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The future of fashion? At Intertextile, it’s communication and collaboration

5 Dec 2019

Global climate targets and powerful consumer action are a major influence on the future of fashion. And as one of the largest trading platforms for apparel fabrics in the world, what role does Intertextile play in facilitating sustainability in fashion? This report takes a look from different perspectives from the industry, each represented at the 25th Autumn Edition of the fair in September 2019.

“It’s important that we all play by the same rules”

At the 2019 Autumn Edition of the fair, sustainable products were the first on display for many trade buyers. A display area of eco-friendly fabric samples was positioned next to the main South Entrance, attracting a high volume of buyers to highlighted exhibitors from the outset.

Inside the International Halls, the All About Sustainability zone housed a selection of green fabric suppliers and testing services, as well as Forum Space, the fringe event area dedicated to sustainability topics. Even more eco-friendly exhibitors could be found throughout the fair – especially in product zones such as Functional Lab and Beyond Denim.

Communication is key to ensuring a consistently green supply chain. So with more consumers demanding traceability, Intertextile facilitates industry-wide communication, with a high visitor flow from concurrent events spanning the entire supply chain from fibre to garment.

“It’s important that we all play with the same rules to ensure genuine sustainability and trust in the supply chain. The international exposure is good here and we wanted to couple our visit with some announcements on sustainability. 80% of our cotton will be sustainable and 50% of our polyester will be recycled by 2025, we will use 25% less water, and we will decrease our CO2 emissions by 2.5% per annum from now until 2025. We’re also looking at making denim with no water waste. This is a good, achievable start for us. It’s important for us to come out here and show what we’re doing. From a marketing perspective, we need to appeal to the younger generation to maintain business. They are going to be the leaders and the movers, and the future consumers.”
Mr Per-Olof Loof, President & CEO, Elevate Textiles, USA

FASHIONSUSTAIN and more fringe events


Forum Space is a platform for company product announcements, expert insight and high profile discussions. This year, a major highlight of the fringe programme included FASHIONSUSTAIN: a conference by Messe Frankfurt that brings together key opinion leaders in the sustainable textile industry. Previously held in Berlin, New York City and Los Angeles, the fair was FASHIONSUSTAIN’s first event in Asia. Other fringe highlights included a panel discussion with Elevate Textiles and their brand A&E on sustainability in the supply chain, and a seminar by Testex on OEKO-TEX updates.

FASHIONSUSTAIN speakers included:

  • Mikkel Hansen, Explorium, A Fung Group initiative
  • Tony Lowe, East Asia Ambassador, Better Buying
  • Samuel Goldstein, Asia Business Development, Circular Systems
  • Micke Magnusson, Head of Commercial, DyeCoo
  • Emily Franklin, Innovation Associate, Fashion For Good
  • Edwin Keh, CEO, Hong Kong Research Insititute of Textile and Apparel (HKRITA)Jiehui Kia, Principal Sustainability Strategist, Forum for the Future
  • Celine Huang, CEO Greater China, HeiQ
  • Andreas Streubig, Director Global Sustainability, Hugo Boss
  • Max Gilgenmann, Founder, Kaleidoscope Berlin Florian Heubrandner, Vice President Global Business Management Textiles, Lenzing AG
  • Jean Hegedus, Sustainability Director, The LYCRA Company
  • Cherry Cheuk Yan Ho, Investment Manager, The Mills Fabrica
  • Stephanie Crespin, Founder and CEO, Reflaunt
  • Marte Hentschel, Founder and CEO, Sourcebook
  • Rick Yu, Founder, TG3D

“At Fashion for Good, we’re built upon collaboration. We have an ecosystem of multiple stakeholders and key players in the industry, so we decided to join FASHIONSUSTAIN because it brings together those key players. It’s a really important event where we can exchange ideas and learn about the perspectives of other people in the industry. It’s very easy for organisations to stay in their own regions, where they can then fall silent. This is an opportunity for cross-collaboration for us in Asia, which is particularly important because so much of the fashion industry is present here.”
Ms Emily Franklin, Innovation Analyst, Fashion for Good, the Netherlands (speaker)

“FASHIONSUSTAIN is closely related to industry trends, which provides opportunities for industry insiders interested in sustainability. We are a trend forecasting organisation, so by attending such a forum our company can also understand the industry, so as to more accurately analyse our own future direction and how we can fit in the industry.”
Mr Bruce Lee, Account Manager, CTIC WGSN China (audience)


Making sustainability accessible and closing the loop

  • Gen Z is generally recognised as the generation born between 1996 and 2010
  • By 2025, Gen Z will power around 45% of the luxury market (PMX)
  • 70% of Gen Z consumers try to purchase from ethical companies (McKinsey)
  • 67% of Gen Z consumers would spend more for eco-friendly brands and retailers (CGS)

In a world where information is available instantly, awareness is rising quickly. At a consumer level, awareness and activism can be shared to platforms of thousands via social media. Although not every consumer prioritises sustainability when purchasing, some take it into serious consideration and may even pay more for it. 

Testex, who exhibited in the All About Sustainability zone and participated in a seminar, believe that a good move forward is to focus on making information easily accessible for these consumers, and have introduced a QR code system for product labels. At Intertextile, Testex demonstrated this on a pair of Primark jeans. When scanned by a consumer, every process of the item is instantly indicated on an interactive map. From raw material processing to dyeing, spinning to cutting – every factory was highlighted, as well as the route that the garment took during production.

“We set science-based targets that are very clear for companies. We want to understand the exact impact of a product, see where we can help our B2B customers, and find out where they need to invest more to tackle their CO2 emissions. It’s not always in transportation – it could also lie in raw material processing, or how the end product is washed. We also combine databases so that the consumer can also see the data on the shelf. Searches on Google for sustainable fashion have increased a lot. Young people have a huge impact. So we want to be able to provide more traceable information to the consumer. And on the other side, it’s a communication platform for us. We can set new targets, verify the data and be able to check the progress.”
Mr Mark Sidler, Group CMO of Testex, Switzerland

More insight from the 25th Autumn Edition

"Intertextile is the biggest textile trade show in the Chinese market. There are a lot of end-users of Lenzing brands at this fair. They ask a lot of informed questions about our branding licenses – we have had more enquiries than last year. Tencel is sourced from sustainable wood, so it’s 100% natural, biodegradable and circular. We have good relationships with NGOs and Chinese textile associations, and a lot of Chinese buyers who are interested in sustainability and Tencel."

“Our company has participated at Intertextile for many years, and this year our exhibition targets are mainly to increase exposure and enhance brand image. This time we brought some new sustainable products, and we had a high volume of enquiries, especially from overseas buyers who are very interested in these environmentally friendly materials. The pollution problem in the textile industry is very serious, so environmental protection must be a general direction in the future. As a loyal exhibitor, we can feel that the scale of the exhibition has become larger.”

“We are here to find fabrics for women, men, kids and home. There’s a lot here to offer, so we are here to find as much as we can. There is a focus on environmentally friendly fabrics and recycled products. We found that this is a tremendous trend in the UK market but overall in the world. This is not our first time here – we keep returning because the offering here is huge, the pricing matches our needs and the customer service is good.”

“I attend Intertextile almost every year. Our company specialises in the production of professional wear, suiting and shirting. There are a lot of exhibitors this year, which meets my purchasing needs. At present, I have found some high-quality suppliers, including some manufacturers that provide environmentally friendly fabrics, which also provides new ideas for our next developments. This is one of the most professional exhibitions in this industry.”