CHANGING THE TEXTILE SECTOR TO BE MORE SUSTAINABLE: THE TANKER OR THE SPEEDBOAT APPROACH?
I was recently asked to be part of the panel on a full-day workshop called ‘Taking the pulse of the Nordic fashion and textile industry’. The workshop was hosted by The Danish Ministry of Environment and participants included passionate people from various government bodies, the Nordic Council of Ministers, consulting companies, environmental interest groups as well as private clothing brands, such as myself. Everybody who has a share and takes an interest in making the textile industry more sustainable.
I was feeling quite humble and a little bit ‘corporate’ when I arrived at the workshop, but it turned out to be a very interesting day, with good debates and many interesting angles on the industry. The key conclusion of the day for me was, that not one of the many players that attended the workshop, can change the industry alone – we need to work together, as it is a very complex and non-transparent industry.
"not one of the many players that attended the workshop,
can change the industry alone –
we need to work together"
While we all shared the same objective of making the industry more sustainable, we appeared to have very different approaches to doing this.There seemed to be a general agreement that the industry can best be changed by making legislation and incentives that promote sustainable and circular production (or punish conventional production).
While I can definitely see the benefits of working on a pan-Nordic level and make long-term legal requirements for producers, I am also a firm believer of shorter-term thinking and trial-and-error projects. It is the old dilemma of whether it makes most sense to wait for the tanker to change direction or whether you get more impact by sending out ‘speed-boats’ to test the waters…
Önling’s approach has always been the speed-boat approach. My take has always been to work tactically and learn as we work, rather than making a 3-year grand strategy, implementing it, and then revising it. I believe that the world changes so fast today, that if you work with more than a 1-2 year planning horizon, your product is already obsolete.
"We see it as a critical task
to change the demand
from fast fashion to slow fashion..."
For us, the one key change driver that will have the most impact in the industry, will be to change the customers’ behaviour through information. We see it as a critical task to change the demand from fast fashion to slow fashion, to make it cool and fashionable to think long-term about your wardrobe and to increase the amount of re-used clothes and fibres that are recycled back into production.
Therefore, you can count on Önling launching more small projects, pilots and new products with a sustainable and circular edge – because we can make a bigger change and learn much more from being out there in the market with our products and seeing the customers’ response, than we can from theoretical strategy papers.
Lotte Ronan, CEO and co-owner, Önling