61st Dornbirn-GFC 2022 – Sustainability a big issue

KatharinaEvents, News

Global Fiber Congress – Dornbin-GFC – September 14-16, 2022

Sustainability, the meaning and challenges, and the urgent need to reduce human footprint on earth were primary topics during the opening session of the 61st Dornbirn-GFC. The 61st Dornbirn-GFC took place in Dornbirn, Austria from 14th to 16th September 2022. Thomas Riegler, PricewaterhouseCoopers, admonishingly mentioned that nearly all planetary boundaries are by far exceeded. And this despite trillions of sustainable finance and ESG investing. When investigating what went wrong, he states that there is no common and shared understanding and definition of sustainability means. Due to missing standards in reporting, ratings and frameworks. Fact is, CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere hits another record.

Main topics of the more than 100 lectures were fiber innovations, circular economy & sustainability & recycling, nonwovens, smart, functional surface modifications as well as apparel & sports.

Isa Hofmann was Chairperson of the block “Apparel & Sports”

I was moderating the „Apparel & Sports” session Wednesday afternoon, September 15th. During the session, Susanne Müller, Natalie van Bentum and Lars Claußen each had a 20 minutes lecture. Together we took a closer look how this industry copes with the challenges as far as production, retail and consumer attitudes are concerned.

Sustainability through sharing

“GenZ give clothes a second life, they like to share. Also they use click and collect a lot”  – Susanne Müller

Susanne Müller from the University of Applied Sciences Niederrhein, Germany, gave an insight in the challenge of “New Luxury” for the Textile and Clothing Industry. The definition of luxury is currently changing very fast. And this is mainly due to the new generations, Millenials and Generation Z (GenZ). The generation Z born in the late 1990s or the early 21st century is according to Müller the largest generation of the current global population with around 2,7 billion. This new generation fights for human rights, defends oppressed people and promotes openness to all races, ethnicities and sexual orientations.

Since they move in as modern creative directors in luxury fashion companies, they leave their mark in a changing brand perception. She gives the example of Virgil Abloh as late Dior creative director. Millenials and GenZ will make up 70 % of the luxury market by 2025 and account for 130% of its growth. She identifies 7 new luxury trends that will shape 2022. Among those, the second hand luxury, cross-industry collaborations and the so-called “sustainable sustainability”.

The influence of digitization on fashion becomes evident when she gives example of non-fungible tokens (NFT’s). A non-fungible token is a cryptographic asset on the blockchain that represents an intangible and unique digital item, according to Cambridge Dictionary. NFT’s are fundamentally changing the way we own things digitally. These tokens can be safely traded, with transaction history to a blockchain – thus guaranteeing transparency around authenticity and ownership. Kerry Murphy, founder of The Fabricant, a digital fashion house, has published a Manifesto that explains and summarizes the revolutionary spirit of this new digital luxury fashion. There are also endeavors of various luxury brands to collaborate in this innovative way and create a blockchain consortium. Interesting perspectives and concepts for luxury of the future.

Sustainable online shopping concenpts are needed

We all could overthink our shopping behavior and go for more sustainable options” – Natalie van Bentum

Nathalie van Bentum provided an insight in the “Success factors for last mile fashion e-commerce deliveries”. As a PhD student at the Technical University of Dortmund & Hochschule Niederrhein, she investigates how CEP (courier express and parcel services) can be more successful and more sustainable during the delivery process of fashion orders. During the Covid pandemic the share of e-commerce orders has increased dramatically. Forecasts foresee a 50 % share in 2030 (2010: 9 %). An increased mail order volume results in higher traffic volumes, congestion, noise pollution and higher emissions. Van Bentum: “The last mile generates 50 % of the total delivery costs for CEP.” She explores various adjusting screws how to reduce delivery costs, improve performance and enhance sustainability. To name a few of her recommendations: Identify the infrastructural framework, choice of vehicle type and propulsion, identify possible savings on the tour, stronger cooperation with online retailers.

To the question what the end consumer can do, she says: “We all can overthink our shopping behavior and go for more sustainable choices. There are studies that prove that online shopping creates less carbon dioxide emissions than going to a stationary shop. However, this depends very much if you take the car or go by bike for example. You could pick up packages from a pick-up station or be open-minded to new concepts.” Germany is the country with the highest return rates. That is due to the fact that payments are done by invoice and not directly. There are discussions going on to charge customers for their returns. The use of drones is still legally forbidden in Germany. “in Shanghai during the pandemic it was totally usual for consumers to receive their packages by drones.”

Sustainability through bio-based materials

“The big challenge is to go from fossil fuel based to bio-based materials keeping the functionality at equal high level”  – Lars Claußen

Textile engineer Lars Claußen joined the Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre at Loughborough School of Design and Creative Arts in April 2020. He is conducting a PhD in collaboration with Adidas investigating the long-term quality of recycled polyester sports clothing. Claußen did a two-year long wear trial.  He will figure out the key points of acceptance of t-shirts made from virgin or recycled polyester.

“By 2024, adidas will only use recycled polyester wherever possible.” This is a clear statement given on the official website of adidas.  There is no significant difference in the perceived quality of the different materials used. It seems that nothing stands in the way, when we learn that from Claußen. To the question what is the biggest challenge for the sports and clothing industry in the future Claußen concludes recyclability and longevity: “The big challenge is to go from fossil fuel based to bio-based materials keeping the functionality at the same time” .

Under the following link you will find more information about the Dornbirn-GFC: www.dornbirn-gfc.com

The main program you will find here.