Rebecca Minkoff: “Little Minkoff” A woman who shows that the basic problems of the fashion industry are not insoluble

Illustration Susanne Gold/ Text by Paula Pröve

We buy, buy, buy – and throw away: fast fashion is no longer a new topic. Many people are already aware of how harmful the production of many textiles is and how disastrous the throwaway mentality is for the environment. On average, every German throws away 4.7 kilograms of clothing per year. This means that Germany has to deal with 391,752 tonnes of textile waste every year. However, this amount only refers to purchased clothing that is thrown away. Another problem that is less talked about but just as serious is the frequent overproduction of many textiles. Large companies produce far too many products of a collection every hour, which are thrown away at the end of the season because no one wants to buy them.

The solution is obvious for production: companies need to produce the exact amount of their collection that will be sold, and preferably with products that are as sustainable as possible. Seems impossible? Yes! Is it feasible? Yes! Has anyone done it? Also yes! Her name: Rebecca Minkoff.

Fashion on demand

Rebecca Minkoff founded her eponymous fashion brand in 2005, and her designs could be described as “rocking bohemian”. They radiate a rebellious playfulness that has been a hit with many women for 16 years now. The fashion designer already proved in the past that she is aware of the changes in the fashion industry. In 2016, she started selling her collections directly from the catwalk to avoid the cheap copies of big companies. Besides her vocation as a fashion designer, she is a mother of three. With her children in mind, she now embarked on her latest project. She founded a fashion label for children called “Little Minkoff”. But this is by no means “just” a new brand. The aspect of sustainability and thus directly the impact on the future of her (all) children is particularly in the foreground.

The company has joined forces with the technology company “Resonance“. The company ensures the transparency of the production chain. With the help of blockchain technology, customers can trace their ordered garment back to the first fibre.

Blockchain technology – right back to the first fibre

The purchase process is similar to any other online order. Buyers select their products, “put” them in the shopping cart and pay for them. The new aspect in the familiar process: the production of the clothing. Unlike traditional online shops, the product is not delivered from a large warehouse, but has to be produced first. This happens within a week of the order. This means that clothing is produced “on demand” and at the same time Rebecca Minkoff prevents overproduction of quantities.

Production of textiles – it becomes sustainable

It goes without saying that the designer thinks holistically when it comes to making clothes: sustainable processes are also taken into account in the manufacturing process. The material is 95 percent biodegradable. Due to the cooperation with the company “Bluesign“, chemicals are used, but with the least possible harmfulness by using them more precisely. Another perceived problem is the high water consumption, but this is also reduced by 50% due to the precise production.

Digital instead of print

And what if the garment is to be printed? Printing on many textiles is often the most harmful part of the whole manufacturing process due to the high concentration of colour chemicals. “Little Minkoff” therefore completely dispenses with the traditional dyeing process and uses a digital printing process instead. For this process, there are special printers that print the prefabricated design onto the clothing. Through this precisely defined process, only a necessary minimum of toxic chemicals is used.

The clothing is manufactured in the Dominican Republic. Here, the workers are employed directly by the company and not, as is usually the case, by middlemen. This ensures the welfare and fair treatment of the workers.

And now back to the blockchain technology that “Little Minkoff” works with: The entire manufacturing process is transparent from start to finish and traceable for the customer at any time. Rebecca Minkoff’s plan is to integrate this process into her larger fashion label in the future.

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