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Trade Show: Neonyt

Solidarity is the name of the game

This year's outbreak of COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it. The repercussions of the pandemic are showing just how much of a crucial role international cooperation plays in the fashion industry – today more than ever.

October 2020

Border closures, lockdowns and travel warnings: the outbreak of the coronavirus this spring has made international collaboration and global trade relations considerably more difficult. This is not only having an impact on private individuals but also companies. Entire industries are affected – including the fashion sector. And the forced break due to COVID-19 has not only exposed the far-reaching problems in textile supply chains in Germany, but also worldwide. As a lot of retail stores in many countries had to temporarily close their doors to meet local lockdown regulations, many fashion labels have been cancelling their orders since the crisis started. With devastating consequences: numerous employees in production countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia and Myanmar have lost their jobs and their livelihoods are now on the line.

Although online retail is booming and stores are meanwhile open for business again, the negative flip side of the textile and fashion industry, which the coronavirus has well and truly laid bare, remains. The top priority of international markets should now be to find a balance between global processes and local needs. To help counteract key issues like a lack of transparency and a willingness to take responsibility, as well as “moral distancing”, the implementation of a supply chain law is currently up for debate in Germany. “Issues like the exploitation of people and the planet and child labour should not become the foundations of a global economy and our future prosperity,” says the country’s Federal Development Minister Dr Gerd Müller. The supply chain law should ensure that companies along the entire value chain take responsibility to protect people and the environment – and not only in times of crisis. And when that is not the case, those affected should be able to enforce their rights in Germany. “We are severely affected by the crisis in this country. But it is having even more of a negative impact on the people at the beginning of the supply chain, who don’t have any social security,” says Johannes Heeg, spokesperson of the Initiative Lieferkettengesetz (Supply Chain Law Initiative).

When it comes to transparency and solidarity, the fair fashion community is a pioneer. It has always shown solidarity – and close partnerships with production and retail partners, both here and abroad, play a key role for fair and sustainable labels. Neonyt exhibitor Dawn, for example, was showing what a successful cooperation can look like long before the pandemic took hold: the sustainable denim label’s vision is to make fair fashion production a global standard. They maintain a close relationship with their production team in Saigon, the employees know each other personally and they would describe themselves as “radically transparent”. And this concept is bearing fruit – the 100 points Dawn scored in the Brand Performance Check by the Fair Wair Foundation speak for themselves.

Fair labels are showing that sustainable business models can really prove their worth in times of crisis. Cooperation, solidarity and transparency are always of paramount importance, but more imperative than ever in challenging times – and it is thanks to them that fast, fair solutions can be found along the entire textile supply chain.

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