Greening of Textiles

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Sophielucie Dewulf- Expert Consultant

Sophielucie Dewulf- Expert Consultant

Could you enlighten us about your company/ your role or your participation in brief?
Being passionate about the textile universe, we devoted career and still dedicate purpose and motivation to this uniquely challenging industry. Whether as an independent consultant for SME’s or as a collaborator for corporate brands, the work that satisfies most is supplying tailor-made advisory projects and product development reports to forward-thinking players of the global fashion and textile scenario. The aim was and keeps to make a difference through the delivery of “think-different directions” over “seasonal trends”. Directions and visions are conceived upon our sense yet fine-tuned by consumer behavior tracking combined to macro market plus society analysis and serve as easy support tools to the teams of design, marketing, and sourcing departments. A few years back, we started to pursue a new pathway; we see ourselves as a continuous process and time had arrived to move on to improve beyond the obvious. This professional adventure, motivated by our over-time acquired awareness and consciousness, has been leading to coaching and sharing future insights with “next” generations, aiming to put our stone in progressing towards a transparent and better textile and fashion industry for humankind and earth. Individual success isn’t our thing, shared continuous development through mindset diversity while creating new work environments based on teamwork is our mantra.

To implement sustainable development, in which area of textiles you specifically aim to see change and how do you see the perspective of the industry towards it?
To achieve successful sustainable development in textile manufacturing, ALL areas of the production chain need a reset activated by deep change. We have a problem in our industry and we need to eradicate our faults and weaknesses. Starting from the raw material sourcing (which should be based on low-impact fibres choices) followed by the manufacturing area which inevitably will rely on renewable energy (instead of being fossil-fuelled) while avoiding water waste and pollution. Waste management and fair labor conditions are two other key areas. This huge process change has been heralded over and over… fact is this massive disruptive transformation is complex and we cannot “rebuild” such an influential industry overnight. Technology, digitalization, and co-operation together are key drivers to implement sustainable development. Yet, a shift in business culture is THE starting point. Business as usual is an extremely outdated old school management practice. A new Cultural Mindset in liaison with Disruption is the only possible new normal to move forward.
We are obviously at a historical crossroad in the fashion business yet challenging opportunities are arising! The downside is that this “cultural shift” includes “cutting down” on quantities and on the industry profits which are now benefiting only a few. Not a very welcomed concept by CEO’s with a fixed mindset…  We (from producer to consumer) need to go out of our comfort zone, learn to develop better our mindset including agility and resilience capacities to “welcome” the problem and accept as a challenge instead of as of a insurmountable obstacle.
 
What is your opinion on the idea of transitioning from a “take-make-dispose” economy towards “closing the loop?”
It is all but an option, it is a must-do fact! If we wanna stay alive in the textile industry and supply chain we need to learn, understand, believe and implement the principles of circular economy. It is as simple as that. Circular Creation or nothing. Unfortunately, getting rid of the “take-make-dispose” principle still sounds extremely discomforting to many people…

What is your opinion of the industry to develop a circular business model during the crisis of coronavirus?

This health and economic pandemic that humankind is facing shouldn’t be the “emergency” motivation behind developing a circular business model for your company. To successful transform your business model from linear to circular, full commitment and believe is critical. Although, I do firmly hope that this forced lockdown and economic crisis eventually will shape a new way of thinking. It is forcing the globe to stop or to slow down and reflect. TO CONVERT. From my viewpoint this crisis is offering an unprecedented opportunity to pursue purpose-filled actions and relish the challenges, striving to make possible what was previously defined as impossible or not necessary. Our energy needs to be willingly put into bettering ourselves and the world around us, and we can do so through sustainable development goals.


Why according to you greening of textiles should be an ideology that the industry needs to keep in mind before manufacturing the product? 

I advocate for circular economy principles applied to the entire supply chain, not solely to the textile supply chain. As you correctly mention in your question, it all starts with the product design, whether we talk about a dress, a fabric, a car or a wheel: any product conception needs to start with “circular design principles” based on the closed-loop life cycle and having the end-of-life of the product in mind. Last but not least: the entire process needs to be trackable (achievable through digitalised technology as blockchain – QR coding and their evolutions we will see tomorrow) to deliver complete product and production transparency.


What was the story that interested you to move forward in the direction of sustainability?

It never has been a sudden move, it has been a lifetime interest discovered and developed while being a kid: long before there was notion of linear or circular business models, my father set up a successful consumer-waste glass recycling business. I was swept away by its system and incredible mechanism. Even later on, while pursuing fashion and textile studies, I kept visiting my father’s company each week to simply observe … I was simply fascinated and yes…inspired! I got the notion of “life-cycle” of a product and had another vision on waste: waste was not put in landfill or oceans, it wasn’t burnt… it was re-converted in raw material over and over. We have been pushing to advocate closed-loop creation in fashion long before climate change was a buz concept; but society – not only the industry – wasn’t mature for it, consciousness was missing, awareness and self-reflection was avoided. Now we are all forced somehow to self-reflect and to act for the better, let’s grab this phenomenal opportunity, for the good of all: planet and people! I invite anyone to be part actively of this remarkable challenge.