Lifestyle / Partnership

“There are so many similarities between the fashion and the car industry”: Why Volvo tapped recycled denim for its innovative new interiors

By Josefin Forsberg

Photo: Courtesy of Volvo

“Small but mighty” is the motto of Volvo’s new electric EX30, the brand’s smallest SUV to date (with denim interior possibilities to delight any fashion lover) Over a three day period in Harads, Sweden, Vogue Scandinavia’s editor Josefin Forsberg put this David against the Goliath nature of the North – skidding across ice tracks, braking for reindeer herds and northern lights included

“If you meet a moose in the woods, aim for its backside and try to skid around it. If you end up in a full frontal collision, you will hurt yourself,” the Volvo ice-track instructor says off-handedly. The journalists and content creators huddled together on reindeer pelts around a warming fire, dressed for the Arctic cold, all wear the same alarmed look on their faces. “Lucky for us, there are no moose on the track today, just simulations,” the instructor continues with a smile. “And remember, you’ll be driving on a frozen lake. But don’t worry, you won’t go through the ice – it is almost 90 centimetres thick by now.”

Despite the rough terrain, the mock moose and arctic weather conditions, settling in behind the wheel of Volvo’s fully electric EX30 model (the brand’s smallest SUV to date) can only be described as comfortable. After all, the EX30 is as safe as you’d expect a Volvo car to be – with ‘Safe Space technology’ alerting the driver to approaching vehicles before opening the door, top passive safety standards, and state-of-the-art restraint technology, just to name a few.

The 'Breeze' room, featuring Volvo’s innovative Particle decor top layer made up of ground plastic waste

In addition to these features, a new advanced driver alert system comes as standard and looks out for you to bridge the gap of human error. Not only does this system offer hands-on detection in the steering wheel, the car also has a special sensor that detects eye and face movements to indicate distraction or drowsiness, even if you might not have realised it yourself. It was an alert I came to appreciate throughout the trip to Harads. Not only did it warn me about my constant yawning while driving to the ice track (having skipped my usual morning coffee), but it also kept me alert when a herd of Reindeer passed (a very scenic distraction) – effectively helping me break in time for a second herd to pass across the icy road. In summary, the EX30 embodies all of Volvo’s design values – just in a smaller format.

Photo: Courtesy of Volvo

With smart storage and intuitive tech – alongside being designed to have the lowest carbon footprint of any Volvo car to date – the EX30 also represents the best of Scandinavian design. The most significant aesthetic change comes with an emphasis on interiors and experiential design. Instead of the usual pick-and-mix purchasing model when ordering the cars, the brand presents four ‘rooms’ that embrace sustainable thinking with curated colour and material combinations all inspired by the Nordic nature: Breeze, which features Volvo’s innovative Particle decor top layer made up of ground plastic waste; Indigo, utilising reclaimed second waste denim fibres. Mist, which introduces certified wool-blend seats and Pine that sees the introduction of woven flax – a renewable material derived from the linseed plant.

The Volvo EX30 in the colour Cloud Blue parked on the frozen lake.

“We have to find new materials and new ways of expressing luxury,” says Cecilia Stark, senior design manager at Volvo noting how “there are so many similarities between the fashion and the car industry.” Stark explains how the brand has looked at the denim industry when developing the ‘Indigo’ room. “To create the denim interior, we use fibres that would otherwise be waste products of the denim recycling process,” she says. When jeans are recycled, the shredded fibres are twisted into a yarn, and long fibres link with one another. “The short fibres, however, usually fall away as waste,” Stark continues. “We have rescued these short fibres by using them in our denim interior deco.” To match the curated interiors, the rooms come paired with five vibrant exterior colours, from icy Cloud Blue to the bright and expressive Moss Yellow – the latter inspired by lichen growing on rocks along the Swedish west coast.

The denim-derived 'Indigo' interior. Photo: Courtesy of Volvo

Finally, the Volvo EX30 also comes with a choice of five different ambient lighting themes inspired by different Scandinavian landscapes that subtly shift in colour as you drive – be it the pink and orange hues of the sun setting over the Swedish west coast, the teal tones of the northern lights or the golden green of a Scandinavian forest. Naturally, Volvo has also paired each lighting theme with an ambient soundscape for additional immersion.

Having driven the distinctly electric, I can confirm that it is a delight. Ideal as a second car for the Volvo family or as the first drive for a city-subsiding couple, the no-fuzz fully-automated experience (with automated windshield wipers, headlights, and the aforementioned safety features) is a breeze for any driver — whether taking on the weekly grocery store run or zipping across a frozen lake, skidding around pretend moose.