WHU General

Digital and Sustainable Fashion Revolution

Fashion Revolution commemorates the victims of the textile factory Rana Plaza

For the seventh time, April 24 marked the anniversary of the collapse of the textile factory in Bangladesh, in which over 1000 people were killed and over 2000 injured. For the third time, the Fashion Revolution Week took place in Düsseldorf on this occasion - and for the first time completely digitally.

Until recently, the pedestrian zones in Germany were empty, shops were closed, and the spring collections had hardly found buyers. However, not only the textile dealers in Germany are affected by the crisis, but above all those who produce the goods. In Bangladesh, empty factory halls still mark everyday life.  90 percent of the 4,000 to 6,000 textile factories are currently closed, export orders worth 3.13 billion euros have been cancelled. Dr. Gisela Burckhardt, CEO and chairperson of the board of FEMNET, an NGO that promotes political commitment and the promotion of women's rights, believes that employees' salaries have been cut, even though there are no official confirmations. The majority of those affected are women, protests and riots are expected in May. COVID-19 is driving the textile industry into a corner, endangering the livelihood of countless workers. However, even before the crisis, the exploitation of the poorer world population in favor of a privileged consumer society was under criticism. FEMNET states: After the tragedy of April 24, 2013, security measures in textile factories were improved, but little has changed in terms of working conditions.

Fashion Revolution is one of the organizations that have taken up the fight for a clean, safe, fair, transparent and accountable fashion industry. The vision of a fashion world that preserves and restores the environment and puts people before growth and profit is carried by numerous ambassadors around the globe. Dr. Monika Hauck, Director of the Entrepreneurship Center of WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management, is a Fashion Revolution Ambassador for the city of Düsseldorf as well as for WHU and was responsible for the organization and moderation of the Fashion Revolution Week event in Düsseldorf. She has a clear vision: "We want to generate an awareness of the negative aspects of the fast fashion industry and encourage people to invest in fair trade fashion. At the same time, we also want to promote start-ups who work on innovative solutions to make the fashion industry more sustainable.”

Over 300 registered participants showed interest in the lectures of various representatives of the fashion industry from all over Germany and the world. The reason for this virtual event model served also as this year’s topic: the Corona crisis and its global and local effects on the fashion industry. In addition to Dr. Gisela Burckhardt, Otang Andriko, Executive Director of the TRADE UNION RIGHTS CENTER in Jakarta, Indonesia, among others, provided impressions of the corona-related situation in Indonesian textile factories.

In the second part of the event, the local perspective came to the fore. The Lord Mayor of Düsseldorf, Thomas Geisel, and his wife Dr. Vera Geisel opened the round of introductions of local fashion representatives; including the fair trade clothing store ROBERTA ORGANIC, the designer Stephanie Pothen, the WHU alumni start-up RETRACED and the Mainz-based start-up VINOKILO. All of them were hit by the Corona crisis and they used the opportunity to share their stories as well as one or two fashion pieces from their current collections via video. Dr. Monika Hauck also presented the photo and interview series #NAKEDGARMENTS, which, under the patronage of Dr. Vera Geisel, tries to set an example against fast fashion and excessive consumerism.

"We grew a lot for this event because we discovered new possibilities of event organization", says Monika Hauck. For online events, it is of course easier to invite international speakers, and more sustainable as well, which goes in line with the fair fashion concept. She was especially pleased with the community spirit of the Düsseldorf fair trade fashion industry. "Many people talked about the event, beforehand and afterwards. Everybody collaborated and tried to make this as good as possible. Solidarity and community are especially important in these times."

More about fast fashion: https://www.fashionrevolution.org/ 

More about #NAKEDGARMENTS: https://change-room.org