Textile Media Day at the Academy for New Media in Kulmbach

September 14, 2023 | Kulmbach

When the media reports on the exodus of industry, it is usually about car manufacturers and other large corporations. However, the fact that the existence of the typically medium-sized textile industry in particular is under threat was made abundantly clear at the textile+fashion association's media day.

Four thematic blocks - training, energy transition, special textiles and sustainability - were the focus. Bernd Drechsel, Managing Director of Drechsel Textilveredlung from Selb, made it very clear that his customers will not pay the energy surcharge in the medium term. He therefore called for a gas price brake in addition to the electricity price brake (Report BR) and, above all, a clearly communicated strategy for the energy transition. It lacks the ability to plan as a basis for investments.

The textile finishing sector has another problem: the planned EU regulations. As part of the Green Deal, the existing REACH regulation is to be revised and the entire group of PFHxA chemicals banned. This would practically result in a complete ban on fluorochemicals, as Mr. Stefan Thumm explains. As Head of the Technology, Environment and Innovation Department of the Bavarian Textile and Clothing Industry Association, he advocates a more differentiated approach so that water- and oil-repellent protective clothing and high-tech membranes for electromobility can continue to be produced in Europe. The EU CLP Regulation is intended to ban the use of certain substances, but not their import.

Anne Göbel, Head of CSR at the German Textile and Fashion Industry Association, gave everyone an overview of other planned directives on sustainability - the Supply Chain Act, the CSRD Directive and the obligation to publish a sustainability report. She fears that the regulations will act more as a job engine for consulting firms. "Politicians believe that companies will implement more sustainability if they are forced to report on it."

"The drive to do business sustainably comes from myself," says Florian Wirth from Weberei Georg Chr. Wirth GmbH, who is the fourth generation to run the company. They only make up the items that are ordered by the customer instead of stockpiling entire container loads from China. He currently offers the GOTS-certified "naturebyadam" collection.

Weberei Munzert GmbH in nearby Marlesreuth even received the Brand Award 2023 for the "Sensus" upholstery fabric/decor collection. Not only are at least 50% sustainable components used here, but the entire process, including finishing and transport routes, is optimized for sustainability. Without any greenwashing. "Because sustainability is the future," emphasizes Managing Director Bernd Kout.

Sustainability also means rethinking the use of products. Instead of using resource-guzzling disposable wet wipes, it is better to use reusable pads made from recycled fibers to remove makeup - a concept that won over founder Carolin Schubert on the German TV show Höhle der Löwen. The Waschies now have a store in the center of Kulmbach. Their latest product is a special pad for applying facial toners and serums, which sales manager Alexandra Stammberger immediately handed out samples of.  

The two trainees from the BWF Group in Hof presented a positive and optimistic picture of their future in the textile industry. After all, special textiles made in Germany are needed all over the world.

The new trainees at Munzert and Drechsel also rely on a secure job. A good team, appealing products and fun at work are definitely values that convince the young people, says Mr. Schubert, head of training at Munzert Bros.

The invited companies proved to the media and association representatives present that the Upper Franconian textile industry has innovative recipes against the threat of deindustrialization despite all the challenges.

Bernd Drechsel invests in a new dryer that can be converted to green hydrogen when it becomes available. The Munzert and BWF companies rely on their young talent, who are committed and courageous in facing up to challenges. And Mr. Wirth wants to combine both family traditions: the textile and the agricultural one. He is working on using stinging nettle fibers from his own fields for his home textiles in the future.

Many thanks to Ms. Petra Diroll from the German Textile and Fashion Industry Association, who moderated the event warmly and unperturbed by external influences. The event was held on the premises of the Academy for New Media in Kulmbach.

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