Is sustainable fashion possible?

How does sustainability manifest itself in times of fast fashion and overconsumption in the textile industry? These were the questions the three textile companies Mey, FOND OF and erlich textil were asked at the Vallendar campus of WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management.

Roundtable f.l.t.r.: Benjamin Sadler (WHU-alumnus and founder of erlich textil), Florian Mey (CEO of Mey GmbH), Dr. Julian Conrads (Corporate Responsibility Manager of FOND OF GmbH), and Assistant Professor Dr. Rainer Rilke

In the round, the entrepreneurs are confident: Only with global regulations and certified textile standards such as the bluesign system or the Higg Index can textile companies guarantee environmentally friendly and sustainable production. The customer bears the same responsibility and decides for himself what price he pays and what effects his consumer behavior has.

The established family business Mey, which is now managed by the third and fourth generations, can look back on a long company history on the subject of sustainability: As early as 1997, Mey developed the so-called "Swabian Boomerang," a recyclable clothes hanger. "Sustainability projects are like lighthouses for Mey," proudly sums up Florian Mey, one of the managing directors of the family business. Both the personal selection of cotton in Peru and the production in the company's factories in Albstadt are intended to ensure the origin of the textiles and guarantee a sustainable strategy for the company.

Dr. Julian Conrads, Corporate Responsibility Manager at FOND OF, is convinced that 100 percent sustainable production can hardly be achieved, but should nevertheless be pursued in the company's goals. FOND OF attaches great importance to the traceability and certification of the materials used in its production of children's backpacks, leather bags, and lifestyle bags.

erlich textile founder and WHU-alumnus Benjamin Sadler is pursuing the goal of producing his products under the motto "Made in Europe" with his start-up company founded in 2016. But as a sustainable startup in the textile industry, there are numerous obstacles. The lack of transparency and the reluctance of the manufacturers to work with a young start-up are just some of the challenges that the young company had to face.

The discussion took place within the framework of the seminar series "Sustainability in the Textile Industry" by Assistant Professor Dr. Rainer Rilke and gave the students the opportunity to ask critical questions.