Angelika Schindler-Obenhaus on Innovation in Fashion

Meet Angelika Schindler-Obenhaus. She’s the CEO of German fashion manufacturer Gerry Weber and a member of CURAZE, FemaleOneZero’s innovation network. She explains how the fashion industry is undergoing a major restyle using innovative tech products to navigate the call for sustainability

by Natascha Zeljko | 03 Feb, 2022

1. What are the most important drivers in the current business world?

At Gerry Weber these drivers are reflected in our corporate strategy: e-commerce must continue to grow. Brick-and-mortar retail must be further developed with a focus on social interaction and customer experience. On the product side, we continue to work to inspire people with timeless fashion that is modern, high-quality, and fits well. On the design and collection development sides, we continue to become more digital to work more closely with sales. In addition, personnel development is very important as well: we need the best people. Sustainability is also a huge issue of our time.

2. And what are the biggest challenges?

Sustainability. In my opinion, the circular economy is a central topic for the future of the fashion industry – if one of the "dirtiest industries" is to be granted a right to exist. This includes second-hand, recycling, upcycling, and the necessary technologies. In addition, the origin of the materials, how ecological the manufacturing process is and the working conditions there play an important role. Logistics and procurement are another point where we need to rethink our processes and become more flexible: We assume that the global and cross-industry transportation issue will calm down, but things will never be the same as "before". Also, the points already mentioned before: The realignment of retail and expansion of omnichannel marketing, digitalization, and attracting skilled workers.

3. Which innovations and tech trends do you find particularly exciting?

I find the digitization approaches for collection development very exciting. At Gerry Weber, we are currently testing Yoona.ai and CLO 3D. In the medium-term, we want to get even closer to the actualities of the sales and innovate with targeted accelerated processes. In a collaboration with the Leibniz Institute at the University Hannover, we are also researching fibers that can be recycled sustainably, because the textile industry still has a problem here, especially when it comes to mixed fibers.

4. What idea, product, or thought leader has excited or inspired you lately?

With every conversation inside and outside of the industry, come new and different inspirations for me. But in recent months, it has certainly been Anna Franziska Michel with her AI-based technology Yoona.ai. Anna Franziska is an absolute inspiration for me, a role model in the tech industry. She is a mother and founder and is fast in thinking and implementation. This is technology that combines sustainability and speed, past and future.

5. Why do cultural change and digital transformation belong together in your opinion?

Against the backdrop of digital transformation, there must be a cultural change that takes employees with them on this journey. It requires the greatest possible transparency, knowledge transfer, error culture, and trust on both sides.

6. In one sentence, what is a topic we shouldn't be discussing in five years?

The quota of women in a company, because in five years we will quite simply be awarding jobs according to qualifications, which will automatically result in a roughly equal ratio of men and women.

7. What makes companies successful in the long-term? What makes leadership successful in the long-term?

Today, a company can only be successful in the long-term if it has a leadership culture characterized by appreciation, transparency, and eye-to-eye communication. The time of the lone warrior is over - even on the board. We can only master our tasks with multi-professional teams. And we all have to enjoy the performance we deliver.

Do you want to become a member of CURAZE, our innovator’s network? Join our growing community and register to our matchmaking platform here.

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