Enviromental and ethical sustainability has always been a solid base in my work. Most of the material used is sourced from charity shops or given to me by friends, neighbours and clients. For me, there is a certain beauty and exciting artistic challenge in taking something which has lost it's purpose and giving it a new life.
The Sustainability footprint marking
When I decided to create this website, finding a way to communicate my mindset regarding sustainability was one of the main factors. Using already existing materials rather than newly produced has always been an obvious choice in my life since a very young age.
As I was working on creating my webshop, it felt important that my customers would know what I am about as an artist and designer, and I wanted transparency regarding the sourcing of my materials. I try to use pre-existing materials as much as possible in everything I create. It is not always possible, and it poses an artistic and technical challenge to adapt and work with materials which you are not 100% sure on how they will react with different glues, paints and manipulation techniques. Being completely self taught, I have relied on my wits, fearlessness and curiousity to figure out how things are connected and work. This not only goes for the art I create, but also everything else one needs to learn to pull off an endeavour like this, such as marketing, building a brand that is true to my core values, tax tariffs - and creating a website (which was scary, hand me a soldering iron and I am in heaven, but suggest that I should direct DSN files towards new domains...)...
I strive towards a zero waste approach in my art. Apart from the obvious environmental benefits with upcycling, repurposing and remake, to me it is a sign of respect and a way to cherish other artisans, and the history and untold stories of the items I use in my creations. It is also my hope that you will find inspiration in my work, and that with my choice to do what I can to create better conditions for the future, I in turn will inspire you to do the same.
In each listing in my webshop, you will find a section called Sustainability footprint. This is where I write how much material of that particular piece that is created with re-used materials.
Excluded from the definition of material in this context are things such as glues, soldering components and other binding materials.
In 2016 something magical happened - I was invited to an Indian wedding, in India. A life long dream coming true, and it was just as incredible as I had imagined. I might share the story on my blog in the future, but for now it is enough to know that this experience became the seed to my slow fashion brand FireBirdFusion.
During my stay in India I became friends with a family trading with vintage sarees, and I bought as much fabric as my bags could hold to bring back home to Göteborg. Until today, this family is my source of fabrics, and I travel to India ever second or third year, looking at some 3000 different fabrics out of which I choose my 200 favorite ones to bring back home and transform into divine garments.
These gorgeous draped kimonos are found in the Kimonos (FireBirdFusion) category in my shop.
HALO Blossom by Viveka Gren - 100% sustainable silk flower creations
In my view, vintage silk flowers possess a different feel than newly produced versions. Ever since I started out I have been raiding the local charity shops for silk flowers, buying basically every single flower I have found interesting in shape or colour and which is of a quality to my highly set taste. The creations you find within the HALO Blossom section are all created with 100% vintage and repurposed silk flowers and often adorned with other reporposed materials.
Each year I create a couple of mini collections to highlight the importance and fun of repurposing and upcycling.
It started out as a creative challenge back in 2016, I had my friends challenge me by giving me an item they didn't want to keep and let this be the base for a new creation.
A couple of years later I started to create sustainable mini collections. I have made two or three collections a year, and I truly love the challenge of using the same pre-owned material for several pieces, and making each piece a unique part of something greater.
Being part of something greater...it's beautiful, when you think about it. Just as old materials become reborn into new shapes, we are all part of something greater, and we all share the same home. Just think what we could become. Isn't that a comforting thought?
The Birka Collection
The 2018 Birka Collection, a line of nine fusion belly dance costumes which was shown at the Fashion Obscura in Umeå, Sweden, is an example of a collection created with 100% repurposed materials.
Photographer Rijard Buzimkic
Sustainable mini collections
As a step to raise awareness regarding the benefits of repurposing, each year I set as a goal to create an exclusive jewelry mini collection of three-four pieces. Sometimes I go a little over the top and create a whole collection. Each piece is made of a minimum of 50% repurposed materials, usually around 75-100%.
These collections have previously not been available for purchase. One of the reasons is that they were created to inspire and to start a conversation regarding upcycling and apprechiating what we already have, another that I was simply so wrapped up in a creative flow that doing boring stuff such as taking photos and create shop listings with catchy texts was not a priority.
With this new platform, I feel as if the time has finally come to let these pieces find new homes, because when you think about it - isn't the whole purpose of recycling to extend an items life spam and give it a second chance on life?
To explore these collections, please visit the Sustainable mini collection category in my shop.
2016 mini collection: Harlequin
The Harlequin collection is a collection of flamboyant couture hair ornaments, created with a minimum of 85% repurposed materials.
2016 mini collection: Dark Chronicle
The Dark Chronicle collection was meant to be a three piece collection on a dark themed faith, hope & love series of couture hair ornaments, but only two were made (and are still secretly hidden since the missing piece is waiting to be created). Created with aprox 85% repurposed materials and based on my son's old and ragged jeans.
2017 collection: Secret Sanctuary
A collection of mainly fusion bellydance costumes and accessories inspired by the many myths and mythologies of the world, created with 100% repurposed materials.
2017 mini collection: Divine Fusion
A set of five turban headbands, inspired by two extraordinary fusion bellydancers, Rachel Brice & Mardi Love, and silver screen actressess. 100% repurposed materials.
2018 mini collection: The Classics
A collection of classic millinery pieces which I made after I'd attended a hat course at Tillskärarakademin in Göteborg. Created with 95-100% repurposed materials.
2018 mini collection: Fragments of Birka
A series of body chains and shoulder drapes, originally designed to go with the Birka Collection of Scandinavian inspired fusion bellydance costumes, 100% repurposed materials.
2018 mini collection: Double Trouble
A set of a festival hat and a cap in black sequin fabric with golden butterflies. 100% repurposed materials.
2018 mini collection: Shades of Apple
The Shades of Apple is a tribute to the lush colour of green apples and constitutes of three choker necklaces created with 85% repurposed materials.
Photographer: Sanne Verheij van Bergenhenegouwen
2019 mini collection: Twilight Cascade
(three long necklaces with black aluminium and metal, 100% repurposed materials)
2019 mini collection: Hidden Centerpiece
(three piercings, 50% repurposed materials)
2020 mini collection: Garden of Eden
(four sunglasses, 85% repurposed materials.)