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The key to innovation

“Cooperation is the key to innovation” – whether Adidas, Ecoalf, Lenzing, Pyua or Vaude – all the speakers at the new conference format FashionSustain agreed on this point.

The consensus is that through interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration with external partners, it is possible to give even greater impetus to sustainable innovations and responsible technologies in the textile and fashion industry.

FashionSustain is the new conference format of the Messe Frankfurt focusing on sustainable innovations in the textile and fashion industry. The incubator platform took place on 17 January 2018 – parallel to the trade fairs Ethical Fashion Show Berlin and Greenshowroom and in association with Fashiontech, the conference for aspects of digitalisation and new technologies organized at the 16 January 2018 by Premium Group. The close alliance between the two trade fair organisers and the amalgamation of the conference contents in one location – Kraftwerk Berlin – evidently captures the spirit of the times and the industry’s desire for change and genuine innovation. Both events attracted large numbers of visitors and a great reception from industry experts, visitors, press and speakers.

Environmental activist and filmmaker Alexandra Cousteau (Good Impact Foundation) kicked off the event with her emotional and inspiring opening keynote and emphasised the urgency of securing a better future for the generations to come. Ellen Karp, founder of the strategy and trend agency Anerca International followed up with facts and presented the findings of the new study “The Key to Confidence: Consumers and Textile Sustainability – Attitudes, Changing Behavior and Outlooks”, which she compiled on behalf of the Oeko-Tex Association.

Recyclable, socially and environmentally sustainable material innovations that can ideally be kept in one cycle – in the subsequent part of the conference, various new developments were presented: Peter Bartsch from Lenzing AG, pioneer and global market leader in the field of cellulose-based synthetic fibres, spoke about new and established fibre technologies such as Ecovero, Modal and Tencel. The founder of the successful brand Ecoalf, Javier Goyeneche, provided among other things insights into the complex processes of recycling and how jackets are made from marine litter. The Green Shape Core Collection is a masterstroke in respect of cooperation as a driver for sustainable material innovations. With Lenzing, Q-Milk, Primaloft and DSM as partners, Vaude has developed a completely sustainable Capsule Collection, which could not be any more innovative. Closed-loop concepts, in terms of both application and research, were presented by Timo Perschke of Pyua, Evelyn Mora from Helsinki Fashion Week and Dr. Gustav Sandin Albertsson of Mistra Future Fashion.

A new trial and error culture is needed in order to get things really moving – the courage to try things out and to allow mistakes to be made, stated Walter Wählt of Adidas in the concluding panel discussion about perspectives and visions. That was just the right prompt for the subsequent team pitch of the Thinkathon. Parallel to FashionSustain, international pioneers and unconventional thinkers from a range of scientific, economic and creative sectors developed concepts and solutions in a design-thinking process for two industry tasks introduced by Zalando and Fashion Council Germany as challenge hosts. The outcomes were presented in the large auditorium on the evening of 17 January 2018. The ideas ranged from “UX-focused holistic labeling systems” and “Supplier Partnership Programs” to a “Curated Exchange Platform”.