Coronavirus

This is how a fashion company masters the corona crisis without government aid

Sina Trinkwalder founded the textile manufacturer Manomama. The picture was taken before Corona.

Barbara Gandenheimer

The German fashion and textile industry is in crisis. Even before the corona pandemic, some companies in the industry had problems. And now many people work in the home office and don’t need new suit pants or blouses. Ski holidays, parties, carnival and many other occasions for special clothing are canceled. Sales in the clothing industry shrank by a third last year. A whole range of brands such as Esprit, Appelrath Cüppers, Hallhuber and Adler had to file for bankruptcy.

Textile entrepreneur Sina Trinkwalder is familiar with problems and crises. “If you have a company like I have, then you are crisis-tested,” she says in an interview with NewsABC.net. “My employees and I are very stable in our minds. In the last few years, things have always been pointed at our fingertips. We have simply made the experience that we can all get through well together. “

The Manomama employees even received a corona bonus

Trinkwalder is the founder of the Augsburg textile manufacturer Manomama. From the beginning she went a different way than most. Your company emerged primarily out of the desire to create work for disadvantaged people. Today Trinkwalder has 150 employees, 130 of them in production. Nobody is on short-time work.

“Many people work in my company who came to Manomama from Hartz IV, that was the company’s purpose from the start. These are people who were not considered employable on the primary job market, which is bullshit. If I send my people back to the kitchen table in this situation, then we will need very large psychotherapeutic assignments over the next few years, ”says Trinkwalder.

In the corona crisis, Manomama even hired people who can no longer work in the pandemic. Authorized representatives from stand builders help in the online shop, cultural scientists in preproduction. The boss even paid her employees, whom she calls “ladies and gentlemen”, a corona bonus – and takes that as a matter of course: “It’s part of getting through the crisis well, allowing everyone to participate.

Manomama produces in Augsburg.

Manomama produces in Augsburg.

Barbara Gandenheimer

No overconsumption – less loss

The textile manufacturer only uses environmentally friendly materials from regional suppliers. The employees sew shopping bags for supermarkets and drugstores such as Edeka and dm, but also jeans and shirts. “Our huge advantage is that we have not been heading towards overconsumption since the company was founded. We don’t have the problem that our warehouses are overflowing, ”explains the entrepreneur. “It’s like this for us: we tinker with the collection, we sew ten or 15 pieces of each product, put it on the Internet and then we notice relatively quickly what is well received. Our calculators tell us which hoodie or shirt is in great demand and where it is worthwhile to produce 800 pieces. That’s why we don’t have the problem of having to write things off or have them scrapped. “

The situation is different with conventional dealers. Almost all fashion companies have their clothes produced in low-wage countries in Asia. Since the transport takes several weeks, large quantities have to be produced and shipped in advance. In addition, the fashion changes quickly. Even before the pandemic, overproduction was a major problem in what is considered the second dirtiest after the oil industry.

“The crisis is completely self-made by the manufacturers and dealers. 25 years ago there were two collections, an autumn-winter and a spring-summer collection. Now, in times of fast fashion, we are in the process of offering our customers a new world every week. He doesn’t need that and he doesn’t even want that. We produce a lot of hazardous waste, you really have to put it that way, ”criticized Trinkwalder.

“If we can cope with it, as a social project without any funding, then the rest must somehow be able to cope with it”

In the spring, Manomama spontaneously made mouth and nose masks – from the material that was actually intended for shirts. Even now, in the second lockdown, the company came up with something. “We have great new ideas and we have been using the time in lockdown since November to develop these ideas, to acquire new manufacturing techniques, to set up new collections so that we can come up with new ideas in April,” says the 42-year-old .

The company has not yet received any government aid. “Manomama has been around for eleven years. We have never received any government funding, we have not received any subsidies, we have financed the basic research ourselves – be it our hemp jeans, be it our recycling cycle. We managed everything on our own, ”emphasizes Trinkwalder. The entrepreneur has been promoting her concept of socially, ecologically and regionally production in the media for years.

Even now in the pandemic, the Augsburgers received no funding. Instead, they even received a rent increase for their small retail business in March – while Adidas announced that it would suspend rents for its stores. Only after a shit storm did the Dax group withdraw its decision.

It bothers Trinkwalder that big fashion companies like Tom Tailor receive state aid of 100 million euros, although it does not even manufacture in Germany and belongs to the Chinese group Fosun. “If we can cope with it, as a social project without any funding, then the rest must somehow be able to cope with it. What’s wrong? ”She asks. “You cannot privatize profits and socialize losses, that is at the expense of society.”

With his concept, a company like Manomama does not have the opportunity to generate profits in good times that can be used to live on in bad times. “We use our creativity in bad times,” says Trinkwalder. She sees the fact that her company is now getting through the Corona crisis without government aid and short-time working not only as temporary confirmation that she is right with her way of managing the company: “My concept always pays off, not in monetary terms, but in human terms.”

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