Interview with Dr. Jean-Pierre Haug

Dr. Jean-Pierre Haug
Dr. Jean-Pierre Haug
Secretary General

How do you rate the performance of emerging economies when it comes to awareness about sustainable textiles? Countries like India and China have a well-established textile industry. Are their textile industries sustainable as well?

Current investigations from NGOs and incidences such as the fire disasters in some garment mills show that there is big potential to improve the overall situation in these countries under the light of sustainability. Important buyers such as brands and retailers have started several initiatives such as the "Zero Discharge Initiative" or the HIGG index from the SAC, which shows that they will improve the conditions in their supply chains. Companies being at the forefront will have a better position in the market in the future.

Do you suppose end-consumers are equally excited about sustainability certifications? Will they prefer to buy sustainable textiles over any other branded textile for the same price?

The trend in the end-user market is going to this direction, also supported by documentations and news published in the mass media. One of the problems in this area which you have also mentioned is the price of the article sold in the market. This is still an important factor when buying textiles, but there is also a big chance for textiles which are labeled "sustainably produced". Then the end user can decide himself: shall I rather buy a textile proven to be produced sustainably in the entire supply chain at a higher price or shall I buy the cheaper one and thus potentially supporting conditions in the producing countries which I personally would not accept.

How do you think can consumers differentiate between genuine sustainable products and fake ones?

Here you are touching the problem of "Green washing". A textile is for example not simply sustainable because the last or the last two processing steps are performed on a high sustainability level. A real sustainable textile product has to be manufactured through its entire supply chain in a sustainable way. This starts at the spinning mills involved all following processes and facilities and ends with the cutting and sewing mill. This is a big topic for the future and I’m convinced it will give a lot of work for the next 10 or even 20 years.
Published on: 20/02/2013

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 Fibre2Fashion.com.

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