Next Generation Textile Industry = Sustainability + Digitalization + Individual Business Models

Accelerating the Transformation to Sustainability in the Textile Industry

Over 63% of the world fiber market was produced from fossil raw materials (2018). Environmental impact of cotton cultivation is enormous and there is an ever-increasing demand for cellulosic fibers. Moreover, these days, there is a great demand for bio-based polymers.

Textile Industry based on Renewable Resources

There are three detrimental factors for renewable carbon: CO2, Biomass and Recycling. To attain sustainability, we should focus on:

  • Material, process and product development
  • Digitalisation of products and processes
  • Business development
  • Environmental assessments (e.g. LCA)
  • Education

In addition to this, we need to work on the following outlined principles: 

  • User acceptance through participation
  • Implementing a sustainable mind-set
  • Connecting actors and stakeholders
  • Creating qualification systems

Waste Prevention

The top priority of the waste hierarchy is waste prevention. The other factors in the decreasing order of preference include: Re-use, Recycling, Energetic Recovery and Disposal. There is a lot of research going on, on these fronts to tackle the question of the ever-increasing waste generated by the textile industry. 

New forms of cooperation between companies

The new-age companies are coming together to mark a difference in achieving sustainability in the textile industry by taking concrete efforts in this direction. It can be seen in various initiatives taken by them, which include:

  • Cooperation in open eco-systems and in-person conferences
  • Digital platforms for the interconnection of companies and networks
  • Cooperation of young companies/startups with established companies and corporations
  • Matchmaking events: getting to know each other personally and gaining trust 

New business models – new operator models – new structures

The new-age business models include creating Innovative business parks, Micro-factories, following practices of Manufacturing on demand, Pay per use; focussing on becoming Solution providers; using practices of Renting instead of buying, providing Customization, Cloud services and gathering resources through Crowd funding. 

Strategic Innovation in the textile Value Chain

Execution is the key to sustain innovation for any industry, especially in a slow-paced industry like textiles. Moreover, there are various factors that impact the business trends like the physio-, bio-, and the digito- factors, either individually or combined. Many disruptions like the pandemic, have transformed the industry over time and this has eventually highlighted that innovation is the foundation for value creation. These days over 85% share of the incremental demand is captured by synthetic fibres. In addition to this, we can see the growth of the technical textiles sector. However, the contribution of the textile sector to the GDP is declining. 

Some Factors to be Considered for Strategic Innovation: 

  • Undifferentiated capacity additions destroy value and squeeze the surplus that can fund innovation
  • The benefits of cost innovation have tapered off and commodity competition has led to margin compression
  • Companies face the dilemma of divergent expectations and challenge of collaboration across the value chain

Aim of Strategic Innovation 

Strategic Innovation aims at sustainable growth wherein sustainable technologies help to bridge the gap. Innovation is imperative to counter declining productivity and the total factor productivity is a function of innovation. 

There is a strong corelation in R&D investment and the size of economies. We need to create an environment conductive to innovation. The market value is driven by strategic focus on technology and innovation. It can be seen that the traditional business models struggle to create a value as there is an inevitable conflict of interest between innovation and business operations. Business leaders need to be aware of the importance of harmonising operations and innovation. 

Tech teams should shift their focus on Innovation and adapt to the newer technologies. They must incorporate sustainability into fashion and performance, create initiatives that can be game-changers, work on collaborations that can accelerate innovation and sustainability, create a framework that is needed for strategic innovation. All this will eventually help in translating strategies into results. Executional Excellence is a critical component of success. Since, there is interdependency amongst the value chain, factors like creativity, capability and discipline must go hand-in-hand, as they are pivotal for strategic innovation.