A proactive approach to employee safety lands denim manufacturer Isko, the textile division of Turkey-based Sanko Group, in a position to remain operational during the COVID-19 crisis.
Following government guidelines and applying them since the beginning of the outbreak, Isko global sales director Mehmet Akgunlu told Rivet the company has been able to maintain workflow in both the office and factory areas.
As a result, no employee has been laid off during this critical time and all paychecks have been issued regularly with no delay. Sanko Group has also provided an additional financial contribution to all 14,000 employees as further support in order to provide some relief from the economic pressure due to the outbreak.
“Our employees’ safety and health have been our top priority since the beginning of the outbreak,” Akgunlu said.
“This is possible because we have taken all the necessary precautions, monitoring every aspect of the situation very closely and very strictly,” he added. “Our goal is to keep our usual commitment to our clients, meaning that the mill is working as usual—but with a keener eye on safety and security.”
Among those precautionary measures, Isko is enforcing social distancing over the recommended levels, requiring employees to wear mask at all times, forbidding the use of elevators and minimizing the number of people allowed in all premises. Additionally, the company has an on-site medical team available and ready to support.
Meanwhile, Akgunlu said Isko’s offices and divisions abroad have taken every precaution in compliance with the local governments’ enforcements. The teams are staying connected digitally and are relying on remote working wherever they can. “[We’re] trying to be as flexible as possible without impacting our usual services,” he added.
The process isn’t without hiccups. “We have had to manage some situations, as everyone else, in terms of communication and supply chain flow,” he said. “However, we did—and are currently doing—our best to adapt to these unprecedented circumstances in the quickest way possible, working to keep our business going by relying on the wide range of technological opportunities and solutions available today.”
Working at full percent capacity, the mill is moving ahead with the production of its Fall/Winter 21-22 collection, which Akgunlu said was “inspired and shaped by virtue of our Responsible Innovation approach—a holistic vision based on the values of creativity, competence and citizenship.”
“With the main goal to reduce the use of natural materials and minimize the impact of our products on the environment, we rely on our R-TWO program to provide responsible solutions that don’t compromise on fashion features,” he continued.
Available across Isko’s entire denim offer, R-TWO uses a mix of certified reused cotton and certified recycled polyester, allowing the company to improve its sourcing efficiency throughout the entire field-to-fabric production and allowing Isko to effectively tackle over-sourcing and combat waste production.
“More specifically, it recovers the cotton that usually goes lost in the processing of raw material and relies on recycled polyester rather than virgin,” Akgunlu said.
Cotton used in R-TWO is certified with Textile Exchange’s Content Claim Standard (CCS). For the recycled polyester, depending on the content percentages, Isko can provide either the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) or Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certifications of Textile Exchange.
“R-TWO is a great example of how over-sourcing can be reduced by introducing reused and recycled materials in the denim supply chain, cutting down on waste production throughout the making process and allowing us to raise the sustainable bar of our products,” he added.
Whether it’s a topic about the environment’s health or employee well-being, it is this proactive mindset, Akgunlu said, that will keep spirits high and innovation booming at Isko.
“We received an amazing support from our top management,” he said. “We truly feel we are a big family, at Isko, and this is a main strength of ours as it encourages us and keeps us motivated.”