Sustainability is trumps With its use of mineral oil-based raw materials down to practically zero, and employing environmentally sound textile production methods, Wunderwerk is founded on a vision of sustainability. In the two years that it has been on the market, though, the fashion label has been making its name first and foremost through its modern, metropolitan style. The fundamental sustainability concept is not something the brand shouts about explicitly. Wunderwerk’s ideas generator, co-founder and joint MD, Heiko Wunder, is keeping that benefit up his sleeve as a trump card: the immediate aim is that the label should prove itself to the mass market. Competence in every product segment, consistency of style, good value for money, never-out-of-stock articles, sales-floor expertise – Wunderwerk seeks to focus the attention of the outside world on these key properties of a competitive fashion brand. On the inside, though, the principle of sustainability characterises the entire chain of production. Once it all comes together, the newly developed slogan, “Organic – No Plastic – Fantastic” can be put to work. Wunderwerk’s two founders, Heiko Wunder and Tim Brückmann, have been friends since the surfing days of their youth. During their careers each of them separately started toying with the idea of producing fairtrade fashion. Both were employed
Tim Brückner (left) and Heiko Wunder are the founders of Wunderwerk
Sustainability is vitally important but for the end consumer, shape, colour and price are the deciding factors. Our collection has to live up to market demands in every single product group. We must show by example that it is possible to meet the demands of the market and sustainability without compromising on fashion and the Zeitgeist. 34
textile network | 3-4/2016
in leading positions in the fashion industry before they joined forces in 2012 to found the company Rheinstoff GmbH & Co. KG, in Düsseldorf. From this emerged in the following year the fashion label Wunderwerk, a name they had already registered. It was clear from the start that Wunderwerk was not to be an eco-brand within the green niche market, but rather a mass-market competitor with corresponding design and pricing. In 2014, its sustainable fashion collection won the German Federal Ecodesign Award. The jury’s findings: “This is one of the few fully ecological fashion collections that has made it to mass-market production. It demonstrates that toxin-free production does not have to compromise on fashionable visual effects.” Stylistically, Wunderwerk stands for the interplay of fashionable design, a comfortable yet perfect fit, natural organic fabrics and batik and tie-dye patterns. “Prêt-à-eco-porter” is how
the manufacturers describe its stylish yet sustainable fashion range for men and women. The range consists of denims, trousers, knitwear, hybrid shirts, T-shirts and jackets; it is refreshed four times a year with ten delivery dates per year. In fashion terms, it is positioned against Drykorn and Closed and aims to demonstrate in this competitive environment that style and sustainability can work hand-in-hand. “Although we are using high quality, largely GOTS-certified outer fabrics and accessories,” says Tim Brückmann, “we offer better than average value for money.” Sustainability is built into the entire production chain, starting with the raw materials. Wherever possible, Wunderwerk uses certified materials. Organic cotton bear-
Both for the businesswoman and for the businessman, Wunderwerk focuses on designer shows and produces fashion for people who live in the cities, care about fashion, rely on understated quality but are not seeking to be trendsetters.
ing the strict GOTS standard forms the foundation for this. Mineral oilbased materials such as polyamide, polyester and acrylic are not used. Wunderwerk is a member of the International Association of Natural Textile Industry (iVN) and complies with its Best Standards, which are even stricter than GOTS. It uses new wool from GOTS-certified organically reared flocks, cotton from GOTS-certified controlled organic sources, natural silk and silk from controlled organic sources, and alpaca and Pima cotton from Peru, as well as two branded sustainable fibres: Modal Edelweiss, manufactured without the use of chlorine from domestic beechwood, and Lyocell-Tencel. Sustainability is fondly pursued right down to details such as accessories, with buttons made of horn, tagua and metal, for example. Wherever possible zips and labels are made without plastics. Labelling consists of cotton, recycled paper and other environmentally friendly materials, produced without solvents or lacquers. More than 90% of the production and finishing takes place in facilities with high ecological and social standards, principally in Italy and Portugal, making up-to-date fashion whilst maintaining respect for people and the environment. The company places great value on reducing water and energy consumption and water
Sustainability aside: Wunderwerk has a competitive fashion offering – elementarty to success!
Textile Network: What do you mean by a highly polished quality assurance programme? Heiko Wunder: The entire production chain has to work. Even at the pre-manufacturing stages you have to look out for the quality of yarns, fabrics and trimmings. It’s not only about the quality of the goods but also the quality of the cut and the checks that we build into the process. In the case of denim, dyes are an important topic: I have to be able to produce my fashion designs in a way that is also sustainable. None of the trousers in our range require more than ten litres of water for finishing – that is, for washing out or dyeing. In general, our chemical in-
pollution. In its jeans manufacturing, for example, Wunderwerk consumes four to six litres of water per pair, according to Heiko Wunder. “By comparison, water consumption in conventional jeans production is huge – 160 litres or so on every pair,” he says. The company shuns the used look requiring the use of chlorine and caustic potassium permanganate – chemicals that have to be washed out with large quantities of water to remove residues. Instead, innovative dyeing techniques are used such as ‘mal tinto’, in which the clothing is dyed in a special cold-dyeing process. It is a process that Wunderwerk also uses on Tshirts, blouses, knitwear and even on jackets and blazers. Where the dyes themselves are concerned, Wunderwerk observes the GOTS Positive List of dyestuffs. Clothing is dyed and bleached using ozone/
puts are low, which enables us to get away with low water consumption, since water is used to neutralise chemicals as well as for other purposes. Textile Network: And how tight is your concept of sustainability? Heiko Wunder: Generally we rely almost solely on organic cotton, wool from controlled organically reared flocks and sustainable reclaimed fibres such as Modal Edelweiss and Tencel. Moreover, we aim not to put environmentally harmful chemicals or, as far as possible, mineral oil-based products into circulation. There are no plastic carrier bags in our store, no PET bottles in our offices and no polyacrylics, polyamides or polyesters in our products. The exceptions to this are zips and the elastane in women’s trousers: we’d prefer to dispense with the latter, too, but there is as yet no alternative that can ensure the elasticity that we need in order to be marketable.
oxygen airbrush technology, stonewashing and mechanical techniques carried out by hand. Alternatively, in the case of jeans, the production process is simply reversed: instead of bleaching dyed jeans, natural fabrics are tie-dyed to produce the desired irregular effect in glowing colours. The company’s headquarters in Düsseldorf also work on a sustainable basis, starting with little things like using only ecological office supplies and green electricity, and extending to re-using and recycling returned packaging and materials. For Heiko Wunder and Tim Brückmann, it also includes fair treatment of employees and trading partners: values such as social responsibility, protection of the natural environment and economic performance are, for them, inextricably linked. [www.wunderwerk.com] [Sabine Fanny Karpf] 3-4/2016 | textile network