Neonyt on Air 2021 | Main Conclusions



Something needs to change in the fashion industry – customers (we) want immediacy, transparency and authenticity. How that can be achieved was discussed last week by more than 20 speakers from the sustainability scene during the global hub for fashion, sustainability and innovation, Neonyt on Air. Here all what we learnt.


Around 24,000 international followers, including from the worlds of politics, economics, the IT sector, the lifestyle business and of course the textile and fashion industry, accessed the Neonyt on Air content more than 120,000 times during its digital week. 

As customers want immediacy, transparency and authenticity, Neonyt On Air decided to focus on these topics. The online event (due to Covid-19 they had to cancel the physical event) counted with more than 20 speakers from the sustainability scene. “The reach of Neonyt on Air, which goes way beyond its actual community, has shown us the importance of partnerships and the need for collaboration and that together we will find a way to make sustainability a universal topic – in society and across all industries,” said Thimo Schwenzfeier, Neonyt Show Director. 

“Once again we have noticed that innovative ideas and new concepts need a space for discussion and dialogue, the right audience and a fresh outside perspective. That is something we will always offer – whether physically or digitally,” said Olaf Schmidt, Vice President of Textiles & Textile Technologies at Messe Frankfurt. “Of course we really hope that the next time we see each other in person will be in the summer, when the premiere of Frankfurt Fashion Week will host the future of fashion.”



One of the most interesting panels was the one focused on finance. What role can banks and investors play in the creation of a sustainable future and a balanced investment strategy? The panel discussion showed that transparency and circularity should be a must not only in products and materials, but also with regard to the financing aspect. 

Hans-Jürgen Walter, Global Leader Sustainable Finance, Deloitte, added: "Europe needs around 250 billion euros in the next decade to reach The Paris Agreement. Sustainable Finance is needed. Public money is not enough. Europe Funding is not enough to transform the real economy and reach the Climate Change, Environmental, Social and EU Goals (...) In the next decade transparency will be very important to attract finance investment."

Christian Heller, CEO of  VALUE BALANCING ALLIANCE e.V., underlined: "We are looking at companies on how are they running the investment and how they are contributing to a sustainable future (...) We are focusing on the real impact on climate change, on building competences on teams. It is really important that we are cooperating."

Danius Nader Maleki, Project Manager MALEKI CORPORATE GROUP, said: “We are lacking a lot of the data that we need in order to achieve the sustainable goals we need to reach."

Dr. Sabine Schnorke, Global Head Manufacturing IFC WORLD BANK GROUP said: "Safety has to be first in manufacturing. You have no operation without safety. This include also social safety (...) Many companies need to have control on the outsourcing. Do you really know what is going on your outsourcing chain?"

On all these topics, it seems that blockchain technology is the solution. Christian Schultze-Wolters, Director of Blockchain Solutions at IBM; Dr Stefan Rennicke, founder and CEO of Kaya&Kato; and Michael Krake, Deputy Director General at the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, agreed that the journey that an item of clothing covers before it ends up hanging in our wardrobe and the conditions that it was made under should become more transparent and traceable with the use of blockchain technology. 



The COVID pandemic has made it clear how vulnerable global supply chains are. And so for the textile and fashion industry, the sustainable sourcing of materials has become more important than ever before – to enable it to recover from the crisis and create a more sustainable future for the entire industry.

Annika Sauerhoefer, Product Manager at Made in Green by OEKO-TEX, added: “We are seeing that people are thinking more about their consumer behaviour, especially since the Fridays for Future movement, which has also been accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis (...) Companies should meet the responsibility for people and the planet on their own initiative, without any regulations from the government. It should be normal that workers’ rights are respected, but as we have all seen, unfortunately that isn’t working”.

Franziska Dormann, a representative from the Global Organic Textile Standard; Rapha Breyer, spokesperson for textile policy and partnerships at Fairtrade and Ingo Strube, spokesperson for sustainable consumption at Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Environment, spoke on guaranteeing transparent processes and supply chains, preserving brand credibility and building up consumer trust are the most important and also difficult aspects for certifiers and environmental labels. "In these times of the coronavirus in particular, it is proving a real challenge to maintain the quality of the certifications at a high level and to guarantee good and transparent results." 

Anosha Wahidi, Head of the Sustainable Supply Chains Unit at the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development declared: “Sustainable supply chains require corporate due diligence: with the Textile Alliance, we support companies in implementing their due diligence obligations (...) A Due Diligence Act will regulate the requirements clearly and bindingly in the future. And the Green Button shows consumers which companies are already complying with their due diligence obligations.”



The positive impact on nature and people was other topics discussed during the digital event. A “net positive impact” by 2030 – that is Timberland’s goal. Elisabetta Baronio, Sustainability & Responsibility Manager at Timberland, explained how they want to achieve it: the cult US brand has set itself the goal of having a net positive impact on nature by designing 100% of its products for circularity and making them from natural materials sourced from regenerative agriculture.

Andrea Sibylle, CEO of HESSNATUR said: “For most people and probably most of you, 2020 was a tough year. But, it was also a year with some bright spots, knowing we all have the same goal of creating a better tomorrow! (...) 2020 showed us more than ever the needs of the environment but also of the textile and fashion sector. At the same time, it showed us that we can change how clothes are made in collaboration."

The contents remain accessible on the Neonyt Instagram account.