ESG Outlook is Sourcing Journal’s discussion series with industry executives to get their take on their company’s latest environmental, social and governance initiatives and their own personal efforts toward sustainability. In this Q&A, José Royo, sales director of Valencia, Spain-based textile mill Tejidos Royo SL, discusses how textile professionals must lead change toward sustainability and distinguish between sustainability reality vs sustainability beliefs.
Name: José R. Royo
Title: Sales director
Company: Tejidos Royo SL
What do you consider to be your company’s best ESG-related achievement over the last 5 years?
Our best ESG-related achievement is the one and only Dry Indigo® and Dry Black®, which today is the most sustainable way of dyeing indigo with zero water consumption in dyeing. We presented the unique technology in 2019 and every day more customers want to work with it. Using zero liters of water when dyeing is still difficult to believe, but as time goes, the technology is being improved and we can mix it with recycled materials. I can proudly say that today, with our unique technologies, we have the most sustainable denim collection in the market. We are developing articles with all sustainable components: recycled cotton (waste from our factories), recycled elastane (Regen from Creora), Refibra (from Lenzing) and all of our cotton from Spain, reducing the CO2 footprint close to zero. From technology (Dry Indigo®) to processes (closed loop) to key suppliers (Hyosung and Lenzing), we can make textiles a very safe industry. With the right partners and the right R&D, the future belongs to us.
What is your personal philosophy on shopping and caring for your clothes and how do you try to minimize the environmental impact of the clothes you buy?
I always try to buy garments from customers that buy my fabrics, as I know what and how Tejidos Royo produces its fabrics, and what we say is truly traceable. So, the best way to help the planet is to wear garments from my fabrics, which I know are real recycled cotton, have been sustainably dyed, and were produced in a sustainable environment (Spain, with decent salaries, no children, under a very strict European chemical requisites, all certified, etc.).
In addition, If the trousers I wear don’t wear out, I don’t buy a new pair. It’s quality and endurance over all. And when things are “almost destroyed,” I donate the garments for longer use or recycling. I believe the first ones that can make a change are us, the textile professionals. If we don´t do what we ask the rest to do, how can we run our businesses? There is a great future in textiles, full of opportunities, we just need to lead by example.
How much do you look into a brand’s social or environmental practices before shopping?
A lot—it is part of the buying experience. I don´t buy clothes for price reasons, but for how they feel, the message they transmit and the brand image. Today, if there is not a truly sustainable message in the garment, I don’t buy it. I have enough jeans in my wardrobe.
Anything new you are doing to boost sustainability beyond the fashion industry?
Sustainable energy sources! Installing solar panels for my house, planting trees, using water filters instead of buying bottled water (we are a no-plastics house). I was planning to buy an electrical car, but then what will we do with the batteries after some years? Are they recyclable? Or is that a problem we are not interested in? I keep searching for the most reasonable way to move around Valencia.
What is the biggest misconception consumers have about sustainability in fashion?
Let me answer you with another question. What is sustainable and what is not? There is no global legislation for sustainability, and each company is sustainable in its own beliefs. Sustainability in fashion is “fashionable” now, and everyone believes they are super sustainable, but is it true? Or we are just doing a bit better every day? We need rules to measure where we are and how we can improve. But it must be consistent. For example, it doesn’t make sense if we create a sustainable umbrella that is only good for Europe and not for the rest of the world, because that will put the European textile industry at a clear disadvantage to the rest. There is a bright future in textiles, but we must all play in the same league. Let’s catalog companies by their “sustainability reality” and not their “sustainability beliefs.”
What was your company’s biggest takeaway from the Covid crisis?
Sadly, Covid stopped the world. We had huge order cancellations and could not visit our customers to get the real feedback. Today, we are getting back to our lives, but I still see people sharing drinks, food, kisses… The pandemic is not over but people don’t seem to care. At Tejidos Royo, however, we know what to do in case something happens again. We gained a lot in efficiency, flexibility and knowledge, and we created a new protocol. Hopefully, we will not need to use it, but if we must, we will act immediately and give a quick response to our customers.
What is your company’s latest sustainability-related initiative?
Recycle, recycle, recycle. Our target in 2025 is to have all our collection made from recycled content and to reduce the use of virgin cotton to less than 35 percent of our total production. Recycled is reducing waste. Using sustainable cottons is good, but how much can we believe in them? People are more important than textiles, let’s use the land for food and recycle our textiles to make garments.
What do you consider to be the apparel industry’s biggest missed opportunity related to securing meaningful change?
When we talk about “industry” we are talking about money, and when money talks, is difficult to make a change. But the world is changing and the industry must change. Either you start the change today (and I believe it is already late) or you will be gone. Young people are strong with their beliefs and they will be the ones with the money, so you better prepare! There is a bright future, believe me. Textiles can work perfectly with nature, and it is in our hands to make the change. Tejidos Royo has already started.