05/03/2020 – Sustainable – the new normal — auf Deutsch lesen


“Supporting the sustainable transformation of the textiles and apparel industry” – this was the task.


The project is all about raising consumer awareness of sustainability by giving them real insights into the textile companies and their supply chains. © Südwesttextil


“Supporting the sustainable transformation of the textiles and apparel industry” – this was the task set by the ideas competition “Fashion Culture, Textiles & Sustainability” organised in the summer of 2019 by the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) within its Sustainability Culture Fund. In its role as the employers’ association of Baden-Württemberg’s textile and apparel industry, Südwesttextil developed a project application based on existing plans and submitted it to the RNE last August under the title “Textiles for Tomorrow – Sustainably Networked in Baden-Württemberg”. To the association’s delight, the submission was successful! The concept to build a stronger network of companies and work collaboratively on developing and attaining common sustainability goals, combined with a campaign on sustainable entrepreneurship, was among the 11 winners chosen from around 117 entries.

Sustainable – the new normal

In its role as an industry association, Südwesttextil shares the conviction that there is no alternative to sustainability in the production and consumption of textiles. Much has already been done in the industry in this respect. Be it manufacturers of home textiles or fashion, or companies along the supply chain, many enterprises have already started on the path to greater sustainability, taking various measures and drawing up relevant strategies. There is a great intrinsic incentive for textile enterprises to manage their operations sustainably so that future generations are taken into consideration, too. The notion of intergenerational justice was embedded for good reason in the first definition of sustainable development which was coined in the 1987 Brundtland Report by the World Commission on Environment and Development.

Peter Haas, Managing Director Südwesttextil:

“For many of our member companies, sustainability has been a firm part of their corporate culture since their inception. We want to push the concept of sustainability beyond the boundaries of environment and social responsibility. We want ‘sustainable’ to become a standard product feature in the future. Our vision is for ‘sustainable’ to be the new ‘normal’.”

Actions for tomorrow

Inspired by these companies, a project was recently launched by Südwesttextil primarily as a result of a dialogue between generations of entrepreneurs who have a passion for textiles. A networking breakfast in early 2018 brought young founders together with representatives of established companies. The event reinforced the idea that it is time to join forces and make a difference and it threw up an opportunity to combine the courage of the new generations with the knowledge and experience of the experts.

Within its Sustainability Culture Fund, the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) created a programme that funds explicitly transformative projects that promote a culture of sustainability. The main objective is to develop long-term processes that embed sustainable development in society whilst encouraging collaboration between different actors. To this end, the German Federal Chancellery has provided funding initially for a period of three years, which has been poured into a variety of different ideas competitions. They include, for example, the “Fashion Culture, Textiles & Sustainability Competition”.

The 17 goals for sustainable development of the United Nations

The concept submitted by Südwesttextil incorporated a range of activities that are already being implemented by its members and set them in the context of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals defined by the United Nations. When hammering out the networking concept, the 17th SDG – “Partnerships for the Goals” – was used as a guiding principle. The content was largely influenced by Goal 12 “Responsible Consumption and Production” and Goal 9 “Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure”, which shall serve as the basis for a common agenda for all project participants over the next few years.

Together we are strong!

The aim of the project is to ensure that sustainability becomes firmly embedded in the association’s agenda whilst raising awareness in the general public so that sustainability becomes the “new normal”. In a first step, Südwesttextil is inviting the network to a “Round Table Workshop” in Reutlingen, Germany, on 23 and 24 April. During this major launch event, the members will draw up a road map for the next decade. The long-term vision is to create, with the help of the strong regional network, a platform that provides fertile ground for a continual dialogue on sustainability whilst strengthening cooperation between companies.

Once a road map has been devised, the next task will be to create a shared agenda that targets the main tasks for companies step by step. The firms will use this opportunity to discuss and tackle specific challenges. At the same time, a campaign will raise public awareness for sustainable company leadership and regional actors. Using the tagline “Textiles for Tomorrow – Sustainably Networked in Baden-Württemberg” (#textilfuermorgen), all media channels will be deployed to extend the project’s impact as far as possible.

To raise awareness

A major objective is to raise awareness of sustainability among consumers by providing them with real insights into the textile companies and their supply chains. The spotlight will be on transparency and on showing exactly how companies are rising to the challenges of sustainability. Reflecting the idea of awakening to a decade of change, the industry in the German state of Baden-Württemberg has the opportunity to transform this positive sentiment into concrete action and competitive advantage, whilst working collaboratively to create and implement a shared vision. As part of the project, Südwesttextil is planning a major “Showcase” in collaboration with trade-fair organiser Messe Frankfurt at the summer edition of Neonyt – the global hub for “Fashion, Sustainability and Innovation” in Berlin. In doing so, Südwesttextil will highlight the significance of sustainability beyond the trend of sustainable fashion and thus outline the path – away from the product – that many textiles and apparel companies in south-west Germany have chosen. The showcase will mirror the diversity of the textiles and apparel industry and extend the network’s reach beyond the borders of Baden-Württemberg.

Rebekka Rüth