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Why Sustainability, Technology and Cooperation are Key for Future-Proof Fashion

More than ever, the future of the textile and fashion industry is determined by new and highly complex topics. Sustainability has become the main driver in the fashion industry revolution, combining the awareness of greater consciousness with an increasing and urgent responsibility of all involved.

“Sustainability isn’t a trend; it’s a fact. As tradeshow organizers, we feel obliged to provide an internationally established platform for targeted solutions, sustainable innovations and discussions surrounding these issues,” Sebastian Klinder, managing director of Munich Fabric Start, said. “We see ourselves as a platform and a voice of the industry. And in this role, we offer a significant advantage in terms of awareness and reach.”

Alongside sustainability, digitization and technology are the complementary catalysts that increasingly redefine product and process solutions and, in doing so, provide significant momentum for the progression of one of the world’s largest industrial sectors.

Digitization, such as what’s found through blockchain technology, makes it possible to guarantee the level of transparency demanded by the consumer. In addition, there is the prospect of a new visual aesthetic—and thus optic innovations—that can only be created through the use of digital technologies.

“Fashion has to pursue a hybrid approach overall so that the apparel industry can really opt for sustainable innovation, allowing it to implement sustainability initiatives with a high degree of design, disruption and integration of new technologies,” Muchaneta Kapfunde, founding editor-in-chief of, said.

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Such practices can already be found today. Rosanne van der Meer, founder of The Girl and the Machine, which designs and produces personalized knitwear based on 3-D knitting techniques, demonstrates this with the NIO New Industrial Order personalized fashion laboratory.

“At first, I thought it was a problem that sweaters developed with 3D technology looked different than conventional, traditional knitted styles,” she explained. Only in the course of the process did she realize that this could be a real and unique selling proposition, and that perhaps 3D knitting would establish its own recognizable look that could stand out from conventional styles.

The textile and fashion industry is facing a fundamental upheaval. In order for the garment industry to rely on sustainable innovation, it is necessary to adopt a hybrid approach that enables sustainability initiatives to be implemented with a high degree of design and integration of new technologies.

The demand for sustainable products and correspondingly transparent, resource-efficient production is one of the most urgent challenges faced by all suppliers and producers of relevant fabrics and accessories.

This assessment is mirrored by Alex Vogt of Kern Consulting, an analyst for innovation and corporate responsibility. Vogt views technological developments as the key to dissolving the current contradiction between a growing textile industry and the need to conserve resources.

“Ranging from transparency, recyclability to surplus production, the potential applications for big data, artificial and amplified intelligence are wide and varied,” he said.

An extract of Vogt’s assessment during a widely commended discussion on SusTECHability at the last Munich Fabric Start in September 2019: “Certainly this panel was significant in its disciplinary range and approach. Thus, a discourse emerged between the public-sociological perspective, with Li Edelkoort, the UN and the media on the one hand, and the H&M Foundation, Lenzing and EON on the other as those who are bringing real innovation to the industry.”

Munich Fabric Start currently presents these fields through concrete showcases, substantiated information and numerous new products for a broad market, thus promoting this necessary dialogue. As one of the most important international fabric trade fairs, with more than 1,000 suppliers of fabrics and additional items—showcasing well over 2,000 collections per season—Munich Fabric Start has been engaged with issues surrounding innovation from a very early stage.

Through a series of dedicated areas for each segment, supported by proven experts and associations, the trade fair offers a comprehensive range of beautiful, certified fabrics and accessories.

As a think tank for new technologies, sustainable innovations and smart textiles, the Keyhouse area of the show bundles new approaches in these areas through interactive presentations. Acting as a communication forum for dialogues, interviews, statements, seminars, panels and roundtables, it serves as the ideal platform for synergies and cooperation.

“At Munich Fabric Start, particularly in the Keyhouse, there is a very special atmosphere. Here the most varied forms of creativity collide. Moreover, we use this opportunity to explain our products, strategies and co-operations in seminars and to launch projects,” Tricia Carey, director global business development, denim, at Lenzing Fibers, said.

Content, communication and connection are the elementary parameters of a textile and fashion industry that is currently reorganizing itself. A change of thinking is occurring, and  Frank Junker, creative director Munich Fabric Start, pointed out the great commitment held by the fair to make a significant contribution to the redefining the future of textiles.

“With the help and support of experts, renowned enterprises and ambitious startups—combined with courageous creative minds and committed young designers who are shaping their own future in new ways—we are setting new standards in a very focused and solutions-oriented way,” he noted.

As such, the eighth HighTex Award, Munich Fabric Start’s prize for innovation, provides recognition of outstanding achievements while at the same time becomes the motivation for innovative projects. It recognizes a sustainable contribution towards a cleaner future and the conscious and innovative use of materials and resources.

As future vertical brand co-operations become increasingly important, the goal must be to integrate performance characteristics and sustainable solutions within clothing in such a way that it becomes a real selling and buying argument that resonates with respective fashion brands. Against the backdrop of a multifaceted and hugely diversified industry, Munich Fabric Start is positioned as a platform for intensive business and successful networking.

As the representative of a strong community, now more than ever viewed as responsible for initiating processes, it makes expertise accessible, ultimately providing the tools and solutions for these future-oriented processes.

The next Munich Fabric Start will take place Feb. 4-6, 2020, and will showcase the main topic Thrivability. Find more detailed information on