Mirjam Smend wants to promote sustainable fashion labels, educate and inspire consumers and use her voice effectively so as to be heard by politicians and the industry. She founded the Greenstyle Munich Fair and Conference as a platform for this purpose.
A mere one percent of fashion consumerism in Germany is sustainable. Even though more than fifty percent of the population would like to make sustainable choices. Former fashion editor Mirjam Smend wanted to close this gap and created the Greenstyle Munich Fair and Conference. It is the first B2C event of this size for sustainable fashion in Germany.
The bi-annual consumer format provides sustainable fashion labels with more visibility – and consumers with access to sustainable fashion labels. For three days, international speakers will share their knowledge of sustainable fashion, the textile industry and consumerism in general.
In its first year the new format already gained enormous popularity in Munich, which also sparked the interest of the sustainable fashion community in other cities. As a result, Mirjam was recently invited to the We make the City festival in Amsterdam. She is currently preparing the third edition of the Greenstyle Munich Fair and Conference, which will be held from 11 to 13 October 2019. The location will be the Isarforum at the Deutsches Museum in Munich.
An interview with Mirjam:
What motivates you? What problem do you solve and why is that important?
I was a fashion editor at a few glossy magazines for sixteen years and had to make a switch. I love fashion, but at some point the pace of innovation in the fashion industry became too much for me and I wanted to pursue my vision of a more sustainable production for fashion. Women in Germany have an average of one hundred and eighteen items of clothing in their wardrobes and buy sixty new items every year. One out of five pieces remains unworn. Landfills are overflowing – we’re talking about a collection overkill. It is not just in Asia where people work under unacceptable circumstances so as to satisfy our urge for ever-faster consumerism. Animals and the environment also suffer from the behaviour of industrial nations. It should not be happening and it does not have to happen. There are wonderful alternatives. We will be showing them at the Greenstyle Munich Fair and Conference. Our mission? Eco is the new Cool. And eventually the new normal.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome? Was there a moment when you wanted to give up?
There has not been an obstacle in this respect so far. And I never wanted to give up either, because I firmly believe in our cause. However, I hope that we will be able to share the workload across several more shoulders in the near future.
What have been the best moments so far? Which achievements have made you really proud?
I came up with an idea, a name for our event and a location. In the first edition this was at the Haus der Kunst in Munich. Forty international ecological fashion labels accepted our invitation to Munich. When we opened the first edition with a press conference in October 2018, we were overwhelmed by our own courage, our performance and the trust placed in us.
What can we expect from you in the coming year?
We will continue to build on the conference format. Having now defined the issues in the first two editions, we will now be working on solutions. We want to bring the fashion labels, the true players in the field of sustainability, onto our stage. And we are working on an innovation lab which shows what excellent materials are being used aside from organic cotton. E.g. fabrics made from coffee, hay and mushrooms right through to Spidersilk. And we’ll probably come back to Amsterdam. But then with a slightly larger presence.
Where would you like to be with your company in five years – what is your ultimate goal?
My goal is to professionalize Greenstyle, to expand it and to travel. I want to reach even more people and work together with a wonderful team that is just as motivated as we are at working on strategies for sustainable fashion solutions. So that fashion loses its sad status as the second biggest polluter. So that the impact on humans, animals and nature is reduced and fashion becomes as great as it once was. To this end, we must promote sustainable fashion labels, continue to educate and inspire consumers and use our voice in order to be heard by politicians and the industry.
What makes your innovation better/different than current practices?
We are trying to change something – just like other Game Changers. Better or different than others? Everyone in their own way, I’d say.
Thank you for talking to me.
Are you interested in start-ups? An overview of all our articles on this subject can be found here.