Interview with Kihak Sung

Kihak Sung
Kihak Sung
International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF)
International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF)

Stitching will stay labour-intensive for a few more years
The International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) was founded in 1904 and is an international forum for the global textiles industry, dedicated to keeping its worldwide membership constantly informed through surveys, studies and annual conferences as well as publishing considered opinions on future trends and international developments. President Kihak Sung chats about automation and sustainability with Fibre2Fashion.

How many members does ITMF have?

ITMF has around 110 members, both associations and companies from around the world. We have members across the whole textile value chain-fibre, chemical, machinery, textile and apparel producers.

How is ITMF helping member companies boost their business?

Our national associations get together and we exchange views and trends and the information is shared with all members. The biggest support that ITMF offers to its members is providing key statistics of the industry. We also have a strong network among members, which benefits all members as well as the industry.

Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), automation-which of these do you think would drive the future?

Well, all of them are important as all these developments are happening at the same time and are not exclusive of each other. In fact, these are complimentary to each other. These developments are conspicuously showing up at this ITMA.

With so much automation happening, is the textile industry soon going to lose its labour-intensive tag?

The upstream of the textile industry-fibre, spinning, weaving and knitting-was never considered labour-intensive. The middle stream, or fabric processing, is becoming less labour-intensive, but will be a mixture of both for decades to come. But the downstream, or stitching, will continue to be labour-intensive for a few more years, but will be less labour-intensive once more automated technologies are introduced.

Can the textile industry ever be 100 per cent sustainable and eco-friendly?

I do not see that happening in our lifetime, but it is getting better and better as everyone is making efforts to make it environmentally safe. We have made rapid strides in this realm, but a lot more needs to be done when compared with other sectors or industries. In the next ten years, pollution from the textile industry will be half of what it was before. Compared with 2010, pollution has gone down by 10-15 per cent in 2019. Whatever we have been doing in the last ten years, we will do five times more in the next ten years. (HO)
Published on: 22/07/2019

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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