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From Eco to Common Sense: Sustainability in the Fashion Industry Was Discussed at oikos Winter School

From 5 to 11 March 2017 oikos Winter School took place in Witten, Germany. The Winter School was titled “You call it Eco. We call it common sense. Sustainability in the fashion industry” and explored a role and impact of the apparel industry on sustainable development. About 30 participants and a dozen of speakers from all walks of life spent the week amidst heated debates, discussing the current situation in the industry and possible solutions to its countless problems.

The many drawbacks of the fashion industry are exemplified by widespread media coverage, distressing reports of various NGOs and scientific research and data, all of which include numerous accounts ranging from human rights violations to environmental damage.

Bearing in mind the challenges posed by the textile industry, the oikos team at the University of Witten/Herdecke created a unique atmosphere for avid young people by enabling them to gain insights from the representatives of the industry’s conventional players (H & M Hennes & Mauritz AG, KiK), innovators (ARMEDANGELS), NGOs (FOUR PAWS, FEMNET), consultancies, that provide expertise and advice on the sustainability (twentyfifty, Impactt GoBlu) and academia (Prof. Franz Josef Radermacher, Social Entrepreneurship Akademie, AMD Academy of Fashion and Design). The speakers were instrumental in putting forward the big picture of the industry to the participants. It allowed them to come up with their unique understanding of the issues at hand and encouraged them to combine three dimensions of sustainability – society, ecology and economy, while developing strategies and possible solutions to eliminate the problems.

oikos Winter School incorporated panels, workshops and practical sessions with social activities to facilitate friendships and formal connections between the like-minded people.

The Winter School proved a success thanks to the passionate participants, diligent organizers and professional speakers who attempted to disentangle vague Eco label and integrate sustainability into a common consciousness.