Published 2019-01-10

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Emma Östmark new Mistra Future Fashion Programme Director

With six months of the programme period left, Emma Östmark is taking over as Programme Director of Mistra Future Fashion.
Her primary tasks will be to compile all the research and ensure that the results bring benefits to industry and consumers alike.

Mistra Future Fashion is on the last lap: in May 2019, this eight-year research initiative reaches the finishing line. In the remaining months Emma Östmark, Researcher and Department Manager at Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), will be Programme Director, replacing Sigrid Barnekow, who has headed the programme for the past few years.

‘Since 2014, I’ve run a large, complex EU textile-recycling project. It’s just ended, enabling me to take over as head of Mistra Future Fashion.’

Östmark has not worked in the programme before. Nonetheless, she gained inside knowledge of its activities by heading the RISE department responsible for the programme, and several of the active researchers belong to her group.

She personally has long experience as a researcher, after working at RISE for more than ten years. Initially, she focused on biobased materials, but over the years she has increasingly moved towards cellulose and textiles.

‘Taking over Mistra Future Fashion feels like a great, enticing prospect. I’m well informed about some areas, while policy issues are new to me. Going from a major European project to one with a Swedish focus will be exciting, but that doesn’t mean forgetting what’s going on worldwide.’

The fact that recycled clothing has become this year’s fashionable Christmas gift shows that sustainable textiles are capturing the interest of more and more people, Östmark thinks.

‘Recycling represents only a marginal improvement compared with buying new things, but it’s an important first step. It’s a challenge to induce consumers to change their behaviour, but also to get an industry that lives on the swings of fashion to want — and dare — to change.’

During the final six months of the programme period, the focus will be entirely on completing the research and delivering results. It is just as important to bring the four parts of the programme into unison.

‘We’d like to advise both consumers and industry on sustainability. One way is by issuing a number of reports that are due to come out in the spring. But we can also do it by sharing our knowledge with the national platform for textiles and sustainable fashion that is now being established on the Government’s initiative.’

‘We’ve made great progress in the programme, so it’s vital for the results to be made accessible to as many people as possible.’