Next-generation recycling: Isko is currently transforming most of its production processes. This is how Fatih Konukoglu, CEO of the Turkish denim weaver, wants to usher in a new, sustainable era.
Is it increasingly important to offer customers not only innovative products but also design inspiration, Mr. Konukoglu?
Definitely. Our work is not just about our fabric, but also about service. That's why we are now opening one of our Creative Rooms in Germany, in Stade to be precise, in mid-September. This is a product development area where our partners can work with the Isko team to fine-tune products and try out different ideas. Washes can also be tested. The German market is very important for us, and by offering such a service we want to simplify the work of our partners and speed up processes.
Exactly. We pride ourselves on providing inspiration and novelty to our partners when it comes to trends and designs. That's what we're known for. Denim is one of the most democratic and exciting fabrics to work with, the design possibilities are endless. By bringing together the creative spirit of Paolo Gnutti with Isko's expertise in denim fabric technology and innovation, we are really pushing the boundaries of what is possible. In this way, we aim to give our customers insights into the most important trends and encourage them to carry through these developments in their collections.
Cotton prices are currently fluctuating wildly and have reached a record high in the meantime during the course of this year. Are recycled alternatives also the cheaper alternatives in the long run?
The price would definitely remain much more stable, which is a clear advantage. Of course, recycling has its price. But our aim is not to leave our price structures behind, even with recycled products.
What is the biggest challenge in the changeover?
We are building a complete recycling hub and transforming large parts of our production. It's not enough to just introduce a new process, we have to work out different solutions for a wide range of fabrics from cotton to polyester. And we have to do this for enormous volumes - after all, we're talking about a maximum capacity of 300 million meters per year. If we succeed in this, we will be one of the most advanced players in this field.
Spandex is the exception here, as the appropriate technologies do not yet exist. Apart from that, in the future we will only use recycled or sustainable materials such as linen or hemp.
Cotton alternatives are sometimes visually different from classic denim. Is there still a high demand from your customers for corresponding products?
There is definitely a growing interest. The look of corresponding models tends to go in the vintage direction, and these looks are more in demand every now and then. Here, however, the view of the industry has changed: We used to use these materials primarily with trends in mind, but now we use them across the board because they are much more sustainable.
How much is the pandemic still affecting your business?
We were significantly less impacted this year than in 2021, when there were major lockdowns. Of course, we don't know how the situation will develop further and that remains a challenge.
Are there still problems with delivery delays?
For the most part, we are delivering on time. We have responded to the more difficult sourcing situation by ordering raw materials earlier and stockpiling some of them four to six months in advance. This is because we have felt the problems with global transportation, but have not passed on these delays to our customers. In the meantime, I would say that we have more or less returned to normal in production. Now, however, the next international challenge is looming in the form of the recession.
How are you responding to this?
We are already in exchange with our customers. Many of them want to keep their inventories lower in order to minimize the risk. Along with this, even faster production is becoming more important. But we are in a position to respond to this request. Also because our goods don't have to be shipped halfway around the world before they reach our European customers.
It's not necessarily new customers, but mainly existing partners who are changing the weighting of their production locations in favor of European or European countries and are significantly increasing the share with us. We also hear from colleagues in Morocco or Egypt about many inquiries, and Turkey is currently the place to be when it comes to fabric production.
This article was published by textilwirtschaft.de on 8 September 2022