Dr. Jürgen Janssen,
Head of the Partnership Secretary
Dr. Jürgen Janssen: A lot: For the first time, the key social groups are working together to make the textile sector fairer and more environmentally friendly. Business, politics, civil society and trade unions are learning from each other, optimising the processes and business practices of companies here in Germany and working on concrete problems in the producing countries that none of the groups can solve alone. This triad is a novelty!
The approximately 150 members also submitted annual plans for the first time this year and thus committed themselves to individual goals. This makes 150 x improvements: - in business practices, by training workers or in the management of hazardous chemicals.
Isn't this all going way too slow?
Janssen: I would also like to see an all-will-be-good button that solves all the problems in the textile sector ad hoc. But unfortunately that does not exist. A multi-stakeholder approach is certainly not the quickest way, but in my view it is the most effective and, above all, the most sustainable. It is clear that all beginnings are difficult: negotiating common goals, establishing criteria behind which nobody has to hide and which everyone can support at the same time, developing a mechanism for formulating and reviewing goals that is both ambitious and feasible - and that for all members and company types - these are mammoth tasks. The first step in drawing up the annual plans is therefore naturally a learning process. In subsequent years, the processes will be smoother and the steps in the right direction larger and more visible.
But what really arrives at the seamstress?
Janssen: There is no general answer to this question. The textile supply chain is complex and changes do not immediately penetrate every ramification. But: What we are now initiating a thousand times over with the Textiles Partnership will be passed on into the overall system in waves and will bring tangible improvements for everyone in the long term. In addition to the structural change of the overall system, which indeed takes time, the Textiles Partnership has also managed to leverage the Partnership Initiatives: As a result, several members of the Partnership have joined forces to tackle individual problems in production countries immediately.
Can't you just raise the price of a T-shirt and then the problem is solved?
Janssen: I'm afraid not. This is a structural problem, which is also related to the complexity of the supply chain. Especially in the case of fashion clothing, production costs are often only a small part of the final price. In addition there are design, advertising, costs for preliminary products, transport costs and taxes, middlemen and last but not least costs for distribution and sales in Germany. Unfortunately, the price of a T-shirt is not a good indicator of social and ecological production. Credible seals offer good indications of this, but increasingly also good information from brand manufacturers and retailers, who report transparently on origin and production conditions and their activities. The Textile Alliance will publish the first annual plans of its members from July 2017. This is also an important step towards socially and ecologically fair textile production.