The Partnership

The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is a multi-stakeholder initiative with about 130 members from the fields of economy, politics and the civil society. Together they are striving to improve the conditions in the global textile production – from the production of raw goods for textile production to the disposal of textiles. The Textiles Partnership was founded in October 2014 in response to the deadly accidents in textile factories in Bangladesh and Pakistan. It was initiated by the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dr. Gerd Müller. Today, members of the Textiles Partnership cover about half of the German textile market.

Foundation and Goals

The Partnership and its members seek to operate in line with three principles: ‘individual responsibility’, ‘collective engagement’ and ‘mutual support’. These principles form the framework for activities in the areas of social standards and living wages, chemicals and environmental management, and natural fibres.

In rotating working groups, members jointly devise specific measures on issues such as living wages, wastewater standards in the management of chemicals, sustainable fibres, and supply chain transparency. Each member contributes its skills against the backdrop of its own technical priorities and organisational goals. The individual concerns of members are considered in the formulation of targets, enabling a range of business models and types of company within the textile sector to be included.

Individual responsibility involves the principle of binding procedural obligations. As part of the Review Process, members establish specific goals, pursue them in a demonstrable way and make them gradually more ambitious. Each member audits its own status annually, sets targets in line with the requirements of the Partnership, and reports on its individual progress.

As part of this process, specific issues and requirements for sustainability relevant to the textile sector are formulated within the Partnership, framed manageably and translated into binding deadline and volume targets.

Since Germany is the world’s second largest importer of textiles, it carries a particular responsibility and can achieve a great deal through collective engagement. Joint initiatives launched in Germany on environmental and social improvements in producer countries have the capacity to drive fundamental change. The Partnership therefore builds on collective engagement in selected producer countries. Two projects, or Partnership Initiatives, are already underway and are being developed on an ongoing basis: these focus on improving working conditions in India’s textile sector and on management of chemicals in Asia.

The third and final principle of the Partnership relates to mutual support and mutual exchange. Through regular opportunities for support and exchange, the Partnership functions as a network to offer members scope for developing ideas, for discussion and for learning from each other about implementing the agreed targets.

Dr. Johannes Merck, Otto GmbH & Co. KG, (C) Otto Pressebild

Dr. Johannes Merck, Otto GmbH & Co. KG

„The biggest opportunity the Textiles Partnership offers is to jointly drive developments that couldn’t be advanced single-handedly.“


Claudia Kersten, GOTS, (C) Otto Kersten

Claudia Kersten, GOTS

“Every company that orders sustainable products here, is putting a pull-effect on its entire supply chain. But this doesn’t come for free. The Textiles Partnership gives us the chance to apply the really big lever.“

Frank Zach, DGB-Bundesvorstand, Abteilung Internationale und Europäische Gewerkschaftspolitik, (C) Ralf Steinle

Frank Zach, Head of Section, Department for International and European Trade Union Policy, German Trade Union Confederation (DGB)

The Partnership is supposed to seriously bring transparency into the textile chain and topics such as living wages or participation in decision-making can finally be dealt with on a broad basis.“

Daniel Hopp, Hopp KG, (C) Daniel Hopp

Daniel Hopp, Hopp KG

I am convinced that we are on the right path. On their own, no one can improve the production conditions in the supplier countries in a sustainable manner. But together we are capable of achieving continuous improvements and set ever more ambitious goals.“