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(c) Toray
23.11.2021

Toray Industries: A Concept to change Lives

Founded in January 1926, Tokyo-based Japanese chemical company Toray Industries, Inc. is known as the world's largest producer of PAN (polyacrylonitrile)-based carbon fibers. But its overall portfolio includes much more. Textination spoke with Koji Sasaki, General Manager of the Textile Division of Toray Industries, Inc. about innovative product solutions, new responsibilities and the special role of chemical companies in today's world.

Toray Industries is a Japanese company that - originating in 1926 as a producer of viscose yarns - is on the home stretch to its 100th birthday. Today, the Toray Group includes 102 Japanese companies and 180 overseas. They operate in 29 countries. What is the current significance of the fibers and textiles business unit for the success of your company?

Founded in January 1926, Tokyo-based Japanese chemical company Toray Industries, Inc. is known as the world's largest producer of PAN (polyacrylonitrile)-based carbon fibers. But its overall portfolio includes much more. Textination spoke with Koji Sasaki, General Manager of the Textile Division of Toray Industries, Inc. about innovative product solutions, new responsibilities and the special role of chemical companies in today's world.

Toray Industries is a Japanese company that - originating in 1926 as a producer of viscose yarns - is on the home stretch to its 100th birthday. Today, the Toray Group includes 102 Japanese companies and 180 overseas. They operate in 29 countries. What is the current significance of the fibers and textiles business unit for the success of your company?

The fibers’ and textiles’ business is both the starting point and the foundation of Toray's business development today. We started producing viscose yarns in 1926 and conducted our own research and development in nylon fibers as early as 1940. And since new materials usually require new processing methods, Toray also began investing in its own process technology at an early stage. On the one hand, we want to increase our sales, and on the other hand, we want to expand the application possibilities for our materials. For this reason, Toray also began to expand its business from pure fibers to textiles and even clothing. This allows us to better respond to our customers' needs while staying at the forefront of innovation.

Over the decades, Toray has accumulated a great deal of knowledge in polymer chemistry and organic synthesis chemistry - and this know-how is the foundation for almost all of our other business ventures. Today, we produce a wide range of advanced materials and high-value-added products in plastics, chemicals, foils, carbon fiber composites, electronics and information materials, pharmaceuticals, medicine and water treatment. However, fibers and textiles remain our most important business area, accounting for around 40% of the company's sales.

What understanding, what heritage is still important to you today? And how do you live out a corporate philosophy in the textile sector that you formulate as "Contributing to society through the creation of new value with innovative ideas, technologies and products"?

Toray has consistently developed new materials that the world has never seen before. We do this by focusing on our four core technologies: Polymer chemistry, organic synthetic chemistry, biotechnology and nanotechnology. We do this by focusing on our four core technologies: Polymer chemistry, organic synthetic chemistry, biotechnology and nanotechnology. For textiles, this means we use new polymer structures, spinning technologies and processing methods to develop yarns with unprecedented properties. We always focus on the needs and problems of the market and our customers.

This approach enables us to integrate textiles with new functions into our everyday lives that natural fibers and materials cannot accomplish. For example, we offer sportswear and underwear that absorb water excellently and dry very quickly, or rainwear and outdoor clothing with excellent water-repellent properties that feature a less bulky inner lining. Other examples include antibacterial underwear, uniforms, or inner linings that provide a hygienic environment and reduce the growth of odor-causing bacteria. People enjoy the convenience of these innovative textiles every day, and we hope to contribute to their daily comfort and improve their lives in some way.

In 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 sustainable development goals – simply known as the 2030 Agenda, which came into force on January 01, 2016. Countries were given 15 years to achieve them by 2030. In your company, there is a TORAY VISION 2030 and a TORAY SUSTAINABILITY VISION. How do you apply these principles and goals to the textile business? What role does sustainability play for this business area?

Sustainability is one of the most important issues facing the world today - not only in the textile sector, but in all industries. We in the Toray Group are convinced that we can contribute to solving various problems in this regard with our advanced materials. At the same time, the trend towards sustainability offers interesting new business approaches. In our sustainability vision, we have set four goals that the world should achieve by 2050. And we have defined which problems need to be addressed to achieve this.

We must:

  1. accelerate measures to combat climate change,
  2. implement sustainable, recycling-oriented solutions in the use of resources and in production,
  3. provide clean water and air, and
  4. contribute to better healthcare and hygiene for people around the world.

We will drive this agenda forward by promoting and expanding the use of materials that respond to environmental issues. In the textile sector, for example, we offer warming and cooling textiles – by eliminating the need for air conditioning or heating in certain situations, they can help reduce energy costs. We also produce environmentally friendly textiles that do not contain certain harmful substances such as fluorine, as well as textiles made from biomass, which use plant-based fibers instead of conventional petrochemical materials. Our product range also includes recycled materials that reduce waste and promote effective use of resources.

The TORAY VISION 2030, on the other hand, is our medium-term strategic plan and looks at the issue of sustainability from a different angle: Toray has defined the path to sustainable and healthy corporate growth in it. In this plan, we are focusing on two major growth areas: Our Green Innovation Business, which aims to solve environmental, resource and energy problems, and the Life Innovation Business, which focuses on improving medical care, public health, personal safety and ultimately a longer expectancy of life.

Innovation by Chemistry is the claim of the Toray Group. In a world where REACH and Fridays for Future severely restrict the scope of the chemical industry, the question arises as to what position chemistry can have in the textile industry. How do chemistry, innovation and sustainability fit together here?

The chemical industry is at a turning point today. The benefits that this industry can bring to civilization are still enormous, but at the same time, disadvantages such as the waste of resources and the negative impact on the environment and ecosystems are becoming increasingly apparent. In the future, the chemical industry will have to work much more towards sustainability - there is no way around it.

As far as textiles are concerned, we believe there are several ways to make synthetic materials more sustainable in the future. One of these, as I said, is materials made from plants instead of petrochemical raw materials. Another is to reduce the amount of raw materials used in production in the first place – this can be achieved, for example, by collecting and recycling waste materials from production or sales. Biodegradable materials that reduce the impact of waste products on the environment are another option worth pursuing, as is the reduction of environmentally harmful substances used in the production process. We are already looking at all of these possibilities in Toray's synthetic textiles business. At the same time, by the way, we make sure to save energy in our own production and minimize the impact on the environment.

Toray's fibers & textiles segment focuses on synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester and acrylic, as well as other functional fibers. In recent years, there has been a clear trend on the market towards cellulosic fibers, which are also being traded as alternatives to synthetic products. How do you see this development – on the one hand for the Toray company, and on the other hand under the aspect of sustainability, which the cellulosic competitors claim for themselves with the renewable raw material base?

Natural fibers, including cellulose fibers and wool, are environmentally friendly in that they can be easily recycled and are rapidly biodegradable after disposal. However, to truly assess their environmental impact, a number of other factors must also be considered: Primarily, there is the issue of durability: precisely because natural fibers are natural, it is difficult to respond to a rapid increase in demand, and quality is not always stable due to weather and other factors.

Climatic changes such as extreme heat, drought, wind, floods and damages from freezing can affect the quantity and quality of the production of natural fibers, so that the supply is not always secured. In order to increase production, not only does land have to be cleared, but also large amounts of water and pesticides have to be used to cultivate it – all of which is harmful to the environment.

Synthetic fibers, on the other hand, are industrial products manufactured in controlled factory environments. This makes it easier to manage fluctuations in production volume and ensure consistent quality. In addition, certain functional properties such as resilience, water absorption, quick drying and antibacterial properties can be embedded into the material, which can result in textiles lasting longer in use.

So synthetic fibers and natural fibers, including cellulose fibers, have their own advantages and disadvantages – there is no panacea here, at least not at the moment. We believe: It is important to ensure that there are options that match the consumer's awareness and lifestyle. This includes comfort in everyday life and sustainability at the same time.

To what extent has the demand for recycled products increased? Under the brand name &+™, Toray offers a fiber made from recycled PET bottles. Especially with the "raw material base: PET bottles", problems can occur with the whiteness of the fiber. What distinguishes your process from that of other companies and to what extent can you compete with new fibers in terms of quality?

During the production of the "&+" fiber, the collected PET bottles are freed from all foreign substances using special washing and filtering processes. These processes have not only allowed us to solve the problem of fiber whiteness – by using filtered, high-purity recycled polyester chips, we can also produce very fine fibers and fibers with unique cross sections. Our proven process technologies can also be used to incorporate specific textures and functions of Toray into the fiber. In addition, "&+" contains a special substance in the polyester that allows the material to be traced back to the recycled PET bottle fibers used in it.

We believe that this combination of aesthetics, sustainability and functionality makes the recycled polyester fiber "&+" more competitive than those of other companies. And indeed, we have noticed that the number of requests is steadily increasing as companies develop a greater awareness of sustainability as early as the product planning stage.

How is innovation management practiced in Toray's textile division, and which developments that Toray has worked on recently are you particularly proud of?

The textile division consists of three sub-divisions focusing on the development and sale of fashion textiles (WOMEN'S & MEN'S WEAR FABRICS DEPT.), sports and outdoor textiles (SPORTS WEAR & CLOTHING MATERIALS FABRICS DEPT.) and, specifically for Japan, textiles for uniforms used in schools, businesses and the public sector (UNIFORM & ADVANCED TEXTILES DEPT.).

In the past, each division developed its own materials for their respective markets and customers. However, in 2021, we established a collaborative space to increase synergy and share information about textiles developed in different areas with the entire department. In this way, salespeople can also offer their customers materials developed in other departments and get ideas for developing new textiles themselves.

I believe that the new structure will also help us to respond better to changes in the market. We see, for example, that the boundaries between workwear and outdoor are blurring – brands like Engelbert Strauss are a good example of this trend. Another development that we believe will accelerate after the Corona pandemic is the focus on green technologies and materials. This applies to all textile sectors, and we need to work more closely together to be at the forefront of this.

How important are bio-based polyesters in your research projects? How do you assess the future importance of such alternatives?

I believe that these materials will play a major role in the coming years. Polyester is made from purified terephthalic acid (PTA), which again consists of paraxylene (PX) and ethylene glycol (EG). In a first step, we already offer a material called ECODEAR™, which uses sugar cane molasses waste as a raw material for EG production.

About 30% of this at least partially bio polyester fiber is therefore biologically produced, and the material is used on a large scale for sportswear and uniforms. In the next step, we are working on the development of a fully bio-based polyester fiber in which the PTA component is also obtained from biomass raw materials, such as the inedible parts of sugar cane and wood waste.

Already in 2011, we succeeded in producing a prototype of such a polyester fiber made entirely from biomass. However, the expansion of production at the PX manufacturer we are working with has proven to be challenging. Currently, we are only producing small sample quantities, but we hope to start mass production in the 2020s.

Originally starting with yarn, now a leading global producer of synthetic fibers for decades, you also work to the ready-made product. The range extends from protective clothing against dust and infections to smart textiles and functional textiles that record biometric data. What are you planning in these segments?

In the field of protective clothing, our LIVMOA™ brand is our flagship material. It combines high breathability to reduce moisture inside the garment with blocking properties that keep dust and other particles out. The textile is suitable for a wide range of work environments, including those with high dust or grease levels and even cleanrooms. LIVMOA™ 5000, a high quality, also demonstrates antiviral properties and helps to ease the burden on medical personnel. The material forms an effective barrier against bacteria and viruses and is resistant to hygroscopic pressure. Due to its high breathability, it also offers high wearing comfort.

Our smart textile is called hitoe™. This highly conductive fabric embeds a conductive polymer – a polymer compound that allows electricity to pass through - into the nanofiber fabric. hitoe™ is a high-performance material for detecting biosignals, weak electrical signals that we unconsciously emit from our bodies.

In Japan, Toray has developed products for electrocardiographic measurements (ECGs) that meet the safety and effectiveness standards of medical devices. And in 2016, we submitted an application to the Japanese medical administrative authorities to register a hitoe™ device as a general medical device – this registration process is now complete. Overall, we expect the healthcare sector, particularly medical and nursing applications, to grow – not least due to increasing infectious diseases and growing health awareness among the elderly population. We will therefore continue to develop and sell new products for this market.

In 1885, Joseph Wilson Swan introduced the term "artifical silk" for the nitrate cellulose filaments he artificially produced. Later, copper, viscose and acetate filament yarns spun on the basis of cellulose were also referred to as artifical silk. Toray has developed a new innovative spinning technology called NANODESIGN™, which enables nano-level control of the fineness and shape of synthetic fibers. This is expected to create functions, aesthetics and textures that have not existed before. For which applications do you intend to use these products?

In NANODESIGN™ technology, the polymer is split into a number of microscopic streams, which are then recombined in a specific pattern to form a new fiber. By controlling the polymer flow with extreme precision, the fineness and cross-sectional shape of the fiber can be determined much more accurately than was previously possible with conventional microfiber and nanofiber spinning technologies. In addition, this technology enables the combination of three or more polymer types with different properties in one fiber – conventional technologies only manage two polymer types. This technology therefore enables Toray to specify a wide range of textures and functions in the production of synthetic fibers that were not possible with conventional synthetic fibers – and even to outperform the texture and feel of natural fibers. Kinari, our artificial silk developed with NANODESIGN technology, is a prime example here, but the technology holds many more possibilities – especially with regard to our sustainability goals.

What has the past period of the pandemic meant for Toray's textile business so far? To what extent has it been a burden, but in which areas has it also been a driver of innovation? What do you expect of the next 12 months?

The Corona catastrophe had a dramatic impact on the company's results: The Corona catastrophe had a dramatic impact on the company's results: In the financial year 2020, Toray's total sales fell by about 10% to 188.36 billion yen (about 1.44 billion euros) and operating profit by about 28% to 90.3 billion yen (about 690 million euros). The impact on the fiber and textile business was also significant, with sales decreasing by around 13% to 719.2 billion yen (approx. 5.49 billion euros) and operating profit by around 39% to 36.6 billion yen (approx. 280 million euros).

In the financial year 2021, however, the outlook for the fibers and textiles sector is significantly better: So far, the segment has exceeded its goals overall, even if there are fluctuations in the individual areas and applications. In the period from April to June, we even returned to the level of 2019. This is partly due to the recovering sports and outdoor sector. The fashion apparel market, on the other hand, remains challenging due to changing lifestyles that have brought lock-downs and home-office. We believe that a full recovery in business will not occur until the travel and leisure sector returns to pre-Corona levels.

Another side effect of the pandemic that we feel very strongly, is the growing concern about environmental issues and climate change. As a result, the demand for sustainable materials has also increased in the apparel segment. In the future, sustainability will be mandatory for the development and marketing of new textiles in all market segments. Then again, there will always be the question of how sustainable a product really is, and data and traceability will become increasingly important. In the coming years, the textile division will keep a close eye on these developments and develop materials that meet customers' needs.

About the person:
Koji Sasaki joined Toray in 1987. In his more than 30 years with the company, he has held various positions, including a four-year position as Managing Director of Toray International Europe GmbH in Frankfurt from 2016 to 2020. Since 2020, Koji Sasaki has been responsible for Toray's textile division and serves as acting chairman of Toray Textiles Europe Ltd. In these roles, he supervises the company's development, sales and marketing activities in the apparel segment, including fashion, sports and work or school uniforms.

The interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, Managing partner Textination GmbH

(c) Checkpoint Systems
28.09.2021

Checkpoint Systems: Retail Technology Solutions – Success needs a Team

Checkpoint Systems, a division of CCL Industries, is a global leader in retail solutions. The portfolio ranges from electronic article surveillance as well as theft and loss prevention to RFID hardware and software and labeling solutions. The aim is to provide retailers with accurate, real-time inventory, speed up the replenishment cycle, prevent out-of-stocks and reduce theft to improve product availability and the customer shopping experience.

Checkpoint Systems, a division of CCL Industries, is a global leader in retail solutions. The portfolio ranges from electronic article surveillance as well as theft and loss prevention to RFID hardware and software and labeling solutions. The aim is to provide retailers with accurate, real-time inventory, speed up the replenishment cycle, prevent out-of-stocks and reduce theft to improve product availability and the customer shopping experience.

Textination spoke with Miguel Garcia Manso, Business Unit Director Germany at Checkpoint Systems, where the 44-year-old industrial engineering graduate has been working since 2018. With many years of international retail experience, he knows the needs of the retail industry very well. Before that, Miguel Garcia Manso lived in Madrid for almost 15 years, where he worked for the Spanish food retailer DIA. There he also accompanied the introduction and roll-out of article surveillance projects.

 

If you had to present Checkpoint Systems and its portfolio to someone who is not a retail professional – what would you say?

We are the retail partner and our job is to help retailers make shopping as pleasant as possible for their customers. Put simply, our solutions ensure that the right product is in the right place at the right time when the end consumer wants to buy it, instead of standing in front of an empty shelf in the worst-case scenario. Our portfolio ranges from individual anti-theft products to solutions that cover the entire supply chain and provide the greatest possible transparency of inventory.

 

It's been a long journey from the 1960s, when a small team in the U.S. developed a method to prevent the theft of books from public libraries, to becoming the international leader in 21st century article surveillance, operating in 35 countries. What legacy is still important to you today, and how would you describe the spirit at Checkpoint Systems?
 
Both questions have the same answer: On the one hand, innovative strength and, on the other, consistent exchange with the retail industry. Both have been in the focus at Checkpoint Systems from the very beginning. We develop our products and systems in close exchange with the industry, actively seek dialogue, listen to what is needed in everyday life, etc. This is very important to us and is also regularly used as a selling point for Checkpoint Systems. We definitely want to continue this.

 

You offer hardware and software technologies for retail, which is a very complex market. How do the requirements of retailers from the fashion, outdoor and textile industries differ from those of other industries?

The reasons why retail companies contact us are similar across all industries. They all want to delight their customers, retain them in the long term, and generate more sales. The ways to achieve this may differ: From omni-channel strategies for the fashion sector, to article surveillance solutions for high-priced electrical or cosmetic products, and to RFID-based fresh food solutions for food retailers to reduce food waste.
The requirements of the industries differ, especially when it comes to labels. Depending on the size and price of the product as well as the desired technology, we recommend different labels – or develop them in close coordination with the customer. For the Polish fashion company LPP, for example, we have just developed a special dual RF and RFID tag that blends harmoniously into the store design.

 

Magic word RFID – the contactless and automated reading and storing of data based on electromagnetic waves is the centerpiece of your technologies. You even encourage your customers to develop their own RFID strategy. What do you mean by this and are you sure that all retail companies will be able to do this on their own?

We develop the strategy together with our customers, usually as part of a pilot project. Until a few years ago, the introduction of RFID technology was actually more complex and usually involved a project lasting several years. Today, however, we can quickly calculate for each retailer in the context of a small pilot project, how much more profitable they can be with RFID and what their return on investment is. We usually start with a store scan, followed by pilot testing in selected stores, including individual training and on-site support. And by the time it is implemented in all stores, the customers themselves are RFID experts and have an understanding of what they can do with the real-time data. 

 

What does the keyword "customized" mean for Checkpoint Systems? To what extent can you map the individual needs of each customer? Or can you make every retail company – whether chain or boutique – "happy"?

We give high priority to personalized solutions. This concerns, on the one hand, the product itself and, on the other, the size of the company. As you already indicate, large retail chains obviously have different needs than small boutiques. For O₂, Telefónica Germany’s core brand, for example, we have just specially adapted our AutoPeg tags for theft protection. Instead of the standard yellow, the tags for O₂ are white with blue lettering to match the store design.
This also shows the development in the area of article surveillance in general: When article surveillance was still in its infancy, antennas and labels were mainly functional. Nowadays, they blend harmoniously into the overall look of the store design. Retailers no longer have to choose between design and functionality.

 

How is innovation management practiced in your company and which developments that Checkpoint has worked on recently are you particularly proud of?

In recent months, we have worked intensively – together with the German Employers' Liability Insurance Association (Berufsgenossenschaft Handel und Warenlogistik) – on the testing and certification of our article surveillance systems and now we can proudly say: We are the first manufacturer in Germany whose EAS systems have been tested by the CSA Group, an internationally recognized and accredited provider of testing and certification services. The CSA Group has confirmed that our radio frequency-based EAS systems comply with all standards and guidelines applicable in Germany with regard to exposure to electromagnetic fields. No safety distances need to be maintained.
The background is as follows: Retailers in Germany are obliged to prepare a risk assessment if they use an EAS system. The CE declaration of conformity, which they receive from the manufacturer when purchasing an EAS system, is not sufficient for this purpose. By testing our systems, we have created the best conditions for our customers to make such an assessment. We have also provided the relevant documents to the Employer's Liability Insurance Association.

We are also proud of the fact that we have managed to increase the clearance widths of our NEO antennas for article surveillance from two meters to 2.70 meters. This gives retailers significantly more freedom in store design. In general, store design is also a good keyword at this point: With our free-standing antennas, the design of the NS40 or even the possibility of incorporating antennas into checkout systems, we have contributed a great deal to making article surveillance aesthetically pleasing and harmoniously integrated into the whole.

 

The Covid-19 period was a disaster, especially for the stationary retail. In recent months, companies have increasingly moved in the direction of e-commerce – whether via individual store solutions or marketplaces – in order to compensate for at least part of the decline in sales. What is your advice to retailers: Can only omni-channel businesses be successful today and in the future?

Yes, that is definitely our advice to retailers. Omni-channel solutions are not going to disappear, but will continue to become more common and will be indispensable in the near future. Retailers are well advised to adapt to this new situation – also regardless of Corona – and to invest in the expansion of functioning omni-channel solutions. Customers expect the product they want, to be available when they enter a store. And if not, that they can easily have it delivered to the same store or shipped to their home. This only works with very high inventory transparency, for example through our RFID solutions.

 

Keyword: economic efficiency. Creating the much-vaunted personalized perfect shopping experience for the customer costs money, doesn't it? Stock availability, reducing inventories through clearance sales, shelf management, logistics and returns processing – to what extent can you support retailers in increasing their profitability?

NOT creating the perfect shopping experience costs a lot more – dissatisfied customers who haven't found what they want won't come back. To keep up with customer demand, many retailers therefore stock far too much products. In our experience, this amounts to an average of 42,000 items. That costs. These retailers pay high costs for warehouse space, need a lot of time for inventory processes, and end up having to reduce products significantly in order to reduce inventories.
The key to greater profitability lies in inventory accuracy. With the help of RFID technology, we can increase this to up to 99 percent. This allows us to avoid under- or overstocking, reduce the amount of storage space required, and optimize processes, including inventory. RFID can read hundreds of tags simultaneously and is more accurate and faster than manual counting. Experience shows that retailers can increase their sales by an average of three percent with our RFID technology.

 

Even if the situation in retail has eased to some extent as a result of the vaccinations, the shopping situation in on-site stores – viewed optimistically – also requires special precautions, at least for the next few months. With "safer shopping," you offer a package of various components for this purpose. What does it cover?
 
SmartOccupancy is our simple solution for controlling the number of people in salesrooms in real time. The system counts the number of people entering and leaving using Visiplus 3D, an overhead people counting sensor. When the maximum capacity is almost reached, SmartOccupancy sends an alert to the staff. This allows the staff to respond to current occupancy counts in real time, contributing to a safer environment for employees and customers. Those responsible can use SmartOccupancy to implement official instructions on the maximum number of people safely and reliably; manual counting is no longer necessary. A visual capacity indicator clearly shows customers at the door whether they are allowed to enter the store or not.
The second solution is primarily of interest to the textile and clothing industry as well as the footwear market: Inventory Quarantine is a software solution for secure, automated returns (SaaS-based). It allows retailers to park returned goods in an automated quarantine queue for a few hours. After the pre-defined time has passed, Inventory Quarantine notifies employees via push message that the piece of clothing or shoe can be cleared back to the floor or re-tagged as available in the online store. This means that items are only released when they are deemed safe for resale – while ensuring that items are put back on sale promptly. The solution helps retailers keep track of returned goods and minimize the time when products are not available on sale.

 

"Ethical consumption has finally become an attitude and has arrived in the middle of society," trend researcher Peter Wippermann commented on the results of the Otto Group's latest trend study "Living More Consciously". What does sustainability mean to Checkpoint Systems as a company, how do you reflect this finding in your product portfolio and how do you support your customers in achieving sustainability goals?

Sustainability is definitely an important topic for us at Checkpoint Systems. We regularly review our products and processes to see how we can work even more resource-efficiently, reduce production waste and lower our CO2 emissions. This also includes, how we can further reduce the power consumption of our antennas. We only develop and sell RF antennas. This technology is not only safer in terms of exposure to electromagnetic fields, but also more environmentally friendly: RF antennas require 40 to 70 percent less energy than other technologies.

Source:

The Interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, Managing Partner, Textination GmbH.

(c) Befeni GmbH
27.04.2021

Befeni: FashionTech contra Fast Fashion

  • Sustainable fashion through highly automated just-in-time production on customer demand

The Befeni Group, based in Langenfeld (North Rhine-Westphalia) and Bangkok (Thailand), is one of the world's leading fashion tech companies with over 200 employees and around 200,000 customised shirts and blouses sold.

Thanks to highly automated processes and just-in-time production, the fashion start-up, which has been on the market for four years, is able to offer individually designed and custom-made fashion of high quality within a very short time. In addition to shirts and blouses, the range also includes jumpers, underwear and accessories.

  • Sustainable fashion through highly automated just-in-time production on customer demand

The Befeni Group, based in Langenfeld (North Rhine-Westphalia) and Bangkok (Thailand), is one of the world's leading fashion tech companies with over 200 employees and around 200,000 customised shirts and blouses sold.

Thanks to highly automated processes and just-in-time production, the fashion start-up, which has been on the market for four years, is able to offer individually designed and custom-made fashion of high quality within a very short time. In addition to shirts and blouses, the range also includes jumpers, underwear and accessories.

At Befeni, customers are measured personally and their data is then recorded in an online system. On this basis, a pattern is created in the in-house production in Bangkok and the garment is produced as an individual one-off. The customised order is then handed over personally by trained Befeni fashion consultants.

By deliberately avoiding middlemen, the company relies on a global value chain and offers fashion from in-house production at convincing conditions: The employees in Bangkok receive above-average pay. The individually made-to-measure shirt is available at a fixed price of 39.90 EUR. And the products are sold exclusively through 5,000 qualified fashion consultants in direct sales.

Sustainable Fashion as a future market

Constant new trends, quickly produced seasonal items in quantities and the disposal of surplus items are part of everyday life in today's fashion world. In the wake of the Corona crisis, this situation has become even more acute.

„We believe that the fast fashion trend is finite and that a rethink will take place among customers, the fashion industry and producers," says Maik Ernst, founder and CEO of Befeni. "Through our highly automated business model, we are able to sell directly from our fair, in-house production, excluding any middlemen. This way, we deliver the high-quality and handmade product a maximum of 3 weeks after receiving the customer's order - with personal advice from over 5,000 qualified, independent fashion consultants."

Jan Fennel, founder of Befeni and managing director of the in-house production in Bangkok, adds: "We also want our employees in Asia to benefit from the direct connection between production and customers. We are proud to give them pleasure not only through a monetary contribution, but also through direct feedback and appreciation - for example via video directly from the customers. With our working conditions, we also want to show that health, fun and care are a central part of the work in our team.“

Rethinking: How fashion is produced and offered

The Befeni tipping principle
The company has developed a system where satisfied customers can give a tip to "their" personal tailors. This goes directly to the tailors in the company's own production without deduction. The company wants to set an example and sees this approach as proof that an international fashion company can actively work for better working conditions in the manufacturing countries.

Facts and figures four years after the company was founded

  • Production
    Befeni produced 30% more blouses and shirts in 2020 compared to the previous year.
    No fast fashion, sustainable, demand-oriented production: production only starts after customer order, made to measure according to the individual measurements of the customers.
  • Increase in turnover
    Turnover generated in 2020: around EUR 6 million, +155% compared to the previous year
  • Number of customers
    +100% compared to the previous year: the number of customers rose from 40,000 to over 80,000, of which almost 10,000 are in Austria
  • Personnel policy
    Permanent employment of employees, above-average salaries and tip principle
  • Customizing: fashion according to individual customer wishes
    Customers can choose from more than 80 fabrics, different collar and cuff shapes and designs for each fashion piece.
Photo: pixabay
13.04.2021

KPMG Study in Cooperation with EHI: Fashion 2030

For years now, fashion retail has been able to show a moderate but steady growth in sales. However, the share of sales accounted for by online retail is becoming significantly stronger, and consequently that of stationary retail is becoming weaker. In just 10 years, online fashion retail will have a market share as high as that of local fashion stores, according to one of the findings of the study "Fashion 2030 - Seeing what fashion will be tomorrow" by KPMG in cooperation with EHI. "For retailers, the decline in sales in the stationary sector means that they have to reduce their stationary areas," says Marco Atzberger, Managing Director of EHI. A dilemma, because the majority of customers prefer to shop in their local fashion store, despite all the online alternatives.

For years now, fashion retail has been able to show a moderate but steady growth in sales. However, the share of sales accounted for by online retail is becoming significantly stronger, and consequently that of stationary retail is becoming weaker. In just 10 years, online fashion retail will have a market share as high as that of local fashion stores, according to one of the findings of the study "Fashion 2030 - Seeing what fashion will be tomorrow" by KPMG in cooperation with EHI. "For retailers, the decline in sales in the stationary sector means that they have to reduce their stationary areas," says Marco Atzberger, Managing Director of EHI. A dilemma, because the majority of customers prefer to shop in their local fashion store, despite all the online alternatives.

Textiles, media and electrical goods are currently the categories most frequently purchased online. Consumers believe that online shopping in these categories will also be particularly attractive in the future, although there is also considerable interest in online purchasing of furniture, drugstore and hardware store products.

With sales of 16.5 billion euros, online fashion retail already accounts for 25 percent of total fashion sales, which were around 66 billion euros in 2020. The experts at KPMG and EHI predict that this share will double in the next ten years. The forecasted annual sales of 79.2 billion euros in 2030 are to be divided equally between online and stationary stores. In order to position itself correctly here, the textile trade is facing strategic changes in terms of sustainability and digitization in addition to reductions in retail space. Concepts such as circular economy (recycling) or re-commerce (second-hand) are just as much part of the customer's demands as a smooth (channel-independent) shopping experience or a targeted customer approach.

Online information sources are becoming increasingly important for customers. However, browsing in stores continues to be the main source of information when shopping. One exception, however, is electrical goods - the independent opinion of reviews is the most important source of information here.

Reductions in retail space
As the market share of online fashion retail is becoming increasingly stronger than that of the overall fashion market, there will be a scissor effect for the stationary clothing retail – unless decisive parameters such as store rents change. Permanently reducing the share of fixed costs in the stationary sector can lead to a harmonization of both sales channels and prevent massive cannibalization effects, according to the authors of the study. The reduction in retail space will have the most severe impact on department stores and multi-story formats. Interviews with retail experts show that the retail expects a reduction in space of around 50 percent by 2030 and anticipates shrinkages of up to 70 percent at peak times. However, the current crisis also offers fashion retailers a greater choice of appealing rental spaces and therefore the opportunity to position themselves for the future by strategically streamlining their own store networks, adapting their space and differentiating their concepts to suit their target customers - in combination with smart digital solutions.

Multi-channel approaches are continuing to grow. On the one hand, stationary retailers will increasingly enter the online market; on the other hand, it can be observed that the opening of their own local stores by previously online-only retailers is on the rise.

Shopping experience
For a successful shopping experience, the city centers must be vibrant as well as attractive and should offer entertainment. All of this requires cooperation between all of the local players involved and collaboration with conceptually oriented urban development. To increase the individual customer loyalty and build real trust, fashion retailers must invest more in emotionality and use IT solutions. Whether in-store or online, customers want a targeted and smooth shopping experience, which for retailers means cleverly linking the systems. Availability and finding clothes in the right size also play a significant role in the stationary fashion retail. 42 percent of customers say that they would shop more often in stores, if these factors were guaranteed.

Already today, a concrete shortage of qualified personnel can be observed in certain regions and areas of responsibility. This is likely to become even more severe in the future. The retail’s own qualification measures will increase, and the industry's image will have to be improved.

Despite all technological support, the human being remains the most important factor in retailing - 88 percent agree on this. For 60 percent of consumers, encounters with people in a retail store are becoming increasingly important.

Sustainability
For almost half of the consumers surveyed (46 percent), sustainability is already a worthwhile concept today. This also includes re-commerce and second-hand. 34 percent of customers already buy used clothing, and another 28 percent can imagine doing so. In terms of occasions, a large proportion can also imagine renting clothing. The second-hand clothing trend has the potential to claim a market share of up to 20 percent in the next ten years and therefore to become a significant market segment in fashion retail.

In addition to the sustainability debate, the main factors driving this trend are the digitalization of the "second-hand store around the corner" and the large online fashion platforms that are discovering this market for themselves and making consumers increasingly aware of the models of temporary use.

Laws and regulations as well as increasing pressure from stakeholders have contributed to the growing importance of sustainability. However, the consumer goods sector attaches greater importance than other sectors to the aspect of being able to achieve a reputational gain through a sustainability strategy.

When it comes to the circular economy or rather the recycling of raw materials from used clothing, many companies are already involved in non-profit initiatives and research projects to develop the relevant technologies. In 2030, also due to legal initiatives, many clothing items will probably be made from recycled textile raw materials or fibers, which would substantially shorten the supply chains. "Automated fiber recovery, increasing unit labor costs in the Far East and fewer used textiles, this is the starting point for a perspective revival of textile production in countries close to Europe as well as in Europe itself," says Stephan Fetsch, Head of Retail EMA at KPMG. Although circular economy does not yet play a major role due to the current limited availability, it shows great potential: 28 percent have already purchased recycled textiles, and over 50 percent are positive about it.

Customers believe that retailers and manufacturers are responsible for sustainability. They, on the other hand, would like consumers to initiate the upswing of re-commerce by changing their behavior. New compliance guidelines will have an accelerating effect on the development of the re-commerce market.

Source:

(Studies; KPMG/EHI or rather KPMG):
- Fashion 2030: Sehen, was morgen Mode ist (Seeing what fashion will be tomorrow - only available in German)
- CONSUMER MARKETS: Trends in Handel 2020 (Trends in Retail 2020 - only available in German)

(c) Hochschule Niederrhein
06.04.2021

120 Years of Textile Training in Mönchengladbach

The Faculty of Textile and Clothing Technology at the Hochschule Niederrhein is celebrating a double anniversary this year. Firstly, the Hochschule Niederrhein will be 50 years old. Secondly, the Prussian Higher School for the Textile Industry was founded 120 years ago. This later became the Textile Engineering School, which was then integrated into the Faculty of Textile and Clothing Technology at the Hochschule Niederrhein in 1971. 

This year's Master Congress on April 23, 2021 embraces this double anniversary. The Congress is entitled: NOW AND THEN - MG CREATES CAREERS.

The Faculty of Textile and Clothing Technology at the Hochschule Niederrhein is celebrating a double anniversary this year. Firstly, the Hochschule Niederrhein will be 50 years old. Secondly, the Prussian Higher School for the Textile Industry was founded 120 years ago. This later became the Textile Engineering School, which was then integrated into the Faculty of Textile and Clothing Technology at the Hochschule Niederrhein in 1971. 

This year's Master Congress on April 23, 2021 embraces this double anniversary. The Congress is entitled: NOW AND THEN - MG CREATES CAREERS.

“Textile education in Mönchengladbach has a significant historical legacy of which we are very proud," comments Professor Dr Lutz Vossebein, Dean of the Faculty of Textile and Clothing Technology. With over 2,000 students and more than 30 professors, the Faculty is now one of the largest educational institutions in the field of textiles and clothing – even on a European scale.

“The Master Congress is aimed at students and partners of the Faculty as well as of the Research Institute for Textiles and Clothing from the fields of business, research and teaching as well as politics. As always, current topics will be presented at a high level by the aspiring engineers," says Prof. Dr. Maike Rabe, who initiated the Master Congress five years ago. This year's keynote speaker is Dr Uwe Mazura, Managing Director of the Confederation of the German Textile and Fashion Industry in Berlin. One of his topics will be corporate due diligence or, in short, the Supply Chain Law. “This is what the future and seasoned professionals in the industry have to get to grips with," explains the planning team with Oliver Heß, Dr Esther Rohleder and Iris Siebgens.

On April 15, 1901, the green light was given for textile education and training in Mönchengladbach. On this day the Higher Vocational School located on the Mönchengladbach / Rheydt city border welcomed its first students. This event was preceded by the growth of the textile industry in the 19th century, which was driven by the development of industrial spinning, weaving and finishing machines, and which led to an increase in the demand for skilled workers and managers, particularly in Mönchengladbach and the surrounding area.

The Mönchengladbach school was special as it united several departments under one roof. In addition to textile production, from 1912 there was a clothing department, which was expanded with time. Classes subsequently taught students about women's outerwear, lingerie, workwear and sportswear. The "Prussian Higher School for the Textile Industry", at that time unique in Germany, combined a wide range of subjects in the field of textile and clothing technology.
 
Due to the large number of students in the clothing departments, in 1932 the school was renamed "Higher Clothing Vocational School”. It was the first educational institution in Germany to be authorised to train clothing engineers. This upgraded the school to an engineering school, adding subjects such as costing, business organisation, performance and work planning.

The Faculty of Textile and Clothing Technology, which came into being when the Hochschule Niederrhein was founded in 1971, united the expertise of the former Textile Engineering School in Mönchengladbach – but also of the schools in Cologne, Bielefeld, Aachen, Wuppertal and naturally Krefeld. Krefeld, also a textile location with a long tradition in the region, was compensated for the departure of textile training to Mönchengladbach by the fact that the administration of the new University of Applied Sciences came to Krefeld.

One of the pioneers for the foundation of the University was Prof. Dr. Rolf Klinke. Fifty years ago, he was Chairman of the Planning Committee and then, as Vice-President of the young University of Applied Sciences and at the same time the first Dean of the Faculty of Textile and Clothing Technology, he was a central figure in the founding years. On the occasion of the Digital Master Congress 2021 he will be a guest of honour and will hold a talk about this time. The Master Congress is free of charge and will be held on Friday, April 23, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 4.15 p.m. For the full program and registration form visit: www.hs-niederrhein.de/ftb/#c129082

(c) Neonyt/Messe Frankfurt GmbH
30.03.2021

Circularity and Fashion: Interview about the Business and Communication Platform Neonyt

Circular instead of throwaway economy - from fast fashion to zero-waste philosophy. The key elements of the circular economy in the fashion business are: Avoiding waste and pollution through new processes, continuous recycling of products and materials, and regeneration of natural systems. Textination talked with Olaf Schmidt, Vice President of Textiles & Textile Technologies, and Thimo Schwenzfeier, Show Director of Neonyt, from Messe Frankfurt about the Neonyt trade show as a business and communication platform for circularity & fashion.
 
It has been about 10 years since Messe Frankfurt ventured onto the "sustainable" fashion trade show stage. Initially with the Ethical Fashion Show, then with the Greenshowroom, there were two trade show formats in Berlin dedicated to the topic of green fashion. What prompted you as a trade show organizer to launch such a special format in Germany at that time?

Circular instead of throwaway economy - from fast fashion to zero-waste philosophy. The key elements of the circular economy in the fashion business are: Avoiding waste and pollution through new processes, continuous recycling of products and materials, and regeneration of natural systems. Textination talked with Olaf Schmidt, Vice President of Textiles & Textile Technologies, and Thimo Schwenzfeier, Show Director of Neonyt, from Messe Frankfurt about the Neonyt trade show as a business and communication platform for circularity & fashion.
 
It has been about 10 years since Messe Frankfurt ventured onto the "sustainable" fashion trade show stage. Initially with the Ethical Fashion Show, then with the Greenshowroom, there were two trade show formats in Berlin dedicated to the topic of green fashion. What prompted you as a trade show organizer to launch such a special format in Germany at that time?

Olaf Schmidt: Messe Frankfurt's Texpertise Network brings together the world's most important textile trade shows - at around 60 events worldwide, we show what drives the textile and fashion industry. We present the current topics and trends and set impulses for the entire textile value chain. Messe Frankfurt recognized the need for a suitable platform for the future topic of sustainability at an early stage. It was therefore obvious to expand our expertise in the field of fashion and to meet the demand from this segment. To achieve this, we have adapted and realigned existing formats: After launching the Ethical Fashion Show in Paris in 2004, Messe Frankfurt France took over the event in 2010. Two years later, Messe Frankfurt founded the Ethical Fashion Show Berlin in Germany and found, with the moving of the event to the polarizing capital, the ideal location for the coming years. Messe Frankfurt merged the already existing Greenshowroom with the Ethical Fashion Show, and from January 2015 the two shows took place in one venue. For Messe Frankfurt, hosting these events was the next logical step on our way to a sustainable fashion future - the concept is now established in the sustainable fashion market and has a continuous growth potential. The merging of the trade show duo in 2019, with the current name Neonyt, allowed us, our exhibitors and visitors a new content orientation and a holistic approach to the topic of sustainability as well as a more direct access to the conventional fashion market, especially with regard to retail. In summer 2021, Neonyt will take place for the first time in the new fashion hotspot Frankfurt as part of the new Frankfurt Fashion Week.

 
In 2019, both event formats were merged, the new trade show Neonyt was born and 1 + 1 became what? What components does Neonyt offer in addition to the previous trade show concepts, what is so "new-new" and how did you actually come up with the name?

Thimo Schwenzfeier: One plus one, as you so nicely put it, did not simply add up to two with Neonyt. One plus one equals unique, neo-new, internationally relevant: Among other things, the trade show business was supplemented by the international conference format Fashionsustain and a showcase to gradually bring
together the topic of sustainability with the topics of technology, innovation and prepress. Our content creator format Prepeek ensures the necessary lifestyle and the fashion show provides the glamour of the fashion world. Neonyt combines the most important elements of the international textile and fashion industry - style, business, inspiration, innovation, knowledge, fun and community. And that is exactly what makes Neonyt so "new-new". Progressive and polarizing - the artificial word Neonyt is derived from the ancient Greek word "neo" (eng. new, revolutionary) and the Scandinavian word "nytt" (eng. new). "The renewed new" - Neonyt is our synonym for the fundamental transformation process of the textile and fashion industry, a reinterpretation of what has already been there and our commitment not to stand still and to promote positive change together.

 
For the Neonyt trade show format, you have teamed up with partners - for example, for conferencing components and in the design area. What expertise do they provide, and what is the added value for exhibitors and visitors?

Thimo Schwenzfeier: We know which future topics our brands and the community are currently dealing with and therefore create the right platform - for personal encounters and exchange, for networking and successful business deals. To put it simply: we organize trade shows, we organize events, we provide the right setting, we connect people and business. Neonyt therefore forms the global interface between the various players in the textile and fashion industry - between industry, trade, politics, services and consumption. And so that a lively, transparent and, above all, authentic dialog can develop between all counterparts, we naturally draw on the knowledge of industry experts and form strong partnerships to push fashion and sustainability forward. Only together can we achieve real change and guarantee that our community is provided with sufficient and, above all, the right information to make self-determined decisions.
 

In recent years, the keyword circularity - or rather closing the loop - has been encountered everywhere in the fashion industry. Whether Stella McCartney, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, or large retail groups - many players and decision-makers are of the opinion that the future of the fashion world lies only in a circular economy and not in downcycling of any kind. What is Neonyt's view on this?
         
Thimo Schwenzfeier: That's right, the concept of circular economy is not new, nor is it limited to the textile and fashion industry. Circularity - actually the ultimate for every product, every industry, for our global society. The concept is supposedly simple: All materials and products are kept in a closed loop, the useful life is increased and at the end of the product life cycle everything is recycled. Many sustainable fashion labels are already showing how it's done. Neonyt brands are right at the forefront and are already implementing practices that should become the norm as soon as possible: starting with T-shirts or shoes made from recycled materials and take-back systems for collection items. As well as compostable clothing that "dissolves" at the end of the product life cycle and breaks down into its natural components, and on to repair services and leasing models for denim and co. - thinking holistically, acting in a sustainable manner and producing in a circular way are definitely the trends of the coming fashion seasons and at least one important, if not the most important, component of the future fashion world.

 
For the idea of a circular economy to be implemented successfully, there needs to be an interplay between technology, production, design and sales. What presentation options and forms of communication does Neonyt have in store for the various components?  

Thimo Schwenzfeier: The combined innovative power of technology, sustainability and digitization is an important driver of the current developments in the textile and fashion industry - including the topic of circularity. Processes and production sequences are changing along the entire value chain - the industry has to reinvent itself for the most part. Neonyt shows how this can work successfully in the long term, with the internationally established Fashionsustain conference format - including spin-offs in China, Europe and the USA - and the supplementary Showcase. Together, these two formats offer the ideal mix of orientation and inspiration to prepare the industry for the future. Virtual fashion, authentic brands and textile value chains, science and innovation as well as retail, business models and impact investment - at Fashionsustain, top-class experts will exchange ideas with an interested professional audience and discuss the change and new solutions in the textile and fashion industry. The Neonyt Showcase takes a deeper look at the topics and innovations presented and discussed on the Fashionsustain stage. Expert knowledge on-demand, so to speak: whether microfactories or installations - Neonyt brands as well as brands from the rest of the Texpertise Network of Messe Frankfurt, such as exhibitors at Texprocess, get the chance to present sustainable innovations, new technologies and materials, initiatives, change-maker campaigns or research projects. Here they interact directly and practically with Neonyt's international cross-sector community.
 

Last year was an unprecedented challenge for trade show companies due to the pandemic situation. Neonyt was also affected by this - and physical events had to be canceled. With a digital format "Neonyt on Air" you have tried to offer exhibitors and visitors an alternative platform. What has been your experience: Did the focus of the trade show and its community perhaps even help to make such a virtual event easier to launch? 

Olaf Schmidt: Corona has already changed a lot and will certainly continue to do so in one way or another. Nevertheless, it will continue to be our task as trade show organizers to offer the industry the best possible meeting platforms for presenting their new products worldwide. We are convinced that people will continue to want to meet in person and discuss new products as well as services in the future. This is particularly the case in the textile sector, where haptics plays a very crucial role. We expect that there will even be a certain catch-up effect after the crisis. Because what the last two very successful digital seasons of Neonyt on Air, for example, have nevertheless shown clearly: Fashion lives from personalities, presentation and inspiration. Digital formats can support this, but they cannot fully replace it.
 
Thimo Schwenzfeier: The digital Neonyt on Air was far from being a total replacement for the original physical seasons, but nevertheless a huge success. For one week, fashion, lifestyle and digital experts were discussing about more authenticity, immediacy and transparency in the textile and fashion industry in numerous keynotes, interviews and panel discussions. With more than 24,000 international followers on Instagram, we generated around 50,000 impressions and more than 4,700 content interactions with our presenting partners Grüner Knopf, Hessnatur and Oeko-Tex in just five days. These figures show, that the topic of sustainability has arrived in the middle of society and is being discussed across all industries. I think that the polarization and, above all, the prevailing restrictions, as far as trade and commerce are concerned, have certainly contributed to holding a successful digital format. Digitization was truly the booster for the fashion industry in this case: Instead of replacing personal exchange, it helps to maintain and expand the business activities of brands, especially in the current times. And quite clearly, the need for exchange in the fashion industry and the motivation to initiate together a change are still enormous. Neonyt on Air has once again shown us that clearly. However, we are already looking forward to the next physical edition of Neonyt.
 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also left its mark on the textile and clothing industry. When you look back on just under a year of "state of emergency" - what positive experiences do you take with you, where do you see a need for improvement, for what support are you grateful for and where did you feel you were left on your own? 

Olaf Schmidt: A year like no other - that can clearly be said about the last one. The Corona pandemic caught everyone off guard - us as trade show organizers, but of course also our exhibitors, visitors and partners. Especially in the near future, we must continue to expect, that trade shows can only be held under stricter health and safety regulations at first. Messe Frankfurt reacted quickly and developed a comprehensive safety and hygiene concept. One thing was clear: we all had to adjust and deal with a new situation. And so far, we've done a great job together, the team understanding among each other, the close contact - although physically at a distance, but globally networked - between all those involved, makes me feel positive about the future. For me, an important realization of this global pandemic, a credo almost, is to be open to new ways and opportunities and to find ways to combine things rather than separate them: Hybrid solutions, so to speak.    

Thimo Schwenzfeier: There was no master plan for Neonyt, and in places there was also the impression that we now had to "reinvent the wheel": How does collaboration work when face-to-face meetings cannot take place? Can digitized contact compensate for the social distancing that is currently being imposed and still make it possible to work closely together? How can business relationships be maintained when stores are closed? How can priorities be set when well-tested solutions and established annual plans lose their validity? Who am I, who are 'the others' and what defines community? Never have questions about our creation and existence, about what makes us who we are and what we want to be, been more relevant than right now. One thing that I take away from the current situation and that allows me to continue to look forward positively despite difficult circumstances is the fact, that cohesion and solidarity with one another - both privately and professionally - have become increasingly important. Like a magnifying glass, the crisis has magnified existing opportunities, but also challenges, and brought the essentials into focus. I think that if we continue to try to experience things more consciously and not take them for granted, we will manage together to create a " new normal " and leave this crisis with more strength.
 

As in the past in Berlin, Neonyt is currently also located in Frankfurt in the environment of the Fashion Week and conventional trade shows. Can you imagine that a special event concept like Neonyt will be unnecessary in a few years, because the circularity concept will have established itself in the clothing industry worldwide?

Olaf Schmidt: A clear no. Sustainability per se is already no longer a unique selling point. The important thing is to keep up with the times, to follow trends or, even better, to track down new trends yourself and develop them further. Things, strategies, concepts will always change - if last year showed us one thing, it was certainly that. It is more than desirable that we all learn from this crisis and reflect on the really important values, on solidarity between partners, on climate protection and sustainability. It may be exactly for this reason, that companies that place particular emphasis on sustainability will emerge even stronger from this crisis. So you can be sure that we, as a leading international trade show organizer for the textile industry, will continue to focus on sustainability and support future-oriented companies and solutions. However, this will not make our formats obsolete due to the establishment and normalization of holistic business practices in the textile industry. But it is impossible to make an exact forecast for the coming decades. Over the last few months, we have all noticed ourselves in our personal everyday lives or in our professional lives, how uncertain and volatile the future is. What is clear, however, is that the fashion industry - the world in general - will change even faster than before. And therein lies the opportunity for formats like Neonyt. The ten-year history shows in how many directions Neonyt has already developed, content focal points have been shifted and it has reinvented itself - this will also be the case in the future.
 

Mr. Schwenzfeier, in addition to your role as Director of Marketing Communications for Messe Frankfurt's textile exhibitions, you have also been Show Director of Neonyt since 2018. You have spoken to many exhibitors and visitors - which ideas or creations have particularly impressed you?

Thimo Schwenzfeier: I think it's not so much the individual innovations or creations of the exhibitors at our trade shows. And I deliberately choose the plural here. Because in my function as Director of Marketing Communications in the Textiles & Textile Technologies division of Messe Frankfurt, Neonyt is just one of "my" events. I think it's more the variety of fashion, technical and professional innovations that brands, labels, companies, start-ups and designers present every year. But if I really had to choose one innovation, it would probably be the vegan "Currywurst" sneakers made of red pepper and recycled PET bottles - the same label also offers shoes made of wood, stone, coffee and mushrooms or now even meteorite particles. It is impressive to experience every season anew of how creative the textile and fashion industry is.
 

Breaking new ground means being willing to make decisions, overcoming fears - and thus also having the courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect, about which entrepreneurial decision by Messe Frankfurt are you particularly glad, that you made?
 
Olaf Schmidt: Clearly the decision to create Neonyt. To establish our own trade show format for fashion, sustainability and innovation and to integrate the freedom and lifestyle, which entail this topic, into our event. After more than a decade, we may be saying goodbye to Berlin in 2021, but not to our community and our spirit. Together we look back on many fashionable seasons and great locations in the capital: starting in the Hotel Adlon Kempinski to the Ewerk, the Postbahnhof, the Kronprinzenpalais, the Funkhaus and the Kraftwerk to the last physical event in Tempelhof. With the turn of the year and in the setting of Frankfurt Fashion Week, Neonyt is about to move to the metropolis by the Main. In Frankfurt, worlds collide: Skyscrapers and 19th-century villas. Architectural sins and masterpieces. Business and middle class. Red-light district and luxury boulevard. Frankfurt Fashion Week sets new impulses in this area of conflict. And in the middle of all this is Neonyt. The signs are pointing to a new beginning - a restart for the entire fashion industry, together we are taking sustainability to the next level - the focus topics Applied Sustainability and Applied Digitization are creating a completely new Fashion Week ecosystem in the metropolis by the Main.
 

If everything works out, Neonyt can be held again as a face-to-face event for the first time in July 2021. What are your plans? What and who can visitors look forward to? And what backup is there for a worst-case scenario?

Thimo Schwenzfeier: Of course, due to the currently ongoing tense situation around Covid-19, it is difficult to make binding statements about the next physical event. However, we are cur rently expecting the situation to ease into the summer summer 2021 is therefore on the health of everyone - exhibitors, visitors, partners and employees of Neonyt. Messe Frankfurt has developed a concept that includes detailed hygienic measures: Hygiene, distance and fresh air supply are important factors, which we coordinate with the responsible authorities in Frankfurt and those in charge of Frankfurt Fashion Week. In due course, the Neonyt community will receive advice and recommendations for the trade show attendance and participation, that comply with current regulations. We have not yet thought about a concrete backup for a worst-case scenario, as we are currently anticipating a physical B2B event - but the last two seasons have shown, should it not be possible to hold the Neonyt face-to-face, that we are quite well positioned with the digital Neonyt on Air and could certainly adapt the format for another summer event. We regularly exchange ideas with all market participants and try to get a sense of opinions and wishes from our community through surveys. Wait and see, one might say - in the end, we also have to act according to what the current health situation allows and what decisions are made by politicians.

The Interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius,
Managing Partner, Textination GmbH

(c) JUMBO-Textil GmbH & Co. KG. CEO Andreas Kielholz (r.) and Business Development Manager Patrick Kielholz in the state-of-the-art production facility of JUMBO-Textil GmbH & Co. KG.
23.03.2021

JUMBO-Textil – Innovative Narrow Textiles redefined

A dynamic family business as a future-oriented solution partner for high-tech elastics
 
The various branches of the German textile and fashion industry generate a combined annual turnover of around € 32 billion. Of the approximately 1,400 companies, the vast majority are medium-sized. Special solutions made in Germany are in demand. The importance of technical textiles has been growing for years - as has their share of turnover. Textination spoke with Andreas and Patrick Kielholz about innovative product solutions, the importance of family businesses in today's world, traditions and innovations, challenges and the courage to fail, aircraft construction, the automotive industry, medical technology and diving suits.

A dynamic family business as a future-oriented solution partner for high-tech elastics
 
The various branches of the German textile and fashion industry generate a combined annual turnover of around € 32 billion. Of the approximately 1,400 companies, the vast majority are medium-sized. Special solutions made in Germany are in demand. The importance of technical textiles has been growing for years - as has their share of turnover. Textination spoke with Andreas and Patrick Kielholz about innovative product solutions, the importance of family businesses in today's world, traditions and innovations, challenges and the courage to fail, aircraft construction, the automotive industry, medical technology and diving suits.


The history of today's company "JUMBO-Textil GmbH & Co. KG" goes back to the last millennium. Founded in 1909 in Wuppertal, you have moved beyond the production of pure yard goods for the lingerie industry and are now a demanded competence partner for high-tech solutions for narrow textiles. Which industries do you focus on when developing your technical textiles?

Andreas Kielholz: JUMBO-Textil focuses on particular competences in the field of narrow textiles and not on specific industries. We produce narrow fabrics, narrow braids and knitted fabrics. In these three fields we bring out our special competences: Elastics, individual solutions and individually fabricated elements in combination with non-textile components. There is, of course, a long-standing intensive cooperation with customers from the automotive industry, for example. In this sense, JUMBO-Textil is also an "interior expert". However, this does not imply a focus on a specific industry. Quite the opposite: We are very broadly positioned in terms of industries. New sectors are opening up all the time; most recently, we supplied the toy industry with textiles specially developed for babies and toddlers. We also supplied the medical technology sector with narrow-textile solutions in form of skin-friendly elastics.


Speaking of Elastics - how did the specialization come about?

Patrick Kielholz: The specialization in elastic narrow textiles began as early as the 1920s. In our entrance area you can see one of the first specialized braiding machines that was purchased for this purpose. It is about 100 years old. A landmark decision: It made the step from apparel textiles to technical textiles, which - many years later – became essential for survival, if not possible, then at least considerably easier.
 

What characterizes elastics? Why is the property so important for technical textiles?

Andreas Kielholz: Technical textiles, as well known, are textiles that are developed for a specific technical function. They have to, if you like, be capable of doing something: securing a load, sealing an opening, protecting from heat ... Many of these industrial functions can only be accomplished with elastic textiles - from applications in aircraft construction to protective suits for divers and to textiles in medicine. It is often the specific, highly precisely defined strength-elongation-ratio that makes use in such extreme, highly demanding applications possible. Innovative fibers are manufactured and finished by us on highly modern, digitally controlled equipment. In this way, we achieve highest precision and safety in the elongation properties and and produce a textile high-tech product with high-performance fibers for extreme, often individually requested technical applications.
 

And what does your product portfolio look like for your customers as a whole?

Patrick Kielholz: The spectrum ranges from woven tapes and belts to braided tape, tubular braids and braided cords to nets - in all widths, made from numerous raw materials and with specific, even demanding properties, special features and fabrications. As a solution partner, we often guide our customers from the initial idea to the finished product.
The importance of narrow textiles as components is growing visibly. Since they are very light, very efficient and at the same time very quiet, they are being used more frequently as an alternative to components made of other materials. The demands placed on the textiles are growing with their tasks: Their specifications are becoming increasingly more precise, the tolerances increasingly tighter. In the automotive sector and in protective equipment, for example, fire safety requirements play an important role. Therefore, we only have success with narrow textiles that are permanently flame retardant. We are currently addressing many inquiries for fitness bands with highly precisely defined strength-elongation-ratios. We are also responding to the sustainability question with our portfolio: We are increasingly working on projects with recycled materials or recyclable products. This development is embedded in a comprehensive sustainability strategy, which we are addressing for the entire Group - also in connection with the new planning of our sister company vombaur GmbH & Co KG.

 
What has particularly influenced the company's development process of about 110 years? Were there any significant changes of direction or decisions?

Andreas Kielholz: In the 1970s, we broadened our range enormously by no longer producing technical narrow textiles only for the apparel industry, but for all industries. At the same time, we continued to specialize - in elastics. This is not a contradiction: We implement what we are particularly good at, however, for all industries.
In the recent history of the company, we made a strong push with our new building in 2016. Optimal production conditions were created. With a variety of new production plants, we are at the advanced level of technology and high production capacity. The environment also has an effect on our team. You can feel that people enjoy working here. At the beginning of 2019, we again set an important strategic course when we combined our competencies with vombaur GmbH & Co KG under the umbrella of Textation Group GmbH & Co. KG.
 

These two traditional companies for demanding high-tech narrow textiles will remain independent as companies and brands. Why did you decide to take this step, what is the market response and what can you recommend to other producers in terms of partnerships?

Andreas Kielholz: We have had very good experiences as a sister company: Knowledge transfer, trade show appearances, digitization workshops - the partnership is beneficial in many ways. But - unlike in real life - we were able to choose our sister. The partner companies have to be compatible. Sure, you have to pay attention to that. They should have things in common without doing exactly the same thing. Because if they are too similar, there is a risk of competition, even cannibalization of one of the brands.
Our construct is perceived by our market companions as a good and elegant solution. We could serve as a role model for one or the other. Perhaps we will also expand our circle in the next few year, which we are open to. And our move has also been well received by our customers. In addition to all the other positive effects, succession issues can also be solved more easily in the Group. We are thereby demonstrating future prospects and security.
 

In the medium-sized textile industry, companies were and still are shaped by people - founding personalities, owners, families who live and breathe textile tradition and innovation. In your opinion, what qualities do people need to have in order to be successful in our niche-oriented German industry?

Andreas Kielholz: Successful and formative are people with curiosity and drive. People who like to explore new territories, first in their thinking and then consistently in their implementation. You should be able to inspire others in these explorations. In addition, you should keep a close eye on the market and act accordingly, i.e., constantly questioning the status quo. Self-criticism is therefore also important: Is our path still the right one? Are we fulfilling our aspirations? To move forward as a company, you have to work tirelessly not only in, but also on the company.    

Patrick Kielholz: The important thing is to recognize change and see it as an opportunity, not as a threat. I fully agree with that. However, I would strongly question the idea that it is the one founder, the one owner, and therefore individual people who make a company successful. We live in a very complex and fast-paced world that cannot be overseen and comprehended by a single person. Don't get me wrong, great ideas can come from individuals and help a company succeed. But we can't rely on that. A company today must be managed in such a way that ideas are developed by divergent teams. An environment must be created that gives each person the opportunity to make a difference. A leader must therefore understand how to develop functioning teams.
 

Mr. Kielholz Snr., you are the managing partner of JUMBO-Textil GmbH & Co. KG and one of the managing directors of vombaur GmbH & Co KG. For about two years now, you have your son Patrick at your side as Business Development Manager of JUMBO-Textil. How did that come about? Did you encourage your son to follow in your footsteps?

Andreas Kielholz: Not explicitly. My sons - there's also Kevin, Patrick's brother - had a lot of freedom in their childhood and youth. It was always up to them how they wanted to live their lives. During their school education and their studies, I tried to support everything in a trusting manner. Education has a lot to do with leading by example. I always had a lot of joy in what I did, even if it wasn't always easy. They witnessed this joy every day - and so I may have implicitly encouraged them.  
The fact that Patrick is now part of the team, performing a very good job and already bears a lot of responsibility - of course I'm very happy about that. He is a good, trustworthy corrective for me, because he can do some things better than I can. There is a high chance that Kevin will also join us after completing his technical studies.
 

Mr. Kielholz Jr., you completed your studies with a master's thesis on family businesses. How do you assess the future of family businesses in a global textile industry in general? And where do you see JUMBO-Textil here?

Patrick Kielholz: Family businesses are usually employers that retain their employees for a long time - by providing a family-like working environment and a corporate culture that creates trust. These include values that are important to the younger generations. Status symbols are becoming less important. This can create a working environment in which highly innovative and flexible work can be done - if it is not prevented by an overly patriarchal structure. Family businesses can usually still work on this. We are trying to create such an innovation-friendly environment in the Textation Group with JUMBO-Textil and vombaur, and in this way to be the best solution partner for narrow textiles in the future.
 

You manufacture exclusively in Germany. Why? Have you never been tempted to benefit from lower wage levels in other countries?

Andreas Kielholz: We position ourselves as a highly qualified solutions partner and aim to provide our customers with excellent expertise in the field of narrow textiles. We can do this best in a country with very good education and training opportunities, which for us, is Germany as a location. Of course, we also work in close cooperation with partners in Eastern Europe.
 

Customized instead of solutions for major customers: The topic of individualization up to batch size 1 takes up a lot of space today. At the new site in Sprockhövel, you have invested significantly in innovative production technology. What is your opinion of individual product solutions, and in which areas of application have you already implemented them successfully?
     
Andreas Kielholz: We don't produce tailored suits; we produce goods by the meter. Batch size 1 - this has a special meaning for us: We develop in exchange with our customers for one project - a car seat in an off-road vehicle, a crab on a crane, an exoskeleton, a baby grab ring, whatever - so we develop a textile component for this one project. Individually specified for the particular concrete application and its requirements - for example, with regard to elongation, temperature resistance, skin-friendliness, etc. All the properties of the textile are configured individually. And then it is produced in the required quantity. This is definitely a customized solution. So; if the customer project is the tailored suit, then "individualization up to batch size 1" is our day-to-day business. Because that's what we do.
 

What does it take for such solutions?

Patrick Kielholz: A close exchange is important for such individual solutions, but also precise industry knowledge and knowledge of the applicable standards. We assist some customers all the way to product registration and advice on technical delivery conditions and documentation. For individual solutions, know-how and experience go far beyond technical textile expertise. The key basis here is to understand the customer's product, the manufacturing process and its purpose. We want to offer a complete solution that provides the greatest value for the respective client company. This starts with the selection of the raw material and ends with the use by the end consumers..


Breaking new ground means being willing to make decisions, overcoming fears - and therefore also having the courage to fail. Not each project can succeed. In retrospect, which entrepreneurial decision are you particularly glad you made?

Andreas Kielholz: The courageous decisions to reconstruct JUMBO-Textil, the corporate alliance with vombaur and the planned new building here are among them - and: having my son on the Executive Board. He brings a new, different perspective to the company, which enriches us enormously. In addition, I simply enjoy it. Who sees their grown-up children every day?

Patrick Kielholz: Yes, that took courage to fail. (laughs) Seriously, not every result of a decision can be dated as firmly as the commissioning of our new building. We are right in the middle of some processes. We started digitization early on, for example, and it will certainly never be completed. It has an infinite number of facets - from materials management to product development, from quality assurance to internal and external processes. It’s an unbelievably dynamic topic that is constantly evolving and opening up new potential for improvement. You need smart people who want to work as a team to advance the issues, otherwise you'll be lagging behind instead of moving forward. The same applies to sustainability - also a topic that must be viewed as an opportunity rather than an unwanted evil, as is so often the case.

Andreas Kielholz: That's the crux of the matter: As a company, it's important not to be driven by such major issues, but to actively drive development forward yourself.
 

How important is the concept of sustainability in corporate decision-making? Which certifications do you use and where do you go beyond legal requirements?

Andreas Kielholz: Our quality management system is certified according to IATF 16949:2016, an extension of ISO 9001 developed by the automotive industry. We have also been awarded Formula Q-Capability according to the VW Group's customer-specific certification with a score of 95%. In the area of environment and sustainability, we are certified to the environmental management standard ISO 14001:2015, and many of our products meet the OEKO-TEX® Product Class I certificate. In addition, we expressly stand by the claim to enforce human rights, labor, social and ecological standards in economic value-added processes, as formulated in the Code of Conduct of the German Textile and Fashion Industry.

Patrick Kielholz: A specific feature of family businesses becomes apparent here as well. The demands on the company and the values it stands for are much more personal demands. People must and want to be measured against these demands as individuals. They cannot and do not want to hide in the anonymity of stock corporations. A family business owner is also personally connected to the stakeholders of his company and therefore has a stronger interest in pursuing social, environmental and economic sustainability.


How do you judge the efforts of other countries, such as China, to increasingly address the issue of sustainability? Will this mean that an important unique selling point in the comparison between Europe and Asia will be lost in the future?

Andreas Kielholz: The topic of sustainability has not yet reached its peak, in other words: demand will continue to rise here as well. China is getting stronger, but Europe is also working on not losing its pioneering role. Increased demand and competition will benefit us all, especially agile companies.
 

The COVID19 pandemic has also left its mark on the textile and clothing industry. When you look back on just under a year of "state of emergency" - what positive experiences do you take with you, where do you see a need for improvement, for what support are you grateful and where did you feel left alone?

Andreas Kielholz: By facing up to the challenges early on and - thanks to our timely, multi-layered controlling - always knowing where we stand, we were able to adapt quickly. This is how we have largely come through the crisis well. The newly developed forms of work - mobile working and video conferencing, partly also in-house - will continue to exist. We have also made significant progress in digitalisation and new media.

     
If you had to introduce your company in 100 words to someone who does not know JUMBO-Textil: What would you say? What makes you unique?

Patrick Kielholz: JUMBO-Textil is a solution partner - our customers are always at the center of our thoughts and actions. For them and their projects, we develop and manufacture sophisticated technical narrow textiles: precise, custom-fit and Made in Germany.

Andreas Kielholz: I don't even need that many words: Highest quality standards, intensive customer relationship, reliability and unique Elastics expertise.

Patrick Kielholz: These were eight. (laughs)

The Interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius,
Managing partner of Textination GmbH

 

(c) STF Swiss Textile & Fashion Institute
23.02.2021

Sustainability Management in Textiles - Interview with Sonja Amport, Director of STF

Contact restrictions, mandatory use of face masks, home office: The Coronavirus has turned our daily lives upside down and reduced public life almost to zero. The impact of the pandemic has even further in-creased the existing pressure for action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. And that is why, it is not surprising that the issues of sustainability, climate protection and digitization are gaining ground in the industry's and consumers' awareness. New management qualities are required.

Textination talked to Sonja Amport, Director of the STF Swiss Textile & Fashion Institute, about the new training course CAS Sustainability Management in Textiles. After career experiences in the industry and in associations, the business economist with a master's degree in International Management has been contributing her knowledge of textiles, education, business administration, as well as marketing and sales to STF with vigor and passion since 2015.

Contact restrictions, mandatory use of face masks, home office: The Coronavirus has turned our daily lives upside down and reduced public life almost to zero. The impact of the pandemic has even further in-creased the existing pressure for action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. And that is why, it is not surprising that the issues of sustainability, climate protection and digitization are gaining ground in the industry's and consumers' awareness. New management qualities are required.

Textination talked to Sonja Amport, Director of the STF Swiss Textile & Fashion Institute, about the new training course CAS Sustainability Management in Textiles. After career experiences in the industry and in associations, the business economist with a master's degree in International Management has been contributing her knowledge of textiles, education, business administration, as well as marketing and sales to STF with vigor and passion since 2015.

The history of the STF Swiss Textile & Fashion Institute began in 1881. In this year Pablo Picasso was born and Billy the Kid was shot. The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach was premiered and Thomas Alva Edison built the world's first electric power station. The Breuninger department store opened at Stuttgart's market square and Rudolph Karstadt's first store in Wismar.
What led to the foundation of STF during this period of time and what values do you still feel committed to today?

In 1881, the textile industry in Switzerland was thriving. Companies in the sector of spinning, weaving, finishing and others burgeoned. However, there was a shortage of trained specialists who could have operated or repaired the machines. This is why the companies teamed up and founded the STF Swiss Textile & Fashion Institute - a place for education and training of specialists for the Swiss textile and clothing industry. For this reason, the STF is still organized as a cooperative today. Therefore, we are still committed to the values of competence, customer orientation, innovation, inspiration and passion to this day.

If you had to introduce your educational institution in 100 words to someone who doesn't know the Schweizerische Textilfachschule: How does the school define itself today and on which fields of activity does it focus?
The STF Swiss Textile & Fashion Institute stands for sustainable educational competence covering the entire life cycle of a textile, fashion or lifestyle product. With the "STF-LAB", the STF positions itself as an educational service provider with three business fields. The core field is "Education", where the STF offers numerous training and further education courses, from basic education to bachelor's and master's degrees. In the "Incubator & Makerspace" (STF Studio), the main focus is on shared infrastructure, mutual inspiration and the thereby together achieved progress. In the third business field, "Think Tank & Consulting", the school acts as a think tank, where experts can be "hired" and part-time management is offered.

Keyword life-long education: What further education programs does the STF offer for the textile and clothing industry, even after a successful degree?
Which industry sectors and which countries are you focusing on?

Firstly, we offer a variety of informal modular courses for the textile and clothing industry as well as retail, in which one can achieve a good overview of a specific topic within 45 lessons. Such as: Welding & Bonding, Smart & Functional Textiles, Start-up in Fashion or the Steiger Stitch Module, where you learn to program your own knitting designs and then knit them on a "Shared Machine" at STF. We also offer two-week intensive summer courses each year, for example in Sustainable Fashion Design. In terms of formal education, I can recommend our master’s program in Product Management Fashion & Textile in German or our two CAS in Sustainability Management in Textiles. Once with face-to-face classes in German and once via e-learning in English. At the moment, we are focusing our programs on Germany, Austria and Switzerland (DACH region). Our internationalization strategy was abruptly stopped due to Covid-19. With our English master's programs, we were focusing particularly on the Indian and Chinese markets We are now strategically repositioning ourselves with English language courses and will start marketing again from 2022 onwards. The goal is to provide flexible, modular master's programs with a high e-learning component, so that costs remain moderate and travelling can be reduced.

Sustainability has changed from a buzzword to a matter of course: The latest OTTO Trend Study even says, that sustainable consumption has entered the mainstream society. What does this mean for the textile and clothing industry? Are the companies positioned in terms of personnel in such a way, that they have professionally incorporated this complex of topics into their service portfolio?
Swiss companies have recognized, that they only have a chance against foreign competitors, if they are capable of innovation, consistently operating in a niche and can stand out through sustainable production. Sustainability is therefore an absolutely central USP. With this in mind, many companies are dealing this and, of course, also send their employees to us for further training.

The STF offers - so far being the only one in the German-speaking area - an internationally recognized further education in the field of Sustainability Management in Textiles as a Certificate of Advanced Studies CAS. Which sub-areas from design, production, process optimization to marketing does the certificate cover?
The STF offers the internationally recognized University of Applied Sciences certificate in collaboration with SUPSI, the Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana in Ticino.

In the degree program, we look from a holistic perspective and at the entire value chain of a textile, i.e. from design to production and to marketing, global challenges, where sustainability acts as a multilateral solution. In addition, the normative and strategic management of sustainability, topics related to social responsibility as well as initiatives and standards for the textile industry are highlighted. An important element of the CAS are raw materials and products, i.e. not only sustainable fibers but also fabrics or the use of chemical agents. Last but not least, aspects around biodiversity, animal welfare, marketing, labeling as well as possible future scenarios and best practice examples are highlighted.

Who could be interested in the CAS Sustainability Management in Textiles and why? What impact can the certificate have on a career?
The CAS is attractive for managers who are generally concerned about the strategic orientation of a company, as well as for specialist employees in design, product development, purchasing, sales or quality management who are responsible for operationalizing the sustainability strategy. And of course we always welcome young designers with their own fashion labels willing to break new, sustainable grounds and to stand out from the rest. The push in professional life is strongly related to one's own personality. So far, however, all graduates have found attending the further education program to be extremely beneficial for their own career paths.

What about the formal aspects of the CAS? For example, are there selection criteria, by when do you have to register, what does the curriculum look like, and what are the fees for attendants?
We start the educational courses at the end of August each year. Early registration, preferably by mid-May, is recommended to secure a place. In the face-to-face course, 120 lessons take place in Zurich and Ticino, costs of CHF 5,900. -, including teaching materials and examination fees, can be expected. In the e-learning course, with a few days of on-site attendance, the content is taught synchronously by Microsoft Teams, usually by the same lecturers. Here, the fee is CHF 5,600.

These costs do not include personal expenses as well as travel and accommodation costs.

Those who are interested can find the facts & figures on our homepage (available in German only):
(www.stf.ch/kurse/cas or www.stf.ch/kurse/cas-online)

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown us the limitations of mobility. How have you responded to this as an educational institution?
Physical limitations can easily be overcome with e-learning. One of the reasons why our classes continued regularly throughout the pandemic period. For the period after Covid-19, we are planning, in addition to face-to-face study modules, further online-only seminars, such as our CAS-Online. These will be offered increasingly in English as well. We are also currently testing possible forms of hybrid lessons. Meaning, while some are educated on-site in Zurich, people who have to travel a long way, such as those from Germany, Austria and Switzerland (DACH region), can attend the lessons virtually and live from a distance.

The past year has left its mark on the textile and apparel industry. When you look back on a year of "state of emergency" - what positive experiences do you take with you, where do you see a need for improvement?
It was definitely a year of a state of emergency! One positive aspect is, that we at STF were ready and able to teach online from day one of the lockdown. The learners, students and my team all showed the greatest understanding and flexibility. But as an institute in the textile, fashion and lifestyle sector, teaching also thrives on visual materials. Being able to feel and smell the yarns and fabrics, as well as to discuss the experiences in person, are important learning experiences. It is definitely a challenge to implement such key learning elements online. Overall, Covid-19 has catapulted us forward as an institution in regards to the topic of digitization by what feels like two years. However, I would be grateful if we could return to normality as soon as possible and to an everyday life with "less distance".

Breaking new ground means willingness to make decisions, overcoming fears - and thus courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect, which decision that you made for the STF profile are you particularly pleased about?
I'm proud to say that most of the projects we tackle are successful. There is almost always a way. Sometimes, as you move forward, you just have to adjust the direction a bit to get where you want to go. A groundbreaking innovation was certainly the modularization of (almost) all degree programs. Students can therefore benefit from a wide range of choices and create their own curriculum.

A second decision I'm grateful for was that, as a small institute, we invested a lot in expanding our digital capabilities and infrastructure at a very early stage, which we are now benefiting from. With very well-trained lecturers and a learning platform, a VM platform and modern 3D software in various subject areas, we consider ourselves a pioneer in e-learning and digitalization across Europe. Capabilities, which also pay off in terms of sustainability.

The interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, Managing Director of Textination GmbH

 

Further information:

Graphic: Pixabay
12.01.2021

East German Textile and Clothing Industry recorded a significant Drop in Sales in 2020

  • vti calls on health textiles purchasers to place more orders with domestic manufacturers
  • East German textile and clothing industry faces the Covid-19 crises with new ideas and products
  • Clothing sector more affected than the textile sector

The Association of the North-East German Textile and Clothing Industry (vti) calls on decision-makers in politics and authorities as well as in clinics and long-term care to order far more health protection textiles from local manufacturers than before. "That would be a logical step towards future-oriented, sustainable business - and furthermore in an exceptionally tough crisis situation. We are happy to arrange appropriate contacts with our companies," emphasized Dr.-Ing. Jenz Otto, Managing Director of the Chemnitz-based industry association, during an online press conference on January 8, 2021.

  • vti calls on health textiles purchasers to place more orders with domestic manufacturers
  • East German textile and clothing industry faces the Covid-19 crises with new ideas and products
  • Clothing sector more affected than the textile sector

The Association of the North-East German Textile and Clothing Industry (vti) calls on decision-makers in politics and authorities as well as in clinics and long-term care to order far more health protection textiles from local manufacturers than before. "That would be a logical step towards future-oriented, sustainable business - and furthermore in an exceptionally tough crisis situation. We are happy to arrange appropriate contacts with our companies," emphasized Dr.-Ing. Jenz Otto, Managing Director of the Chemnitz-based industry association, during an online press conference on January 8, 2021. “We don't understand the buying resistance concerning health textiles, even though the demand is huge. It is just as incomprehensible why there are still no noteworthy orders from authorities. In spring, the German federal government had already announced to provide 1 billion Euro with its economic stimulus package for national epidemic reserves for personal protective equipment. The federal states also had to take action in this regard and stock up. We urgently await the long-announced tenders for equipping the pandemic reserve stock. It is important that the purchase price is not the only measure of all things. Rather, criteria such as standard-compliant quality, traceable supply chains, the possibility of needs-based reorders and the multiple use of textiles are decisive for the safety of the population.”

When supply chains worldwide collapsed at the beginning of 2020, both authorities and many care and health facilities turned to textile companies for help. Many manufacturers launched both everyday masks and protective textiles that could be used in healthcare at short notice.
"These include highly effective bacteria and virus-repellent reusable products that enable effective textile management in the healthcare sector and at the same time prevent the piles of single-use waste from growing there," explained vti chairman Thomas Lindner, managing director of Strumpfwerk Lindner GmbH, Hohenstein-Ernstthal: “When the cheap imports from Asia reinstated, however, the interest decreased significantly. Nevertheless, numerous companies have continued to invest in new technology and aligned their production accordingly. For example, completely new production lines of face masks have been set up at several locations. Do not forget: The very expensive test procedures for medical and health textiles are a major challenge for us, the medium-sized businesses. In addition, there are still too few accredited test and certification bodies in Germany.” The fact that the companies were able to adapt to the new requirements at this rapid pace was primarily possible, because around 30 local companies and research institutes have been part of the health textiles network "health.textil", which is controlled by the vti and supported by the Free State of Saxony, for several years now. This alliance cooperates closely with practice partners such as the University Clinic of Dresden and the Elbland Clinics in Meißen. Nowadays it has expanded their activities to their neighbouring industry, research and application partner in Czech Republic. www.healthtextil.de

CO2 taxation puts medium-sized companies at a competitive disadvantage
Concerning the permanently relevant topic energy transition in Germany, vti General Manager Dr.-Ing. Jenz Otto points out that the economic framework conditions for medium-sized producers will continue to worsen with the introduction of the CO2 taxation in the midst of the current crisis. “The financial resources to be used for this will then be lacking for investments in innovative products and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. Furthermore, our companies suffer significant competitive disadvantages compared to foreign competitors.” Björn-Olaf Dröge, managing director of the textile finishing company pro4tex GmbH, Niederfrohna, with around 100 employees, reported that the tax to be paid by his company for renewable energies adds up to around a quarter of a million euros annually. “Now the CO2 taxation for our natural gas consumption comes on top of that. For 2021 we anticipate an additional burden of almost 70,000 Euros.”

vti about the current situation in the East German industry
The East German textile and clothing industry recorded a significant loss in sales already in 2019. This trend has continued in 2020 being reinforced by the Covid-19 crises. Based on preliminary estimates, the vti assumes that the total turnover of the industry will be more than 11 percent below the previous year at the end of 2020, where the clothing sector is affected far more than the textile sector, with a decline of 35 percent. Exports, which are extremely important for the industry, also decreased in a similar magnitude. The job cuts have so far been relatively moderate, as many companies use the short-time working regulations and try to retain their permanent workforce. For 2021 the vti sees a gleam of hope in technical textiles, which have been in greater demand again in recent weeks - especially from the automotive industry. The employment cuts have so far been relatively moderate, as many companies use short-time working regulations and try to retain their permanent workforce. The vti sees a bright future for technical textiles in 2021, which have been in greater demand – especially in the automobile industry – in the last few weeks.

Of the around 16,000 employees, 12,000 work in Saxony and 2,500 in Thuringia. This makes this region one of the four largest German textile locations, along North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. It has modern spinning mills, weaving mills, knitting mills, warp knitting mills, nonwovens manufacturers, embroidery mills, finishing companies and clothing manufacturers as well as efficient research and educational institutions. 

Over half of the turnover in the East German textile and clothing industry has so far been attributa-ble to technical textiles, followed by home textiles with around 30 percent and the clothing sector with around 10 percent. The vti acts as a stakeholder at state, federal and EU level, tariff- and so-cial partner, as well as a service provider for its around 160 member companies.

(c) Claudia Bitzer
05.01.2021

Telling good Stories - PR Challenges of the medium-sized Textile Industry

Interview with Claudia Bitzer, Owner Bitzer PR, Albstadt

The past year was not only a big economic challenge for many companies, but also in terms of communication - whether in advertising or in PR topics - new ground had to be broken. Contact restrictions up to a strict lockdown, the cancellation of many trade fairs, congresses or other event formats made it necessary to rethink.

Textination discussed it with Claudia Bitzer, owner of the PR agency of the same name in Albstadt, Baden-Württemberg. Her customers include medium-sized companies from the textile and clothing industry as well as machinery manufacturers, public clients and the media.

Interview with Claudia Bitzer, Owner Bitzer PR, Albstadt

The past year was not only a big economic challenge for many companies, but also in terms of communication - whether in advertising or in PR topics - new ground had to be broken. Contact restrictions up to a strict lockdown, the cancellation of many trade fairs, congresses or other event formats made it necessary to rethink.

Textination discussed it with Claudia Bitzer, owner of the PR agency of the same name in Albstadt, Baden-Württemberg. Her customers include medium-sized companies from the textile and clothing industry as well as machinery manufacturers, public clients and the media.

With your PR agency based in Albstadt, you have also been busy in the textile industry for a good 5 years. If you had to introduce yourself in 100 words to someone who doesn't know you: Why did you decide to become your own boss after working for an agency, and what distinguishes your work?
Actually, self-employment gave me a call: An acquaintance suggested that I take over the communication for his employer, a textile machine manufacturer in the Alb, as a freelancer. When I was on the phone, I had our ten-day-old son in my arms. I was also a PR consultant at Ketchum in Stuttgart. Because I was curious, I got to grips with the matter over the next few months. With success: The textile machines have turned out to be surprisingly tangible products, after all, they make the clothes that we wear on our bodies every day. From this my access to the textile industry developed, which I would call my home base today.

Because I serve various companies along the textile chain, I have an overall view of the industry and can offer overarching stories with different perspectives. I also have a weakness for complex, "dusty" topics, regardless of the industry. I can delve in them with devotion in order to present them vividly. That's why I would call myself a content specialist.

In addition to German, English, Spanish and French, you speak Swabian fluently. Why is it important to have regional roots when you work for export-oriented companies in the textile industry in Baden-Württemberg?
You got that about fluent Swabian from my website, right? (Laughs) But yes, it is very helpful if you can feel whether "gschwind" – Swabian for “pretty fast” - tolerates a delay or has to be dealt with immediately.

I think the Swabian is really important in terms of the mentality behind it. I grew up in the Alb, my father ran a medium-sized company of his own. I understand many things without a customer having to explain them to me.

For example, modesty in relation to one's own person. Especially in long-established family businesses, the owners play an important role. They bear a great responsibility, both in the company and at their location. Nevertheless, the focus is always on the entrepreneurial performance, the product that, manufactured somewhere in the Swabian province, can keep up with the German, European or global competition. That doesn't happen by itself, but requires courage, entrepreneurial spirit and a great deal of openness to new things, and that fascinates me. I also often notice that by the passion, that these leading family businesses bring with them, I am carried away.

Breaking new ground means being willing to make decisions, overcoming fears - and thus also having the courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect, which entrepreneurial decision are you particularly glad to have made?
Apart from being self-employed? The first corona lockdown with home schooling and closed daycare centers was a big challenge. On the one hand, I was relieved that it became quieter on the customer side between the end of March and the beginning of June, otherwise it would not have been feasible either professionally or in terms of family. On the other hand, this silence scared me and I often asked myself whether self-employment was the right way to go.

In early summer, when the situation on all sides had stabilized somewhat, I tackled the problem head on: I looked for co-working spaces and took extensive further training in online marketing. Being honest, of course, these were business decisions. Fortunately, they are already paying off, even if I may sit alone in the office for now.

Is there any work you are particularly proud of? Which story moved you beyond normal and which thematic challenges do you love?
One project that I fondly remember is the communication referring to a repdigit anniversary one of my clients was celebrating. For this, I first put 111 years of the company’s history down on paper in weeks, no, months of archive work. Because I had delved so deeply into the subject, I came up with many ideas for the messages of the anniversary celebration. Fortunately, the client was quickly convinced. At some point we had a signet, a slogan and a really good story for the anniversary. Incidentally, we still benefit from the numerous proof points we worked out for the occasion in our product and corporate communications today.

In addition, the project has naturally deepened the relationship with this client. I also work closely with the advertising agency that accompanied the anniversary communication. I consider such long-term partnerships as a great asset.

Have the messages you want or need to communicate for your clients changed in Corona times? And what was the focus of your work in 2020?
Unsurprisingly, the focus of work in 2020 was on online communication. For almost all of my customers we will start planning and implementing new measures in this area in the coming year.

As for the messages, little has altered. This is certainly due to the fact that the meta-topics have remained the same. Take sustainability, definitely a long-running favorite in the textile industry, and the sub-topic regionality. In contrast to previous crises, the Corona pandemic has not sidelined these approaches, but intensified them because it has shown us how dependent we are on production abroad. The same applies to the issues of transparency and quality.

Precisely because the themes have stayed the same, the crucial part for me is to find a unique story within these permanent themes so as not to disappear into the big river. That requires empathy, creativity - and a good portion of diligence.

Moving away from the simple advertising message to storytelling - what recommendation would you give medium-sized companies in general regarding their communication for the coming year? Are there any special features that the textile industry in particular should consider?
I think that will go in the direction of "We are still there, and even stronger than before". After all, the crisis demanded a lot from everyone. But it is always a productive phase, because when it comes to a head, it forces us to develop further that otherwise would not have been initiated or at least would have been initiated later. Therefore, it can represent a turning point, definitely for the better.

Take digitization, which is the most obvious approach: the crisis has given rise to a boost in this area; the online shop was or is to be expanded, the service is to become more digital.

Apart from that, there are certain individual changes in every company that the crisis has brought about. You can have the courage to name and tell them, because these are stories that interest everyone.

Goodbye Facebook - good morning TikTok. Which social media platforms do you recommend to your clients and under what conditions should medium-sized companies get involved?
TikTok has so far been more of a topic that I discuss with my daughter, who is almost 12 years old. But seriously: I recently read in a study published by Hootsuite that at the beginning of 2020, less than ten percent of Germans were using TikTok. On Facebook, the user share is still over 60 percent. For that reason alone, we shouldn't simply dismiss Facebook.

When I discuss the topic of social media with my clients, it is important for me not to think from the channels. Sure, it's tempting, but other questions should be asked at the beginning: What is the long-term goal of the social media activities? What resources are available - and what budgets? By now it is well known that social media is an extensive field of activity in its own right, which ties up corresponding resources. In medium-sized businesses, where I rarely have access to a multi-headed marketing team, a solid strategy is the be-all and end-all. It must be very, very clear which target groups are to be addressed. Then I can talk about channels and choose the most important ones. This almost certainly includes LinkedIn and Xing, as well as Instagram and Facebook, the latter especially in an international environment. By the way, the evaluation is just as important, it tends to fall behind. The relationship between measured values and corporate goals is anything but trivial.

Trade fairs, events, press conferences and meetings - these have almost completely fallen by the wayside in 2020. How important do you consider face-to-face communication to be in the long term, and which channels and measures do you recommend to your customers to compensate for these losses?
Face-to-face contact remains important! Of course, we all realised last year that not every event has to be a face-to-face event. A video conference saves time and money and, with the right discipline, can be just as effective as a face-to-face meeting. Many service cases can also be solved by video telephony, no one has to travel around. I am therefore convinced that we will not return to the meeting in person culture we had before Corona, even if this will be possible again at some point.

That's why I advise my clients to take advantage of the digital opportunities that are opening up everywhere. At the moment, everyone is still a beginner, you can only learn. Take virtual trade fairs: This is a fundamentally different approach than the classic presence fair. There is no need for a large trade fair team that is ready from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. There are no press appointments either. It is much more important to contact the visitors directly, i.e., to collect leads, to group the visitors and to stay in touch with them after the event by providing them with tailor-made content. Speaking of content: at the latest with such online events, it becomes clear how diverse content must be prepared. To pick up customers in the virtual space, you need graphics, videos, animations and much more.

Nevertheless, it will not work without direct, physical contact. I remain convinced that people buy from people. Video conferences work particularly well when the participants already know each other from real life. And the textile industry in particular thrives on haptics. I can never feel a yarn or a fabric digitally. Nor can I feel the production speed of a machine. With every revolution there is a slight breeze. You can't get that digitally.

 

The interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

(c) Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH
22.12.2020

Decade of Action: Texpertise Network launches further measures to implement the Sustainable Development Goals

Since 2019, the Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network has been working with the Conscious Fashion Campaign and the United Nations Office for Partnerships to bring the Sustainable Development Goals to all 58 textile events in the network worldwide. Numerous measures have already been implemented. Others are imminent.

Shortly before the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutérrez hailed the start of the Decade of Action. As of 2020, the international community now has just ten years to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which the UN Member States committed themselves in the 2030 Agenda. As part of the collaboration with the Conscious Fashion Campaign and the United Nations Office for Partnerships, the Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network will put the SDGs on the agenda of additional events in December, thus further supporting their implementation in the fashion and textile industry.

Since 2019, the Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network has been working with the Conscious Fashion Campaign and the United Nations Office for Partnerships to bring the Sustainable Development Goals to all 58 textile events in the network worldwide. Numerous measures have already been implemented. Others are imminent.

Shortly before the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutérrez hailed the start of the Decade of Action. As of 2020, the international community now has just ten years to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which the UN Member States committed themselves in the 2030 Agenda. As part of the collaboration with the Conscious Fashion Campaign and the United Nations Office for Partnerships, the Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network will put the SDGs on the agenda of additional events in December, thus further supporting their implementation in the fashion and textile industry.

Virtual event “Discover the SDGs – To Power the Decade of Action”
From 1-30 December 2020, the Texpertise Network is taking part in the virtual learning experience “Discover the SDGs”, which was initiated by the Conscious Fashion Campaign in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships. The aim of the event is to strengthen the knowledge and commitment within the fashion industry that is needed to further support the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. One component of the event is a virtual and interactive exhibition on the 17 goals, as well as on-demand discussions with industry leaders, United Nations representatives and advocates of the United Nations, including Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board, and Thimo Schwenzfeier, Director Marketing Communications Textiles and Textile Technologies at Messe Frankfurt, as well as from Kering, Lenzing, Allbirds, Arch and Hook, Artistic Milliners, Orta, ITL, Vogue Business, CFDA, Collina Strada and the Swarovski Foundation.

“This is a critical time to accelerate partnerships to address the world's biggest challenges – from eliminating poverty, hunger and inequalities to reversing climate change and unsustainable consumption and production practices,” said Annemarie Hou, acting Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Partnerships. “The fashion industry is an important ally for the United Nations in this Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs by 2030.”

Conscious Fashion Campaign becomes a presenting partner of Frankfurt Fashion Week
Joining forces to improve the fashion industry: Frankfurt Fashion Week is positioning itself as the host of the future of fashion and actively driving forward the transformation towards a future-oriented, more sustainable fashion and textile industry. All decision-makers looking to instigate this change will be coming together in Frankfurt am Main from 5-9 July 2021. The initiators of Frankfurt Fashion Week – Messe Frankfurt and the Premium Group – have achieved a real coup: Conscious Fashion Campaign, working in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships, will be the presenting partner. Messe Frankfurt will build on its collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be a prerequisite for exhibitors by 2023. And the Frankfurt Fashion SDG Summit by CFC is set to become the leading international conference for sustainability in the fashion world.

Expansion of internal sustainability communication
17 goals, 58 textile events worldwide, around 600,000 visitors and 23,000 exhibitors in 2019: with its global events, the Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network offers unique reach for supporting the SDGs, even during the corona pandemic. The participating subsidiary companies, sales partners and Messe Frankfurt partners abroad who organise the relevant events play an important role in this. To actively expand knowledge about and further commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, the Texpertise Network is organising several online seminars, including for staff members in Argentina, Ethiopia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa and the USA and thus expanding its internal sustainability communication.

SDG actions up to now
Ever since the expanded collaboration between the Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network, the Conscious Fashion Campaign and the United Nations Office for Partnerships was announced at the UN headquarters in New York in December 2019, the international Messe Frankfurt textile events have implemented numerous measures to support the SDGs.

At the Messe Frankfurt textile events in Germany alone, a number of things came to fruition: the most recent physical and digital editions of Heimtextil, the leading trade fair for home and contract textiles and Neonyt, global hub for fashion, sustainability and innovation, offered panel discussions, press conferences and video messages, including with the Conscious Fashion Campaign and United Nations Office for Partnerships. An SDG Lounge in the Green Village at Heimtextil and selfie walls with the SDGs inspired exhibitors, visitors and influencers alike to engage with the 17 goals and share them on their social network channels. Podcasts were produced that can still be listened to on the Neonyt and Heimtextil channels and Neonyt also hosted e.g. the influencer challenge “Let's wear the goals!”.

A great deal has also already been achieved internationally: in March 2019, Neonyt organised a showcase with selected Neonyt brands to mark the foundation of the “UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion” in Nairobi. Techtextil India launched Techtextil NEXT at its 2019 edition, India’s first hackathon for technical textiles and sustainability. Among those who attended were Shrikar Dhole, founder and CEO of the SDG Foundation and Niharika Gautam, who campaigns for the achievement of the SDGs in the fashion industry and co-leads the fashion section of the All Ladies League Delhi. The Heimtextil Russia 2020 Digital Edition was able to attract a prominent figure to give a message of greeting, namely Vladimir Kuznetsov, head of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Moscow. The digital edition of Texworld USA (now Texworld New York City) and Apparel Sourcing USA in summer 2020 offered a talk by the Conscious Fashion Campaign and supported the production of a podcast with Claire Kells from the UN Global Compact.

With its SDG actions to date, Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network is estimated to have reached around 146,000 visitors, 170,000 followers on social media channels and 65,000 subscribers to newsletters about participating events at home and abroad. Added to this is also the approx. 2.5 million followers of the influencers involved in the actions.

Photo: Wilhelm-Lorch-Foundation.
11.08.2020

Wilhelm Lorch Foundation: Demand and Support - Qualifying young and up-and-coming Talents

  • Interview with Klaus Kottmeier, Elke Giese, Markus Gotta, Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Maike Rabe

In June 1988, the shareholders and management of Deutscher Fachverlag announced the Wilhelm Lorch Foundation to the textile and garment industry. Its purpose is to promote vocational training, including student assistance as well as science and research.

Upon its establishment, the Foundation received an initial endowment of DM 300,000 from Deut-scher Fachverlag. Today, the Foundation has assets of approx. 2,85 m. Euro (as at Dec 2019). Since 1988, the foundation has awarded sponsorship prizes of around EUR 1,933,564 (as of June 2020) to date, in order to fund the initial and further training of young people from all areas of the textile industry, with a particular focus on young and up-and-coming talents.

  • Interview with Klaus Kottmeier, Elke Giese, Markus Gotta, Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Maike Rabe

In June 1988, the shareholders and management of Deutscher Fachverlag announced the Wilhelm Lorch Foundation to the textile and garment industry. Its purpose is to promote vocational training, including student assistance as well as science and research.

Upon its establishment, the Foundation received an initial endowment of DM 300,000 from Deut-scher Fachverlag. Today, the Foundation has assets of approx. 2,85 m. Euro (as at Dec 2019). Since 1988, the foundation has awarded sponsorship prizes of around EUR 1,933,564 (as of June 2020) to date, in order to fund the initial and further training of young people from all areas of the textile industry, with a particular focus on young and up-and-coming talents.

Textination talked to the former chairman of the supervisory board of Deutscher Fachverlag GmbH, the current member of the executive board and founding member of the foundation, Klaus Kottmeier, as well as three members of the board of trustees: Mrs. Elke Giese - trend analyst and fashion journalist, Markus Gotta, managing director of Deutscher Fachverlag GmbH, and Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Maike Rabe, who will take over the chairmanship of the foundation board on September 1, 2020, about the challenging task of continuing successfully the foundation's work in an environment characterized by the pandemic.

The figure 3 seems to play a very special role for the Wilhelm Lorch Foundation (WLS). In 1988 announced on the occasion of the 30th Forum of the TextilWirtschaft, it was endowed with assets of DM 300,000. 2019 marked the 30th anniversary of the award of the sponsorship prizes. If you had to introduce the WLS in 100 words to someone who does not know the foundation: Which 3 aspects have particularly influenced its development and made it unique?

Klaus Kottmeier: In more than 30 years the WLS has been in existence, the foundation has received great support all over the sector from the very beginning. This continues to this day and is not only reflected in the financial support provided by generous grants, but above all in an active commitment of many sector leaders on the foundation board and board of trustees. A second aspect is the unique range in the topics of the support, which extends across design, business and technology, covering young talents in retail as well as university graduates, but also involving educational institutions themselves. And thirdly, the motivation of so many applicants we experience every year, who prepare their applications with incredible diligence and thus impressively demonstrate their willingness to perform.

 

The name of the foundation is a tribute to Wilhelm Lorch, the publisher and founder of the trade journal Textil-Wirtschaft and thus of Deutscher Fachverlag, who died in 1966. Which of his characteristics and traits do you still see as exemplary for the next generation in our industry today?

Klaus Kottmeier: We are a publishing media house where professional journalism based on sound research always forms the basis. This is associated with classic values such as entrepreneurial courage and will, diligence and discipline, but also a sense of responsibility and team spirit, which were exemplified by our founder and which still form the culture of our company today. These all are qualities young people should take to heart and which, coupled with a passion for their profession, encourage them to continue on their path.

 

According to its statutes, the primary purpose of the foundation is the awarding of "... awards and prizes to graduates of continuation schools of the German retail textile trade, textile-technical training institutes and [...] for final degree or doctoral theses from universities, as far as these deal with textile topics.” How nationally and internationally does the WLS work?

Prof. Maike Rabe: The prizes are mainly awarded to graduates and applicants from Germany and German-speaking countries, but there are also always talents from Europe, who have close ties to the German market.

Markus Gotta: The focus is clearly on the core market of Germany or Germany-Austria-Switzerland respectively, which we cover with the TW - accordingly, we do not advertise internationally, but there is no exclusion for foreign applicants, the only requirement is that the submitted works and reports must be written in German or English.

 

Over the past 31 years in which the foundation has been awarding prizes to people, projects and works, you have met many young talents who have moved our industry or will certainly do so. Are there any unusual stories or special award winners that have remained in your memory? And how do you assess the development of the applicants' educational level over the years?

Elke Giese: The applicants come from very different schools and universities, differing significantly in their profiles and focus. The demands on teaching have grown enormously, especially as a result of increasing digitization. Since the job profiles in the fashion business are also constantly changing and will continue to be subject to major changes in the future, the challenges for schools and students remain very high.
From each year, particularly talented and creative personalities remain in one's memory. To name one, Elisa Paulina Herrmann from Pforzheim, who was twice among the prize winners in 2017 and 2019 with her bachelor's and then master's thesis. Her ability and originality were overwhelming for the board of trustees. She now creates exclusive knitwear collections for Gucci. Among the young men is Niels Holger Wien, who received WLS funding in 1995. He has been the specialist for color trends and zeitgeist of the German Fashion Institute for many years and is currently president of the world's most important color committee INTERCOLOR.

Klaus Kottmeier: There are many award winners who have subsequently made a great career, to name just one example, Dr. Oliver Pabst, current CEO of Mammut Sports Group AG and WLS award winner in 1994.

 

Due to its proximity to TextilWirtschaft, the foundation is primarily associated with fashion design and topics related to clothing production or marketing. In 2020 you have put Smart Textiles in the virtual spotlight with two project sponsorships. How do you see future topics in the field of technical textiles? Can you imagine creating a new focus on that field?

Prof. Maike Rabe: First of all, the WLS supports talented young people who, thanks to their training, can take up a career in the entire textile and clothing industry. Of course, this also includes the field of technical textiles, which is of great importance in terms of production in Germany being a technological leader. Here the boundaries to clothing are fluid, just think of outdoor or sports equipment.    „    

Klaus Kottmeier: Our excellently staffed board of trustees is open to all innovative topics in the industry. Innovations in the field of technical textiles in particular are important topics for the future. In 2017, for example, the sponsorship award went to the Anna-Siemsen-School, a vocational school for textile technology and clothing in Hanover, through which we supported the procurement of a pattern design software.

 

The Wilhelm Lorch Foundation has set itself the goal of supporting qualified young people in the textile and fashion industry. However, you preclude the support for business start-ups. In times, in which start-ups receive increasing attention not only through corresponding TV formats but also through industry associations, there must be reasons for this. What are they and how do you assess future prospects?

Klaus Kottmeier: Support for business start-ups is precluded by §2 of our statutes, which defines the purpose of the foundation. The WLS is exclusively dedicated to the charitable purpose. Support for start-ups and business start-ups would contradict this. We therefore concentrate fully on the further education of young professionals in the sector and the promotion of educational institutions, from which the entire sector benefits.

Prof. Maike Rabe: WLS funding is aimed at further developing the skills of graduates and young talents from the sector. They should receive specific further training, possibly reach a further academic degree, and also learn in an interdisciplinary manner. All of this benefits the sector as a whole and this is our strict objective.


          
The foundation also promotes the training and further education of young and up-and-coming talents who are already working in the textile retail trade. Grants are available to cover course or study fees for further qualification. The closure of shops caused by the lockdown  during the pandemic hit the stationary retail trade hard, and even today we are still miles away from regular business operations. Against this background, how do you see focused funding opportunities for further training in the e-commerce sector?

Markus Gotta: The topics of stationary retail and e-commerce can't really be separated, both have long since become part of the basic requirements in fashion sales and thus also of the topics of training and further education in general.
 
Prof. Maike Rabe: E-commerce has become an integral part of our industry and is naturally reflected in many grants and subsidies. The junior staff members are allowed to make their own suggestions as to where and how they would like to train. We support this. But we would also like to strengthen the connection between stationary and digital trade in particular. Our prize winners have come up with wonderful concepts for both sales channels, and of course they can be combined.

 

Breaking new ground means willingness to make decisions, overcoming fears - and thus courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect, which decisions in your foundation work are you particularly happy to have made?

Markus Gotta: That we implemented the Summer School project last year. We broke new ground with the foundation, and this - in cooperation with the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences - was very successful.

Elke Giese: Especially in the field of design and creation, it is important to recognize an applicant's future creative potential from the work at hand and the information provided by the applicant. I am therefore always particularly pleased when the board of trustees makes courageous and progressive decisions.    

 

The Wilhelm Lorch Foundation offers project funding of € 10,000 to universities and educational institutions. They do not make any thematic restrictions here, but simply demand that there must be a clear reference to the sustainable further training of young up-and-coming talents in the textile and fashion industry. According to which criteria do you finally decide which project will be funded?

Elke Giese: One criterion is the relevance for future developments in the textile and fashion industry. Projects in recent years have enabled schools and educational institutions to train on laser cutters and 3D printers, for example, but also to purchase modern knitting machines or software programs.

Prof. Maike Rabe: All the projects submitted are evaluated very strictly by the jury's experts using a points-based system. This results in a shortlist which is presented to the board of trustees and intensively discussed by them. In this way, we ensure that all submitted applications are honored and that we then award the Wilhelm Lorch Prize to the outstanding project submissions in a joint consensus. The most important criteria are sustainable teaching of innovative learning content, practical training and the feasibility of the submitted project.

 

There are many different definitions of sustainability. Customers expect everything under this term - from climate protection to ecology, from on-site production in the region to the exclusion of child labor etc. Public procurement is increasingly switching to sustainable textiles. What does this mean for WLS, and what are you doing to promote sustainable thinking and acting, not only among young professionals?

Prof. Maike Rabe: At the foundation, we base our definition of "sustainability" on the 1987 report of the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, the so-called Brundtland Commission: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". The textile and clothing sector plays a pioneering role as a globally enormously connected industry with complex supply chains, which should definitely also play a model role. We therefore make it a priority for all award winners to observe these criteria and at the same time try to provide a platform for people who, through their work and actions, offer suggestions for improvement or even already implement improvements.

 

Virtual instead of red carpet: Usually the awards are presented in the festive setting of the TextilWirtschaft Forum. In 2020, due to the Covid-19, there was only a digital version in the form of a short film. How important do you consider networking opportunities that arise from meeting influential personalities face-to-face? Or has such a format become obsolete in the age of video conferencing?

Prof. Maike Rabe: It is certainly remarkable what digital event formats can achieve. But one thing doesn't work: spontaneity, personal contact and closeness. Therefor it is a real pity that the Forum had to be cancelled this year due to corona. Especially for career starters, the chance for direct networking is of great value.

Markus Gotta: The need for personal exchange and meetings will continue to be of great importance and demand in the future. And I can say at this point: We are already working on the plans for the TW Forum 2021 as a live and meeting event with the top decision-makers in the sector.

 

In which socially relevant areas do you see a particularly great need for innovation and action during the next five years? What is your assessment that funding - for example from the Wilhelm Lorch Foundation - can provide targeted support for solutions? And what role do the experiences from the corona pandemic play in this assessment?

Prof. Maike Rabe: We don't think in five-year periods, today's world requires much greater agility - this applies to the Foundation as well as to the entire industry. With each award we re-orientate ourselves towards current topics. Topics such as aesthetics, function and innovation will certainly continue to play a major role, as will quality instead of quantity, eco-social justice and customer loyalty. It is also important, however, that our economy, which is strongly supported by medium-sized companies, is clearly perceived by the public and in politics; we still have to work on that.

Klaus Kottmeier: I gladly agree with Prof. Rabe's closing statement. Agility is also of great importance in a media company like ours. We live in a constant transformation process with constant changes that have to be faced. The corona pandemic has shown us very impressively how quickly original plans can become waste. Today, and more than ever before in the future, a constant willingness to change is required, and this applies not only to us but also to our hopeful young employees.
 

The interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius,
CEO Textination GmbH

GOTTFRIED SCHMIDT OHG (c) Weitblick, Gottfried Schmidt OHG
18.02.2020

WE HAVE OUR PRINCIPLES ... WEITBLICK | GOTTFRIED SCHMIDT OHG

WORKWEAR AS A SUSTAINABLE TEXTILE LOOP!

WEITBLICK | Gottfried Schmidt OHG with about 130 members of staff in Bavaria and more than 1,000 employees in European production plants is one of the leading German textile companies in the workwear and corporate fashion segments. Originally founded 1931 in Frankfurt / Main, the traditional family-owned company, now in its fourth generation, achieves a medium sized eight figure turnover.

Quick decision-making processes, a familiar atmosphere, production exclusively in Europe, customer-specific innovations and comprehensive sustainability concepts - what does the workwear professional do differently than others?

Sales Director Philipp Hartmann (Sales Support and Customer Service) and Janine Gonglach, Head of Marketing, together with Managing Director Felix Blumenauer, responsible for Marketing, Sales, Logistics and Controlling faced the questions of Textination.

WORKWEAR AS A SUSTAINABLE TEXTILE LOOP!

WEITBLICK | Gottfried Schmidt OHG with about 130 members of staff in Bavaria and more than 1,000 employees in European production plants is one of the leading German textile companies in the workwear and corporate fashion segments. Originally founded 1931 in Frankfurt / Main, the traditional family-owned company, now in its fourth generation, achieves a medium sized eight figure turnover.

Quick decision-making processes, a familiar atmosphere, production exclusively in Europe, customer-specific innovations and comprehensive sustainability concepts - what does the workwear professional do differently than others?

Sales Director Philipp Hartmann (Sales Support and Customer Service) and Janine Gonglach, Head of Marketing, together with Managing Director Felix Blumenauer, responsible for Marketing, Sales, Logistics and Controlling faced the questions of Textination.

Gottfried Schmidt OHG, a family company that will celebrate its 90th birthday next year, is considered as a professional when it comes to premium workwear. If you had to introduce yourself in 100 words to someone who doesn't know the company: What makes you unique?
Felix Blumenauer – Managing Director
We are a long-established family company that has reinvented itself again and again over the course of history. In the field of workwear, we stand for the highest quality across a wide range of industry segments and attach great importance to sustainability - this is also shown by our long-standing partners who produce our clothing in Europe. With our state-of-the-art logistics center, we prove that digitization and Industry 4.0 are not just buzzwords for us.   

In which markets and by which partners do you feel particularly challenged? And with which product innovations in the workwear sector do you think you can move the most?
Philipp Hartmann – Sales Director
Markets are changing faster and faster and that is a challenge per se. We want to continue to be reliable today and, in the future, that also means continuity for our partners. But how do we deal with ever new requirements from ever faster moving markets?
Focusing on the customer, we cannot remain in rigid structures. We at WEITBLICK achieve this through our corporate culture and our guidelines: courage, strength and confidence.
This culture holds our team together and this enables us to adapt structures more quickly. Due to our personal contact to our partners and our experience as a fourth-generation family business, we enjoy great trust in all markets and this assists us to make quick adjustments and changes without questioning our DNA.
The basis of our products is the quality of the materials used, the processing by a very well-trained staff in our own European production sites and, first and foremost, a team of experts who controls everything in-house from the fiber and the design idea to production and logistics and bring it all together under one roof. So, if you ask me whether all products will be flashing in the near future, the answer is: no. Our strength is the implementation of our customers' wishes and above all we put the brand, the CI of our customers, in the foreground on the product. Because a satisfied employee in the right workwear is the best business card for a company. So, if it should flash in the clothing in the near future, this is not a problem, but we realize ourselves much more concerned with our customer requirements around the products. Based on quality and sustainability we have been driving very well for a long time.

However, services, speed in logistics, controlling, order configurators and budget management as well as interface management are the actual innovations with which we convince our customers and partners today. For some time now, we have been relying on a team of employees who implements precisely these customer requirements across departments. For example, in addition to our own CI Workwear collection, a customer can also receive a protected customer shop from us, where employees can configure the coordinated collection and order according to a defined budget. The customer's purchasing and controlling departments have live insight into costs and inventories. The dispatch including personalization is RFID-controlled in Germany, picked on the carrier and sent all over the world. Does that sound innovative?

Tailor-made or solution for the major customer? The topic of individualization down to batch size 1 is gaining in importance today. How do you manage the balancing act between major customers and individual production - what does this mean for the processes of Gottfried Schmidt OHG? 
Philipp Hartmann – Sales Director
Why not the tailor-made solution for major and small customers? Until a few years ago, and even today in some cases, a customer’s logo in the colors red, green, blue and white was of course displayed by fabrics of the same color combined in a four-colored scheme. This is more or less a thing of the past. Nowadays, requests for different colors are additionally solved by the possibility of combining many articles. In doing so, we fall back on thousands of active articles of our own developments and a large selection of ingredients, fabrics and finishing options. CI collections can be produced very quickly in small quantities in our state-of-the-art production facilities. In one of our six European production plants, for example, we only manufacture made-to-measure orders from piece 1. This happens within very lean processes and just takes a few weeks.

At the same time, we have large capacities for the storage of our raw materials and a warehouse for prefabricated parts, which enables us to place them into stock for the customer. Companies are aware of the great importance of workwear and the partly missing transparency in processes or costs. Therefore, it is desirable to be able to order small quantities. We have access to dozens of wearer profiles and millions of wearers from almost all sectors and are able to combine this experience with today's requirements. I don't prefer the word "standard", but the fact is that we already offer our customers a wide range of articles and colors to choose from, as we are constantly releasing new collections for various industries. The processes, scrutinized with the possibilities of new tools and systems, are consistently adapted - the other way around. This enables us to work very automatically from small to large orders and thus process orders via our customer online shops or via interfaces with our customers' order portals. Order picking and logistics from piece 1 with the shipping method of your choice are no problem for us, because we have been operating the most modern logistics center in the industry since 2018.

With WEITBLICK you have chosen the look-and-feel of a German-language brand. What prompted you to take this step and what are the consequences for your international sales?
Janine Gonglach – Head of Marketing
The decision was made for WEITBLICK (Engl.: vision, foresightedness) because we always possessed it as a company. Not only the founder Gottfried Schmidt himself had shown vision or foresightedness. Each generation that followed also had and still has visions, that developed the company to what it is today. A company with thought leaders, doers, inventors, critics and perfectionists.
Also, in the future, we will meet the challenge of developing our products and our actions with foresightedness - for the continued existence of the company and for the benefit of our customers.

Philipp Hartmann – Sales Director
We serve a wide range of customers, from craft businesses to large global corporations. So, we have already been internationally active in previous generations. And the name has never been a limitation. Our employees in sales and customer service are trained accordingly, our documents and systems are multilingually available and maintained.

In which socially relevant subject areas do you see a particularly great need for innovation and action during the next 5 years? What is your assessment that your company will be able to offer solutions for this with its products?
Felix Blumenauer – Managing Director

We see a further growing importance of the topic of “sharing”. With our strong partners in professional service, we have been living this idea for many decades and see increasing importance in society. Clothing remains available in a cycle of the highest quality for many years - for us this is the sustainable counter trend to "fast fashion". In this context we offer digital solutions that satisfy our customers and our wearers and convince them, that WEITBLICK is the right choice.

We will act on these fields and consciously set the right accents – that’s how we understand corporate responsibility towards our employees and our customers.

For decades, the textile and clothing industry has been growing steadily worldwide. In terms of sustainability, to put it mildly, there is a rather mixed feedback for our industry. What is the Gottfried Schmidt OHG focusing on in order to meet its social responsibility?
Felix Blumenauer – Managing Director
We have long anchored sustainability in our company as one of the most important priorities in our strategy. This becomes apparent e.g. by the use of Fair-Trade cotton, which we bring to the market in large quantities together with other companies and suppliers in the industry. We think sustainability comprehensively. Each area of our company contributes to the fulfillment of corporate responsibility - towards our customers and our own employees.

There are various definitions for sustainability. Customers expect everything under this term - from climate protection to ecology, from local on-site production to the exclusion of child labor etc. What do you do to bring this term to life for your company and what seals or certifications do you rely on?
Felix Blumenauer – Managing Director
We have the highest standards in the entire supply chain, which we implement together with our partners and monitor closely. This includes fair production conditions in Europe with comparatively short distances, which are guaranteed by the internationally recognized SA 8000 seal. The avoidance of unnecessary packaging material, climate-neutral shipping and the reduction of plastic are also a matter of course for us. For example, we are currently working on using recycled polyester in the future. We are looking forward to the Green Button and want to qualify for this state seal of quality.

At WEITBLICK, you have chosen a consciously young form of communication. Whether Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest or relevant business platforms - social media clearly take a central position in your media mix. This is not necessarily standard in the textile rental service. Why did you choose this form of addressing?
Janine Gonglach – Head of Marketing
For us, WEITBLICK - far-sightedness - also means “venturing something new”!
From my point of view, in the digital age, the question for companies is no longer whether social networks should be used or not, but only how and to what extent. With more than 3 billion people who are now represented in social media networks worldwide, we no longer speak of zeitgeist, but of a must-have in the marketing mix. Our communication follows the guiding principle: "We do not conduct a monologue, but an open dialogue at eye level." Social media achieve exactly that! 

Breaking new ground means willingness to make decisions, overcoming fears - and thus courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect, which entrepreneurial decision are you particularly happy to have made?
Felix Blumenauer – Managing Director
The transformation of our company. With courage, strength and confidence, we managed to reposition our company almost completely within a very short period of time. This includes the modern umbrella brand WEITBLICK, which for us is also an obligation to our actions. But also, the growth that we have achieved in the past four years with around 40 new employees. We have built a new logistics center - with highly modern processes that are largely automated, e.g. with intelligent RFID technology. In doing so, we are trying to take all employees with us on this journey, which is not always easy but the right track. The positive thing about it is that our long-standing as well as our new employees work for us on their own responsibility and with enthusiasm.

The interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

TECHNICAL TEXTILES CONTINUE STEDAY RISE IN SHARE OF TOTAL EU TEXTILE PRODUCTION Foto: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay
26.11.2019

TECHNICAL TEXTILES CONTINUE STEDAY RISE IN SHARE OF TOTAL EU TEXTILE PRODUCTION

  • European Textile and Clothing Sector consolidates satisfactory evolution in 2018

The EU textile and Clothing industry finished the year 2018 with a consolidation of the positive key figures achieved over the last 5 years. First data published by Eurostat enhanced by EURATEX’s own calculations and estimates show a total industry turnover of € 178 billion, a minimal increase to last year’s € 177.6 billion, but significantly above the 2013 figure of € 163.8 billion. Investments of € 5.0 billion again increased slightly, as they did every year since 2013.

Employment of 1.66 million registered a small dip compared to 2017 but remained essentially unchanged over the last 5 years – a remarkable achievement for a sector that keeps realizing labour efficiencies. As a result, the average turnover per employee has increased from 97,000 € in 2013 to 107,000 € in 2018. Over the last 10 years, turnover and value-added per employee have increased by over 30%.

  • European Textile and Clothing Sector consolidates satisfactory evolution in 2018

The EU textile and Clothing industry finished the year 2018 with a consolidation of the positive key figures achieved over the last 5 years. First data published by Eurostat enhanced by EURATEX’s own calculations and estimates show a total industry turnover of € 178 billion, a minimal increase to last year’s € 177.6 billion, but significantly above the 2013 figure of € 163.8 billion. Investments of € 5.0 billion again increased slightly, as they did every year since 2013.

Employment of 1.66 million registered a small dip compared to 2017 but remained essentially unchanged over the last 5 years – a remarkable achievement for a sector that keeps realizing labour efficiencies. As a result, the average turnover per employee has increased from 97,000 € in 2013 to 107,000 € in 2018. Over the last 10 years, turnover and value-added per employee have increased by over 30%.

The brightest spot again is the export figure, which grew by 7% compared to last year and for the first time reached € 50 billion. The industry’s extra-EU exports which now stand at 28% of annual turnover, up from less than 20% 10 years ago, is the clearest proof of the increasing global competitiveness of Europe’s textile and clothing companies.

European high quality textiles and premium fashion products are in growing demand, both in high income countries such as the United States (our biggest export destination in non-European countries with € 6 billion), Switzerland, Japan or Canada, but also emerging countries such as China and Hong Kong (over € 6.7 billion in combined exports), Russia, Turkey and the Middle-East.

European exports benefit from faster economic growth in many non-European markets, but also from better market access as a result of successful EU trade negotiations with countries such as South Korea, Canada or Japan.

Since 2015, export growth has slightly outpaced import growth, which means that our trade deficit of approximately € 65 billion has stopped widening. Rather than an absolute import growth, recent  years have brought important shifts in the main import countries. While China remains by far the number one import source, lower cost countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam have gained in relative importance, especially for clothing.

Technical textiles are an undisputed success story of the European industry. Exact figures for this part of the industry are difficult to compute due to the dual use of many yarns and fabrics for both technical and conventional applications. National statistics become available only with a significant time lag or remain unpublished for smaller EU countries. For 2016, EURATEX estimates that EU industry turnover of technical textiles, (including yarn-type, fabric-type and non-woven materials but excluding any made-up articles) reached about € 24 billion or 27% of total textile industry turnover. Over the years this percentage has steadily grown and is expected to continue to do so in the future.

Italy and Germany are Europe’s biggest producers of technical textiles, each producing over € 4.5 billion worth of technical textiles per year. The highest share for technical textiles in national textile turnover is registered in Scandinavian countries such as Sweden and Finland and central European countries such as Germany, the Czech Republic or Slovenia. The fastest growth of technical textiles over the last 10 years has been achieved by Poland, followed by Belgium, Austria and Portugal. This clearly demonstrates that technical textiles are gaining in importance all over Europe.

Labour productivity is much higher in the technical textiles part of the industry. Turnover per employee stands at € 215,000, more than twice the average textile and clothing industry rate. In this regard, EURATEX Innovation & Skills Director Lutz Walter indicates how “innovation and employee expertise are fundamental to reach and defend the strong technical textile position of the EU industry”.

In terms of international trade, both exports and imports of technical textiles have grown continuously over the years, with an almost zero trade balance in Euro terms. However, when looking into the product category types, it is clear that Europe’s trade balance is massively positive in higher added value products such as medical textiles, highly technical finished fabrics and non-wovens, but negative in such categories as bags, sacks, tarpaulins or cleaning cloths.

Again the United States is Europe’s largest technical textiles customer, followed by China, which has registered very fast growth in recent years.

 

More information:
Euratex Technical Textiles
Source:

EURATEX

Photo: pasja1000 Pixabay
19.03.2019

SRI LANKA'S APPAREL AND TEXTILE EXPORTS RECEIVE A BOOST

  • Modernization of production facilities required

Thanks to the reactivated GSP import status of the European Union, Sri Lanka's textile and clothing industry is looking to the future with confidence and expects better sales opportunities abroad.

The textile and clothing industry is of macroeconomic importance for Sri Lanka. The sector accounted for almost 43 per cent of the country's total exports in 2018 and provides employment for nearly 350,000 workers in the formal sector and about twice as many in the informal sector. In total, this is about 33 percent of all jobs in the manufacturing industry. The majority of employees are women.

  • Modernization of production facilities required

Thanks to the reactivated GSP import status of the European Union, Sri Lanka's textile and clothing industry is looking to the future with confidence and expects better sales opportunities abroad.

The textile and clothing industry is of macroeconomic importance for Sri Lanka. The sector accounted for almost 43 per cent of the country's total exports in 2018 and provides employment for nearly 350,000 workers in the formal sector and about twice as many in the informal sector. In total, this is about 33 percent of all jobs in the manufacturing industry. The majority of employees are women.

The textile and clothing industry contribute around 6 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP). "In view of the development of other sectors, it is very unlikely that another industry will reach this level of performance in the short to medium term," Jeevani Siriwardena, head of the Export Development Board (EDB), said in an interview with Germany Trade and Invest. The textile and clothing industry will continue to be an important sector for the Sri Lankan economy.

Short to medium-term prospects are good
On May 18th 2017, the European Union (EU) reactivated the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status for Sri Lanka after a seven-year time-out. This means that when goods are exported to the EU, the island state is exempted from customs duties on more than 66 percent of customs tariff lines. "Without GSP status, Sri Lanka's export losses are said to have cost around 32 billion between 2010 and 2017," stressed Ravindi Ranaraja, Deputy Head of the Export Service Division of EDB, in a GTAI interview. In particular, the strongly export-oriented clothing and textile industry will benefit from the regained GSP status. Sri Lanka's textile and clothing industry is looking to the future with confidence and also expects better sales opportunities abroad.

Sri Lanka's textile and clothing exports to the EU and Germany in 2018
(in USD million; change year-on-year in %)  
HS-Code Definition
 
EU
 
Change
 
Germany *) Change
 
61 Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted 1,177 0.7 232.55 9.6
62 Garments and clothing accessories, not knitted or crocheted 874 7.6 151.59 18.1
63 Other made-up textile articles; sets worn clothing and used textile articles 52 18.2 7.8 13.5
Total   2,103 3.9 391.92 12.8

*) Estimation
Sources: Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association; press releases; calculations by Germany Trade & Invest; Destatis, February 2019

Positive impulses are already visible. According to the latest foreign trade figures available, Sri Lanka was able to increase its total exports of textiles and clothing (HS codes 61, 62 and 63) by almost 4.8 percent to approximately USD 5 billion in 2018. Exports to the EU increased by 3.9 percent to USD 2.1 billion. Exports to Germany were able to recover a plus of 12.8 percent.

It is not yet certain that Sri Lanka will be able to make up for the losses of the past. In the meantime, countries such as Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, which have already enjoyed tariff concessions in foreign trade with the EU for the entire current decade, have passed by the island state. Bangladesh in particular, recorded a strong increase in its clothing and textile exports compared with Sri Lanka..

Sri Lanka textile and clothing exports 2018 (HS codes 61, 62, 63)
Country In USD million 1)
China 172.4
Vietnam 36.0
Bangladesh 32.9
India 20.9
Indonesia 2) 14.0

1) Estimation; 2) Forecast
Sources: Press Releases; Calculations Germany Trade & Invest, February 2019

Sri Lanka focuses on higher quality products
Numerous domestic textile producers are switching to the production of higher-quality garments in order to maintain their competitiveness. "In Sri Lanka, the focus is not on mass but rather on higher quality products," confirmed M. Raghuram, Chief Executive Officer of Brandix, one of the country's largest clothing companies, in an interview with GTAI. The island state concentrates on the production of just a few product categories such as underwear, sportswear or lounge wear..

Sri Lanka has become a location for the manufacture of high-quality garments. This is also confirmed by the World Bank. In its 2016 study "Stitches to Riches" (website), it found that Sri Lanka outperformed its competitors India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in terms of quality, delivery times, reliability and sustainable social responsibility.

Sri Lanka serves fastidious international companies such as Victoria Secrets, GAP, Nike or Marks and Spencer. According to expert estimates, the production of the top 10 Sri Lankan textile and clothing companies accounts for around 85 percent of the industry's total exports.

The ambitious goal is to increase the garment industry's export revenues to USD 8 billion by 2025, which will require an annual growth of 6 percent. For this Sri Lanka must improve capacity, technology and resource problems. "It is becoming more and more difficult to find suitable personnel. For many young people working in the garment and textile industry in Sri Lanka is simply unattractive”, Nilanthi Sivapragasam, Chief Financial Officer of the conglomerate Aitkence Spence, told GTAI. The training of the workforce is also a major challenge. "Training new employees is very time-consuming and labor-intensive," confirms Sivapragasam.

Imports of German machinery decline
In addition, Sri Lanka's textile companies must modernize their machinery and expand their capacities in order to further increase productivity and added value. Accordingly, there is a great demand for technically sophisticated textile machines in the country. This offers good opportunities and chances for machine suppliers. According to experts, the demand for textile printing and dyeing machines, stenter frames and finishing technology will develop particularly dynamically in the future.
 
In Sri Lanka itself only relatively simple machines are being produced. High-end technology is mainly imported. China is the most important supplier of textile machinery, accounting for about one third of all imports. India has also been able to significantly increase its machine exports to Sri Lanka in recent years. In 2017, India achieved exports of USD 6.3 million, an increase of 46.7 percent, compared with exports of USD 2.6 million in 2010.

German machine exports suffered enormous losses. Sri Lanka's imports of textile machinery from Germany amounted to USD 16.5 million in 2017, a decrease of 54.2 percent. Over the past years, Germany has lost share of its deliveries. According to industry experts, this trend will continue: Made in Germany stands for quality and continues to be very popular in Sri Lanka; however, German machine manufacturers are often unable to keep up with the low-cost products from China or India.

Sri Lanka's imports of textile and clothing machinery
(SITC 724; USD million) 
Country 2016 2017 Change
China 56.3 51.8 -8.0
Japan 26.6 18.3 -31.1
Germany 36.0 16.5 -54.2
Singapore 13.6 14.5 -6.8
India 4.3 6.3 46.7
Total 192.8 155.3 -19.5

Source: UN Comtrade, March 2019

Contact addresses
Title Internet address Remark
Germany Trade & Invest http://www.gtai.de/srilanka Foreign trade information for the German export industry
AHK Sri Lanka http://www.srilanka.ahk.de Contact point for German companies
Sri Lanka Export Development Board http://www.srilankabusiness.com/edb State organization responsible for the development and promotion of exports in Sri Lanka. 

 

More information:
Sri Lanka
Source:

Heena Nazir, Germany Trade & Invest www.gtai.de

CHINA'S TEXTILE AND APPAREL INDUSTRY FEELS US PUNITIVE TARIFFS Photo: Pixabay
05.03.2019

CHINA'S TEXTILE AND APPAREL INDUSTRY FEELS US PUNITIVE TARIFFS

  • Nevertheless - automation, environmental compatibility and energy efficiency increase machine imports

China's textile and clothing industry is modernizing. High-quality textile machines are in demand. But because of the trade dispute with the USA, investments are also postponed.

How the trade dispute between the USA and China affects its business is currently being discussed by China's textile and apparel manufacturers - and in particular by the companies located in the high-quality sector: Of the approximately USD 119 billion, that they sold abroad in 2018, about two thirds went to the United States.

  • Nevertheless - automation, environmental compatibility and energy efficiency increase machine imports

China's textile and clothing industry is modernizing. High-quality textile machines are in demand. But because of the trade dispute with the USA, investments are also postponed.

How the trade dispute between the USA and China affects its business is currently being discussed by China's textile and apparel manufacturers - and in particular by the companies located in the high-quality sector: Of the approximately USD 119 billion, that they sold abroad in 2018, about two thirds went to the United States.

According to the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), 41 percent of the clothing sold in the USA, 72 percent of the shoes and 84 percent of the accessories come from China. On the other hand, the producers of intermediate products or textiles are less or hardly affected by the punitive tariffs, because here the dependence on the USA is not quite as great. Apparel manufacturers in Vietnam and Bangladesh, for example, generally are also buying in China.

Following previous punitive tariffs on Chinese imported goods, in September 2018 the USA imposed a 10 percent punitive tariff on a wide range of other Chinese imported goods, including goods from the textile and clothing industry. On January 1. 2019, the tariffs should originally be raised to 25 percent, but at the beginning of December 2018 US President Trump and China's President Xi agreed not to increase the tariffs until March 1st 2019.

Companies are reluctant to invest
It is hardly possible to make predictions about the outcome of the conflict. In view of the uncertainty, many of the companies affected are therefore waiting for the time being. German textile machine manufacturers are also feeling the effects of this, whether due to lower demand for machines from Germany or locally. According to a representative of the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) in Beijing, many investments have been stopped.

But apart from the upheavals, the modernization process of the Chinese textile and clothing industry is far from complete. Gone are the days when the numerous street markets in China were flooded with cheap clothes. They're hard to find these days. Their manufacturers either had to modernize or have since disappeared from the market.

Number of Chinese textile and clothing companies down sharply
China's textile and clothing industry has been through tough years of consolidation and modernization. In fact, between 2013 and 2017 alone, the number of predominantly private-sector companies in the sector fell by almost 11 percent to around 33,500.

Chinese customers don't want any more junk - and can usually afford better. According to the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), they spent about RMB 1,371 billion; equivalent to about USD 207 billion; (1 USD = about 6.6114 RMB, annual mean rate 2018) on clothing and shoes in 2018. This is 8 percent more than in the previous year.

Rising personnel costs force automation
On the one hand, consumer demand has grown and led companies to invest in better machines, on the other hand, the constant pressure on personnel costs has forced them to automate their processes. Between 2010 and 2017, the number of employees in the sector fell from 10.9 million to 7.8 million.

Many have tried (and are trying) to escape the pressure by relocating their companies - for example to the interior of the country, where the wages are lower, or to cheaper foreign countries. However, the great migration movement did not take place, as most of them see themselves too strongly interwoven with their suppliers. Some are also skeptical about the move to the West, arguing that it would only be a temporary solution - and that sooner or later the wages there would follow.

Traditionally, the industry has concentrated on the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang and Shandong. There, the average gross monthly wages of urban workers rose between 2013 and 2017 (latest available figures) by between 38.9 per cent (Fujian) and 48.5 per cent (Guangdong) - with significantly lower inflation rates.

Development of the Chinese textile and clothing industry 2013 to 2017
(% change over previous year) *)
  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Cjamge
Number of companies 37,376 36,642 36,488 35,197 33,326 -5.3
.Textile industry 21,666 20,821 20,545 19,752 18,726 -5.2
.Clothing industry 15,710 15,821 15,943 15,445 14,600 -5.5
Number of employees in 1,000 persons n.a. n.a. 9,140 8,667 7,784 -10.2
.Textile industry n.a. n.a. 4,645 4,362 3,912 -10.3
.Clothing industry n.a. n.a. 4,495 4,305 3,872 -10.1
Turnover in RMB bn. 5,553 5,934 6,222 6,458 5,700 -11.7
.Textile industry 3,608 3,829 3,999 4,084 3,611 -11.6
.Clothing industry 1,945 2,105 2,223 2,374 2,089 -12.0

*) only companies with an annual turnover of more than RMB 20 million are included.
Source: National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)

Environmental legislation and energy efficiency as additional investment drivers
The industry also has to deal with a generally stricter environmental legislation, which increasingly is being implemented. Added to this is the growing importance of the energy efficiency aspect.

Both are good news for German textile machinery manufacturers, according to VDMA estimates. As a result, the market for high-tech machines is expanding and the resulting demand is still far from being met by local production. China imported USD 4.2 billion worth of textile machinery in 2018, an increase of 6.7 percent over the previous year. A further customer potential arises from the growing importance of technical textiles.

According to Chinese customs statistics, German suppliers supplied textile machinery worth USD 1.1 billion to China in 2017 (latest available data) - a whopping 28.3 percent more than in the previous year. Despite this success, however, they had to cede their previous leading position as the main supplier country to Japan. However, this statistic shows only one side of the medal. Almost all well-known manufacturers are now represented in China with their own production facilities - and no figures are available about their activities.

Imports of textile machinery to China by selected countries
(SITC item 724; in US$ million, change from previous year and percentage share)
  2015 2016 2017 Change Share 2017
Total, thereof from 3,354 2,907 3,897 34.1 100.0
.Japan 728 765 1.169 52.8 30.0
.Germany 1,219 851 1.101 29.4 28.3
.Italy 415 347 448 29.1 11.5
.Taiwan 206 187 203 8.6 5.2
.Belgium 134 124 173 4.0 4.4
.Switzerland 104 111 126 13.5 3.2

Sources: UN-Comtrade; Calculations by Germany Trade & Invest

Environmental model companies point the way ahead

Already today there are manufacturers with ambitious plans in environmental protection. One of them is the Dongrong Group. Based in Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, the Cashmere company has been selected by the government of the Autonomous Region, together with a dairy company, as a model company for environmental protection. This included President and owner Cheng Xudong having his company - by the way inspired by the German Pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai 2008 - sealed energetically (albeit not with materials "Made in Germany").

The next big step will be the purification of the company's own waste water. "Cheng describes his goal as follows: "Fish, suitable for consumption in our canteen, should be able to swim in it. The company is already now growing vegetables for the canteen itself. In his efforts it is financially supported by the state. But certainly not all entrepreneurs are so ambitious.

And there is still an old Chinese saying for many companies: "The sky is high - and the emperor is far away". In other words, what the central government decides in Beijing does not necessarily have to be implemented in the huge hinterland. But all these efforts show in which direction the journey goes.

 

More information:
China USA Tariffs
Source:

Stefanie Schmitt, Germany Trade & Invest www.gtai.de

Photo: Pixabay
26.02.2019

TURKEY REMAINS AN IMPORTANT MARKET FOR GERMAN TEXTILE MACHINERY

  • Competition from the Far East increases modernization pressure

Turkey is an important market for German manufacturers of textile machinery. However, the textile and clothing industry has a problem: exports have been stagnating for years.

  • Competition from the Far East increases modernization pressure

Turkey is an important market for German manufacturers of textile machinery. However, the textile and clothing industry has a problem: exports have been stagnating for years.

The Turkish textile industry is broadly based: Companies manufacture all intermediate products in the country, including yarns, fibers and fabrics. Production along the entire textile value chain means great sales potential for German suppliers of textile machinery. In fact, Turkey is the second most important export market for German spinning, weaving, textile finishing machines and the like after China, as it can be seen from the figures of the Federal Statistical Office Destatis.Nevertheless, the sector is not a growth market. Apart from a few outliers upwards and downwards, Turkish textile machinery imports have remained at the same level for several years. This is due to the fact that Turkish exports of textiles and clothing are also stagnating. Particularly noticeable: companies benefited only marginally from the weak lira last year.

Textile and apparel industry benefits little from weak lira
Year Turkish exports of clothing and textiles (in US$ billion) Annual change (in %)
2015 26.3 -10.3
2016 26.1 -0.6
2017 26.7 2.1
2018 27.7 3.6

Source: Turkish Statistical Office TÜIK (http://www.tuik.gov.tr)

Increasing pressure from the Far East
Turkish clothing manufacturers are increasingly feeling the effects of competition from the Far East. Despite the high number of informal workers, wages in Turkey have risen to such an extent that they cannot keep up with the low wages of Asian sewing factories. The geographical advantage of Turkish companies over Chinese competitors is at stake because of the new Silk Road and the development of faster transport routes. Free trade agreements that the European Union is currently negotiating with India and South Korea will further increase the pressure on Turkish producers.

Slump in 3rd quarter 2018
In addition, there is the difficult economic situation in the country: the Turkish lira reached a record low, especially in the months of August to October 2018, and commercial banks raised their lending rates. As a result, financing costs for machinery from abroad suddenly increased, orders from Turkey failed to materialize, especially in the third quarter. The German knitting machine manufacturer Mayer & Cie has also noticed this, as Stefan Bühler, who is responsible for the Turkish business, reports: "In the last three months of 2018, the market was virtually dead. In the meantime, however, the industry is gradually recovering.

Akar Textile plans new factory
Announcements about new investments cannot yet be heard at this time. As early as June 2018, Akar Textile (http://www.akartextile.com) announced that it would build a new factory for 47 million Turkish lira (TL) in the municipality of Savur in southeastern Turkey. 3,000 employees are there to become employed. Akar Textile produces for companies such as C&A, Mango and H&M. Only a few months after the announcement of the project, the economic crisis in Turkey deepened in September. The extent to which the turbulence has affected the project implementation is not known.

Technical textiles as a driving force for growth
Far Eastern competition is increasing the pressure to modernize the Turkish textile industry. In the future, industry will have to compete primarily with high-quality products. Growth impulses are currently coming from the sector of technical textiles. According to industry reports, more than 200 small and medium-sized enterprises are already producing technical textiles and nonwovens in Turkey. These textiles and fabrics are being used in the automotive, packaging and cosmetics industries.

In June 2018, the Turkish METYX Group (http://www.metyx.com) invested in its machinery parc. The company is manufacturing technical textiles and has ordered a line of warp knitting machines from the German textile machine manufacturer Karl Mayer. The manufacturer of composite materials is thus increasing its capacity by 12,000 tons of glass and carbon fibers. In recent years, more and more research and development centers have emerged to promote the necessary technology transfer in the industry. The Institute for Technical Textiles at RWTH Aachen University (ITA) founded a research center in Istanbul in October 2016. In the Teknosab industrial zone in Bursa the BUTEKOM research and development center for textile technology was established in 2008. The institute offers training as well as research and development cooperation to and with companies.

However, many medium-sized textile companies often lack the money to invest in modern machinery. The short planning horizon makes an access to research and development more difficult. As a member of the management board of the German-Turkish Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Frank Kaiser has been observing the Turkish business landscape for eight years. He points out that the textile manufacturers, like other medium-sized companies in the country too, often plan in short terms. "In view of the volatile business environment, this is rational," Kaiser explains.

Turkish imports of textile machinery and exchange rate comparison  1)
Year Import from Germany
(in USD million)
Total imports
(in USD million)
Exchange rate
(1 US$ = ?TL)
2009 143 505 1.55
2011 521 1,851 1.67
2013 619 2,211 1.90
2015 382 1,398 2.72
2017 447 1,478 3.65
2018 1) 2) 490 1,774 4.81

1) the slump in the 3rd quarter is not yet visible in the annual figures for 2018; it will not become noticeable until 2019
Sources: UN-Comtrade, TurkStat 2), Bundesbank

 

 

 

 

Foto: PIXABAY
19.02.2019

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC REMAINS DIFFICULT MARKET FOR GERMAN TEXTILE MACHINERY

  • Deliveries have risen sharply recently

Cheap and used technology dominates at the Dominican market for textile machinery. It is some of the country's problems that give German suppliers some hope.

The good news is that in the first eleven months of 2018 German exports of textile and clothing machinery to the Dominican Republic rose by 580 percent year-on-year, and, according to Eurostat, by 2017 German deliveries had tripled. The bad news: German sector exports reached only EUR 1.7 million in absolute terms. This is considerably less than, for example, in Guatemala with its not much larger technology market.

  • Deliveries have risen sharply recently

Cheap and used technology dominates at the Dominican market for textile machinery. It is some of the country's problems that give German suppliers some hope.

The good news is that in the first eleven months of 2018 German exports of textile and clothing machinery to the Dominican Republic rose by 580 percent year-on-year, and, according to Eurostat, by 2017 German deliveries had tripled. The bad news: German sector exports reached only EUR 1.7 million in absolute terms. This is considerably less than, for example, in Guatemala with its not much larger technology market.

Representatives of German providers are not surprised about the figures. Cheap equipment from China and other Asian countries are in demand, but above all mainly used machines. Hugo Clavijo of Texquim, who represents the German suppliers Mayer & Cie. (circular knitting machines) and Groz-Beckert (needles), among others in the Dominican Republic, estimates, that just five out of every hundred machines sold are new. Around the turn of the millennium, the market thus became the residual ramp for the declining US textile industry. According to UN Comtrade, around 60 percent of the value of technology deliveries in recent years came from the USA.

The International Textile Manufacturers Federation also registered hardly any shipments of new machines: for 2010 to 2017, the ITMF shows just ten flat knitting machines and eleven (all in 2017) circular knitting machines. Also, for this period 720 Double Heaters for texturing synthetic filaments for yarn production were listed. The ITMF counts the deliveries of 200 textile machinery manufacturers worldwide and thus a large part of the market, albeit not the entire one.

Electricity and water bottlenecks as arguments for expensive machines
Hugo Clavijo currently sees no great chance of a rapid improvement in the sale of expensive German technology. But ironically, it is some of the country's problems that may transform the potential customer interest into concrete procurements: The energy supply for the textile companies is expensive and unreliable, and the companies have to treat their process water themselves. Economical and less repair-prone machines would come into a closer consideration even if the purchase prices were significantly higher. It would also be helpful to enforce environmental standards, which today are largely on paper only.

There is also a need for technology if the Dominican textile and clothing manufacturers expand their capacities due to possible changes in international trade policy, i.e. if clothing customers in the USA would place orders in the Caribbean country instead of Asia. At the moment, however, the Dominican export industry is not using its factories to capacity.

Installed capacity of the Dominican textile industry in comparison (2016, in units) 1)

Machinery / technology Dominican Republic Guatemala Ethiopia Turkey
Rotor Spinning 2) 1,400 21,000 19,000 800,000
Short Staple Spinning 2) 20,000 150,000 293,852 7,900,000
Shuttle Looms 3) 500 3,000 167 20,000
Shuttleless Looms 3) 150 890 2,200 49,500

1) no data on other machines; 2) spinning machines; 3) weaving machines

Source: International Textile Manufacturers Federation

The Dominican textile and clothing industry, which, according to the central bank, generated 11 percent of the country's total export revenues with clothing from free zones in 2017, is not fully vertically integrated: it mainly imports yarns, which then is mainly being knitted but also woven or otherwise processed and then assembled into finished clothing. It often produces T-shirts and other knitwear with a high cotton content. And this is "the cheap stuff," as Clavijo says.

There is a limited production of synthetic yarn in the Dominican Republic which, according to Hugo Clavijo, is limited to two companies: The Korean company Youm Kwang textures filaments in the country, while the US company A&E (American & Efird) produces sewing thread from imported filaments.

Four export producers as important technology customers
The Dominican textile sector is said to consist of about two equal segments. A dozen medium-sized companies and a large number of garage companies supply the domestic market. In addition, four companies produce for export in the country's free zones: Gildan (Canada), Hanes (USA), Willbes (Korea) and the local Grupo M, which has been working in a 50/50 joint venture with Brandix from Sri Lanka since the beginning of 2017. The procurement of machines in foreign companies is not decided by the local management, but by the corporate headquarters, according to representatives.

The four export producers are said to be vertically integrated from yarn processing onwards. Grupo M supplies about one fifth of its fabrics, knitwear, etc. to processors, while the other three industry giants manufacture these preliminary products completely by themselves. According to Comtrade (SITC chapter 84), three quarters of the clothing exports go to the USA, the remainder predominantly to the neighboring Haiti.

For US clothing customers, the nearby Dominican Republic offers fast and cheap transport routes as well as the advantageous customs regime of the DR-CAFTA trade agreement. According to Hugo Clavijo, however, Dominican clothing exporters must obtain their intermediate products from the USA in order to benefit from all customs relief. Producers for the Dominican domestic market, on the other hand, are using yarns and fabrics from China, Pakistan or other third countries that offer lower production costs.

USA dominate machine deliveries
The Dominican market for textile and clothing machinery has stagnated in recent years: For 2017, UN Comtrade estimated imports - there is no significant domestic production - at USD 36 million. That was as much as 2014 and around USD 10 million more than around 2010.

According to Comtrade, Germany was ranked sixth in the import ranking with an average share of 2.0 percent between 2015 and 2017. Eurostat, whose (export) data deviate considerably in some cases, noted stagnating industry deliveries from the European Union to the Dominican Republic for the first eleven months of 2018 in addition to the high growth for Made in Germany.

Dominican imports of textile machinery (USD thousand *)
ITC-Pos. Supplying country/ Goods Group 2015 2016 2017
  total 33,398 30,817 36,257
724.35, .39 Sewing machines (excluding domestic sewing machines) 12,131 10,350 12,784
7244 Spinn- and texturing machines 2,852 2,102 4,585
7245 Knitting and weaving machines 3,362 2,683 1,543
7246 Auxiliary machines 6,068 5,215 5,384
724.73, .74 Washing machines, stenter frames, etc. (except for housholds and landries), large-dryers 5,135 5,615 7,652
724.92 Parts for items 724.73 and .74 and for dry-cleaning machines (724.72) and domestic tumble dryers 3,850 4,852 4,309
  Supplying countries      
  USA 22,000 17,320 20,743
  China 3,424 3,058 2,380
  Spain 2,176 2,567 2,614
  Japan 973 1,894 2,688
  Italy 923 1,194 496
  Germany 397 724 873

*) SITC 724 without household sewing machines (724,33), household washing machines (724,.71), machines for dry cleaning (724.72), leather processing (7248), parts of household washing machines (724.91).
Source: UN Comtrade.

 

More information:
GTAI
Source:

Ulrich Binkert, Germany Trade & Invest www.gtai.de

PIXABAY
27.11.2018

EGYPT'S TEXTILE AND CLOTHING SECTOR FACING MODERNIZATION

  • State enterprises get better equipment

Cairo (GTAI) - The Egyptian government plans to modernize the textile sector and private companies are investing in new locations. Increasing machine imports and clothing exports are expected.

In the Egyptian textile and clothing industry, the signs are pointing to expansion and modernization. Local media reported on a number of private and public investment projects. According to the newspaper Al Gomhouria, a Chinese producer in the Suez Canal economic zone is planning the world's largest textile factory for USD 6 billion. The Chinese companies TIDA and Shoon Dong Roy want to build a clothing factory for 800 million USD. Sino-Egypt Minkai is planning to build a textile industry complex for around USD 750 million.

  • State enterprises get better equipment

Cairo (GTAI) - The Egyptian government plans to modernize the textile sector and private companies are investing in new locations. Increasing machine imports and clothing exports are expected.

In the Egyptian textile and clothing industry, the signs are pointing to expansion and modernization. Local media reported on a number of private and public investment projects. According to the newspaper Al Gomhouria, a Chinese producer in the Suez Canal economic zone is planning the world's largest textile factory for USD 6 billion. The Chinese companies TIDA and Shoon Dong Roy want to build a clothing factory for 800 million USD. Sino-Egypt Minkai is planning to build a textile industry complex for around USD 750 million.

The Egyptian state also wants to strengthen the textile and clothing production. In November 2018, the Minister of State Enterprise Hisham Tawfiq negotiated an extensive restructuring of the Cotton & Textile Holding Company with Werner International of the USA. According to press reports, the properties of 14 of the 25 cotton ginning plants should be sold. The ministry estimates the value at USD 1.5 billion. This appropriation is intended to cover the repair of machinery and the import of new equipment for the eleven remaining companies.

A free zone for textile production will also be created in Minya on the initiative of the state. This industrial zone is to be built on an area of 2.2 million square metres: The General Authority for Free Zones and Investment intends to launch the project before the end of 2018.

In autumn 2018, the Cotton & Textiles Industries Holding Company and Marubeni of Japan signed a letter of intent. This relates to the construction of a new textile factory in Kafr El Sheikh. A reduced loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation secures the financing of the project.

Import demand for textile and clothing machinery expected to increase
The planned projects are expected to lead to a further increase of a demand of imports. Like other types of equipment, the vast majority of textile and clothing machinery is imported into Egypt. In 2017 the German share of deliveries fell by 8.4 percentage points to an year-on-year comparison to 12 percent. However, this reduction is put into a perspective by the fact that the reference year 2016 was a positive outlier. In 2015, the German share was still 15.8 percent.

Imports of textile and clothing machinery to Egypt (in USD 1,000)
HS-Category 2016 Therof from Germany 2017 Therof from Germany
8444 4,481 2,025 5,554 n.v.
8445 26,105 5,429 32,660 4,807
8446 23,591 13,346 26,170 4,493
8447 15,713 3,052 22,032 4,493
8448 20.574 3,365 18,013 2,698
8449 299 0 1,725 0.4
8451 36,512 2,334 37,887 3,511
8452 23,186 1,698 29,633 1,309
8453 3,678 137 9,892 155
Total 154,139 31,386 183,566 22,028.4

n.a. = not available
Source: Comtrade

Egyptian textile and clothing companies often produce with a lot of manual work and partly with very outdated machines. The government's aim is to create as many jobs as possible due to the continued population growth. On the other hand, a more automated and modern production would allow more complex products. These could be sold at a higher profit, but would also require less human labor.

Important role of the sector companies for the Egyptian economy
The textile and clothing companies in Egypt represent a significant and labor-intensive industry. Local and imported fibers are being processed in the country and there is a broad base of spinning mills, weaving mills, dyeing houses and manufacturers of clothing and home textiles. It is estimated that the companies employ between 1 million and 1.2 million people. A regional focus is Mahala El Kubra. State enterprises are strongly represented in the textile sector, while the private sector plays a greater role in the clothing sector. About 90 percent of the spinning and weaving mills are state-owned.

According to the Readymade Garments Export Council (RMGEC), the garment industry accounts for 3 percent of the country's gross domestic product, 15 percent of exports (excluding oil), and one of three industrial jobs in the country. From January to the end of August 2018, clothing exports to the RMGEC totaled USD 1,040 million. In the same period of 2017, exports amounted to only US$ 980 million.

Egyptian exports of textiles and clothing (selection; in USD million;
change in %)
HS-Category 2016 2017 Change 2017 / 2016
57 303.5 313.9 3.4
60 35.7 44.3 24.1
61 388.0 466.0 20.1
62 756.6 910.7 20.4
63 227.2 231.1 1.7
Total 1,711.0 1,966.0 14.9

Source: UN Comtrade

The Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) play a special role. These are special zones with Israeli added value, which are fixed during production, and the products enjoy customs advantages when exported to the USA. Since 2005, the QIZ system has provided more private investments in the garment sector. Jeans and other clothing for well-known brands are delivered to the USA from the 25 zones.
Egyptian manufacturers are also generally not always recognizable as such, as they often manufacture for major international brands. Middle East Eye names Calvin Klein, Decathlon, Tommy Hilfiger and Zara as examples. In November 2017 Dice Sport and Casual Wear agreed to supply Levi Strauss & Co. with children's clothing.

The US company Disney even purchases 33 types of products from Egypt. Since 2017, Egypt has been cooperating with the International Labor Organization ILO as part of the Better Work Program. Working conditions are to be improved in 30 clothing factories. According to media reports, for Disney these measures were a reason to extend the licenses of the Egyptian suppliers until December 2019.

Currency effect improves competitiveness
The labor-intensive production benefited from the currency devaluation in 2016. According to a report by the news portal Middle East Eye, Egypt has at least 100 USD monthly salary for workers and is about at the same level as India or Bangladesh and at about 50 of percent Chinese salaries. In addition, prompt and fast deliveries to Europe and the USA are possible.

On the other hand, the companies are dependent on foreign supplies, which became more expensive. In Egypt especially soft and high-quality long staple cotton is cultivated and exported. Domestic producers, on the other hand, mainly use short-staple cotton and other foreign fibers as raw materials. The RMGEC complained about rising production costs in October 2018. Wages, electricity, water, natural gas, transports and more expensive imports of raw materials contributed to this development.


Further information on Egypt can be found at http://www.gtai.de

 

More information:
GTAI Ägypten
Source:

Oliver Idem, Germany Trade & Invest www.gtai.de

20.11.2018

CHINA'S CLOTHING COMPANIESS REPOSITION THEMSELVES

  • AUTOMATION AND STRONGER FOCUS ON THE DOMESTIC MARKET

Beijing (GTAI) - The Chinese apparel industry is repositioning itself. Increased wage costs force more automation, more customers demanding more quality.
Nowhere else in the world so much clothing is being produced as in China. According to the sector portal http://www.ask.com, alone 22.9 billion pairs of socks were being produced in 2017. This was 4.8 percent more than in the previous year, and the production of jeans amounted to more than 0.6 billion pieces according to information from http://www.chyxx.com, an increase of 5.0 percent.

  • AUTOMATION AND STRONGER FOCUS ON THE DOMESTIC MARKET

Beijing (GTAI) - The Chinese apparel industry is repositioning itself. Increased wage costs force more automation, more customers demanding more quality.
Nowhere else in the world so much clothing is being produced as in China. According to the sector portal http://www.ask.com, alone 22.9 billion pairs of socks were being produced in 2017. This was 4.8 percent more than in the previous year, and the production of jeans amounted to more than 0.6 billion pieces according to information from http://www.chyxx.com, an increase of 5.0 percent.
China is not only the world's largest production nation, but also by far the world's largest export nation in the sector. However, countries such as India, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Cambodia are catching up enormously due to lower wages. As a result, China - measured by its share of world clothing exports - has lost around 5.5 percentage points since 2013, down to only 32.4% in 2017.

China's share of world clothing exports 1) (in USD billion; shares in %)
  2008 2013 2015 2017
World Export 380 468 471 486
China Export 120 177 175 157
China's share 31.6 37.9 37.1 32.4

1) SITC Pos.84; 2) Partially estimated on the basis of information provided by the ITC
Source: UN Comtrade, GTAI calculation.

By contrast, Bangladesh (+3.7 points), Vietnam (+2.0 points) and Cambodia (+1.3 points) in particular recorded gains in the period from 2013 to 2017. In absolute terms, Chinese apparel exports fell by 15.6% to USD 157 billion since the record year of 2014 (USD187 billion). No improvement is in sight as exports are stagnating in 2018.

Export of clothing 1) by country (in USD million; shares in %)
  2008 Share 2013 Share 2017 Share
World Export 380,000 100.0 468,000 100.0 486,000 100.0
China 120,405 31.6 177,435 37.9 157,464 32.4
ASEAN3) 29,793 7.8 42,123 9.0 61,441 12.6
Vietnam 8,724 2.3 17,230 3.7 27,930 5.7
Kambodscha 3,014 0.8 4,832 1.0 11,250 2.3
Bangladesch 12,035 3.2 19,679 4.2 38,460 7.9
India 10,968 2.9 16,843 3.6 18,313 4.0
Germany 18,183 4.8 19,178 4.1 22,034 4.6

1) SITC Pos. 84; 2) partly estimated on the basis of ITC data; 3) excluding Laos and Brunei
Sources: UN-Comtrade; ITC; GTAI calculation

Rising wage costs as investment driver
Due to rising personnel costs throughout the country, manufacturers were and are under considerable cost pressure. With an average hourly wage for a Chinese worker of the equivalent of around USD 5.2 (2017), China has not only left classic emerging markets such as Thailand (USD 2.3) or Mexico (USD 3.9) behind - not to mention India with USD 0.8 - but is already approaching individual European countries (e.g. Greece 2016: USD 6.0).


Companies have met and continue to meet this challenge through increased automation. Between 2015 (9.1 million) and 2017 (7.8 million) alone, the workforce of the textile and clothing industry shrank by 14.3 percent - according to the Chinese statistical office. More and better machines make it possible to say goodbye to the previous labor-intensive production - and thus lower cost pressure with more precise and faster execution. Imports of textile machinery are also benefiting from this. These rose in 2017 by a whopping 34.1 percent year-on-year to nearly USD 3.9 billion.


Germany no longer number one textile machinery supplier
Although Germany lost its position as most important supplier country for textile machinery to Japan, it was still able to increase its deliveries by 28.3 percent to USD 1.1 billion. This corresponded to a supply share of 28.3 percent. Japanese manufacturers achieved a ratio of 30.0 percent with just under USD 1.2 billion (+52.8 percent). Competition from Italy came to only 11.5 percent. The good performance is remarkable due to the fact that a number of German textile machine manufacturers have invested heavily in recent years in the region in order to be able to meet the wishes of Chinese customers more effectively.

China's textile machinery imports *) by selected countries (in USD million; year-on-year change and 2017 shares in %)
  2015 2016 2017 Change Shares
Total 3,354 2,907 3,897 34.1 100.0
including          
Japan 728 765 1,169 52.8 30.0
Germany 1,219 851 1,101 29.4 28.3
Italy 415 347 448 29.1 11.5
Taiwan 206 187 203 8.6 5.2
Belgium 134 124 173 4.0 4.4
Switzerland 104 111 126 13.5 3.2

*) SITC-Pos. 724
Source: UN-Comtrade; GTAI calculation

Due to the high pressure to modernization Chinese textile machinery imports in the first seven months of 2018 increased by almost 15 percent compared to the previous period. German machine manufacturers in particular benefited from this development, with deliveries increasing by 30 percent in the same period. As Japanese exports of textile machinery to China stagnated at the same time, German manufacturers are likely to take the lead again in 2018.
As the garment exports come under such severe pressure, the industry is now increasingly geared towards the local market. Whereas ten years ago about half of the value of production was exported, today it is only about a third. In fact, the Chinese spent an average of around 4.8 percent of their disposable income or 1,238 Renminbi (RMB; around 183 US dollars; 1 USD = 6.7531 RMB, annual mean rate of 2017) on clothing in 2017, according to the Chinese Statistical Office. With an average disposable annual income of 25,974 RMB and a population of 1.39 billion, this translates into a market volume of approximately USD 255 billion.

China's consumers demand quality and design
This makes the Chinese clothing market one of the largest in the world - and one that is becoming increasingly diversified. Local offerings range from the cheapest mass-produced goods, qualitatively and visually appealing products in the mid-price segment up to luxury and haute couture. Much has changed in the upper price segment in particular. "In the past, the Chinese exported the best qualities, but today they keep them for themselves," says a British sourcing expert who has been working in the Kashmir business for decades, describing the development.

In general, Chinese consumer demand is becoming increasingly sophisticated and differentiated. In addition to the tendency towards recognized brands, an increasing individualization of consumption can also be observed. The question is what fits well, pleases and is also somehow "special". "People in the North used to buy cashmere clothes because they warmed well," explains Cheng Xudong, president of the private Dongrong Group. The design was of secondary importance - and accordingly most of the pieces were "old-fashioned".

"Today, cashmere clothes also look very good," Cheng adds. "That's why it's bought not only in the north, but also in the more southern parts of the country." In general, the middle class in particular is looking for a high-quality lifestyle - and clothing is a part of it. The entrepreneur is convinced that if the textile and clothing industry succeeds in adapting to the higher quality demands of local customers through a technical upgrade and improved design, then the industry will continue to do well in the future.

Additional information
Further information on the economic situation, the sectors, business practice, law, customs, tenders and development projects in China can be found at http://www.gtai.de/china The website http://www.gtai.de/asien-pazifik provides an overview of various topics in the region.

 

More information:
China Sampe China GTAI
Source:

Stefanie Schmitt, Germany Trade & Invest www.gtai.de