Thinkathon Challenges 2019/01

We are very excited to announce that the Challenge Hosts for this season are Bikini Berlin, Otto Group and TCBL.


On the 14th and 15th January 2019, the third edition of the Sourcebook-organised Thinkathon takes place as part of the Fashionsustain conference during Berlin Fashion Week. This season 40 participants split into 6 teams will find sustainable solutions to 3 industry challenges over the course of 48 hours.

The Thinkathon concludes with a presentation on the 16th January 2019 at 17:45 at the Fashionsustain conference in Kraftwerk Berlin – the site for the newly rebranded Neonyt hub connecting the Ethical Fashion Show Berlin and Greenshowroom fairs with the Fashionsustain, #Fashiontech and UNLOCK Style by ZEITmagazin conferences, the Thinkathon, Neonyt Fashion Show and Party.


Read on to find out more about this season’s Challenges below.


BIKINI BERLIN : The Future of Retail – For Good


How can shopping malls transform the retail experience to involve and activate customers at a time when sustainability is key?


Opening its doors in 2014, Bikini is a concept shopping centre located between West Berlin’s legendary Kurfürstendamm shopping street and Zoologischer Garten: one of the most visited zoos in Europe. Housing a curated selection of boutiques, showrooms, restaurants, bars, cafes and a food market, Bikini also offers Pop Up Boxes for short term rentals to international brands and local designers alike.

Now that anything can be bought online with a click, customers are looking for experiences that go beyond traditional shopping when venturing to bricks-and-mortar stores. Therefore instead of competing with e-commerce, shopping malls should work to broaden their value proposition and become a hub for the local community (without descending into a Ballardian nightmare).

Responding to these needs, Bikini hosts regular events including art exhibitions and fashion showcases, but is this enough to curb the impending “retail apocalypse”? How can an inner-city shopping centre address current sustainability concerns, and what does public space mean in the digital age?


OTTO GROUP : The Circular Experience


How can the circular economy be more accessible, appealing and tangible for the customer?


Starting as a mail order shoe catalogue in the 1950s and later launching an online shop in 1995, the Otto Group today is one of the world’s largest e-commerce companies. Based in Germany and France, Otto operates across 20 countries and boasts the likes of About You, Manufactum, Hermes parcel services, and the Berlin-based operational VC Project A in its portfolio.

Sustainable business practices have been a fundamental principle of the Otto Group since the 1980s when Prof Dr Michael Otto made protecting the environment a corporate goal. From fairtrade cotton to energy-efficient delivery, Otto takes responsibility for their actions across the value chain and are increasingly looking to find ways to get the customer involved in the recycling and disposal of used goods.

How can the Otto Group encourage their different customer groups to play an active part in a circular business model? What support can be provided at the acquisition, usage and disposal stages, especially when products are purchased online?


TCBL : Sustainable Short Runs


How to map European manufacturing capacities for sustainable nearshoring, small batch production and short lead times?


Textile & Clothing Business Labs, aka TCBL, is an EU Horizon 2020 project bringing manufacturing opportunities back to Europe. Set up in 2015, TCBL finds practical, innovative, environmentally-friendly ways for brands, designers and manufacturers to design, make and work together.

Nearshoring is the outsourcing of business processes to companies in nearby countries. Where offshoring takes advantage of lower overseas costs, nearshoring can offer a more optimised, demand-focused production model – including shorter lead times, lower carbon footprint, greater control over the supply chain, as well as savings in freight and duties – which can catalyse the shift towards sustainable, circular value chains.

Short run production can allow for local sourcing closer to market needs and can be approached in a number of ways: whether that’s obtaining leftover fabrics from textile mills, working with the at-home sewer or pooling designers together to increase buying power of resources. The Thinkathon participants will need to identify these capacities in Europe, how they can be activated and produce successful results.


Find out how the teams get on at the Fashionsustain conference – use the discount code FASHIONSUSTAIN20OFF to get 20% off your ticket! – or watch this space for our recap. Read up on the previous Thinkathon recaps from SS18 and AW18.


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