Child of Globalization to Woman in Power
PART 1 OF GUESTS FOR CHANGE with ANNABELLE HUTTER
Within the Guests for Change series, thought leaders, pioneers, visionaries, and game-changers are interviewed to give us more insight into the world of sustainability and circularity. In an exclusive conversation with Annabelle Hutter, we learn about her perspective as a young woman in the textile industry.
“I go to meetings with bigger textile companies and I will be the only woman of my age sitting around the table. It is such an awkward concept and they treat you a little bit differently.”
As a young woman and female representative in the textile industry, Annabelle Hutter faces a set of unique challenges. She acknowledges how it is oftentimes “unheard” of for a woman to shake things up in the way that she is doing.
Used to being treated differently in meetings, she mentions that she always pushes to be spoken to and treated in the same way that her father, for example, would be treated as a respected male in the industry. For her, being “seated at the table” is more of a victory than a challenge, as it strengthens the fact that women can (and indeed do,) operate successfully when it comes to the more technical side in fashion top in textiles - not only be in roles within factories, marketing or design as has previously been the case.
Along with carving out a role for herself, a positive aspect of being a young woman in a technical industry is that Annabelle can be recognized as being more relatable and familiar to the consumer audience. Relatability leads to reliability in this respect, and this becomes an essential factor in an industry that Annabelle identifies as facing a severe lack of transparency and openness. In her view, it is important to stay true to herself as a woman in the textile industry. For women facing similar challenges, she recommends that you:
“Do what you love and if you love it it will translate in all of your work...people will be inspired by that and then it doesn’t matter what gender you are.”
Image by Lidya Nada from Unsplash
As a young woman, Annabelle is making waves in the textile industry. She founded Born on Saturday, a brand that handmakes 100% recycled cotton bags from textile waste. Everything from their yarns, facilities, processes, products, and employee-care is certified by third-party auditors to confirm the high standards of social and environmental practices in their production. Annabelle is also a Product Director at Säntis Textiles, a company specializing in textile spinning, weaving, and fabric development as well as sourcing for the global market in garment and technical textiles.
Annabelle describes herself as a “child of globalization”. Both her father and grandfather built successful careers in the textile industry, which gave Annabelle the opportunity to experience the hustle and bustle of new cities, discovering the intricacies and histories behind various cultures from a young age.
“I see globalization as just part of my DNA and textiles is another strand that comes in as well and all of it ties in really nicely, so I’m grateful for it.”
With this invaluable experience, Annabelle considers one of the main problems in the industry to be the change of consumer behavior due to the fast fashion model. Undeniably changing the way that people consume fashion, fast fashion has, in turn, affected the textile industry as well. This then plays a role in another problem she identifies - global waste management and its slow progression. This idea is still developing but has the potential to manage textile waste.
Image by Nick Fewings from Unsplash
Annabelle views circularity as a constantly evolving concept that has many different elements, but, in her opinion, a main focus should be on entirely eliminating waste. People have become complacent with throwing waste away and see it as closing that chapter, however, circularity goes beyond recycling - it should be a way of life. For her, waste is cool - you can do anything with it.
“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TRASH, IT'S ALL TREASURE...THE CONCEPT OF WASTE IS VERY OUTDATED.”
Circularity dives deeper into the conversation of sustainability, taking it a step forward. Considering how the word “sustainability” has become a marketing buzzword used by companies and fashion brands, it is an easy word to throw around, with little backing to support its validity. Circularity forces us to confront the idea that has been ingrained in us of waste being “bad”, and start a conversation on how to make real change and have a real impact.
Image by Sydney Rae from Unsplash
There is a lack of knowledge surrounding the management of waste. Bringing this awareness to the fore, Annabelle identified within her own company that most people are unaware that it is even possible to recycle cotton waste or leftover fabric fibers into new fabrics. She states that beyond recycling paper and plastic bottles, the younger generation is not educated about circularity and waste management.
A similar opinion was shared by the founder of Fashion Revolution Luxembourg, Stylianee Parascha. As such, Annabelle highlights the definite need to talk about the opportunities that we have in circularity, in fashion, and in textiles. In a sentiment shared with Karla Magruder, great importance lies in educating yourself, and always seeking to find out more information about the textile industry. Reading the newspaper, watching YouTube videos, reading a garment’s label before purchasing it, avoiding synthetic fabrics, and checking brands for certifications are all good places to start.
Image by Janko Ferlič from Unsplash
She also encourages engaging with transparent brands - those that are willing to open up about their supply chain. If brands do not wish to share their transparency with you, this should immediately raise a red flag. Ultimately, Annabelle advocates for adjusting your mindset and slowing down your spending habits.
Keep a lookout for part two of our conversation with Annabelle, where we will dive deeper into the prospect of waste management within circularity, pollution in the textile industry, and how the youth of today can change the narrative.