The quality of clothing is declining. And the number of items of clothing that are bought and sold increases to extraordinary heights. Large chains are less and less aware of what we think about Fashion: distinguishing yourself and purchasing items that you can enjoy for years. Everything has to be faster and more. And that clothes last less because of the lower quality? That seems unimportant, because clothing is only 'in season' shortly.
But there is a countermovement. Partly because more than 700 companies have signed the "Open Letter To The Fashion Industry", it is recognized that there is something wrong with the current Fashion industry. The current system is no longer maintainable: something has to change! And perhaps this process is being accelerated by the Corona crisis.
After all, dark times make you long for a better world. Many companies now really want to switch. Even major brands like Giorgio Armani, Dior and Acne Studios take action by signing the letter.
Sander Lossie, director of House of U, explains why he signed the petition.
The story behind the ‘Open Letter To The Fashion Industry’
What does the Open Letter To The Fashion Industry mean?
“The letter suggests for a change in the Fashion industry. The current situation is no longer tenable. So much has changed so quickly in recent years. Everything has to be faster and faster and more collections keep coming. That speed is almost impossible to keep up with, certainly not in the long term. "
And why did you sign the petition?
“I signed the letter because I agree that the Fashion industry needs to change. The current supply chain leads to a lot of over-supply, waste and above all exploitation of workers in low-wage countries. That has to change!
That's why I signed the petition. ”
Among other things, the petition that Sander has signed argues for a more balanced flow of new products, only sales at the end of a season and less unnecessary transport and material. Do you want to know more about this Open Letter To The Fashion Industry? Then read the article by Harpers Bazaar.
How do you feel about unsustainable brands signing the petition too? Are you aware of the dangers of greenwashing?
“I do see companies that I know are not nearly that far with sustainability. It does raise questions. Because: do the companies really want it? And what are they going to do about it? But that is their own responsibility.
In any case, it is a great start when a company signs the letter. The company hereby indicates that it is prepared to invest in a sustainable change.
Although, in my opinion, it isn’t going fast enough, that is a nice fact. "
What do you think this petition will cause?
“The road to change starts with yourself. There are now many companies that recognize the problem and see that it cannot go on like this. The current Corona crisis will greatly accelerate the thought behind the petition. In the end, I think we will get more sustainability initiatives, such as fewer collections and more use of sustainable fabrics.
A nice step, but companies cannot do it alone. We also need the government and the consumer. "
Why the government and the consumer play a crucial role
What role do government and consumers play in realizing a sustainable Fashion industry?
“Government regulation and legislation can play a major role in accelerating a Sustainable transformation. They eventually set out the rules and can enforce them. But the role of the consumer is also important.
When I go to Eindhoven and I see a T-shirt of € 2.99 hanging somewhere, I know that it is not possible.
Someone made it, someone produced it, bleached it, you name it. This is only possible with mass production and very low wages for the employees. I find that outrageous: they need to get fairer salaries and better conditions.
I also think it's a shame if you buy a T-shirt to wear only a few times. That is a mentality that I really do not understand as an entrepreneur and Fashion lover. I have garments that I have had for over 10 years and still love to wear. I understand that because of the lower quality of large chains (because the price has to be lower), people have to replace clothes faster.
But there are also companies that do opt for Sustainability. The consumer should also do that. Because as long as there is a demand for fast Fashion, there is no clear signal from the consumer to companies to stop those practices. "
How House of U contributes to a better Fashion world
“As a fabric producer, we are of course an important part of the Fashion chain. By producing locally and on-demand, we prevent overproduction. In addition, our fabrics are of very high quality. This means that the clothing and furniture items made with our fabrics last for years.
The lifespan of our fabrics cannot be compared to those of fast-fashion producers. "
Can you name more examples that show that House of U makes a Sustainable contribution to change the Fashion industry?
“We mainly focus on less use of fabric and less transport. Sales are made online and production takes place in the Netherlands using digital printers. So there is no transport from another continent.
Customers can upload their own design on demand. They can choose which fabric they want to print on. Because you can order from one meter from us, you never order too much.
This is a conscious choice for us, because we want to help designers to reduce the fabric waste.
We are also increasingly offering sustainable fabrics. By sustainable fabrics I mean that the fabric is either (partially) recycled or that it has been produced in a sustainable way. "
The share of digital printing in the fashion industry
How big is the share of digital print in the Fashion industry?
“Production using a digital printer currently only accounts for 6% of total production. The rest is still done via screen printing.
The advantage with screen printing is that you can produce relatively cheaply at large volumes. The big disadvantage, however, is that you have very high start-up costs and can only produce fabrics in large quantities. Think of at least 1000-2000 m2 per run / design.
This is not the case with digital printing. "
Advantages of digital printing
“Digital printing has two major advantages. Firstly, there are no start-up costs, because you order directly Online. Secondly, you can order from just one meter, which means you have to produce less of the same.
With us you have unlimited freedom in color and you can even use photos. The freedom in design and creativity that digital printing brings is endless.
Clothing from large retail chains, on the other hand, is often much the same. Think of a flower pattern in a number of colors, of which they sell a shirt, dress and blouse.
With digital print you have much more room for creativity and you can make and sell clothes in smaller quantities. This also gives smaller designers the opportunity to make their clothes. "
What makes digital printing Sustainable?
“With on-demand digital production, you produce what you have sold, not the other way around. Designers provide the design and sizes, then we will produce exactly what they want.
We never produce more than what we have sold. And therefore we have no surpluses. "
The road to a more sustainable, better fashion industry
What do you think the ideal Fashion industry looks like?
“I would like to see it all become more sustainable. That we go back to local manufacturers, fair wages and a fairer distribution of wealth. I am fine with the production of larger productions in certain countries, but I do not think it is correct that wages differ so extremely. The disproportion between countries is not correct and contributes to the misery in this industry.
In my ideal Fashion industry, the material becomes more sustainable, we automate more processes, everything is more proportionate and we start producing more locally. "
Do you see a similar change in behavior among customers?
“Yes, more and more. For example, our customers increasingly want 100% Tencel instead of 30% Tencel. Other companies often mix this sustainable fabric, making the end product cheaper. But our customers find it more important that they can order a 100% sustainable fabric. They cannot find our specific fabrics anywhere else. "
Also check out our blog about "What is Tencel?" for more information.
Why do you think more and more designers are going for sustainability?
“By using our fabrics, designers can really distinguish themselves. Customers also ask: "Where is the fabric produced?" And "Where can I find certain certificates?".
We see that many customers increasingly take the origin of fabrics into account and I think that's great to see. Small-scale designers in particular are really looking for ways to distinguish themselves. With our fabrics we are the perfect partner for them. "
What tips do you have for entrepreneurs who also want to do more for sustainability and do not know where to start?
“Go to fairs or events with a focus on sustainability to orient yourself. And seek cooperation with people who have the same vision as you.
Partly due to greenwashing, it can be difficult to find suitable partners, so ask critical questions. And take a look at various online platforms around sustainable fashion, such as Sqetch.
We also use these platforms to bring our services to the attention of like-minded designers. "
A vision for the future
How do you see the influence of Corona vs. sustainability in the coming period?
,, The change of the fashion industry has been coming for a while, but I think corona has accelerated the process. Many entrepreneurs have taken the time to think about what makes them unique. Which way they want to go and what they want to contribute.
Unfortunately, where companies are going down, companies will also emerge stronger. Especially companies that see this as an opportunity to rethink how they will contribute to a new, more sustainable world. "
What sustainable developments is House of U currently working on?
“On the one hand we are developing our online platform and on the other hand we are improving a lot in terms of production technology.
We are investigating how we can make production more sustainable, use less water and reduce our footprint. We also make our product portfolio more sustainable. We have already taken significant steps in this direction this year, partly by selling high-quality recycled polyesters (U-Circular).
In 2020 we want to reduce the number of fabrics we sell. And realize that at least 50% of this is sustainable.
Making our offer more sustainable is a strong goal that we are working on every day. "
Do you choose 100% sustainability?
“Yes, in the end we only want to print sustainable fabrics. In addition, as an entrepreneur I dare to make the choice to remove popular, non-sustainable fabrics from the range. And to be replaced by a sustainable alternative.
The route we follow is really the sustainable route. "