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Up Close: In Conversation with Oeko-Tex’s Georg Dieners

Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Georg Dieners, general secretary at Oeko-Tex, a union of research and test institutes, discusses why there needs to be more transparency in the supply chain.

Georg Dieners Oeko-Tex
Georg Dieners, general secretary of Oeko-Tex Courtesy

Name: Georg Dieners

Title: General secretary

Company: Oeko-Tex

Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? 

There are numerous examples of industries which, in the context of sustainability and digitization, strive for more transparency and openness, leading to consumer welfare. For example, the food industry, which enables traceability of supply chains and the supplier origin as well as the automotive industry with its very complex quality assurance system and the possibility to start targeted recall actions.

Do you consider yourself a typical consumer?

I’m a consumer who pays attention to quality and a traceable manufacturing process. My consumption behavior is based on a classical and conservative principle.

As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?

Next to quality, it is important for me that brands focus on costumer care and consumer mindset. Listening to the consumer and trying to fulfill the needs in the best possible way are the key to achieve a loyal interaction between brand/product and consumer.

What’s your typical work uniform?

During the week, I prefer to wear mostly a suit and tie. At the weekend, my outfits are sporty and comfortable.

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Who’s your style icon?

Since I’m not focused on a fashion trends, I would say that I’ve created my own style. It is very important for me that my clothes are very good quality and comfortable to wear. I prefer the classical British style similar to George Clooney or Sean Connery.

What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?

The best decision of the last year was the integration of the leather issue into the sustainability considerations. At the beginning of the year, we have integrated the Leather Standard into Made in Green. Now, we are able to certificate leather products and accessories with the Made in Green label by Oeko-Tex, if they comply with the standards of the label. This closes a gap in the Oeko-Tex portfolio, as both consumers and industry are looking for solutions that aim to achieve transparent tracking of the supply chain and proof of sustainability activities for leather textiles.

How would you describe your corporate culture?

Our corporate culture is very open, honest, cooperative and with mutual respect.

What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?

I think we need to focus on a consistent application of sustainable practices in the industry, if we want to preserve the world in which we live for ourselves and for future generations. We need more transparency in supply chains and manufacturing processes. Moreover, we must refocus on the consumer and their needs. It is our mission to inform the customer and to guide them to a more sustainable shopping behavior.

What keeps you up at night?

Sometimes, I think about our responsibility towards our planet. In some ways, our future is concerning.

What makes you most optimistic?

The changes in the last years in the industry as well as a general rethinking regarding environmental pollution and the protection of the resources of our earth. We recognized that we need to do something. It is a good start in the right direction and we’re taking the current situation seriously. The sustainable movement and the need for more transparency will positively influence the industry to change working behavior. The textile supply chain is very complex, but we did a big step into the right direction.

Tell us about your company’s latest solution:

Made in Green by Oeko-Tex sets new standards in transparency. With the individual QR code or product ID, retailers and consumers can trace the complete production and supply chain of the product. Labeled textiles are tested for harmful substances, manufactured in an environmentally friendly way and produced under socially responsible working conditions. All types of textiles and leather articles can be labelled with Made in Green by Oeko-Tex. Towards consumers, brands and retailers are reliable and guarantee the consumer security.