Sustainability will be the topic du jour at the inaugural World Textile Summit in Barcelona, which gives bigwigs and policy leaders a forum for discussing key issues facing the industry. Christian Schindler director of the International Textile Manufacturers Federatio, says the recent push for sustainable practices isn't coming from textile-industry leaders but from retailers and consumers. "Change only materializes if the consumer is asking for it, and that's what's happening," he explains. "They can force everyone in the supply chain to comply with what they want." For manufacturers, that means investing in new machines to reduce waste and energy inefficiency, providing improved social services for employees, and using sustainable raw materials. Doing so, he says, should lead to a win-win for both sides: lower production costs and lower prices.
A version of this article appeared in the September 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.