Institute of Sustainable Corporate Management
Prof. Dr. Martin Müller
phone: 0731 50-32250
Sustainability as an opportunity for the regional textile industry - 960,000 euros for Real-world lab
T-shirts for three euros, pullovers for five and children's trousers for seven euros. Such textile discount prices are increasingly found in German city centres. Yet, these cheap textiles are the product of brutal global competition, in which not only ecological and social standards fall by the wayside, but also a large number of German companies have fallen victim.
Scientists at Ulm University and Reutlingen University of Applied Sciences are now hoping for a turnaround - at least for the Swabian town of Dietenheim. With 960,000 euros, the federal state of Baden-Württemberg is funding a real-world lab of the two universities for sustainable transformation of the textile industry in this small town of 6000 inhabitants with a great textile past. In total, the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts (MWK) is providing 7 million euros for seven selected projects to strengthen the contribution of science for sustainable development. "With the real-world labs, we are enabling a new form of knowledge transfer and taking up topics that are of central importance for social change," said Research Minister Theresia Bauer, according to the MWK press release.
The "Dietenheim zieht an" project aims to revitalise the textile town of Dietenheim through a variety of approaches. Furthermore, the project focuses on a local, sustainable transformation of the textile value chain.
In cooperation with companies and actors of the local textile industry, the entire textile value chain will be made regionally and transparently tangible for the customer.
Within the framework of the real-world lab, which became known as Dietenheim zieht an in the course of the project, various real-world experiments were aimed at the sustainability-oriented revitalisation of the textile town of Dietenheim. For example, a local, sustainable transformation of the textile value chain was focused on. In cooperation with companies and actors from the local textile industry, an attempt was made to make the entire textile value chain regionally and transparently tangible for the customer. The focus here was on the presentation of ideas, innovative concepts and business models for sustainable textile production and more conscious textile consumption.
These real-world experiments included:
The sustainable textile fair "Dietenheim zieht an" which took place three times during the project and attracted thousands of visitors.
The Dietenheim Sewing Café which is run by volunteers after the end of the project and can be found in the rooms of the Dietenheim Community School, Promenadeweg 33.
The clothes library of the Dietenheim Community School was another exciting real-world experiment which was offered as a workgroup for one school year.
The present project links two real-world lab perspectives: The sustainability-oriented urban revitalisation of the textile town of Dietenheim with the sustainability-oriented transformation of the textile chain. By using currently abandoned inner city spaces in the town of Dietenheim by companies and actors of the Dietenheim textile industry to make the entire textile value chain, regionally and transparently, tangible for the customer, an impulse for change in textile consumption is to be triggered. In the town of Dietenheim, there are inner city areas available which can be developed with a contribution of 1 million euros (with a state subsidy). In many specific empirical examples in the real-world lab (from interdisciplinary perspectives (economics, psychology, fashion/design, cultural studies)), mechanisms of action are to be investigated which can lead to a change in attitude towards sustainability among consumers. The focus here is set on ideas to integrate consumers into the design process, to enable them to repair the textiles they have bought, but also to change them (with the support of textile companies and students). Eight socioecologically oriented textile companies, which cover almost the entire chain and pursue a regionalisation concept, are planning to settle there and want to test a direct marketing concept to be newly developed in the real-world lab (integrated with urban and traffic concepts). Different media are to be used and experiments with image and milieu codes are to be carried out in order to deliberately break with traditional attitudes towards sustainable textiles and to open up new worlds of imagination. The use of new advertising and communication technologies implies a transformation of previously known distribution formats. Therefore, new sales concepts will also be tested in the real-world lab to see how they work.