin plastics considerably. We want to continue improving our impact by making informed material choices. And we are looking closely into new alternatives to traditional synthetic materials and textiles. For many years, the hyperfixation on luxury and premium in the car industry left very little room for innovation. But we are in another place today, and consumers realize that a modern EV requires a new aesthetic and new kind of materials and most importantly of all, that premium is not premium if it is not taking sustainability seriously.” answers Komal Singh.

What were you specifically excited about for Copenhagen Fashion Week AW24?

“The season was one spotlighting community and collaboration; I think our relationship with Polestar particularly underlines the potential of cross-pollination between the different industries as there is so much we can continue to learn from one another.” Cecilie Thorsmark states.