Annemieke works towards a sustainable textile industry with Enschede Textielstad

Annemieke Koster is committed to creating a sustainable textile industry with Enschede Textielstad. She shares the story of her company, her motivations, mission, and dreams. “I won’t stop until the entire textile industry is sustainable."

What is Enschede Textielstad?

“We are a weaving mill that develops and produces sustainable textiles. Our goal is to produce as locally as possible. Our textiles are mostly made from recycled materials or other natural resources. We always try to make the most sustainable choice in consultation with our clients.”

How did Enschede Textielstad start?

“Ten years ago, I was working at an internet agency as an online marketer. But after a major disaster at a textile factory in Bangladesh, I decided to change course. It bothered me that everyone said, ‘just buy from expensive brands, then you know it’s made under good working conditions.’ I researched this and found out there were many problems. These issues start much earlier in the supply chain than people think. Sustainability in the supply chain begins with the materials. I decided quite abruptly to do this myself and quit my job.”

That takes some courage!

“I wouldn’t dare do it again, but it was the perfect set of circumstances. With the work I was doing, I wondered if it had the impact I wanted to have on the world. It didn’t. Then this opportunity came along. The subject really grabbed me. If it didn’t succeed, I would have an interesting story to tell at parties, but if it did, I could truly make an impact.”

Going from an idea to a business is a big step.

“Certainly. Early on, I had the idea to become a producer of semi-finished products. Investors and advisors asked if I preferred to make a piece of clothing from sustainable textiles because the margins are higher there. True, but that wouldn’t have the impact on the industry that I want. Now, we can supply five competing jeans brands with something that makes their products more sustainable. That impact, in my view, is greater than if I had launched a sixth jeans brand. But we do more than just jeans. We supply fabrics to clients for upholstery, car interiors, dog beds, fashion, and everything in between.”

But you always keep sustainability in mind.

“Our goal is to offer 100% post-consumer recycled materials that are as good in quality as virgin (new, red.) materials. We source our materials as locally as possible, with Europe as our boundary. Distance takes precedence over price. For instance, we prefer working with Spinning Jenny, a sustainable spinning mill that started in Nijverdal last year, over sourcing from Spain. We also do not sell outside of Europe. We avoid global shipping of our products. Additionally, we don’t dye our fabrics because dyeing is one of the most environmentally harmful processes in the textile industry. We aim to keep our footprint as small as possible.”

Textile is a big industry. What drives you to make a difference?

“The way we handle goods has changed rapidly, and it’s unsustainable. That’s why I’m looking for solutions to make it sustainable without losing what makes fashion enjoyable. We need a textile industry that has no impact on people, the planet, or animals. I think we’re making significant strides towards that. In the textile industry, you won’t find many materials more sustainable than ours. But we’re not done yet. I’ll continue my mission until the entire textile industry is sustainable. With Enschede Textielstad and TexPlus, a foundation I manage, we want to show that things can be done differently. Fortunately, there’s growing attention for circularity and sustainability. Companies are working on it, and it’s increasingly important in society.”

Meanwhile, you continue to grow steadily. What are your dreams?

“I want to have more impact on the market and make people rethink how they produce and consume. As a company, our goal for the next five years is to remain healthy and grow. That’s why, after completing a Regio Deal, we bought a new machine last year. It’s a completely new technology that allows us to process very scarce yarns into high-quality woven fabric. But growth is contradictory. From a business perspective, success means selling more products, but I also see success as producing fewer products and shrinking the sector. So, we aim to grow sustainably, not at any cost.”

Date: 21 March 2024 |

Source of tekst: Annemieke Koster |

Author: Willem Korenromp

More information

Enschede Textielstad
Lonnekerbrugstraat 99
7547 AK Enschede

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