The Neonyt Thinkathon is a radical design-thinking format established by Messe Frankfurt. It involves multidisciplinary teams developing future-oriented approaches for the sustainability transformation of the fashion and textile industry. The Thinkathon brings together progressive companies from the fashion and textile industry with the unique Neonyt network. So-called challenge hosts – concept shopping mall Bikini Berlin, the Otto Group and EU project TCBL (Textile and Clothing Business Labs) at the most recent Thinkathon – each come up with a challenge on a specific subject area, which two international teams have just 48 hours to work on. The Thinkathon was organised on behalf of Messe Frankfurt by Berlin agency Sourcebook.
In January, experts from the fields of fashion, textile, architecture, technology, marketing and research came from a total of 19 nations and transformed the Old Smithy’s Dizzle event location, an old barn in the heart of Berlin, into a collaborative ideas workshop for two days. Each of the challenges was tackled by two of the six small groups so all three challenge hosts, Otto Group, Bikini Berlin and TCBL, were presented with two completely different solutions at the end of the Thinkathon.
In Challenge #1 – The Circular Experience – the Otto Group asked how the concept of the circular economy could be made more accessible, appealing and tangible for its customers. The first Thinkathon approach had the title “Blue Loop Customer Journey”: a member scheme that rewards customers with points when they buy sustainable products. The programme also wants to promote a circular approach: a points system would encourage people to participate in repair workshops or send back worn-out pieces of clothing for recycling purposes.
The second concept “Otto Circular System” includes a community platform that offers customers circular-relevant services ranging from recycling and upcycling to styling tips. And clothing that is still in good condition can be passed on or sold via a virtual swap shop. Here too, the experts recommend a points system that rewards customers for circular activities, which in turn can be redeemed for sustainable products and services.
Under the title “The Future of Retail – for Good”, challenge host #2 Bikini Berlin asked: at a time when sustainability is a key factor, how can shopping centres change the whole shopping experience to involve and activate customers? “Step into Sustainability” is the first solution that was developed for Bikini Berlin. The idea: guided tours of the spacious shopping mall along a series of interactive displays and installations on the topic of sustainability.
The “Bikini Fashion Clinic” is the concept of a fashion clinic that extends the lifecycle of damaged clothing by repairing it or breathes new life into second-hand pieces by recycling or upcycling. The clinic also offers family-friendly workshops and events to help improve the visitors’ creative skills and bring them together with other like-minded people.
Challenge #3 “Sustainable Short Runs” and host TCBL were looking for ways to map European production capacities for sustainable nearshoring, small-batch production and short delivery times.
As a response to this, one of the Thinkathon’s expert panels developed the “Short Runs Toolbox” – an easily accessible online platform with additional information, helpful services and tools like checklists or individual filter options. The Toolbox should help to pave the way for small-scale production that is “Made in Europe” and to optimise the communication between interested designers and producers.
The sixth team of experts developed the concept of a “Shortruns Agency”, which brings together European designers and producers, coordinates suitable partners and capacities, streamlines processes, arranges funding and helps make small-batch production more economic and feasible for everyone involved.
In a video, excerpts of the workshop results were then presented on the Fashionsustain conference stage to an international audience of professionals. Like the Thinkathon, Fashionsustain is also a part of Neonyt, the global hub for fashion, sustainability and innovation, which celebrated its premiere during Berlin Fashion Week at Kraftwerk and was developed by Messe Frankfurt as a fusion of the successful tradeshow duo Greenshowroom and Ethical Fashion Show Berlin. Previous Thinkathon challenge hosts were: Fashion Council Berlin, Hugo Boss, KPMG, Microsoft HoloLens, Techtextil/Texprocess and Zalando.
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Video of the previous Thinkathon: youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ5-k7XhgLw
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Background information on Messe Frankfurt
Messe Frankfurt is the world’s largest trade fair, congress and event organiser with its own exhibition grounds. With more than 2,500* employees at 30 locations, the company generates annual sales of around €715* million. Thanks to its far-reaching ties with the relevant sectors and to its international sales network, the Group looks after the business interests of its customers effectively. A comprehensive range of services – both onsite and online – ensures that customers worldwide enjoy consistently high quality and flexibility when planning, organising and running their events. The wide range of services includes renting exhibition grounds, trade fair construction and marketing, personnel and food services. With its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, the company is owned by the City of Frankfurt (60 percent) and the State of Hesse (40 percent).
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*preliminary figures 2018