VANCOUVER – Perhaps for the first time, sustainable solutions are starting to be scaled-up in the textile industry, but is there really enough investment capital available to ensure they succeed? Mike Schragger talks with Fashion for Good’s Rogier van Mazijk at the last Planet Textiles event in Canada about the innovation process, new sustainable solutions that could help the fashion industry, and the need for billions, if not trillions of dollars to ensure these innovations can flourish.
In order for the textile and clothing sectors to move on a large scale towards a more circular way of working, existing business models will need to change radically. That proposed change will need a huge amount of capital investment to enable this move – in the billions and perhaps trillions of dollars range.
As a start, Dutch-based Fashion for Good has successfully been able to get some of the industry’s biggest names on-side already. “Our current partners consist of a lot of large brands, such as Adidas, Target, Kering, C&A, and these eight or nine corporate partners that we have currently are worth over US$100 billion” van Mazijk said. “In revenue, it’s already a large chunk of the market.”
It’s always been the case that the biggest challenge innovation faces is to gain the required investment in order to scale-up. But Fashion for Good is also making in-roads here through its accelerator and scaling programmes. “What we’re seeing in some of our innovators as well, when they get to a certain stage and they need this type of capital, so US$10 million plus, that it’s hard to find that capital in the market.”
He added “Some of the innovations have to stall their progress because they can’t get the financing they need in order to grow; I would agree that it is a commercialisation ‘valley of death’ at that point.”
Talking expansively on the subject of fashion industry innovation, van Mazijk notes how we often see a lot of different, very disruptive technologies, but agrees that, “we’re still a bit in the dark on which ones are really going to make it and which ones eventually have some sort of problem or cannot be implemented by the industry. So we see a lot of innovation, and that’s positive, as I’m sure that the funnel, that large group of innovations, will bring some promising results.”
When asked towards the end of this 48 minute interview what he thought should be prioritised in the years to come, Rogier says “I would focus my attention on trying to bring in traditional investors or hard tech investors, that kind of venture capital money, into the industry and trying to persuade them, or trying to show them, that this is a really interesting vertical to look at and there’s potentially a lot of money to be made, because essentially that is what they’re being drawn to.”
Investors, innovators, sustainability practitioners and nerds – you will love this, and Rogier is a joy to listen to! If you take some time out of your day, week or month to listen to this podcast, you’ll not regret doing so!