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Jose Royo of Tejidos Royo on the “reality of sustainability” – Sourcing Journal

ESG Outlook is the Sourcing Journal’s series of discussions with industry leaders to get their perspective on their company’s latest environmental, social and governance initiatives and their own personal sustainability efforts. In this Q&A, José Royo, Sales Manager of the textile factory Tejidos Royo SL based in Valencia, Spain, explains how textile professionals must lead the change towards sustainability and distinguish between the reality of sustainability and the beliefs in the matter.

José Royo, Sales Manager, Tejidos Royo

Last name: Jose R. Royo

Title: Sales manager

Company: Tejidos Royo SL

What do you consider to be the best ESG achievement of your company over the last 5 years?

Our ESG-related best achievement is the one and only Dry Indigo® and Dry Black®, which is the most sustainable way to dye indigo today without any water consumption in the dye. We introduced this unique technology in 2019 and every day more customers want to work with it. Using zero liters of water when dyeing is still hard to believe, but over time the technology is improving and we can mix it with recycled materials. I can proudly say that today, thanks to our unique technologies, we have the most durable denim collection on the market. We develop items with all sustainable components: recycled cotton (waste from our factories), recycled elastane (Regen from Creora), Refibra (from Lenzing) and all our cotton from Spain, reducing the CO2 footprint close to zero. From technology (Dry Indigo®) to processes (closed loop) to major suppliers (Hyosung and Lenzing), we can make textiles a very safe industry. With the right partners and the right R&D, the future is ours.

What is your personal philosophy on shopping and caring for your clothes and how do you try to minimize the environmental impact of the clothes you buy?

I always try to buy clothes from customers who buy my fabrics, because I know what and how Tejidos Royo produces its fabrics, and what we say is really traceable. So the best way to help the planet is to wear clothes from my fabrics, which I know are real recycled cotton, have been sustainably dyed and produced in a sustainable environment (the Spain, with decent wages, no children, under very strict European chemical requirements, all certified, etc.).

Also, if the pants I’m wearing don’t wear out, I don’t buy new pants. It’s quality and endurance above all. And when things are “almost destroyed”, I donate the clothes for longer use or recycling. I believe that the first people who can change things are us, the textile professionals. If we don’t do what we ask others to do, how can we run our businesses? There is a bright future in textiles, full of opportunities, you just have to lead by example.

To what extent do you examine a brand’s social or environmental practices before buying?

Many, it’s part of the shopping experience. I don’t buy clothes for price reasons, but for how they feel, the message they convey and the brand image. Today, if there isn’t really a sustainable message in the garment, I don’t buy it. I have enough jeans in my closet.

Is there anything new you are doing to drive sustainability beyond the fashion industry?

Sustainable energy sources! Installing solar panels for my house, planting trees, using water filters instead of buying bottled water (we are a plastic-free house). I was considering buying an electric car, but what are we going to do with the batteries after a few years? Are they recyclable? Or is it a problem that we are not interested in? I keep looking for the most reasonable way to get around Valencia.

What’s the biggest misconception consumers have about sustainability in fashion?

Let me answer you with another question. What is sustainable and what is not? There is no global sustainability legislation, and each company is sustainable according to its own beliefs. Sustainability in fashion is “trendy” now, and everyone thinks it’s super durable, but is it true? Or are we just doing a little better every day? We need rules to measure where we are and how we can improve. But it must be consistent. For example, it does not make sense if we create a sustainable umbrella that is only good for Europe and not for the rest of the world, because that would clearly put the European textile industry at a disadvantage compared to the rest. There is a bright future in textiles, but we all have to play in the same league. List companies based on their “sustainability reality” and not their “sustainability beliefs”.

What has been the biggest lesson your company has learned from the Covid crisis?

Unfortunately, Covid has brought the world to a standstill. We had huge order cancellations and couldn’t visit our customers to get the real feedback. Today we resume our lives, but I still see people sharing drinks, food, kisses… The pandemic is not over but people don’t seem to care. At Tejidos Royo, however, we know what to do in case something happens again. We have gained a lot in efficiency, flexibility and knowledge, and we have created a new protocol. Hopefully we won’t need to use it, but if we have to, we will act immediately and give a quick response to our customers.

What is your company’s latest sustainability initiative?

Recycle, recycle, recycle. Our goal in 2025 is for our entire collection to be made from recycled content and to reduce the use of virgin cotton to less than 35% of our total production. Recycling is reducing waste. Using sustainable cottons is good, but how much can you believe in it? People are more important than textiles, let’s use the earth for food and recycle our textiles to make clothes.

What do you think is the apparel industry’s biggest missed opportunity to achieve meaningful change?

When we talk about “industry”, we talk about money, and when money talks, it is difficult to change things. But the world is changing and the industry must change. Either you start the change today (and I believe it’s already late), or you’ll be gone. The young people are strong in their convictions and they will be the ones who will have the money, so be prepared! There is a bright future, believe me. Textiles can work perfectly with nature, and it’s up to us to make the switch. Tejidos Royo has already started.