What does "fair production" mean?

Nachhaltigkeit ist in aller Munde – der Begriff der Fairness?

I can simply imagine more under the term fairness than under the term sustainable. If only because the term sustainability is used everywhere and by everyone. A word that we didn't know 20 years ago - is now the savior of many marketing directors: We act sustainably!

Only: How do I treat employees if I treat them sustainably? Well there are the SDG's, the "Global Sustainable Development Goals" the "Global Sustainable Development Goals". Several of these goals, written by the UN, deal with the well-being of people, #1 no poverty, #8 decent work and economic growth, #10 less inequality, or #12 responsible consumption and production patterns.

Nevertheless, in my more than 30 years of experience in the garment industry, I have found that striving for fairness is an extremely good guiding principle.

When it comes to fairness, the first thing that comes to mind in the garment industry is of course how we deal with the issue of wage minutes. Those who produce cheaper have the edge on the market and can post more margins.

But there is also fairness towards the environment. Well, the question is - how do we measure it? So as not to start the discussion about clothing right away - let's take a look at the current discussion about mobility. Internal combustion engine versus electric drive. It is hardly possible to conduct this discussion objectively. Who really knows what is good. Proponents of electromobility are confronted with reports of catastrophic production conditions when Lizium is dismantled, with a lack of concepts for recycling used batteries, or with the fact that in some countries the proportion of electricity produced by thermal combustion is very low. Because it often affects most people directly, and also because it affects a product that has been built up over many years as a status symbol, emotions run high. Solutions go under.

And how is that with clothes?

It's very similar. I know of little factual discussion about whether it is better for the environment to produce polyester fibres or to use the wool of merino sheep in Tasmania. Nor do I know of any studies that accurately describe the effects on the environment. Rather, different manufacturers make different claims - and thus put your approach in a good light. If you only deal a little bit with sustainability reports of different manufacturers you can convince yourself of this. In order to do good when choosing materials, you really have to look into the depths and know the supply chain in detail. In any case, it will be helpful to assess the impact on the environment in terms of fairness towards the environment and to ask yourself the question: Does what we do here really make sense - or is it just convenient and/or cheap?

And the seemingly most important factor is still the production wage. Hardly any other industry has relocated its production sites so rapidly and continuously over the last 40 years to countries with low wage levels. In hardly any other industry is so little investment associated with a change of location. Machines loaded onto the truck and off to the next manufacturing country. The search for the cheapest needle prick has dominated our industry for the last 40 years. And it is far from over. China has been the most important manufacturing location for our industry for over 30 years. But now other industries are coming along, becoming more important, paying higher wages. Similar to what happened in Europe 40 years ago, at a time when factories were closing down en masse in the clothing and textile strongholds in southern Germany or in Vorarlberg. Because you can produce much cheaper abroad. With this approach we have created a mindset in the industry.

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