Sustainability: Thought-provoking quotes from the Transformers summit

On Friday morning, a good dose of high-quality names from all fields of the international denim supply chain gathered in Amsterdam’s Westeruine for Kingpins’ Transformers summit. Under the topic “The cost of sustainability”, the morning session saw a bunch of 10-minute presentations by the present experts whilst the afternoon session was an open discussion with the panelists.

Much has been said and discussed in the field of a more sustainable denim production from fiber to finishing and it’s a too complex topic to expect generic answers. But best case examples were presented and especially the open-to-audience discussion kicked off one fruitful thought after another. The audience especially raised the question why sustainable initiatives and also brands/retailers do not work together more often, instead everyone seems to be following their own research and standards. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) was highlighted as a good example of actually joining forces.

Here’s a selection of quotes to remember.

Transformers leaflet
Photo: SI team
Transformers leaflet


Andreas Dorner, Global Marketing Director at the Business Unit Textil, Lenzing AG

We need transparency for the whole value chain!

According to studies, the consumer is willing to pay 5-7% more for a sustainable garment, while he/she is willing to pay 30% more for a sustainable alternative in food and 70% more in cosmetics.

The consumers don’t want to read [a long explanatory label on a garment] – even the luxury consumer. Only in activewear, people are used to it.

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Alberto De Conti, Chief Marketing Officer, Garmon Chemicals

The very unnecessary proliferation of certification procedures is the mother of all costs [of sustainability]!

The chemical company is always at the end of the food chain.

The business of sustainable chemicals pushed by the reigning desire of sustainable solutions within brands and retailers is financially not viable because that desire does not rule!

Miguel Sánchez, Global Head Business Development Denim and Casual Wear, Archroma

The relation of cost vs. price vs. value got really unhealthy.

The end consumer can and will accept “better” denim as long as it’s affordable – and it IS!

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Dr. Sedef Unku Aki, Deputy General Manager, Orta

By new coating, odor control and easy-care treatments, we can help to reduce a garment’s impact on the environment in the consumer stage.

Have one combined standard would make our lives so much easier.

Kurt Schlaepfer, Head CRM, Senior Management, Bluesign Technologies AG

Sustainability is not a 100m sprint, it’s not a marathon, it never ends.


Sanjeev Bahl, President, Saitex

When looking at the Net Positive Impact (NPI), the positive outweighs the negative. When investing in water/waste saving production methods, we can easily reach a break-even after a few years.

I believe that what goes around, comes around. WE have to look far beyond the costs.

The much needed obligatory label on a garment goes far beyond just the washing instruction.

Enrique Silla, CEO, Jeanologia

5,000 small/medium sized laundries will disappear in the next three years because they don’t have the technical knowledge and capabilities.

Potassium permanganate spray is very probably going to be banned soon.

When the media points at the pollution of the textile industry, the denim sector is always in the focus  - we must understand this as an opportunity to become a good example for the whole industry!

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Alberto Candiani, Candiani Denim

We are trying to simplify things and help retailers communicate what we are doing in an easy-to-understand language!

We are focusing on making a better product instead of caring about finding the right certification. It’s so much paperwork! I think Transformers should be the leading certification! (laughs)

Paulina Szmydke-Cacciapalle, Writer

I recently went into every store on Oxford/Regent Street in London -both high street retailers and denim specialists- to ask for their sustainable denim collection. Not only were those collections not labelled as such, also the staff didn’t know about them! So the consumer CANNOT know!

Tom Flicker, Sustainable Product Developer, Target

The best we can do is to make the actual (production) facts available on a product. I’d feel worried to say: This is a sustainable product. Because that is a question of definition, right?

Andrew Olah, Kingpins founder and host

Trust me, all these people here would love to charge more for their sustainable product. They talk about it in their sleep.

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