When the wind whips up at the bottom of the world, the ice crystals in the air feel like glass fragments cutting into your cheeks. When it’s calm, the pervading sense of an un-touched expanse is profound. Antarctica is like nowhere else on Earth. It is the ”other” to our fast—paced, developed world. Time is stretched and the silence is punctuated not by traffic and phone calls but the patter and honking of penguins, seals and the other wildlife that are at home in this dramatic wilderness.
The humbling landscape, so far away from civilisation, has not escaped the effects of ”progress” though. Micro—plastics pollute the waters surrounding Antarctica and without new measures to preserve the seventh continent and its wildlife, the damage will only get worse.
In January 2017, the UN Environment Programme launched The Clean Seas Campaign (#CleanSeas) with the aim of engaging governments, the general public, civil society and the private sector in the fight against marine plastic litter. Brands also have an important role to play in helping to turn the tide on plastic pollution and the larger threat of climate change, and the Scandinavian brand Tretorn is committed to the cause.
In 2016, to mark the company’s 125th anniversary, Tretorn launched their Eco Essentials Initiative — a platform for promoting sustainability and pursuing extremely high sustainable goals for its products. Already 85 percent of the brand’s outerwear for the Fall/Winter 18 collection is part of the Eco Essentials initiative. Fredrik Ekström Head of Sustainability Affairs and Communication at Tretorn Europe, explains,
— We started Eco Essentials as a platform to try and challenge ourselves to make more and more sustainable products and also to have a more sustainable and circular mindset with everything we do.
In order to put the new sustain-ability-driven products to the test, Tretorn joined the Lewis Pugh Expedition Antarctica 2020 campaign earlier this year, which was designed to raise awareness of the situation in the Antarctic region.
Pugh undertakes daring extreme swims in the most treacherous waters on earth including the Antarctic, the North Pole, and the Himalayas, to shine a light on environmental degradation and promote conservation.
The ultimate goal is to bring the total marine protected area in Antarctica to nearly 7 million square kilometers — roughly the size of Australia — by the year 2020. Which neatly coincides with the 200—year anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica by Russian explorer Admiral Bellingshausen.
Tretorn photographer Olle Nordell joined the expedition and tested Tretorn’s forthcoming ARCH jacket whilst capturing a suite of stunning pictures, a selection of which are shown here. Tretorn had never tested any gear so far south, and so it was a bold test. The expedition highlighted the need for increased protection in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which together represent a unique biodiversity — one which is vulnerable to over-fishing, climate change, and plastic waste. Reflecting on the experience Nordell says,
— As a human and a photographer, I was in paradise. Apart from the stunning landscape and un-touched coves and peaks around me — South Georgia truly rep-resents a unique place in the world in terms of biodiversity and proof of our planet’s greatness. Reiterating the urgent need for protection to be secured, Nordell adds,
— Seeing Antarctica up close and personal, in combination with the fact that climate change is happening right now, in front of our eyes, made me realise that the important international measures that need to be taken are not to save the next generations… it is to actually save ourselves.
Ekström echoes his concern saying,
— Every brand has a responsibility to act like a human being. We always strive to do stuff that makes less and less impact. And by doing that we also act as role models for other brands, and also for other humans who’ll get inspired by us. Tretorn aims to transform the entire ethos of the company in a concerted move towards sustainability. Step by step, each sustainable product and collection will serve to inform and influence how the business operates. As Ekström states,
— Our initiative is to do projects and learn from them, and then drive them up to scale. By doing one project and bringing that into the organisation, then we can transform it, style by style.
Being in nature is a driving passion and cornerstone of the Tretorn lifestyle and since 1891 the brand has been honing its skills and know—how, crafting the best possible footwear and apparel for outdoor adventures. During Nordell’s unforgettable experiences capturing these images, he was protected from the extreme conditions by the ARCH jacket. It is constructed in Tretorn’s Eco Essentials fabric, OCEAN SHELL©, a new two—layer fabric made from recycled polyester with membranes made from recycled ocean waste, made to be recycled again.
The jacket came through the test with flying colours, guaranteeing it will withstand whatever weather it faces when worn by the city dweller. The ARCH jacket is distinguished by a typically Scandinavian minimalistic design aesthetic and it’s made to give an airy feel, allowing the jacket to be versatile and perfect for long season usage in changeable weather conditions. It’s a stylish solution to staying warm and dry, whether you’re in polar conditions or just caught in a downpour on the way home.
Nordell spent a hell of a lot of time wearing the jacket in Antarctica and he felt its real value.
— I gotta be able to live in it, work in it. A great hood is a facilitator. Abad hood is a deal breaker, he says with a firm smile. Reflecting upon his entire trip with Tretorn to the awe—inspiring wonderland at the bottom of the Earth, Nordell concludes,
—This Antarctic journey proved that the next frontier is about sustainability. That’s where the big un-known lies, how to start collaborating as humans and how to be innovative in terms of what we wear and use. How we use it, and how we discard it once the product’s life is over, wherever we’re born. Because regardless if you live in Milan, Stock-holm or London — what you do, the choices you make and the products you consume — will all affect the environment and the seas. Antarctica is such a unique continent, representing the world’s freshwater reserves, its oceans have to be a top priority for all of us to keep clean, and keep alive.