Ulrike Kähler: Driving Sustainable Fashion Forward at Neonyt Düsseldorf



Ulrike Kähler, Managing Director of  Igedo Exhibitions, is at the forefront of revolutionizing the fashion landscape. As the driving force behind Neonyt Düsseldorf, she spearheads one of the most influential platforms for sustainable fashion, bringing together designers, brands, and enthusiasts from around the world. We ask her about her views on fast fashion, the willingness of retailers to buy sustainable fashion, the importance of innovation for eco-conscious fashion... Read our exclusive interview with her.


To receive the Luxiders Newsletter, sign up here.



As the Managing Director of Igedo Exhibitions –a world-leading trade show organizer in the fashion sector with its events SHOES DÜSSELDORF, FASHN ROOMS and NEONYT as a licence event–, Ulrike Kähler plays a pivotal role in curating a platform that showcases the latest trends, ideas, and technologies in sustainable fashion. The international trade fair Neonyt Düsseldorf serves as a hub for designers, fashion labels, and industry professionals to connect, exchange ideas, and foster collaborations with a shared vision of a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry.

With many fresh ideas and strong sustainable brands, Neonyt Düsseldorf will be held at the very impressive Areal Böhler from 22 to 24 July 2023. Among others, the brands Genesis Sustainable Footwear, GREENBOMB, Kings Of Indigo, Les Racines du Ciel, Mela wear, Nat-2™, Thies 1856 and Wunderwerk will be there again. New are CANO, Eve in Paradise, Lana natural wear and SOFTCLOX.  All brands are strictly checked for sustainability.


This Summer edition, Neonyt Düsseldorf presents for the first time fashion start-ups!, a start-up area for sustainable young brands to exhibit attractively and visibly at the exhibition. 




Fast fashion has long dominated the industry, promoting disposable and unsustainable practices. How can the fashion industry as a whole shift towards a more sustainable and ethical approach, and what role is Neonyt Düsseldorf playing in driving this transition?

That is a big question you are asking. Fast fashion and now also ultra fast fashion providers like Shein are unfortunately playing a growing role in consumers' purchasing decisions. In the long term, it is about decelerating fashion - and thus also the textile industry. One lever here, for example, is media coverage in magazines and online. If we have fewer trends, this will also have an effect on the deceleration of production. Quality instead of quantity. We have to inspire fast-fashion buyers for our idea of fashion. The brands exhibiting at Neonyt can serve as inspiration and as a shining example that sustainability and style/design are not mutually exclusive. With our trade fair duo, we offer a platform to all those who want to experience fashion as a 360-degree concept.


Indeed, the sustainable fashion movement has gained significant traction in recent years. How would you describe the progress made so far and the challenges that lie ahead?

I have to distinguish here between the perception in society and the economic/media angle. The issue gained momentum with the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh in 2013. At that time against an activist background. In the meantime, a lot has happened. The topic - I'm talking about the DACH region here - has made its way into glossy media such as VOGUE, which was not least due to the attractive new orientation of Neonyt (at that time still in Berlin). Sustainability became cool and has arrived in the middle of society. And the topic has entered the political agenda. Keywords: supply chain law, green deal, anti-greenwashing laws, etc. But of course much more needs to happen. We must finally define what a contemporary, future-proof textile industry can look like and then take appropriate measures to get closer to this goal as quickly as possible.


"The current consumer mood has led to a situation that is difficult for sustainable brands. Their collections are more expensive than conventional fashion. We cannot influence the selling price. We can only educate and make the costs of ecologically and fairly produced goods transparent. Because sustainable fashion is not too expensive. Conventional fashion, or more precisely fast fashion, is often too cheap."


Neonyt Düsseldorf is, without doubts, the global platform for sustainable fashion. Could you comment on the impact on the fashion industry?

With Neonyt we have created a place where sustainable and stylish brands can show their collections. Neonyt is a community-driven platform that focuses on networking, exchange and joint progress or change. International buyers, journalists and content creators come together here and can use the entire spectrum of fashion, use knowledge and community power for yourself. On the floor, on the stage, in the Knowledge Area or at Prepeek, the innovative network event for the (social) media affine community. Together we can move more.


The fashion industry is not at its best times. After the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis and now the unstoppable inflation… How is Neonyt Düsseldorf changing the fashion landscape, and what role is it playing in supporting sustainable fashion brands to make businesses in these difficult times?

Neonyt is clearly focusing on sustainability. An area that has great potential but is still a niche topic. By combining it with our conventional fair FASHN ROOMS on the same grounds, at the same time conventional buyers can also easily discover sustainable fashion labels and their collections. In addition to networking the brands with each other, we are counting on the sustainable brands to be included more and more in the assortment of conventional retailers. That is the kind of visibility these brands need. And they get it with us. Brand new this season is the start-up area, with which we not only provide fresh topics, but also support newcomers entering the market.


In times of crisis the price of products becomes more important. Sustainable fashion often faces criticisms of being expensive or inaccessible. Is Neonyt Düsseldorf addressing these concerns and working towards making sustainable fashion more affordable and inclusive?

The current consumer mood has led to a situation that is difficult for sustainable brands. Their collections are more expensive than conventional fashion. We cannot influence the selling price. We can only educate and make the costs of ecologically and fairly produced goods transparent. Because sustainable fashion is not too expensive. Conventional fashion, or more precisely fast fashion, is often too cheap. This gap is a big problem that needs to be addressed. When it comes to inclusivity, an important facet of sustainability, things are different. We actively addressed the issue in January's Prepeek and brought it on stage: From adaptive clothing to gender-neutral fashion, there are so many exciting developments in the world of inclusive fashion. 


Are retailers looking for sustainable fashion? Which multi-brand stores, shopping centres and fashion chains have confirmed their visit to the next edition?

Retailers are looking for new themes right now. Simply selling is no longer enough today. A lot has changed here in the pandemic. Many stores are working on eventising their spaces and are looking for authentic stories. And that's where the Neonyt brands come in: Sustainable fashion is storytelling. There is an exciting story behind every brand.

Numerous shops such as Breuninger, C&A, Leffers, L&T Lengermann und Trieschmann, Manufactum, Robert Ley, Ernst Stackmann, PKZ Burger, Urban Trendsetter and many more visit our conventional fashion fair FASHN ROOM. These retailers now also indicate sustainability as an order interest and also visit Neonyt Düsseldorf. In addition, shops with an interest in ordering only sustainable products, such as Cosh.eco - Netherlands, StudioECO-Fair Goods Concept Store & Agency, Tomo - Netherlands or Weltladen come to the fair.


"Fast fashion and now also ultra fast fashion providers like Shein are unfortunately playing a growing role in consumers' purchasing decisions."



The concept of circular fashion has gained momentum as a solution to the industry's environmental impact. We have observed how other fashion fairs have included vintage markets with second-hand clothing exhibitors in their offer, is this something we will also be able to see in this edition at Neonyt Düsseldorf? 

Preloved fashion and reCommerce programmes are important concepts, but we will also focus on sustainable fashion labels at the 2nd edition. We also show concepts that demonstrate how fashion can be recycled and repaired. 


Consumers' mindset and behavior play a crucial role in shaping the future of sustainable fashion. How will Neonyt Düsseldorf engage with consumers and raise awareness about the importance of conscious fashion choices?

As a B2B order platform, we do not have direct contact with consumers. But reaching this target group is an important topic, which we will address on the one hand in a corresponding panel (Sunday 23.7.) on the Prepeek stage. On the other hand, our Instagram channel is public and accessible to all interested parties. Here we inform, educate and try to inspire end consumers with our content and for our brands or the whole topic. 


Innovation and technology have the potential to revolutionize sustainable fashion. What are some exciting advancements or trends you see emerging in the industry, and how is Neonyt Düsseldorf embracing these developments?

A topic that is on everyone's lips, that you can't escape and that will shape the future of fashion to a great extent is digitalisation. Be it in the context of zero-waste tailoring, fit tools or other innovative approaches that contribute to sustainability. At Neonyt we concentrate strongly on fashion brands. But of course there are concepts here that are digitally driven in the background. And of course we will address the topic in a corresponding panel on the Stage (Monday 11 am). Here, innovative start-ups will have their say that make life easier and more sustainable.


Looking ahead, what is your vision for the future of fashion, and how does Neonyt Düsseldorf plan to contribute to a more sustainable, equitable, and conscious industry in the upcoming years?

I would like fashion to become what it used to be: respectfully produced and appreciatively consumed. Our brands show that - as I mentioned at the beginning - sustainability and style are not mutually exclusive. In order to make our contribution to this, we have to expand the Düsseldorf location, continue to grow and reach even more people with our important topic.


All Images: © Igedo Company

Belvis Soler
Luxiders Magazine