6 April 2022

Success Factor Sustainability

Does sustainability only work with digitalisation?
Four questions for the fashion expert Armin Kämmerer

Why do fashion companies opt for sustainability? Which basic principles of digitalisation help to bring efficiency in line with environmental awareness? Read more about the market experience of our fashion expert Armin Kämmerer in our interview with the SPH Editorial Department.

Mr Kämmerer, in the first part of our interview series, you mentioned sustainability. So, consumers are taking a closer look at their purchases these days?
Exactly. They wonder: What is my favourite brand doing about this topic now and what are the plans for the future? In future, it will no longer be enough to advertise the fact that e.g. organically grown cotton is processed, but rather: What does the entire supply chain look like? Which method is used to purify the water that is needed to wash my jeans? How was the electricity generated that is needed for the machines to sew the product? What are the working conditions of the people who make my product? How much energy and resources were used to get the purchased product from the producer into my wardrobe?

What are companies doing to meet these challenges?
Currently, companies like C&A or CGC Fashion look into ways of producing in Germany again. Maibom Textilvertriebs GmbH advertises the fact that they manufacture their fabric in Germany again. This raises new questions for the future, such as: Does Germany have enough skilled workers? What are the options for training and further education? Another issue is the topic of second-hand fashion: Companies like Zalando, Mädchen Flohmarkt, Vinted, etc. focus on the sale and rental of second-hand products with formats such as “Zalando Zircle” or “Kleiderkreisel”. The mountaineering specialist Ortovox, who is also member of the Expert Group on Circular Economy of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, is expanding its rental service. Gerry Weber has put up collection boxes for used clothes and shoes in 30 pilot stores. Clothes that are no longer suitable for reuse are processed into clothes hangers that are then used in some stores.

How can digitalisation help?
A holistic approach is important here – digitalisation from concept to implementation, i.e. from the first sketch to design and development to shipping the goods. Every company along the supply chain can contribute to making the fashion industry more sustainable, be it through resource-saving design, more customer-oriented production or even solutions to make fashion a digital experience for customers. The effects are entirely positive, both from a business and an environmental point of view.

What improvements could be made in this respect?
Today, a responsible approach to people and the environment is more of a concern than an obligation for companies. But you can’t improve what you can’t measure. An integrated business software offers transparency across the entire supply and value chain through measurable and controllable indicators. This makes it easier for companies to identify risks and thus assume social responsibility.

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