More than ever before, the textile sector is facing enormous challenges, both in terms of trade and industry. Corona acts as an accelerator on issues such as sustainability, fair working conditions and global supply chains. SI talked with Oeko-Tex general secretary Georg Dieners about whether Corona can really change the industry in the long term, why the demand for certification increased so much and whether people’s consumer behavior will actually change because of Corona.
Georg Dieners, general secretary, Oeko-Tex
Can one already assume that Corona will change the textile industry in the long term?
The Corona pandemic has shown where action is needed in the textile industry. It is probably the biggest challenge of the past decades and has confronted the textile industry with major global challenges. It has become clear that the time has come to react now in order to secure the livelihood of all people along the textile production chains. Therefore, companies must now rethink, assume responsibility and operate sustainably in the long term in order to remain competitive and not lose their own customers.
Will Corona change people’s consumption and purchasing behavior?
The Corona pandemic has once again massively advanced the social trend towards greater sustainability. Consumers are increasingly questioning the conditions under which products have been manufactured and are demanding more transparency and information. They want to buy articles from brands and manufacturers that are trustworthy. Consumers want to take responsibility and make ethical decisions. Therefore, they naturally also call on manufacturers and companies to position themselves sustainably – with this power, consumers can also drive long-term changes in the industry.
Why has the demand for certification increased so much right now?
Consumers are making manufacturers and retailers more and more aware of their responsibility to act transparently and sustainably. They increasingly inform themselves about where raw materials are obtained and how a product is manufactured. This information provides security, trust and reliability – especially in times of crisis, these are important factors in making good purchasing decisions. Certifications can be seen here as mediators of precisely this required security and orientation. Thanks to environmental and social seals, consumers can clearly see who and what is behind a product, while manufacturers and retailers can make their position more transparent thanks to certification.
What can companies learn from Corona in terms of sustainability?
The Corona pandemic should lead to a critical self-reflection of companies – on the one hand about what they have achieved so far, on the other hand about a possible reorientation in production or purchasing policy.
How should companies position themselves now? What should they invest in when it comes to sustainability?
The Corona crisis should be seen as a wake-up call for fundamental changes in the industry. A radical rethink must now take place, the behavior of many stakeholders must change.Brands and retailers should therefore now show solidarity, assume responsibility and, with creativity and courage, take new, sustainable paths that benefit all those involved. Transparency along the textile supply chains is therefore increasingly required. This is also demanded by end consumers, who increasingly expect companies to act ecologically and socially. So in order to make production and supply chains stable and fair in the future, too, existing production patterns must be reconsidered and changed. Digitization is also an important key to positioning a company transparently. A digital textile cycle, for example, can make a lasting contribution to conserving resources. The CO2 footprint as a critical indicator when considering the supply chain is becoming increasingly essential, as the footwear and apparel industry is responsible for over 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Companies are therefore called upon to take action in this area as well in order to manage unrestrained growth and reduce their own ecological footprint in the long term.