5th Fashion Revolution Night

“Changing Business Models in Fashion” was the focus topic of the 5th Fashion Revolution Night Düsseldorf taking place on November 7, 2019.

Fashion Revolution is the biggest global movement campaigning for a fairer and safer fashion industry and was founded in 2013 after the collapse of the Rhana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh. The movement wants to unite people and organizations to work closer together towards radically changing the way our clothes are being sourced, produced and consumed.

This 5th edition of the Fashion Revolution Night Düsseldorf was attended by around 200 participants who had a chance to learn more about how business model innovations can become a driver of positive changes in the fashion industry. The WHU Entrepreneurship Center organized the event together with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, HSBC Germany and the KomKUK Kompetenzzentrum Kultur- und Kreativwirtschaft.

The two City Ambassadors of Fashion Revolution in Düsseldorf, Dr. Monika Hauck, WHU Entrepreneurship Center, and Anja Gräf, HSBC, started off with an introduction on the movement and introduced their brand new website change-room.org which will serve as a knowledge and community platform for everyone interested in sustainable innovation in fashion.

Robin Balser from the startup VinoKilo shared his entrepreneurial story and passion about giving old clothes a new life. The Mainz-based company organizes pop-up events for vintage clothes every weekend – from Milano to Oslo. There, second-hand garments are accurately presented on hangers in a hip atmosphere and sold at a price per kilo. The idea for VinoKilo was born when Robin Balser was thrown out of his swapping-clothes-store by his landlord at short notice and had to sell everything as quickly as possible.

The next speaker was Thekla Wilkening, Head of Business Development at STAY AWHILE, a fashion rental service which is based on the “sharing economy” business model. STAY AWHILE also takes part in a newly launched research project “Wear2Share” which is undertaken in collaboration with the Fraunhofer-Institute. The aim of it being to investigate the ecological and economic sustainability potential using two exemplary cycle models. Wilkening pointed out that before starting up a business “you should know whether you really want to be a CEO” because being a creative visionary requires different skills than being a good manager and planner.

Finally, serial entrepreneur from Oslo Kim Leskovsky, presented his startup Woolit and shared first-hand insights on how, via a crowd-based knitting platform, he directly connects producers, designers and buyers of hand-knitted clothing and thus fundamentally changes the way clothes are being made. He stressed that consumers want unique pieces; knowing who knitted the garment gives it a very personal touch and makes you want it last longer. Kim Leskovsky thinks that gigabrands will crash and production of clothes will become more local and individualized.

The official part ended with the interactive panel discussion “The Future of Fashion – Global or Local?” where fashion sustainability expert Max Gilgenmann from Neonyt Berlin, Düsseldorf based designer Stephanie Pothen, Robin Balser and Melissa Christov, co-founder of upcycling label Humans for Up, discussed opportunities and challenges of global supply chains, use of recycled materials as well as local manufacturing practices.