Maria Andersson Grimaldi



Maria Andersson Grimaldi is no stranger to unification efforts.

After successfully bringing swedish tech and gaming together under the umbrella of "Datorspelsbranschen" and being its CEO for 12 years – she now aims to bring the same effect to swedish fashion.

Q – Could you please introduce yourself and share a bit about your background and experience?

MARIA – I have a long background from the computer games industry, tech and retail, in several different leading roles. Among other things I was the CEO of Datorspelsbranschen ("The Video Games Industry", an association for the Swedish gaming market leaders) for over 12 years and worked on positioning the industry and its players as a driving force in our Swedish economy and pace of innovation. I have also worked professionally as an investor and helped companies go from entrepreneur-led and somewhat unstructured to forming a stable business and steady growth.

Q – What are the key lessons or insights you have gained from your previous roles in the tech and gaming industry that you believe will be valuable in your position as chairwoman of the ASFB?

MARIA – Lessons learned from the computer games industry are especially interesting to bring with me into the fashion industry. The gaming industry had a strong growth but stalled for a bit as there was a lack of understanding in how to invest in it - the core of computer game development is in the creative process and advanced technology which were hard to understand for many investors at the time. The industry also lacked processes for self-regulation, equality, and flow of information into and out of the industry.

Cooperation and partnership with neighbouring industries was lacking, there was very little exchange of knowledge between the industry and the authorities, which led to unnecessary friction. Today these challenges are alleviated and are under constant improvement due to the increased diversity within the gaming industry today.
I think that the fashion industry has similar challenges.

The lack of cooperation within the industry has contributed to the stagnation in effective growth, as well as the knowledge of investors and authorities not staying in pace with the rapid development in the industry.

Had we not joined forces and worked so focused together in the computer game industry, Sweden would not have been a top global contender in innovation, creativity, and technology within the industry. I believe that, with these experiences in mind, I can be a contributing factor in that development concerning the challenges and positioning of the Swedish fashion industry.

Q - Are there any specific achievements or projects from your past experiences that you are particularly proud of and would like to bring forward to the Association of Swedish Fashion Brands?

MARIA – As representatives of Swedish fashion brands and the industry at large, we have a task to be part of the conversation in the public space around the industry's issues. I am very grateful for the opportunity that mindset gave my previous mission in bringing an industry together for a common cause. It helped create thriving hubs where the computer games industry still comes together to this day.

"Tomorrow's fashion culture is created by fashion designers today". If we can together stimulate a thriving indie-scene, it will contribute to the success of all actors, because it is important that growth in the industry is sustainable and comes with long- term thinking which is part of building an industry that has the required stability to survive and also grow. There are several projects that emerged during those years, projects that several other players in the industry have started and which further brought together more stakeholders and decision-makers.

Q - What motivated you to transition into a leadership role within a fashion association? How do you plan to use your leadership skills and experiences to drive positive change for the Swedish fashion industry?

MARIA – My main drive is of course the love for the industry of fashion and second is the interest in wanting to be a resource within an industry that is both very exciting and rapidly transforming and during this also facing major challenges. I don't think there is a clear external or internal voice in the industry, and it doesn't have to be one person, but should be a collective of people who have specific skills. Although I must say it is very motivating to come from the outside and see which actors are involved in specific issues. ASFB has a unique position towards international organisations as the association that represents Swedish Fashion Companies.

Q - How do you plan to collaborate with other stakeholders, such as designers, retailers, organisations and policymakers, drawing from your previous experiences, to promote the growth and development of the Swedish fashion industry?

We are planning collaborative efforts within the Swedish fashion industry and its stakeholders which all are a testament to the spirit of innovation, creativity, and unity that defines the country's fashion landscape. By joining forces, these brands are shaping the future of Swedish fashion, setting new trends, and positioning themselves as leaders in the global fashion arena.

Q - Are there any specific trends or developments within the global fashion industry that you have observed in your previous roles and that you believe will have an impact on the Swedish fashion scene? How do you plan to address them?

One of the things that I have noticed is that consumers are seeking personalised and unique experiences. Swedish fashion brands can address this trend by offering customisation options, such as made-to-measure services, personalised designs, or allowing consumers to co-create their products.

Utilising data-driven insights to provide personalised recommendations and tailored shopping experiences can be beneficial as it will most likely only grow in demand. Consumers are increasingly interested in knowing the origins of their clothing and the values of the brands they support. Swedish fashion brands can address this trend by being transparent about their supply chain, sourcing practices, and labor conditions. Certifications and third-party audits can help establish trust and accountability.

In general, the emerging as well as established Swedish fashion brands should stay agile, keeping an eye on industry developments and adapt their strategies accordingly. It's important to continuously assess consumer demands, invest in research and development, and foster a culture of innovation to remain competitive and relevant in the evolving global fashion industry.

As an industry body we, the ASFB, needs to be the channel into and out of the industry as a unified voice representing member brands but also the industry as a whole.

Q - Can you share any specific goals or objectives that you have set for yourself in this new position, based on your previous experiences, and what steps do you plan to take to achieve them?

MARIA – The fashion industry in Sweden is renowned for its creativity, innovation, and unique design aesthetics. To further enhance the industry's growth and global recognition, several leading fashion brands in Sweden have joined forces through collaborative initiatives. These collaborations aim to showcase the country's diverse talent, promote sustainability, and create new opportunities for Swedish fashion on the international stage.

One of our goals is to implement the symposium "North Star", an annual networking event that brings together leaders and innovators from fashion, art, music, and entrepreneurship. The event aims to foster collaboration, inspire creativity, and address some of the world's most pressing challenges. The North Star symposium features keynote speeches, panel discussions, and interactive sessions where industry experts and thought leaders share their insights, experiences, and visions for the future. North Star will serve as a platform for exchanging ideas, exploring emerging trends, and discussing topics related to innovation, leadership, sustainability, and social impact. And we will invite leaders and innovators from all over the world.

A stretch goal is to also organise various activities throughout the year, including workshops, salons, and smaller-scale events, to maintain engagement and promote ongoing collaboration within its network.

Another new event in development is "Invest in Fashion", one of several events where we educate, accelerate and match-make investors with Fashion Brands, Fashion tech companies and projects for innovation in fashion. This event is also annual with satellites of smaller more specific themes around the year.

Investing in Fashion involves providing financial resources to support the development, production, marketing, and distribution and related technologies that help build a sustainable fashion company. We would like to think that the "Invest in Fashion" event will become a platform for research and stay updated and take the opportunity to learn, network, and explore investment prospects within the Fashion sector.

Q - What strategies will you implement to support emerging fashion designers and foster their creativity within the Swedish fashion scene?

MARIA – ASFB is dedicated to championing and cultivating an inclusive and supportive community within the industry. Through these strategies, we aim to empower emerging designers, provide them with the necessary tools and resources, and foster an environment that encourages creativity, innovation, and success.

Q - How do you plan to promote diversity and inclusivity within the Swedish fashion industry, ensuring representation and opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds?

Promoting diversity and inclusivity within the Swedish fashion industry is crucial for ensuring representation and creating opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds. This is an ongoing process that requires continuous efforts and commitment from everyone involved. ASFB will present some actions taken to shed some light on this subject like guidelines for representation in marketing and advertising as well as hiring, collaborations with designers and creatives of diverse backgrounds to host events and develop education and mentorship programs which will show brands how to become more responsible and encourage industry partnerships and initiatives.

We will present these guidelines how to integrate these practices into your business strategies so that Swedish fashion brands can help foster a more inclusive industry that celebrates and represents individuals from all backgrounds.

Q - Consumer behaviour is constantly evolving. How do you plan to address changing consumer demands and preferences, ensuring that Swedish fashion brands remain relevant and competitive?

MARIA – As an industry reference we need to collect and distribute knowledge about technologies, such as augmented reality and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and more that can enhance the consumer experience. As well as new materials, designs, and production techniques to offer unique and compelling products. We all know that consumer preferences can change rapidly, so it is essential to remain adaptable and responsive. By combining market research, consumer engagement, sustainability, personalisation, omni-channel presence, collaborations, and innovation, Swedish fashion brands can stay relevant and competitive in a dynamic consumer landscape and we as ASFB need to stay ahead of the curve by fostering a culture of innovation.

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