At the start of Texprocess and Techtextil, Fashionsustain Berlin, the conference on Neonyt, presented itself for the first time with an offshoot at Texprocess, the leading international trade fair for the garment and textile processing industry, which is taking place through Friday in Frankfurt am Main. The roundtable sessions focused on the question "Is sustainability the key to textile innovations?"
In two rounds of talks, industry partners such as Lenzing, Perpetual Global, Zalando, Kering and Procalçado S.A. entered into an interdisciplinary exchange on sustainable solutions for the fashion industry.
Fashion & sustainability…
“For me it is all about the question how do we make sustainability sexy? Consumers are much more concerned today and social media makes everything much more transparent. When even the BBC is launching a sustainable fashion and lifestyle brand based on a series with David Attenborough, then fashion brands have definitely the power to educate consumers in a good way. Organic cotton has already become mainstream. And politics also plays its part, for example when laws are passed prohibiting plastic straws.” Christine Goulay (Kering)
“I think the industry is waking up. The supply chain offers a lot of innovations in terms of sustainability.” Emily Franklin (Fashion For Good)
“There must be more innovations from the brand sites. My view is bias. There are still a lot of things we need to catch up with. Fashion is a powerful tool. We really need to think that we cannot only show the nice products. It should also be about how did we get there? We need to educate the consumers much more. Where does the product come from, which materials were used? We can get more data out of the supply chain.” Salah Said (Zalando)
“We see it as a business case. Better information means more trust. The key is to find out what info which customer wants.How can we provide transparency?” Salah Said (Zalando)
“We have an ambitious goal. We would like to have the traceability to farm level. But that is something we do internally. The luxury segment is yet not a segment where this kind of information is asked for. I see it for the future.” Christine Goulay (Kering)
“Brands need to come together. We have so many transparency solutions, but we need to look how they work together. There is still some way to go and we would like to have as many manufacturers and brands on board as possible.” Emily Franklin (Fashion For Good)
“We need to bundle resources and knowledge about fabrics, material and processes. A platform like Fashion For Good, which we also work with, is great because they help companies with exactly these questions.” Salah Said (Zalando)
“Fashion For Good is my happy place. It really feels like family maybe because you know that you're creating something there that has a good impact. Every time we meet up we come up with great innovative ideas.” Christine Goulay (Kering)
Industry & sustainability
“We’ve done recycling since the ’80s. We are constantly thinking about how we can make things more eco-friendly. As a company it’s not only about how ecological we are but what influence this attitude can have on the economic aspect of a company. This factor is important.” Jeffrey Hsu (Far Eastern New Century)
“We have to reach consumers and convince them that they have to shop sustainably.” Bernard Philipp Alowonou (Lenzing)
“Recycling is innovation. It is the core of our business. It is not easy to restore a recycled product to its original condition. You also have to explain to people that a recycled product is not worse in quality just because it is recycled. There is still a lack of education because recycled products often have a label attached that it is not new and just as good as a newly created product. I think people are not conscious enough. Consumers need to change their view.” Edmund Ingle (Wellman-Group, a part of Indorama Ventures)
“I think the human factor is a factor of uncertainty. There is a certain lack of knowledge what can and cannot be recycled. Without that education it is hard to sustain sustainability.” Jeffrey Hsu (Far Eastern New Century)
“I remember for a couple of years consumers didn’t touch polyester. Brands like Adidas and The North Face made polyester sexy to wear. That has changed a lot in the last two and a half years. Now it is sexy to wear recycled products.” Vivek Tandon (perPETual Global)
“At the end of the day the consumer has the choice but we as the industry can team up and make innovations. A lot of our materials are compostable and biodegradable.” Bernard Philipp Alowonou (Lenzing)
“As a chemical company we are obliged to put money into innovations and find solutions.” Francis Baud (Clariant)
“Outdoor brands are much more sustainable than sportswear brands–that has something to do with their customers. But this is already changing because it's no longer a peripheral issue. The awareness of the topic sustainability has become suitable for the masses.” Jeffrey Hsu (Far Eastern New Century)
“Social media has become a big game changer. You can get huge access to what you are wearing and where it is produced. People make social decisions and this has also an impact on the fashion industry. As a company you are much more in focus and it has become indispensable to implement social responsibility at all levels and value chains in the company.” Edmund Ingle (Wellman-Group, a part of Indorama Ventures)
“Our idea is to team up with small start-ups and work on new innovative ideas. Our research focus is on the Lyocell technology. We also operate pilot plants in which the next generations of Lyocell technology are already being researched and tested.” Bernard Philipp Alowonou (Lenzing)
“All I hear is that we are talking about product development not sustainability. It takes up to 12 years to get a real paradigm shift. It took us 19 years to turn PET bottles into high-quality filament yarns. Our technology can be used to manufacture any PET-based product; we are able to convert used plastic bottles back into sustainable ester which can, in turn, be used to manufacture new bottles, packing film and textiles. Our goal is to recycle over 50,000,000 bottles a day by the end of 2021. The number of bottles discarded has reached over 1.5 billion per day. This is a global problem that requires a global solution.” Vivek Tandon (perPETual Global)
“The young generation has greater access to this topic. If the demand for sustainable products increases, this can mean a major change. This also means that certain processes can be set in motion more quickly. Be it political or actual production and material innovations that go hand in hand with it. I don’t think that its any single side that can bring the change, it’s us, the government, the brands, the industry, the consumers–we all need to come together to drive the change.” Jeffrey Hsu (Far Eastern New Century)
“The design aspect is important. Designers can set trends with their designs and visions and thus determine what people buy. If designers join forces with people who have an idea of sustainable materials, then fruitful collaborations can emerge.” Edmund Ingle (Wellman-Group, a part of Indorama Ventures)
The third and last round of talks at the Neonyt conference focused on the “Innovation Roadshow,” where the respective discussion partners presented the sustainability processes of their companies.
Birgit Schnetzlinger of Lenzing shared the company's sustainable concept for the footwear market, emphasizing that it is not the consumers who create the supply chain, but the task of the brands to create an awareness of sustainability.
Patrick Silva Szatkowski of Santoni SPA presented the seamless technology, a concept in producing clothing and footwear almost free of seams. The seamless knitting machines almost eliminate the need to produce and then sew together pieces of fabric, thus making the seam obsolete.
- Fewer sewing and finishing costs
- Reduced labor costs
- Fewer machines involved in the production flow chart
- Lower energy costs
- Just-in-time production
- Reduced yarn and fabric inventories
- Quicker samples
- Ability to transition from one yarn type to another without seaming
Hélder Maias of Procalçado S.A./ForEver explained that the topic of sustainability has not only now become an important topic for the Portuguese footwear company but has always been one. All power sources come from 100% renewable energy sources. 72% of the waste is recovered and reused. The increase in the life cycle of packaging is around 25%. And these are just some aspects how the company implements a sustainable environment.
Juha Salmela of Finnish fiber company Spinnova presented the most sustainable fiber in the world–a disruptive, ecological innovation that turns cellulose and waste streams into textile fiber simply, without dissolving or any harmful chemicals. The young company, founded in 2009, aims to make the textile industry more sustainable. Spinnova also works together with Lenzing. There are no competition thoughts for Salmela: “The field of sustainability is so large and there is still so much to do, we just can't lose by working together,” he says.