“Creating Innovative Futures” at TechXtile 2019

October 22, 2019 at Bursa, Turkey

Creating Innovative Futures” Keynote

Download a summary of Peter Fisk’s keynote “Creating Innovative Futures”

Alibaba to Amazon, BYD to Bytedance, Grab to Glossier, Rapha to Riot Games, Zespri to Zipcars. Every sector has business has been fundamentally disrupted by new technologies, new ideas and new brands in recent years. Innovation is fast and dramatic, and relentless. In the world of textiles, there are new rules too, from millennial consumers to digital retailers, addictive influencers and sustainable priorities, Textile innovators are seizing the opportunities of this changing world: 1Atelier to Bolt Threads, Boohoo to Cabi, EcoAlf to Etsy, Threadless to Welspun.

  • Finding new opportunities to grow in a fast changing world
  • How the world’s most innovative companies innovate in every sector
  • Wining in the textile world, fabrics to fashion, intelligence and influence
  • Harnessing the power of entrepreneurs and business ecosystems
  • Starting from the future back and outside in, for start-ups or scale-ups
  • Leading for growth, making the future happen faster

Innovating the Whole Business” Workshop

Download a summary of Peter Fisk’s workshop “Business Innovation”

Innovation in most companies is still mostly about products and services, whereas innovation has most impact when applied to business models and customer experiences. We therefore focus on business innovation, driven by your purpose and opportunity, and by thinking hard about what is the problem we are trying to solve, and the impact we want to make. For start-up entrepreneurs or corporate leaders, the challenges are similar – where to focus, how to think differently, who to work with, what business model to embrace, and how to make the future happen faster.

  • Business innovation, what is it, who drives it, and why it matters
  • 10 types of innovation, going beyond products to business models
  • Future back – future drivers, stretch moonshots and growth roadmaps
  • Outside in – deeper insight, reframing problems, creating more ideas
  • Creative disruption – rule breakers, border crossers and game changers
  • New business models – new revenues, new partners, new businesses
  • Accelerating action – fast and agile, viral and sustainable, blitzscaling impact
  • Innovation leaders – growth mindset, whole business, amplifying potential

Useful background

TechXtile Q&A with Peter Fisk

  • What are your assessments and predictions for the future of the Turkish economy?

Overall growth in Turkish economy will continue to be slow, and I would expect it to be around 1 to 1.5% in 2020, compared to average global economic growth of around 3%. Economic and political tensions will continue to bring uncertainty, whilst exchange rates and trading confidence will continue to be challenges.  However we should always remember that these are averages. There will be some sectors, and in particular individual companies, who will do far better than this, and others worse.

Whilst we live in a volatile and uncertain world, it is also a world of rapid and relentless change, unlocking new markets and opportunities. If we look at the macro nature of economic cycles, what are known as Kondratieff waves, we see that there is a recurring cycle of growth and stagnation.

What is interesting is that innovation follows in an opposing cycle, in that times of stagnation or decline, are the times of greatest innovation. Crisis, downturns and slowdowns, are when matters are shaken up, and when creativity comes to the fore. Now is the time to rethink your business, rethink how your business works, and to rebuild for the future.

  • Would you share your observations about Turkish companies, in what topic are they making more mistakes, and what advice would you like to give them?

The challenge as always is to think big and small – to explore the global opportunities beyond Turkey, whilst also being able to look to the best opportunities in local markets. I have worked with many Turkish companies over the last 15 years or so – from multinationals like Koc and Sabanci to Eczacibasi and Turkcell, Akbank and Garanti, Pinar and Ulker.

What I see is great creativity, but also a sense of myopia. A great company like Koc is struggling to reinvent itself in the digital age, as it knows it must. Whilst Ulker has made ambitious strides to become a global player through acquisitions and diversification.

Companies need to think beyond their home market, beyond their core products, beyond their existing business models, beyond their old capabilities, beyond seeking to survive for today.

  • What kind of strategies should be followed by companies that want to be innovative?

Strategy used to an evolutionary process, seeking to stretch and sustain the success of the past. Today it is a revolutionary process. Start from the future back, rather than trying to tweak today. See how your industry, your customers, your competitors are changing – both at home and around the world. Learn from other sectors, rather than just imitating the competition. Most importantly, see the future, and shape it, in your own vision rather than others.

Companies like Aster Textile have done this incredibly well. As a textile company they looked beyond fabrics, to see a rapidly changing fashion marketplace, with millennial behaviour and social influencers, the rapid decline of traditional high street retailer and slow business models. They said how can we be part of this new world, and were open to change anything and everything.

  • What are your suggestions for advertising, promotion and marketing?

The most important thing is to start with the real customer – not an intermediary brand or distributor – but the consumer. We should be obsessed with how people are behaving, dreaming and changing. What are the trends in the market? How are fashions changing, and what is driving that? What are the ideas in other geographies, other sectors, other segments, that are catching on? What’s happening in the margins not the mainstream. Then work with partners, such as designers or retailers, in order to respond to this changing audience.

However we know that every aspect of marketing has changing.

Advertising no longer works, it is interrupted and average. Instead people turn to their friends, and other influencers, including the social superstars. They want newness and difference, they want to be individual. The mobile phone is the starting point to any transaction, and indeed the old idea of high street buying is disrupted by subscription models, freemium models, community models, and much more. Birchbox to Boohoo. Stitchfix to Threadless are great examples.

  • What should companies do in the times of economic crisis, what to do and what to stay away from?

Economic crisis is the time to survive – and thrive. It’s the time to ensure you have sufficient cashflows to keep going, by staying lean and focused. But it’s also the time to experiment and innovate. If its bad for you, its usually also bad for your customers, so they are looking for alternatives, and ways to keep living but in new ways.

Most great innovators were born out of economic crisis. The current crop of creative “hero” brands like Airbnb, Uber, Netflix, and many more, were born out of the economic downturns of 2000-2 or 2008-10. They offered an alternative to the old ways. Sharing models, platform models, personalisation models, subscription models, emerged out of the need to do things differently, and for consumers desire to live better, but in new ways.

  • What will be the benefits of Techxtile Challange to the Turkish textile sector in the long run?

Challengers need to look beyond the product. They need to think differently about how textile businesses will succeed in the future.

To me, too many textile business are still product centric. The danger is that you end up competing in price driven markets, trying to sell innovative products to existing brands and retail channels who themselves are in decline. Regardless of your innovation, will most likely be forced to reduce prices, as if you were a price-driven commodity, as the brand or retailer’s own business struggles.

The value added of your creativity is lost. Instead you need to look beyond today, beyond the conventional industry models to see the future.

In a world of fast fashion but also environmental concerns, mobile channels and influencer trends, you need to think different about your whole business. Look to Bolt Threads. Look to Eileen Fisher. Look to Depop. Look to Rapha. Look to Zozo in Japan. See what they do. Take the best bits, combine them, and do them better.

Recoding Fashion

Consumers buy twice as many new clothes as they did a decade ago. They discard millions of tonnes of unwanted textiles a year, with almost a third incinerated or going to landfill.

On top of often poor labour conditions for garment workers, the fashion industry is responsible for 20% of the world’s waste water, and 10% of carbon emissions. Global climate protest movement Extinction Rebellion is asking for people not to buy any new clothes for a year as part of a “fashion boycott”.

A new generation of innovative bio materials may offer part of the solution, replacing wasteful textiles like cotton and leather.

While leather is a by-product of the meat industry, much of the hide is discarded, and large amounts of water and unpleasant chemicals are often used in its production. Meanwhile, faux leather alternatives often take hundreds of years to biodegrade.

Potential solutions to this include Piñatex, a leather-like substance made from discarded pineapple leaves, which has been used in collections by Hugo Boss and H&M.

Another is mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms – a “wonder material” that is being used to create food, packaging and textiles. As mushrooms are plentiful and don’t need much looking after, the material can be grown into a fixed shape within a few days.

Bolt Threads uses mycelium to create its Mylo “leather,” which has been incorporated into designs by Stella McCartney. She has also used its vegan “silk”, which is created by bioengineering yeast. “I’ve noticed that consumers are now much more interested in seeking out a sustainable alternative,” says Jamie Bainbridge, Bolt Threads’ head of product development.

“The current alternatives to leather, like polyurethane, are very inexpensive. But they are often petroleum-based which, like raising livestock, isn’t great for the environment.”

As with many innovations, the biggest challenge Mylo faces is affordability – unlike PVC it costs a similar amount to real leather. It also remains to be seen if production can be scaled up to a point where it can hit High Street shelves.

Like leather cotton is very resource-intensive with about 15,000 litres of water required to make one pair of jeans. As 40% of the world’s clothing is made using cotton, finding an eco-friendly alternative is one of the main focuses for sustainable textile developers.

Tencel, also known as Lyocell, is one alternative that’s been around for decades on the fringes of fashion. It is made by extracting cellulose fibre from trees and its manufacture is thought to use 95% less water than cotton processing. Very similar to cotton in feel, it forms a component of many High Street clothing items.

Austria’s Lenzing Group says it is seeing “strong demand” for the fibre and is building the world’s biggest Lyocell plant in Thailand. “This expansion underscores Lenzing’s commitment to improve the ecological footprint of the global textile industry,” says chief executive Stefan Doboczky.

However, most manufacturers are likely to continue to use cotton as it remains cheaper. Dr Richard Blackburn, a sustainable materials expert from Leeds School of Design, is a big fan of Tencel. He believes this extraction method could be extended to other high cellulose plant by-products like stalks, stems and leaves, to create different types of sustainable fibre.

But he adds that consumers need to act sustainably in every area of their lives. “It’s about trade-offs and there is no simple answer. It’s not a case of, ‘if we switched to one fabric all our environmental concerns would disappear’.”

Buying better, buying less

While buying ethically is important, most in the sustainability field agree that consumers also need to buy fewer, higher quality items.

“I don’t think you should consider buying any item of clothing unless you commit to 30 wears. Unless you can do that you’re not even starting to be sustainable. You are creating a waste problem,” says Dr Blackburn.

In recent years, shoppers have viewed clothes “as a disposable item” thanks to cheap prices and clever brand positioning, says Kate Elliot, sustainability expert at Rathbone Greenbank Investments. But she believes they are now falling out of love with “buying an item of clothing, wearing it and then ending up chucking it in a bin”.

“There have been issues around fast fashion for decades, but people have become much more aware of the environmental and social costs.”


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