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Industry news: TextilWirtschaft survey "Sustainability 2020"

Appetite for sustainability

Sustainability arrived in the fashion industry a long time ago – but then the coronavirus pandemic happened. Lockdowns, new hygiene rules and economic downturns are leading to incisive change – but is this affecting the commitment to sustainability in retail, in the industry and among consumers? TextilWirtschaft's recent survey on sustainability shows that the topic continues to play a major role for most.

October 2020

The coronavirus crisis has caused exceptional circumstances worldwide: Lockdowns, decreased consumption, compulsory masks, home offices. It is not an easy time for fashion retail. Are the efforts towards sustainability being side-lined in these unparalleled times, or could the commitment to more sustainability even be increasing? 47 per cent of the survey's participants still believe sustainability is the most pressing problem of our time, while just 35 per cent have other worries. 35 per cent of the retailers questioned had more time during the pandemic and lockdowns to focus on the topic and to bring more sustainability into their concepts. For many, this also revealed a major potential for change. In comparison with before Covid-19, there has in fact been some progress:  the customers of every third retailer want more sustainable products and the share of retailers with sustainable clothing in their product range has increased from 58 to 71 per cent.

In the fashion industry too, Covid-19 has accelerated the realisation of efforts towards sustainability. Compared with last year, the relevance of sustainability for manufacturers has increased from 6/10 to an average 7.4/10. 79 per cent of the fashion providers questioned say that the crisis has shown how important sustainable management is and 58 per cent want to use the crisis period to build a new and more sustainable basis. According to the study, the key aspects for this are fair, sustainable production conditions, the use of more environmentally friendly materials, and recyclable packaging. In addition, more and more businesses are looking to eco-friendly capsule collections: from 41 per cent in 2019 to currently 64 per cent. This pleases retailers, who like consumers are developing more interest in sustainability. Many brands ensure that they have long attached importance to sustainability, but there still needs to be stronger, more transparent communication with retailers and consumers. Speaking to TextilWirtschaft, Fabian Stackmann, owner of the fashion house Stackmann, states: "Far more than one might think is done to meet demand. But a credible common thread is lacking. It's not about perfection, but about credibility."

The next edition of Neonyt, the global hub for fashion, sustainability and innovation, will be held from 19th to 21st January 2021 in Berlin and will likewise focus on sustainable fashion. The appetite for more sustainability is increasing among retailers, brands and consumers. Covid-19 can provide an initial spark for the entire fashion industry; now, even companies who were previously less deliberately proactive are stepping on the gas. This marks an important step on the way from sustainability as a trend to sustainability as normality.

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