Olaf Schmidt, Vice President Textiles & Textile Technologies at Messe Frankfurt
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Interview: Olaf Schmidt, Vice President Textiles & Textile Technologies at Messe Frankfurt

“There is change in the air”

Protecting mankind, saving resources and making the world a better place – that is what the Agenda 2030 and the 17 sustainable goals stand for which the United Nations set in 2015. Things have to change in the textile and clothing industry as well to ensure that the world becomes a better place for everybody. Olaf Schmidt, Vice President Textiles & Textile Technologies at Messe Frankfurt, reveals what the organiser’s sustainable efforts have been so far.

February 2021

One thing is certain: The world has to become a more sustainable place – which also goes for the textile and clothing industry. Messe Frankfurt’s Texpertise Network places the world’s most important textile trade shows under one umbrella and gives important impetus to the entire industry. What is Messe Frankfurt doing in terms of sustainability?

Well yes, a very important issue indeed. Sustainability is becoming increasingly important for the Texpertise Network trade shows. Neonyt, the international hub for fashion, sustainability and innovation, without doubt is a role model when it comes to sustainability. Another big step in this direction is our global cooperation with the United Nations Office for Partnerships and Conscious Fashion Group. We are taking advantage of the influence fashion has to make the world’s most pressing challenges visible. We plan to highlight the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at our international trade events to speed up the process of reaching the goals. The campaign will help us change the industry with advocacy, education and commitment and drive the change towards a sustainable future for everybody.

Fashion Weeks are also being criticised in terms of sustainability. But there are good examples like Frankfurt Fashion Week, which wants to change course. What distinguishes Frankfurt Fashion Week from other fashion weeks?

Frankfurt Fashion Week’s credo is to be forward-thinking. To be forward-thinking it is necessary to have a radically sustainable agenda. In this aspect, again the United Nations Office for Partnerships plays an important role by sponsoring Frankfurt Fashion Week. So, what is it what we do differently? Firstly, integrating the SDGs has become compulsory for exhibitors, prizes like the sustainability award are aimed to support designs that are exceptionally innovative and not least we are integrating the sustainability issue in each and every event, format and congress. The SDG Summit presented by Conscious Fashion Campaign and the new trade show format “The Ground” are only two of many examples.

The Corona pandemic has numerous negative effects on the textile and clothing industry and all people involved, there are economic losses, job losses and other social problems along the supply chain. But at the same time, the pandemic also offers an opportunity to change things. Can we really hope for a shift within the industry or is that only wishful thinking?

There is change in the air – the past years have proven that. Even before Covid-19. But you are right, Corona is indeed a catalyst for changes that started a long time ago. Still, to create a new system, a long-term and sustainable rethink is necessary, meaning a “New Normal”. How that works? It works when everybody in the value chain is appreciated and resources are used carefully. I believe that there is no alternative to the shift you are talking about. So yes, my wish is for things to change and I do believe that it is possible.

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Perspectives: Goals for the future


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