Sustainable Textiles Lab connects Dutch fashion companies

“It doesn’t matter how big or how small a company is, there are entry points throughout the textile supply chain, where small actions can make a difference.” This was one of the most important lessons learnt during the first Sustainable Textiles Lab that took place on 20 November 2014. The Dutch fashion sector gathered in Utrecht to exchange ideas, debate and learn about cleaner processes for dyeing and washing textiles.

Solidaridad's international programme coordinator for textiles, Janet Mensink, explains her vision during the workshop. Photo by Jos Kuklawski

We seek to connect with the Dutch textiles sector to stimulate and support them in making the textile supply chain more sustainable. “Transparency, trust and collaboration are crucial. The openness in the Sustainable Textiles Lab helps us on the road to a more sustainable fashion and textile supply chain,” said Janet Mensink, international programme coordinator for Solidaridad.

In 2014, Solidaridad and Schuttelaar & Partners, an international consultant for sustainable business practices, decided to join hands and organise a series of short seminars for (Dutch) brands and retailers on the challenges around making the textile and apparel supply chain more sustainable. The goal was to inspire and inform, but above all, to encourage companies to take concrete actions. Over 40 apparel and textile professionals attended this first edition of the Sustainable Textiles Lab.

Speakers included Karin Reimerink (MADE-BY), Charline Ducas (C&A Europe), Imtiaz Iqbal (Yasin Knittex Ltd.uit Bangladesh), and Marieke Weerdesteijn (Solidaridad). Moderated by Sofie Schop (Schuttelaar & Partners), they openly shared their experiences with more sustainable dyeing and washing processes with the audience. 

The most important recommendations for the Dutch sector to begin taking action are as follows:  

  • Behind the scenes – setting up sustainability requirements for your suppliers and supporting and facilitating their implementation as a buyer.
  • Join initiatives such as the Bangladesh Water PaCT or the Better Mills Initiative in China.
  • Participate in the Dutch Action Plan on ‘Improving the sustainability of the Dutch textile and apparel sector’ and in the Water and Chemicals working group.
  • Start with a solid foundation – provide a thorough and realistic sustainability policy, and then integrate the subject of cleaner washing and dyeing.

The audience and the special Lab Panel, consisting of Jef Wintermans of MODINT (in his role as representative of the Dutch Action Plan) and Janet Mensink of Solidaridad, brought up some critical questions for the speakers. During the second half of the afternoon, more critical questions and propositions where raised in a “House of Commons” style debate led by Gijs Weenink of The Debate Academy (De DebatAcademie).

To further enhance sustainability in the apparel and textile sector, a number of conditions must be met. Jef Wintermans, director of MODINT reflected: “There is a lot of energy to start with more sustainable dyeing and washing. The outcomes of the Sustainable Textiles Lab confirm this. I sense a willingness in the companies to commit to this. This commitment needs to be converted into action. For this, collaboration in the supply chain is necessary, including a structure that makes it easy for companies to make the right choices.”  

Looking back on the first successful session, we are proud to announce the second edition of the Sustainable Textiles Lab to be held on 5 March in Utrecht. The theme of this session will be “Sustainable Cotton: From Field to Fashion!” You can expect interesting international speakers such as Arun Ambatipudi of Chetna organic India, and factory owner Rajat Jaipuria of Rajlakshmi India.

Would you like to receive an invitation to this event? To register, send a request to