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Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG (c) Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG
06.10.2020

Nopma - Experts for antimicrobial finishing: Technical textile coatings from the Swabian Alb

The Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG - started in the early 1950s as a day- and nightwear manufacturer. Over the last 20 years the company has become a specialist in the field of technical textiles. With its brand nopma Technical Textiles the company is present as developer and producer of textile solutions via coatings. The main products are nopma anti-slip - textiles with anti-slip effect, nopma adhesion - adhesive pre-coated films, spacer fabrics and substrates for lamination in automotive interiors, nopma ceramics - abrasive more resistant textile surfaces and nopma silicones - silicone coatings on textile surfaces.

Textination talked to the managing director, Jens Meiser, who joined the company in 2005, realigned the division and developed it into a service provider, about his plans and objectives.

The Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG - started in the early 1950s as a day- and nightwear manufacturer. Over the last 20 years the company has become a specialist in the field of technical textiles. With its brand nopma Technical Textiles the company is present as developer and producer of textile solutions via coatings. The main products are nopma anti-slip - textiles with anti-slip effect, nopma adhesion - adhesive pre-coated films, spacer fabrics and substrates for lamination in automotive interiors, nopma ceramics - abrasive more resistant textile surfaces and nopma silicones - silicone coatings on textile surfaces.

Textination talked to the managing director, Jens Meiser, who joined the company in 2005, realigned the division and developed it into a service provider, about his plans and objectives.

Founded in 1952, Carl Meiser GmbH & Co.KG has changed from a day- and nightwear manufacturer to an innovator in the field of technical textiles, presenting themselves as a specialist for plastic-based coating processes. If you had to introduce yourself in 100 words to someone who does not know the company: What has influenced you most in this development process and what makes you unique?
Innovation is the new normal - This has been true for the textile industry not just since Sars CoV-2. Our industry was one of the first to be disrupted in the early 1990s and has always been subject to constant change. This urge for further development, which is essential for survival, has left its mark on us intensively and has enabled us to manage huge leaps in innovation in recent years

Today we regard ourselves as an innovative development and production service provider with a focus on textile coating. We develop and produce almost exclusively customized special solutions.

Through the combination of coatings on textiles these hybrid materials receive completely new properties.

You manufacture exclusively at your location in Germany. Why? Have you never been tempted to set up subsidiaries in other countries, for example to benefit from lower wage levels?
Today we supply global supply chains from our headquarter in southern Germany. Although we produce in a high-wage country, much more important for us are know-how and the drive of our team to create something new. Globalization will continue to be the key to success in the future. Therefore, subsidiaries in North America and Asia could be very interesting for us in the medium- and long-term perspective. However, this is still too early for us.

You use CIP and Kaizen techniques intensively in your company. How did a Japanese concept come about in the Swabian Alb?
KAIZEN, the change for the better, are actually German virtues. The urge to improve and optimize things is in all of us. Due to the continuous improvement process we do not stand still but evolve constantly. Besides, there is the personal affinity to Japan. A look at another culture simply opens the horizon. And if you additionally recognize parallels in the working methods, it’s even better. 

10 years ago, you turned your attention to new markets: aviation, automotive, protection, caravan and furniture manufacturing, to name just a few. Some of these segments have collapsed significantly during the Covid 19 pandemic. What market development do you expect in the medium term and what consequences will this have for your company?
Of course, the aviation or automotive industry, for example, have substantial problems during or due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Quite honestly, many of these problems existed before. They were further tightened, as if a fire accelerator has been used. Of course, these cut-backs are also hitting us hard economically. But we are pursuing long-term goals. As a medium-sized company, you have to have the resilience to continue on your path. Thanks to our specialisation and the split of our industrial sectors, which we drive forward every day, we manage to decouple ourselves more and more from economic developments in individual industries. For our customers this is a great advantage of relying on a very stable partner with long-term orientation.

We are positive about the future. Megatrends like sustainability, digitization and ongoing globalization will lead to new business models in the above-mentioned sectors, as in many others, and to renewed growth. Our coatings on textiles and flexible woven materials can contribute a wide range of solutions to this. If, for example, materials become lighter with identical usage properties or suddenly become biodegradable, because of biodegradable plastics, many new opportunities will arise.

Tailor-made instead of solutions for major customers: The topic of individualization down to batch size 1 is making up a large part of the discussion today. In 2015, you opened a large development laboratory where you have a wide range of testing technologies for textiles and plastics available. What do you think about individual product solutions, and in which application areas have you successfully implemented them?
In principle, we do not use any standards. We live individualization with the smallest possible batch sizes. In our field, we do not manage batch size 1, but we start with MOQs of 300 running meters at process-safe series production. We have very few finished products, and above all we have no collections. Our development laboratory is the key for this. Together with our customers we have the possibilities to realize very lean development processes.

Even on a laboratory scale, we can develop and test new products within just a few hours. We then strive to scale up to production at a very early stage in order to obtain production series results. This way, we offer our clients speed and power that represent a special potential for our partners.

You register important input factors in the production process and evaluate them in monthly environmental analyses. What are these factors in concrete terms and to what extent have their analyses already changed production operations? How do you define environmental management for your company?
For us, environmental management means a holistic approach. In principle, we operate production units and manufacture products that consume many resources. Due to the high production volumes, this continues to accumulate. Because of this, it is self-understanding that we record and evaluate our input and output flows and derive measures from them. This makes economic sense, but is also necessary because of our responsibility for our environment. Specifically, these are energy consumption values, consumption data of primary chemicals, electricity load peaks, our Co2 footprint, just to name a few. This consideration has changed us in many areas. Today we operate a power plant with gas condensing technology, our free roof areas are greened or carry photovoltaic modules, we offer our employees and visitors electric filling stations and finally we have converted the entire power supply of our factory to environmentally friendly hydroelectric power.

With nopma, you have been building up a brand for the technical textiles industry since several years and communicate this via an Individual website parallel to Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG. How did this brand name come about and what is the product portfolio behind it?
This is the name of a first technical textile product from the 1990s. It was a textile - coated with dots. Dots on a knitted fabric. NOPMA. My father created this brand.

In 2016 you invested in an additional production line for nopma products and were able to start a directly serial delivery in the NAFTA area. How do you currently assess the market opportunities for North America and Mexico?
We continue to see opportunities in globalization and thus on the North American market also. However, these markets are still severely affected by the pandemic and there are major distortions. When these return to normal, we surely will see more success on these markets again.

As an innovation leader, Meiser offers solvent-free PU adhesive systems as pre-coatings for lamination. How do you assess the importance of such innovations in the context of REACH?
These innovations offer our customers the opportunity to decouple themselves from the pressure REACH triggers in some industries. However, we also have some products that have been developed newly in recent months. This keeps us busy, but also creates opportunities to open up new market segments.

How have you felt about the corona era to date - as a company and personally? What would you on no account want to go through again and what might you even consider maintaining on a daily basis?
I think this time has also strengthened us as a society, as people and even as entrepreneurs. Each crisis you go through makes you a little more relaxed for the unforeseen, but also more motivated to achieve your goals. In my opinion, there have been a lot of positive things in the last few months. Suddenly, for example, digitalization tools have become accepted in our everyday lives, and I feel that people are paying more attention to others again. Hopefully this will stay this way.

The futuristic "tube" escalator at the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall is just as impressive as the building itself and the longest escalator in western Europe. In August, a start-up based in Cologne installed an UV technology that keeps the handrails clean at all times. At the same time, you presented an antiviral functional coating that can be applied to all textiles in the form of yard goods. How does this work and for what purposes will this technology be suitable?
We have already been working with antimicrobial finishing techniques for many years. This already started with the swine flu in 2009/2010, when we made initial contacts with a young start-up and launched a development. Due to a lack of market interest, however, this had to be discontinued after a few months. Today we are experts in the field of "antimicrobial equipment by means of coatings". We were also able to build up an enormous amount of knowledge on the subject of approval and biocide regulation. Today, we can support our customers holistically in these areas. The function by skin-compatible active substances from the cosmetics sector with a vesicle booster can kill viruses and bacteria within a few minutes.
Since the pandemic has shown us the enormous importance of a new level of hygiene, the applications are very diverse and differentiated. We have already realized the use in personal protective equipment, work furniture, vehicles and for example gloves. In principle, every application is predestined where textile carriers are exposed to many touches by different persons in high frequency. Here our nopma products offer a new level of protection and hygiene.

To break new ground means decisiveness, overcoming fears - and thus the courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect - about which entrepreneurial decision are you particularly glad to have made it?
We fail again and again. This is part of the game. But it has never happened that we did not learn anything. The pandemic situation is another good example. In spring we accepted our corporate responsibility for our society and were one of two companies in Baden-Württemberg to achieve certification for FFP protective masks. Since we did not want to participate in the revolver market at that time, we offered these products only to the public sector at favourable pre-crisis prices. However, the decision makers could not make up their minds for weeks and did not order. This disappointed our whole team very much at that time. Today we have overcome this and have taken a lot of knowledge with us from this development.


The interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH, Michael Steidle (c) Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH
21.07.2020

„COVID-19 - We could and should have appeared better as noble knights" Michael Steidle, Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH

  • Interview with Michael Steidle, Managing Director Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH

At least Europe seems to be able to breathe a sigh of relief after weeks of lockdown during the corona pandemic. The textile industry, an industry that has lived globalisation for so many years, is facing the challenge of maintaining its place in the new normal and building on its previous performance as quickly as possible.
Textination talked to three company representatives along the textile chain about personal and operational experiences.

  • Interview with Michael Steidle, Managing Director Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH

At least Europe seems to be able to breathe a sigh of relief after weeks of lockdown during the corona pandemic. The textile industry, an industry that has lived globalisation for so many years, is facing the challenge of maintaining its place in the new normal and building on its previous performance as quickly as possible.
Textination talked to three company representatives along the textile chain about personal and operational experiences.

The Interview with Michael Steidle, managing director at the textile printing company Heinrich Mayer GmbH, marks the provisional end of our series that started with Wolfgang Müller, Head of Sales & Services at Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG and was continued by Andreas Merkel, managing director of Gebr. Otto Baumwollfeinzwirnerei GmbH & Co. KG. The textile printing company Mayer, a family business on the Swabian Alb, is a leader in textile printing, in screen, rouleaux, rotary, sublimation and flock printing and as well as in 3D coating. They are increasingly using these skills in the area of technical textiles.

How have you felt about the corona era to date - as a company and personally?
What would you on no account want to go through again and what might you even consider maintaining on a daily basis?

 The corona time hit us hard. At the beginning of April, sometimes it felt like the lights would go out within the next 24 hours. In numbers there is a drop in sales of 30 percent.
And that's not just the way we are, this crisis has incredibly broader implications. Involved in the word of the Chamber of Commerce I am concerned with many companies in the region. Sectors that would not come to mind spontaneously also feel the effects. This also includes recycling companies. After all, there is also less commercial waste when companies are on short-time work.
At a personal level you can deal with the crisis, hand hygiene, sneeze etiquette, you can learn all of this. But we miss people-to-people contacts. We have a teenage daughter; young people in particular lack the ability to be out and about with their peers.

 
What has the pandemic meant for your company so far?
As I said, the Corona period brought us a significant drop in sales. That means we think twice before spending money. At the beginning of the year we moved to our new, spacious company building. There are still a few small investments to be made. So far, we have put it off until the situation has calmed down again. And so do many. The economic network extremely got out of hand due to the lockdown.
We applied for short-time work, which has been running for three months now. However, you have to see how long that makes sense. Our customers also had a drop in sales, which they first of all have to recover.

 
What adjustments or innovations to your product portfolio have you felt obliged by the pandemic to undertake?
The mask production was a very strong topic in April and May, the phone almost rang continuously. This enabled us to compensate for many orders that were lost otherwise.
We reacted quickly, not only printing masks classically, but also developing coatings for medical face masks and protective clothing. The coatings that we offer are antibacterial and have the lotus effect. This results in the formation of droplets in the aerosols. We have had checked and certified these innovations in an urgent procedure.
We converted our machines ad hoc so that we could apply innovative coatings instead of paint. This was even possible for ready-made masks.
In general, I rate this ability to react quickly as one of our great strengths. We are a small company, so the path from idea to implementation is rather short. If we recognize a trend, an opportunity in our industry, we examine ourselves: Do we have resources that could be used or adapted to offer a solid, marketable solution in a very short time? This refers to know-how, ideas, machines and, for larger projects, also partners. Experience has shown that on the one hand we have the necessary imagination, but on the other hand we also have a fairly realistic view of ourselves. If we can answer the question with “yes”, then we get started without delay. We can evaluate a trial in the evening and continue working on it the next day. There is no need for a meeting with five persons beforehand.
 

What are your views on global supply chains in the future, and will you be drawing consequences for your procurement policy?
We cannot avoid global supply chains; and it will remain this way. In the short term, you may reflect on regional procurement, as far as that is still possible. Many things are simply no longer available and the development over the past 30 years cannot be turned back. Let's take pigment paint: it comes from India and China, otherwise it doesn't exist anymore. Nobody in Europe can keep the prices. And yes, that also means that the production of systemically relevant products can no longer be guaranteed.

          
How do you rate the importance of partnerships within the industry in the future? Does Covid-19 have the potential to promote the creation of new cooperation arrangements in the industry? Or have they already taken shape?
Existing partnerships are important. We must keep the ball rolling: Interrupted projects have to be continued with existing partners.
I think it is important to maintain partnerships at eye level. Sure, now everyone has to see how they can make ends meet. It will be shown, however, who works loyally in the long term and with respect to the business.
Personally, it is important for me to be true to my word. Only a few days ago I spoke to a student, whom we promised her internship and a corresponding payment in February. This young woman can start her internship with us; what paying is concerned, I had to tell her honestly that we have to talk about it again. Fortunately, that was not a problem. It is important to the student that she can complete the required internship at all. This is not so easy since most companies do not accept anyone right now. That is understandable too, but we will need the well-trained people again soon, that’s for sure!

 
What initiatives or approaches for your industry would you welcome for the near future?
I would be very interested in a positive and comprehensive description of what value added is still available in Germany. An initiative that illustrates that the textile industry is an important industry, with many companies that have been family-owned for generations, often with a young, dynamic management and high-quality products. Really nobody has that on his radar. Just today, two designers from a company nearby visited us. They were surprised which services we offer in the field of technical textiles - they were not even aware of it.
The textile industry has played itself down for a long time, that has to stop. Of course, we no longer have added value like the machine building industry. But now, in the corona crisis, it would have been the right time to take advantage of the situation and to initiate much-needed lobbying..


What would you like to see as part of the German textile industry? Do you feel that the status of the German textile industry has changed as a result of the pandemic, especially in respect of public procurement?
No, only at very short notice. Everything was taken during the crisis, the main thing was that the requested product, i.e. masks and protective clothing, was even available. Now the old cycle is back: I have a certain budget, where can I get the most for it? This is frustrating because the willingness to face this challenge was high on the part of the companies.
We also have driven the development and had our coatings for masks certified in an urgent process. Others have switched their entire production at a significant cost to meet demand. Nobody became a millionaire this way.
I think the textile industry could have sold better here. We could and should have appeared better as noble knights. Unfortunately, this was lost in the heat of the battle.

Until now the big issues have been globalisation, sustainability / climate change / environmental protection, digitisation, the labour market situation and so on. Where do they stand now and how must we rate them against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic?
We take sustainability into account with our certifications, with GOTS and ISO 9001. Digitisation does not work quickly for us; it will take years before we can digitise processes. Sure, in administration we are now increasingly working with web meetings and video conferences, but personal contact is important to me. I regularly give lectures; my next one will be at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and I very much hope that it can take place. I am just a guy for direct contact.
The labour market situation depends on the pandemic and how it develops. In any case, it remains difficult to get young people excited about textile professions. When I open a mobile phone store, I don't need a day to have my employees together. When we present ourselves at a training fair, we are happy to have a handful of good conversations.
Training is so valuable. Someone who has one will always have a different status than an unskilled person, even if - at some point - he works in a completely different branch. The dual training system is absolutely untouchable for me, because we live from this economic performance. We have nothing else but our knowledge. And we have to keep developing because only the high level gives the necessary output.
 

What lessons are to be learnt in respect of these targets for the post-corona era?
Innovation, innovation, innovation. You must not stand still. Nobody knows what to do next. But in three years from now I have to live from what I am developing today, just like I live from what I developed three years ago. Now, in times of Corona, it is much harder to remember, but it does not help: I can’t stand still, waiting for what is happening next, being like a deer caught in the headlights.

This interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

(c) SANITIZED AG
16.06.2020

‘WHAT SMELLS LESS HAS TO BE WASHED LESS OFTEN’

Swiss Quality Principles plus Innovation Strength: Hygiene and Material Protection from SANITIZED 

SANITIZED AG is known as a worldwide leading Swiss company in hygiene functions and material protection for textiles and plastics. Globally oriented, pioneering work is done with federal thoroughness in the development of innovative, effective and safe technologies for antimicrobial equipment. Textination had the opportunity to speak to CEO Urs Stalder about the growing importance of hygiene in times of the pandemic.

Swiss Quality Principles plus Innovation Strength: Hygiene and Material Protection from SANITIZED 

SANITIZED AG is known as a worldwide leading Swiss company in hygiene functions and material protection for textiles and plastics. Globally oriented, pioneering work is done with federal thoroughness in the development of innovative, effective and safe technologies for antimicrobial equipment. Textination had the opportunity to speak to CEO Urs Stalder about the growing importance of hygiene in times of the pandemic.

Founded in 1935, the majority ownership of the public company SANITIZED still lies with the founding families. You are the market leader in Europe in hygiene functions and material protection for textiles and plastics. If you had to introduce yourself in 100 words to someone who doesn't know the company: What influenced you in particular in the development of the company and what made it unique?
Preventing odor in shoes, that's how it started in 1935. This is where our business model came from: the antimicrobial protection of plastics and textiles.
SANITIZED develops ready-to-use additives that are individually tailored to the protection goals of the end products and that work, for example, against the development of odors in work clothing, against permastink (resilient odors) in synthetic textiles or against mold growth.
The 360-degree service is unique: This includes backing in product development, support for all regulatory questions and assistance with marketing topics.
SANITIZED AG is globally active and yet committed to Swiss quality principles. More than 400 brands worldwide use the ingredient brand Sanitized® on their end products.

Think global – act local? You have sister companies in France, the United States and Asia. Your roots and headquarters are based in Switzerland. The pandemic is currently increasing the question of intact supply chains. What does this mean for your company in the future?
Indeed, the broad global positioning enables us to do business locally. The local anchoring results in synergies, also in sourcing. That will be even more important for us in the future. And, of course, the issues of speed and customer proximity are also positive aspects of this approach.

From textiles to plastic surfaces to cans: SANITIZED Preservation AG was founded in 2018 to take care of colors and coatings. SANITIZED is thus opening up another market. Which markets are you particularly interested in and which product areas do you feel particularly challenged by?
Customers want paints and varnishes without solvents, which is better for people and the environment. But with the alternative water-based products, there is a high risk of contamination by microbes. This starts with the production, continues with the storage in the can and also in the application. The result is mold formation.
Antimicrobial protection for paints or coatings is particularly relevant in hygiene-sensitive areas of industrial production and, of course, in the medical environment. The risk of contamination and mold multiplies in regions with high air humidity. This is another reason why India is a growth market for this business area.   

To break new ground means decisiveness, overcoming fears - and thus the courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect - about which entrepreneurial decision are you particularly glad to have made it?
Let me mention just three decisions that are important for corporate development: This is definitely the foundation of the SANITIZED Preservation division. This is about the antimicrobial protection of paints and varnishes. This also includes setting up our in-house TecCenter, in which we can perform laboratory services even faster. It was recently accredited by the International Antimicrobial Council. And right now it is the sales cooperation with Consolidates Pathway on the US market for our textile hygiene function solutions.

You state that innovation is embedded in the company's DNA. How do you live your inno-vation management and which role do the requirements of end consumers and your indus-trial customers play in this setting?
We ourselves as well as our global sales partners are in close contact with the manufacturers of textile products. This is also why we know the requirements and needs of the market. Sustainability is emerging from the niche in the mass market.
This is exactly what our product Sanitized® Odoractiv 10 has been developed for and awarded by the Swiss Innovation Award.
It is a dual-acting, biocide-free, patented technology against odor development and odor adsorption in textiles. Many customers appreciate our expertise and use it in the development of new products to create innovative textiles with additional benefits for the requirements of the market.

Tailor-made or solutions only for major customers? The topic of individualization up to lot size 1 takes up a lot of space today. What do you think about individual product solutions - or can you cover everything with the SANITIZED portfolio comprising 40 products?
We have a very versatile technology “kit” at our disposal. It is part of our daily business to respond individually to the special customer needs and the respective product requirements. We offer tailor-made recipes for this and our extensive application know-how flows into the advice for the individual application situation at the customer.

There are various definitions for sustainability. Customers expect everything under this term - from climate protection to ecology, from on-site production in the region to the ex-clusion of child labor, etc. Textile finishing does not always sound unproblematic. Public procurement is increasingly switching to sustainable textiles. What does this mean for SANITIZED and what do you do to bring the concept of sustainability to life for your company, and which activities and certifications do you focus on?
Resource conservation is a key issue for us. Since we “think” about the topic of sustainability along the entire production chain, including in research and development, resource-saving application techniques for the textile industry are important to us. Sanitized® additives can be integrated into standard production processes, so that additional energy is not required for complementary finishing processes.
Our portfolio also includes biocide-free products. Sanitized® Odoractiv10 prevents odors from sticking to textiles. Sanitized® Mintactiv uses the natural antibacterial effect of mint and was specially developed for cotton textiles.
And what smells less has to be washed less often. This saves water and electricity and extends the useful life of textiles.
          
SANITIZED supports its customers with a so-called 360° service. What do you mean by that and why don't you concentrate exclusively on the technical aspects of the products?
The SANITIZED brand wants to create real added value for its customers. That is why we have expanded our core competence as a developer and provider of innovative antimicrobial additives with an all-round service. The obvious thing to do is to support the production process, of course that is part of it. Furthermore; we also provide the latest knowledge on regulatory issues - world-wide. And we offer comprehensive marketing assistance for our license partners who use Sanitized® as an ingredient brand. Making correct advertising statements is important not only in times of Corona. Because it's always about transparency and security for people. Warning letters or delivery stops due to incorrect claims can be prevented.
Cooperation with the institutes is absolutely sensible; after all, it is their job to do research for com-panies that they cannot shoulder on their own. This includes testing facilities, as well as applying for funding, which is only possible in cooperation with research institutes. However, they are public institutions and therefore have different objectives per se than a company: We have to bring a promising idea to the market as quickly as possible to show a profit. A research institute does not have this pressure.

Which goal do you pursue with the website https://www.sanitized.house for example?
Yes, it may seem unusual when SANITIZED as a B2B company designs a platform for end customers. But more than 400 brands use Sanitized® as an ingredient brand. So, we are connected to the end customer in this way.
In the virtual house - Sanitized® the house -, visitors can playfully experience in which areas of life hygiene and material protection contribute to the quality of life. A click in the wardrobe links to products - including brand names - that have been equipped with Sanitized®: clothing in the wardrobe, the carpet in the living room or the towel in the bathroom. The best thing to do is try it yourself.

The company is working consistently on implementing Sanitized® as a brand. The hygiene function for textiles and plastics shall be documented and thus offer added value to customers and consumers. Co-branding is not always welcome, especially in the clothing, sports and outdoor sector. How rocky was the road until Sanitized® was advertised as an ingredient brand by 400 license partners on the product?
Of course, there are brands that do not want a second brand on their end product. But a trend is causing more and more manufacturers to rethink: Customers are increasingly asking questions about ingredients and their origins. Elucidation and transparency are growing needs. And that's exactly what we contribute to. In addition, this is an opportunity for a textile brand to stand out positively in the flood of suppliers. Differentiation through added value - donated by Swiss technology from SANITIZED. Those arguments work worldwide.

You have a diversified network. Just to mention to two of them - you have been a system partner since the foundation of bluesign® and you work closely with Archroma in sales matters. In which aspects do you see the special value of partnerships? Are there segments existing where you can imagine new partners and collaborations?
Partnerships are important and work if all pursue common goals and can mutually fertilize each other. For example, the partnership with the company Consolidates Pathway in the United States is brand new one.

For which socially relevant topics do you see a particularly great need for innovation and action in the next 5 years? What is your assessment that your company will be able to offer solutions for this with its products? And what role do the experiences from the corona pandemic play in this assessment?
Nobody can predict what the corona pandemic will change in the long term. Environmental protection and thus the conservation of our resources is and remains an important issue.
The fact that the textile industry can make a big contribution to this is slowly gaining awareness among the masses. Keywords are cheap production or water consumption for jeans production. People are becoming more sensitive to what companies and brands are doing. It will be all the more important to act and communicate openly and transparently.
For SANITIZED, it is a mission and a matter of course that only products with official approvals are used and that we work ac-cording to the bluesign principle. This is where traceability and transparency begin.


This interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

Textildruckerei Mayer: Innovation management in Swabian © Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH
03.09.2019

CEO Michael Steidle (Textildruckerei Mayer): Innovation Management in Swabian

  • “Keep it up! is not an option"

The textile printing company Mayer is a family business on the Swabian Alb. As a leader in textile printing, in screen, rouleaux, rotary, sublimation and flock printing and as well as in 3D coating, the enterprise is increasingly applying its leading expertise to the field of technical textiles. An in-house quality management system ensures the traceability of all production processes, an environmental portfolio the efficient use of energy, sustainability and resources. Textination talked to Managing Director Michael Steidle.

  • “Keep it up! is not an option"

The textile printing company Mayer is a family business on the Swabian Alb. As a leader in textile printing, in screen, rouleaux, rotary, sublimation and flock printing and as well as in 3D coating, the enterprise is increasingly applying its leading expertise to the field of technical textiles. An in-house quality management system ensures the traceability of all production processes, an environmental portfolio the efficient use of energy, sustainability and resources. Textination talked to Managing Director Michael Steidle.

Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH is a family business that has been active in textile printing and finishing for 45 years. If you had to introduce yourself in 100 words to someone who doesn't know the company, what makes you unique?
Over the past ten years or so, our family-owned company based in rural Baden-Wurttemberg has changed from a classic textile printing company into a system supplier. A central precondition for this is our knowledge of our own strengths. We rely on proven printing solutions. We do not rush into exchanging them with the latest trend. Instead, we examine whether another, innovative application can be found for them. Or whether one it is possible to combine the tried and tested with a new approach. For example, we were able to solve electronic requirements by printing technology. This area is our second focus. I am a Master of electronic engineering and completed my apprenticeship at Bizerba, a worldwide leading specialist in industrial weighing and labeling technologies. My wife brought me to the textile industry.

In which product area do market and customers challenge you in particular? And on which socially relevant areas do you see a particularly great need for innovation in the upcoming 10 years? What is your assessment that textile finishing will be able to offer solutions?
Mobility is an issue that will be of great concern to all of us in the coming years. In this area trump is what brings little weight, can be produced in a resource-saving way and is easy to shape. All these requirements are met by textile carrier materials and composites. However, textiles as a pure material are still not well-known in public and in our target industries. This understanding should be promoted.

Were fashion and clothing yesterday and do hybrid product developments like your ceramic-coated high-tech fabrics represent the future? When would the company name have to be adjusted, and how long will you keep your broad range of products and services?
In any case, it is true that the textile market, especially the clothing sector, is becoming smaller and smaller in Germany, while the market for technical textile solutions is growing. Of course, this also has an impact on our business and our priorities. Textiles are now found in so many products - we would never have dreamed about before!

As far as the company name is concerned, we have discussed it extensively. We decided to keep it because it is still right. The textiles we talk about are mostly a functional material, but they still remain textiles. And the technology with which we manufacture our high-tech coatings continues to be the printing technology ...

"Without innovation no future" - In five years time, you celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary, with which fundamental corporate decisions will you then have secured the future of your customers and employees?
You already mentioned the landmark decision: "Innovation, innovation, innovation." We can secure our future through innovation only. This means that we must constantly question ourselves and be prepared to be widely interested in attending trade fairs and exhibitions and find out what people are looking for.

Innovation manager or tinkering: What does it mean for a medium-sized family business high up on the Swabian Alb having to profile on specialties in the niche? What advantages do you see compared to large companies?
The Swabian Alb is a traditional textile region. In 1980, about 30,000 people worked here in the textile industry. In 2005 it was barely a sixth. There is not much else left to do than to look for profitable niches and to show a clear profile. Perhaps the special thing about it is that we are not alone in this. Basically, all successful textile companies in our region have undergone a similar process.

As a small - and owner-managed - company, we have the shortest and fastest decision-making channels. That makes us more flexible than a big company. A budget is not questioned five times, but it is decided. If we make a trial, we can evaluate it in the evening and react the very next day. If something doesn't work, we don't need a meeting – then that's it.

At the same time, we do not automatically have a budget for research and development. We first have to carve this out elsewhere. And we do so in the knowledge that it can also be for the trash can. Within the framework of this budget, entrepreneurs have the greatest possible freedom.

To break new ground means decisiveness, overcoming fears - and thus the courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. Which entrepreneurial decision are you particularly glad to have made in retrospect? What makes you proud?
That's easy (Michael Steidle laughs)! We have realized a company’s request that has driven us for months, which in the end has also awakened personal ambition. That was the introduction to these technical coatings, the key and door opener for technical textiles in general. In doing so, I revived old resources, almost by chance. Meaning: my knowledge in electronics. That's when I realized that with a textile you can do completely different things. When you see the finished product on sale after two or three years, it makes the whole team proud!

Every man for himself, God for us all: With which sectors in the textile industry and from neighboring sectors do you want to get closer cooperation beyond competitive borders? For which higher-level problems do you consider this to be indispensable?
Actually, it is not so much a matter of competitive boundaries - cooperation with innovative competitors would always be good for the end product, but that is the case in every industry!

For us, cooperation with other companies in the textile chain is important, i.e. the upstream company. Let’s assume that I am looking for a special fabric for my coating, which in turn has to be made from a special yarn. Then I am already dependent on two companies. Fortunately, we have innovative companies right on our doorstep. But sometimes we have to go further to find the right partner. Characteristics such as willingness to take risks, a common entrepreneurial interest and a passion for the final product are enormously important in a successful cooperation.

Together with your customers, universities, specialist institutes and research institutes, porject-related you work on market-ready solutions. Do you think Germany is a good breeding ground for innovative entrepreneurs? What should happen to stay successful in international competition?
The cooperation with the institutes makes perfect sense; after all, it is their task to carry out research for companies that cannot shoulder such assignments on their own. This includes testing facilities as well as applying for funding, which is only possible in cooperation with research institutes. However, they are public institutions and therefore per se have a different objective than a company: We need to bring a promising idea to market as soon as possible so that it generates a return. A research institute does not have this pressure.

And Germany as a location? Germany is a brilliant location! But we have an infrastructure bottleneck: I mean roads and internet connections as well as access to funding or venture capital. That does not exist in Germany in the true sense anyway. Finding investors for an idea is therefore extremely difficult.

Let me give you an example: Over the years, I have received around 14,000 euros in subsidies for a coating innovation. An American entrepreneur had a very similar idea. He was able to raise about $ 35 million within three years through venture capital, crowd funding, and grants. In the end, he did not even know what he should spend the whole money on!

In addition, for us as a company in Germany, the large, open economic area of Europe is important!

You are the first textile printing company to be certified for screen printing as well as for rotary and rouleaux printing according to the GOTS standard. How important do you consider such certification as a unique selling point in the competition?
Such certifications are important because we work with clients in the upper and premium segments. Especially in times in which - undoubtedly justified - ever greater demands are placed on sustainable business and also the external presentation receives a steadily growing attention, we can support our clients this way. We therefore offer different printing methods, all of which are certified. One thing we have to be aware of is, that if we - and all the other members of the textile chain – charge the additional costs, the price mark-up would be so enormous that nobody would accept it anymore.

How do you feel about the willingness to perform of the succeeding generation? And who would you recommend to join the textile industry and to whom would you dissuade from it?
We work a lot with students and interns. Every year we give two students the opportunity to work and research in our company for their master's thesis. With these young talents, we often experience great commitment and the ambition to bring their own project to a meaningful completion. At the same time, it is difficult for us to fill our apprenticeships; the idea of working eight hours daily, five days a week seems daunting.

And who would I recommend to join the textile industry? For decades, we vehemently discouraged our offspring from working in the textile industry, because one said it has no future ... As a true high-tech industry, it is interesting for engineers, process engineers, chemists or electronic engenieers. Very important: for people with visions! If you are looking for the classic textile industry you have to be prepared to work worldwide and you will not be unemployed. Many companies are desperately looking for plant managers or managing directors for their non-European branches.

 

Imagine a truck tarp that can harvest the energy of sunlight! Picture by Peter H. on Pixabay
20.08.2019

TEXTILE BASED SOLAR CELLS

Imagine a truck tarp that can harvest the energy of sunlight!

Imagine a truck tarp that can harvest the energy of sunlight!
With the help of new textile-based solar cells developed by Fraunhofer researchers, semitrailers could soon be producing the electricity needed to power cooling systems or other onboard equipment. In short, textile-based solar cells could soon be adding a whole new dimension to photovoltaics, complementing the use of conventional silicon-based solar cells. Solar panels on building roofs are a common enough sight today – as are large-scale solar parks. In the future, we may well see other surfaces being exploited for photovoltaic generation. Truck tarps, for example, could be used to produce the electricity consumed by the driver when underway or parked up for the night, or to power electronic systems used to locate trailers in shipping terminals. Similarly, conventional building facades could be covered with photovoltaic textiles in place of concrete render. Or the blinds used to provide shade in buildings with glass facades could be used to create hundreds of square meters of additional surface for producing power.

Glass-fiber fabric as a solar-cell substrate
At the heart of such visions are pliable, textile-based solar cells developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS, Sächsisches Textilforschungsinstitut e.V and industrial partners erfal GmbH & Co. KG, PONGS Technical Textiles GmbH, Paul Rauschert GmbH & Co. KG and GILLES PLANEN GmbH. “There are a number of processes that enable solar cells to be incorporated in coatings applied to textiles,” explains Dr. Lars Rebenklau, group manager for system integration and electronic packaging at Fraunhofer IKTS. In other words, the substrate for the solar cells is a woven fabric rather than the glass or silicon conventionally used. “That might sound easy, but the machines in the textile industry are designed to handle huge rolls of fabric – five or six meters wide and up to 1000 meters in length,” explains Dr. Jonas Sundqvist, group manager for thin-film technology at Fraunhofer IKTS. “And during the coating process, the textiles have to withstand temperatures of around 200 °Celsius. Other factors play a key role too: the fabric must meet fire regulations, have a high tensile strength and be cheap to produce. “The consortium therefore opted for a glass-fiber fabric, which fulfills all of these specifications,” Rebenklau says.

An emphasis on standard processes
Researchers also faced the challenge of how to apply the wafer-thin layers that make up a solar cell – the bottom electrode, the photovoltaic layer and the top electrode – to the fabric. These layers are between one and ten microns in thickness. By comparison, the surface of the fabric is like a mountain range. The solution was first to apply a layer that levels out the peaks and troughs on the surface of the fabric. For this purpose, researchers opted for a standard process from the textile industry: transfer printing, which is also used to rubberize fabrics. All the other processes have been adapted in such a way that they can be easily incorporated in standard production methods used in the textile industry. For example, the two electrodes – which are made of electrically conductive polyester – and the photovoltaic layer are applied by means of the common roll-to-roll method. The solar cells are also laminated with an additional protective layer in order to make them more robust.

Fabric-based solar cells ready for market launch in around five years
The research team has already produced an initial prototype. “This has demonstrated the basic functionality of our textile-based solar cells,” Rebenklau says. “Right now, they have an efficiency of between 0.1 and 0.3 percent.” In a follow-up project, he and the team are seeking to push this over the five percent mark, at which point the textile-based solar cells would prove commercially viable. Silicon-based solar cells are significantly more efficient, at between ten and 20 percent. However, this new form of solar cell is not intended to replace the conventional type, merely offer an alternative for specific applications. In the coming months, the team will be investigating ways of enhancing the service life of the fabric-based solar cells. If all goes according to plan, the first textile-based solar cells could be ready for commercialization in around five years. This would fulfill the original goal of the PhotoTex project: to provide new stimulus for Germany’s textile industry and improve its competitiveness.

(c) Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH
30.04.2019

SUSTAINABILITY A MAJOR TOPIC AT TECHTEXTIL AND TEXPROCESS

"Sustainability at Techtextil" and "Sustainability at Texprocess" are the two topics by which these leading international trade fairs for technical textiles and non-wovens, and for the processing of textile and flexible materials, will be explicitly turning their focus for the first time onto their exhibitors' approaches to sustainability. To this will be added a broad complementary programme on this topic. Among those contributing will be major players in the industry, such as Kering, Lenzing and Zalando.

"Sustainability at Techtextil" and "Sustainability at Texprocess" are the two topics by which these leading international trade fairs for technical textiles and non-wovens, and for the processing of textile and flexible materials, will be explicitly turning their focus for the first time onto their exhibitors' approaches to sustainability. To this will be added a broad complementary programme on this topic. Among those contributing will be major players in the industry, such as Kering, Lenzing and Zalando.

Fibres made of recycled polyester, bio-based high-tech textiles, waterconserving dyeing and finishing processes, functional and work clothing, using little or no solvents and adhesives: in the field of technical textiles, and when processing textile and flexible materials, more and more firms are adopting approaches to greater sustainability. Through "Sustainability and Techtextil" and "Sustainability at Texprocess" the leading international trade fairs, from 14 to 17 May, will be demonstrating exactly these approaches taken by their exhibitors. In addition, numerous event formats will be taking up the topic of sustainability at both fairs.

Fair guide for selected exhibitors
In the run-up to Techtextil and Texprocess exhibitors at both fairs were able to submit their approaches and evidence of their work on every aspect of sustainability to the fairs' organisers. An independent, international jury of experts on sustainability assessed the submissions, in accordance with the relevance and validity of current national and international product-sustainability labels, such as currently mainly Bluesign, Cradle-to-Cradle, EU Eco Label, ISO 14001, GOTS, GRS as well as SteP by Oeko-Tex.

Overall, 47 firms were selected, including 44 exhibitors at Techtextil and three at Texprocess. Visitors who are interested will find the selected firms in their own Fair Guide, which will be available at the Fair, via filter function under "Sustainability" in the online visitor search facility, and on both fairs' apps. In addition, the exhibitors so selected will be publicizing their participation at their exhibition stands.

Members of the international jury of experts: Chairman: Max Gilgenmann, Consulting Service International Ltd. (Germany and China); Claudia Som, Empa (Switzerland); Jan Laperre, Centexbel (Belgium); Heike Illing-Günther, Textile Institute of Saxony (Sächsisches Textilinstitut e.V., Germany); Karla Magruder, Fabrikology (USA); Lauren Zahringer, SAC Social Apparel Coalition (Netherlands).

Techtextil Forum featuring theme of sustainability
Taking "Towards sustainability" as its motto, the Techtextil Forum on 14 May between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. will be providing a series of contributions devoted exclusively to sustainable textile innovations. Chaired by Braz Costa, managing director of the Portuguese technology centre CITEVE, among the topics on the programme will be: textile recycling (TWD Fibres, Velener Textil), sustainable construction with wool (Minet S.A., Romania), sustainable textile coatings (Centexbel), biopolymers (RWTH Aachen University), traceability of GMO-free cotton (Hohenstein Institute) and low-cost, bio-based carbon fibres (Jules Verne Research Institute, France).

Techtextil Innovation Award
For the first time the Techtextil Innovation Award will be presented to two firms in the category of sustainability. The winners will be announced and the awards presented on the first day of the fair during the opening ceremony. During the whole time of the fair visitors will also be able to find out about the prize-winners and their award-winning projects at the Techtextil Innovation Award Exhibition Area in Hall 4.2.

Texprocess Forum with branch of Fashionsustain Conference
Through a branch of Fashionsustain Berlin, Messe Frankfurt's conference on every aspect of sustainable textile innovations, the Texprocess Forum on the morning of the 14 May will be devoted exclusively to the theme of sustainability in the textile and fashion industries in all its aspects. The first keynote, "Sustainable innovation – a matter of survival", will come from Micke Magnusson, co-founder of the Swedish start-up We are Spindye. Next, posing the question "Is Sustainability the Key to Textile Innovations?", will come a discussion by leaders in the industry such as Clariant Plastics and Coatings, Indorama, Lenzing, Perpetual Global, Procalçado S.A., Kering und Zalando. Fashionsustain will be chaired among others by Karla Magruder, founder of Fabrikology International.

Innovation Roadshow features sustainable footwear production
Next at the Fashionsustain Conference fibre manufacturer Lenzing, knitting-machinery producer Santoni and shoe-component manufacturer Procalçado S.A. will be presenting the Innovation Roadshow, entitled "The Future of Eco-Conscious Footwear Manufacturing." The roadshow will be supported by the Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network. It will feature examples of the sustainable production process of a shoe, thus demonstrating how a fundamental change to sustainability can already be a reality in the fashion and textile industries today. The panel will be chaired by Marte Hentschel, founder of Sourcebook, the B2B network for the fashion industry.

EuroShop 2017 © Messe Duesseldorf / ctillmann
18.10.2016

EUROSHOP 2017 – DISPLAY MANNEQUINS: REAL MOOD BOOSTERS!

  • Visual marketing increases in importance for offline retail in view of e-Commerce competitors
  • Display mannequins are in focus for this
  • Emotionalising is decisive
  • Individuality and flexibility are also demanded
  • There is a shift towards semi-abstract mannequins with regional and genre differences
  • Proportion of customised mannequins is rising
  • Sustainability remains an issue

EuroShop is one of those trade fairs always teeming with visual highlights. Guaranteed to present a special treat here is, of course, the Visual Merchandising Hall, the exhibition place of display mannequins and store window decorations. March 2017 will see Hall 11 of Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre (instead of Hall 4 previously), become a POS experience guaranteed to attract plenty of attention.

  • Visual marketing increases in importance for offline retail in view of e-Commerce competitors
  • Display mannequins are in focus for this
  • Emotionalising is decisive
  • Individuality and flexibility are also demanded
  • There is a shift towards semi-abstract mannequins with regional and genre differences
  • Proportion of customised mannequins is rising
  • Sustainability remains an issue

EuroShop is one of those trade fairs always teeming with visual highlights. Guaranteed to present a special treat here is, of course, the Visual Merchandising Hall, the exhibition place of display mannequins and store window decorations. March 2017 will see Hall 11 of Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre (instead of Hall 4 previously), become a POS experience guaranteed to attract plenty of attention. After all, in view of the e-Commerce competition, visual marketing and the resulting emotional, personalised appearance will become more and more important for bricks-and-mortar retailers. “Consumers’ emotional needs will become the overriding theme for EuroShop,” says Andreas Gesswein, CEO of Genesis Display from Auetal, with conviction.

Display mannequins hold special emotionalising potential. It is not by chance that Düsseldorf visual artist Domagoj Mrsic once presented them as “super heroes” in one of his stagings - as Superman and Wonder Woman, Batman and Catwoman, Spiderman and Spiderwoman. Provided the displays are done well mannequins are in a way real heroes. With their appearance, their posture, gestures and mimics they can really breathe life into shop windows and in-store decorations, serve as sales-promoting tools or arouse empathy, interest and curiosity. And if they are not just headless and very abstract they even give retail stores and brands a profile and signature style. With the power of their poses they send out a clear signal as to which target group is addressed, which degree of fashion and price range is served. Moreover, when arranged in groups, they can serve as story-tellers for passers-by. Unforgettable was the “Ugly’s” line of mannequins by supplier Hans Boodt, which mimicked “real-life” men rather than V-shaped boys with six packs. It included both a long, tall one and a short, fat one dressed in passion-killing underwear. “The new generation of mannequins will say more about the brand. They will participate in communicating more about each brand’s essential values and set them apart from the competition”, says Jean-Marc Mesguich, CEO of Window France headquartered in Carros.

The portfolio offered by the display mannequin industry is wide and varied: in addition to top-model lookalikes it features plus-size beauties, Europeans, Africans and Asians, the afore-mentioned super heroes and funny common people. Kissing couples feature alongside sumo wrestlers. In line with the motto "don't take yourself too seriously", vendors have long also included dogs and cats; and even chameleons since many mannequins prove to be true artists of disguise. “Cameleon”, for example, is a patented concept of Window France: Hundreds of eyes and lips are available to chose from, eye-lashes can be glued on, wigs attached/detached, different make-ups applied or the whole face can be replaced with the help of magnets – in brief, all it takes to ensure a constantly refreshed POS appearance. Add to this what is by now a huge range of colours and materials: surfaces from velvet and rubber are just as common these days as are metallic varnishes or concrete and copper coatings.     

In view of what has been presented over the past few years you may wonder what might come next. Although the majority of fashion retailers and brands have not nearly exploited the full potential already available today. In the past few years abstract mannequins were in highest demand. “They are fit for many applications and easy to handle, since no wigs or make-up have to be styled,” says Andreas Gesswein (Genesis Display) accounting for reasons and adds: “But they are also easier to copy and therefore available in every price segment.” In practice, efficiency sometimes clearly “overrides” emotion. “But when stores do not stand out with the image they project they do not prompt shoppers to enter either,” says Jean-Marc Mesguich (Window France). And for EuroShop 2017 Window France will definitely have far more in store than “exciting variations of the abstract theme”.

Faces are back again

The fact is: just like the fashion they are wearing, display mannequins follow trends. Triggered by a desire to cut a sharper profile and stronger expression, industry insiders have seen a trend towards semi-abstract mannequins. “A face is at least alluded to. Mannequins are less neutral and it becomes visible: Retailers want to make a statement again showing their true colours. There is a trend towards addressing target groups with a more high-profile message,” explains Cornel Klugmann, Country Manager for the D-A-CH region at Hans Boodt from the Dutch city of Zwijndrecht. Monica Ceruti, in charge of PR & Communication at Almax from Mariano Comense/Italy, agrees: “It is true that demand for abstract mannequins continues to be high but there is a clear trend towards more realistic facial characteristics. This includes such details as the application of eyelashes or wigs. And dynamic postures are also getting more popular again.”

Andreas Gesswein (Genesis Display) remarks: “Especially in the luxury segment we are registering stronger demand for more realistic mannequins with faces and emotional facial expressions that brands are looking for to stand out from the rest.” A trend that Jean-Marc Mesguich (Window France) confirms: “The Haute Couture brands have already abandoned the egghead in exchange for something that will have more impact and - more importantly - get people talking about their brand.” He adds: “The growing trend of viewing fashion and fashion windows online is pushing brands to make more attractive windows and to change their displays on a more regular basis.”

The days of faceless “eggheads” seem to be over. And above and beyond this? “The look and feel is becoming more and more high-end. White and grey are replacing darker shades, glossy replaces matt and aspirational looks with more charisma are more in demand,” says Cornel Klugmann (Hans Boodt). Monica Ceruti (Almax) sees great potential in “handcrafted looks”. This means torsos with and without arms with different materials for the individual components – pedestal, torso and head – and wood as well as metallic surfaces all set the tone here. Sabrina Ciofi from Design Office La Rosa from Palazzolo Milanese/Italy summarises the “principal themes of tomorrow” as follows: “Customers demand high product quality, the right price, maximum after-sales service and high product flexibility and/or diversity.” This statement should be valid across national borders. Otherwise she says despite all the globalisation: “There are as many trends as there are markets.” Monica Ceruti (Almax) concretized: “In Europe and the USA the differences are not fundamental. In the Middle East, however, mannequins without realistic traits continue to be in demand for religious and cultural reasons. This applies especially to female display mannequins.”

Customised becomes cheaper

Producers report that the percentage of customised mannequins is generally rising. These display mannequins are individually and exclusively manufactured to customers’ specifications. In this way retail companies and brands can stand out from their competitors and consistently leverage their CI. At Hans Boodt, for example, the proportion of customised mannequins is now said to be as high as 75%. And thanks to cost-cutting process optimisation it is expected to rise even further. Like Window France these Dutch vendors have now discovered 3D printing which can serve their purposes and their buyers. While in the past prototypes used to be elaborately modelled by sculptors in clay, these can now be “printed” in a time and cost-saving manner. “On top of this, the process is even more true to life and detailed,” delights Cornel Klugmann (Hans Boodt). Graphic designers create the desired mannequins with CAD systems where all the details can be freely configured. Then the files are uploaded to the printer that puts them into practice 1:1. “We can respond to trends so much faster and at the end of the day also design more new collections each year”, Klugmann explains further benefits. Jean-Marc Mesguich (Window France) adds: “Thanks to 3D we can create mannequins that really correspond to each and every brand and every brand’s precise image, to be perfectly in-sync with their public. This is an important evolution in the role that mannequins play.”

Alongside process optimisation sustainability remains important for the sector. “The fashion sector is now highly aware of this topic and attaches importance to its suppliers also complying with the relevant criteria,” explains Monica Ceruti (Almax).   The other market players polled also share this view. For La Rosa, whose mannequins are exclusively designed and manufactured in Italy, sustainability is an integral part of quality. By their own accounts, the Italians have analysed the whole life cycle of their mannequins with a view to minimising their ecological footprint. Almost half of the polystyrene used, they say, is recycled which saves substantial amounts of crude oil and carbon dioxide emissions. On top of this, La Rosa takes back its products after use and re-introduces them into the material cycle. Production operations work with a carbon-capture system, the cooling towers use process water, energy is generated by the company’s own PV park. Andreas Gesswein (Genesis Display) also underscores the importance of this topic: “Our customers focus on trust, honesty and partnership-based cooperation. And this includes providing evidence of sustainability rather than copying other peoples’ marketing straplines. In cooperation with Dupont Tate and Lyle BioProducts we have increased the percentage of biomass in our mannequins even further over the past few years, just the same way we constantly check and optimise our materials, packaging and transport routes for sustainability.” Hans Boodt is also opting for an interesting avenue. The company currently studies whether ocean plastics could be used as a raw material for production.

EuroShop as an opportunity of the future

The display mannequin market is and will be in motion – both on the supply and demand sides. “There are customers who buy their mannequins cheaply online and others who are interested in top quality, professional consulting and holistic visual-merchandising concepts,” explain Andreas Gesswein (Genesis Display) and Cornel Klugmann (Hans Boodt). There should be no doubt about who they expect to be more successful. Andreas Gesswein: “The challenges are enormous. 2016 has been especially challenging for fashion retailers, also in Asia and the USA. Companies are faced with changed market and shopper behaviours. EuroShop 2017 will therefore probably be one of the most important ones since the fair's inception.” Jean-Marc Mesguich emphasizes: “I think that it is essential to be present at EuroShop. For both suppliers and clients. It is a sure way of exchanging views and helps pave the way forward for both parties. This year we are at a turning point in the market, so it will be even more useful for everyone.” Cornel Klugmann also recommends retail representatives to visit the trade fair: “Our innovative power is the opportunity for the future.”
 
EuroShop 2017 will be open to visitors daily from Sunday 5 March 2017 to Thursday 9 March 2015, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. A day ticket is EUR 70 (EUR 50 for an e-ticket, purchased online in advance), 2-day ticket EUR 90 (e-ticket: EUR 70) and a 4-day ticket EUR 150 (e-ticket: EUR 130). Entrance tickets include free trips to and from EuroShop on all trains, buses and trams within the networks of the VRR transport authority (Verkehrsverbund-Rhein-Ruhr).