Euratex Convention on sustainable innovations at ITMA 2015 in Milan
EURATEX, the European Apparel and Textile Confederation, held its 4th Convention on 18 November in Milan in conjunction with ITMA textile technology fair. This year the event was organised together with EURATEX’ Italian member federation Sistema Moda Italia and the Italian association for the technical textiles TexClubTec. The Convention had the aim to present sustainable innovation of the European textile and fashion sector
The event held in the venues of ITMA fair had broad international participation – there were representatives of business, research centres, industry associations and media from more than 20 countries. In his welcome word, EURATEX President Serge Piolat underlined that “to remain competitive, the European companies have to be highly innovative in their products and processes. Nowadays, sustainable production becomes an integral part of the companies’ business strategy.”
The morning panel of the Convention was devoted to broad overview of the current developments in the textile and clothing industry. Gregorio De Felice, chief economist of the major Italian bank Intesa SanPaolo, provided a detailed analysis and latest forecast of the consumption trends in the global markets until 2020. De Felice concluded that the main growth drivers for our sector will be domestic demand in advanced countries, favourable monetary policies globally and steadily low commodity prices. Vladan Koncar (Ensait) and Guiseppe Gherzi (Gherzi Textile Organisation) spoke about new application fields and innovative production processes in textiles production. Both speakers gave impressive examples of disruptive technologies of the future like 3D printing, merge between textiles and electronics and other wearable devices made of smart textiles.
Rapid transfer of innovative technologies from research centres to the market is increasingly significant, underlined in his speech the President of the European Textile Technology Platform Paolo Canonico. He highlighted the importance of networking between innovation partners and the need of regional support structure, especially for SMEs; for example, clusters, technology and transfer centres, education and training providers. To tackle these challenges, the Italian Textile Technology Platform has been created this year. Its President Alberto Paccanelli stated that the platform is to establish an effective network involving industry, research organisations, public authorities and financial institutions to join forces and coordinate efforts in the field of research, development and innovation.
During the afternoon panel, three examples of successful sustainable initiatives gained the attention of the audience. Christian Wieth spoke about Novozymes’s enzyme solutions, supporting making better quality textiles in a more sustainable and cost effective manner. Enzymes allow producing clothes that look new for longer reducing water and energy usage and replacing harsh chemicals.
Jan Laperre from Centexbel technology centre proved by several examples that the textile sector is transforming into a sustainable industry – companies are applying biopolymers, natural fibres and new solutions for recycling. Resource efficiency is another major topic for the textiles and fashion producers. Stefan Schmidt from IVGT informed the Convention participants about the results of the SET project aimed to help textile SMEs all over Europe to improve their energy efficiency and cut production costs.
During the round table discussion, managers of the well-known European companies from various steps of textile and clothing value chain (Thuasne, Sympatex Technologies, Lakidain Group, Varteks and Fil Man Made Group) shared their solutions to maintain competitive manufacturing business in the EU. These successful entrepreneurs proved by their own example that the European industry’s focus on innovative production of goods of highest quality remains the leading factor of the sector’s success.