Beyond labels: In conversation with Schijvens Corporate Fashion

Family business Schijvens has been producing corporate clothing for many well-known companies such as Albert Heijn, KLM, Kruidvat and McDonald’s for 160 years. Early on, they started working on sustainability and social entrepreneurship. EE Labels talked to CEO Jaap Rijnsdorp-Schijvens about their journey to sustainable entrepreneurship.

Beyond labels: In conversation with Schijvens Corporate Fashion

You have been around for 160 years now. When did you start focusing on sustainable and social entrepreneurship?

That’s right, now the 5th generation is working in our company. Actually, social entrepreneurship has always played a part because our company is located in a village, so it works differently. And we have always been concerned with sustainability. We recently found out that back in the days, they already had to hand in the textile shreds – there was even a fine if you didn’t do that. So recycling is not new to us at all’.

‘After seeing the documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ (from 2006), we were really in shock. Until then, we were actually unaware of how polluting our industry was. And once you know that, you don’t go to work in the morning feeling the same way. So then we started looking into this more and we thought ‘what are we actually doing?’. We then started looking at what we could do to be more sustainable. And then we came across the recycling company Gama, which said ‘yes, I think we can do things differently’.

So what are you doing differently now?

‘We took a critical look at our supply chain. We chose fewer different suppliers and started working more closely with a few key suppliers (also known as our ‘value chain’). Together with these partners we looked at what we were all up against. In this way we were able to develop further in the area of sustainability. Among other things, we give cutting waste a new destination, focus strongly on recycling and send a child to school (and continue to pay salary) when we receive a report of child labor’.

‘It’s mostly about your own responsibility, and that your supply chain is open and honest with each other. Dialogue is so incredibly important. ‘What do you need and what can I do?’ That’s how we understand and help each other. We all know each other, too, and to maintain this way of working, there is daily contact via an app group. Since our 150th anniversary in 2013, we all see each other physically once a year during our supplier meeting at one of our suppliers somewhere in the world.

How is it going now?

‘Due to its approach, Schijvens now scores 88 out of 100 points on the Fair Wear Brand Performance Check and thus falls into the Leader category. So many social issues are well taken care of at Schijvens’ Value Chain. But you sometimes come across things that have not gone well. And even then, ‘due diligence’ is enormously important. We have audits carried out to see what is going on in a factory: in the field of discrimination, of trade union freedom (even in countries where trade unions are forbidden), of safety measures, of child labor and forced labor, but also accounting research into the payment of wages, and recently we also started mapping out the environmental risks at the dyehouses we work with.

‘At Schijvens Corporate Fashion we have been aware for years that continuing with the traditional method of production is no longer feasible in the long term. We are striving for an economy in which today’s goods form the basis for tomorrow’s products; a circular economy. Currently, three-quarters of what we produce is sustainable, but we want to increase that. So our mission is to produce sustainable, post-consumer corporate fashion (driven by pre-worn clothing) that employees are proud and happy to wear’. We are not fully there yet, but we are on the right track. And if, with all the bumps in the road, we keep believing and working on that, there is a world to win.

Beyond labels: In gesprek met Schijvens Corporate Fashion

Worldwide local production of EE Labels for Schijvens

Two family businesses and at both the 5th generation is now active. “That provides recognition and contributes to a pleasant cooperation.” said Marloes Evers, 5th generation at EE labels. “Thanks to our network with our own factories in the Netherlands and Turkey, and partners in India, Vietnam, Hong Kong and China, we take care of the branding for our clients worldwide. EE Labels guarantees the same look and quality worldwide. By producing the labels and hangtags locally in large quantities, costs and CO2 emissions are saved. Transport is minimized by this way of working. Due to large bulk productions, different factories at EE Labels can call in small quantities, the orders are shipped within 24 hours.”

‘Step by step and together making the best choices and offering solutions. On to textile production with minimal impact on the environment, so that future generations can also enjoy it’.

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