What our future and future generations will look like depends on how well we succeed in changing our global mindset. The environment, climate protection, and social issues must be at the top of the agenda of every individual, but also of companies. Guidelines and good intentions must not just be lip service but must be actively put into practice. Sustainable corporate management has a positive impact on the company’s image and has a significant influence on its economic success. With the help of Circular Economy principles and criteria, you can achieve numerous goals: optimizing investments, reducing dependencies, strengthening resilience, complying with regulatory requirements, and increasing ESG impact.
The textile industry has a great responsibility here. After all, it is one of the largest CO2 emitters. Four billion tons of CO2 per year – that’s how high the emissions of the global textile industry are. Startups are central in rethinking and renewal: many focus on developing circular business models. Making their existing business operations more sustainable is an immense task for companies. Startups, on the other hand, can build their operations around circular principles from the very beginning. On the one hand, they can develop sustainable products. On the other hand, many young companies support existing businesses in becoming circular.
Below, I want to introduce you to some of these innovative, creative, and promising international startups. They offer a small sample of what is possible:
Kleiderly/Alina Bassi (D)
Alina is the founder and CEO of the label Kleiderly, which has developed a patent-pending process to transform old clothes into new products. The goal is to recycle textile waste into durable materials that can replace petroleum-based plastics and fit seamlessly into existing factory processes. Kleiderly has produced a range of new products, from hangers to furniture, and works with major fashion retailers across Europe.
Fabulous Fungi/Ilse Kremer (NL)
Ilse is a fashion/textile and organic designer. Sustainability is a crucial characteristic of her work. She is involved in recycling materials and natural dyeing methods. One of the biggest concerns in the fashion industry is water pollution from harmful textile dyes. Therefore, she is working on a project on how bio-design can reduce the use of toxic textile dyes. Mushrooms are a promising source for this. Ilse has researched that several species of fungi produce pigments that can be used for dyeing and has developed methods for growing these fungi and extracting their pigments to create the fungal dye. Mushroom dyes have many advantages over synthetic textile dyes and other alternatives. In addition, they are suitable for industrial use.
BioGlitz/Saba Gray and Timmy Singer (USA)
Saba’s love of glitter (previously made from toxic microplastics) was at odds with sustainable fashion. However, she was sure there had to be a way to create a sustainable alternative and set out to find biodegradable glitter. Her company, BioGlitz, works with Bioglitter™. Sustainably harvested eucalyptus-based cellulose is pressed into a thin film, colored with natural cosmetic pigments, and then precision-cut into various particle sizes.
Dagsmejan/Catarina Dahlin and Andreas Lenzhofer (CH)
Dagsmejan’s mission is to solve sleep problems sustainably by developing textile collections that meet individual physiological sleep needs. The basic idea is to transfer the intelligent textiles and innovative fiber constructions of functional clothing, which adapt to the individual physiology of the wearer, to sleeping textiles. To this end, the team works with sleep researchers, textile engineers, and production experts throughout Europe. Only sustainably sourced natural fibers are used in the nightwear collections. Production is located entirely in Europe, and all process components are Oeko-Tex certified. Returned products are integrated back into stock, and all packaging is biodegradable or fully recyclable.
Muntagnard/Dario Pirovino and Dario Grünenfelder (CH)
The premium fashion label produces sustainable textile innovations for the circular economy. A big focus is on transparency and knowledge transfer. Muntagnard started in 2018 with two founders, Dario Pirovino and Dario Grünenfelder, and the ambition to create the best jacket possible. They rely on renewable, recycled and/or biodegradable raw materials and ensure that the ecological footprint is kept as low as possible from cultivation to the end of life of the products. The goals achieved so far: 76 percent traceability, 70 percent recyclability, and 50 percent less CO2 emissions than similar textile companies. The collection now includes shirts, sweaters, sportswear, and accessories.
Unfortunately, it is often difficult for young companies in the textile industry to find investors. In the phase between startup and scale-up, most must give up because they need more funds, and it is almost hopeless to obtain loans. I want investors and companies to change their mindset and support sustainably oriented startups. This is urgently needed in the context of the new textile strategy developed by the EU. By 2030, all textiles are to be produced sustainably. This also affects Switzerland since 80 percent of the products of Swiss companies migrate to EU markets.