Brands and retailers

Patagonia releases short film about fair trade: Called Fair Trade: The First Step, the 13-minute film investigates why choosing Fair Trade certified clothing is an important first step toward changing the garment industry (10 Oct 16).

C&A declares commitment to responsible sourcing with RDS-certified down collection: C&A Europe has launched a new down puffer jacket collection, the company’s first such collection produced with sustainability in mind and certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) (11 Oct 16).

Levi’s to produce 80% of merchandise in Worker Well-being factories by 2020: To commemorate the 25th anniversary of its Terms of Engagement supplier code of conduct, Levi’s has announced it will produce 80 percent of its merchandise in what it calls Worker Well-being factories by 2020, which will impact 200,000 workers (16 Oct 16). You can see more on Worker Well-being here.

H&M’s CEO Karl-Johan Persson receives sustainability award: Persson has won the Swedish Association for Sustainable Business award for Sustainable Leadership for addressing “complex sustainability issues by global partnerships, with the goal of achieving long-term change on the macroeconomic level - by establishing better wage structures, for example” (14 Oct 16).

Marks & Spencer commended over anti-slavery report: A report by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has found that only 27/100 FTSE 100 companies have released statements on their actions to combat the risk of modern slavery in their supply chains, and only two – including Marks & Spencer – have issued rigorous statements (15 Oct 16). You can see the M&S statement here (PDF). You can see the Business and Human Rights report here. The only other fashion, apparel and textile company on the FTSE 100 list to have released a rateable statement was Burberry.

H&M draws fire over feminism: H&M’s new viral video ad depicting women being “opinionated, off-beat and fearless … bad-ass, independent and free-willed” has garnered quite a bit of praise (as well as over 3 million views). But it’s attracted some criticism as well. Emma Teitel writes: “Upon closer inspection though, the Swedish retailer’s new inclusive stance does beg the question: What if you happen to be one of those women around the world whose job it is to produce garments for the brand?” (11 Oct 16).

Long hours, low wages alleged at Ivanka Trump shoe factory in China: Last week it was her father’s tie factory in China (here). This week, the same journalist tracks down Ivanka’s shoe producer, Xuankai Footwear. Wages, hours and overtime dominate the discussion (12 Oct 16). It appears the Tumps have singlehandedly put factory conditions in China on agenda again. 

Trump accuses Clinton-backed factory in Haiti is “massive sweatshop”: “In their biggest project, the Clintons used $400 million in aid and U.S. taxpayer funds to build what amounted to a massive sweatshop. And guess who set it up? Cheryl Mills.” — Donald Trump, campaign rally in Panama City, Fla., Oct. 11, 2016 (17 Oct 16). The factory is owned by Sae-A (a Korean garment manufacturing company).

Made in Ethiopia: Fashion's Next Sourcing Hub? A common question these days. A long article from Business of Fashion, it mentions J Crew, Harbor Footwear Group, Calvin Klein, Aldo, Under Armour, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger and Caleres (17 Oct 16).

United offers upcycled travel bags: United Airlines is working with Relan, a Minnesota based company that provides jobs members of the Hmong community and uses eco-friendly materials purchased within the US (12 Oct 16).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

Toxic chemicals tied to $340 billion in US health costs and lost wages: Research published in the The Lancet: Diabetes and Endocrinology this month has estimated the health costs to the US economy from chemicals found in plastic bottles, flame retardants, metal food cans, detergents, cosmetics and pesticides at more than double the estimated cost to the EU (17 Oct 16). You can see the research report here.

The world’s first biodegradable mannequin: The mannequins, created by Bonaveri, an Italian company known for artistic mannequins and bust forms, are made of B Plast, a bio-based polymer made from 72 per cent sugarcane derivative and finished with B Paint (12 Oct 16).

Manufacturing garments closer to home is cheaper: Brands say costs aren’t equal and that it seems significantly cheaper to source overseas, and they may feel like they have no choice. This article says the exact opposite is often true: manufacturing apparel closer to home can cost less and improve profits over the long run (17 Oct 16).

ZDHC adds four new contributors for sustainability: The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Programme has added four new contributors: the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC),  Unione Nazionale Industria Conciara (UNIC), ( part of Centro Tessile Serico – CTS), and Covestro, for sustainable chemical management. (15 Oct 16).

New report identifies gender equality as key issue in developing a sustainable cotton industry: Improving the rights and income for female cotton workers in India results in higher cotton yields and improves profits by as much as 40%, according to a new report by CottonConnect. Currently, women have few rights and are often underpaid, despite their vital role in cotton production. (Oct 16). You can download the full report here (PDF).

Ethical costuming in the UK: A new directory for use by costume departments has been published, with the aim of helping professionals find suppliers and brands who are committed to fair treatment throughout their supply chain, and who prioritize sustainability, environmental responsibility and fair trade (Oct 16). You can download the directory here (as PDF).

Why isn’t there more information on clothing labels? ““The label is a place where we already to go access information, but we don’t get what we want,” Marianne Caroline Hughes, a United Kingdom-based sustainable fashion advocate and entrepreneur, told The Huffington Post. “It’s hugely underutilized as a place to access information and act upon information as well”” (13 Oct 16).

Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety Third Annual Report September 2016: According to the Alliance report: 40 factories have achieved substantial completion of their Corrective Action Plans, 97 factories have been suspended from the list of Alliance-compliant factories for failure to make sufficient remediation progress; 63 per cent of all required repairs have been completed—including 55 percent of high-priority repairs; Worker Safety Committees empowered to monitor on-site occupational safety and health issues have been established or are in formation in 54 factories; more than 1.2 million workers have been trained in basic fire safety, with nearly 800,000 receiving the interactive refresher course; nearly 23,000 security guards have been provided with fire safety leadership training, and he Alliance Helpline has become a go-to resource for workers inside and outside of Alliance factories, receiving an average of 4,200 calls per month and nearly 90,000 calls total since the helpline was established (05 Oct 16). You can download the full report here (PDF).

Sustainable Fashion

Basic black leggings made from recycled water bottles: A new company from Seattle, Girlfriend Collective, is making leggings recycled polyester (RPET) from old water bottles (25 water bottles per pair of leggings.) The company also has Oeko-Tex and Bluesign certifications, use natural dyes, and are currently sourcing a recycled material made from discarded fishnets to be incorporated into the full line. Leggings are made ethically in a Vietnamese factory that’s SA8000-certified (11 Oct 16).

Cleanest jeans: An article on what to look for, and from whom to buy: Armed Angels (from Germany), Nudie Jeans (from Sweden), Sey (from Germany), and Patagonia (13 Oct 16).

Vietnam to have uniform standard for textiles & garments: Reported to come in effect in 2017, the standard would result in abolishing current regulation on inspection of formaldehyde content in textiles and garments (13 Oct 16).


Japanese firm chemically recycles polyester: Ecotextile News reports that a Japanese textile recycling specialist has developed a break through process to produce a new option for chemically recycling polyester into textiles and fabrics using post-consumer clothing (06 Oct 16). [Subscription required to read full article.]

Fulgar conducts Life Cycle Assessment of nylons and covered yarn: Italian manufacture of nylon and covered yarns, Fulgar, has conducted an environmental impact assessment of the whole process of its product production to ISO 14040 and 14044 standards (13 Oct 16).

The Supply Chain

Bangladesh Alliance suspends operations with seven additional factories: The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety has suspended seven more factories for failure to show evidence of remediation progress. Five of the seven factories were also cited by the Alliance for failure to remove lockable exits. The move brings the total number factories suspended by the Alliance to 104 (12 Oct 16). See the full list of factories suspended on 02 Oct 16 here.

Female garment worker dies at work in Bangladesh: The deceased was Taslima, 23, a female worker employed at the Windi Group. Fellow workers of the deceased blamed the factory authorities for her death (14 Oct 16).

Truck carrying garment workers crashes in Cambodia, 54 hurt: A truck transporting Cambodian garment workers to their factory flipped over at a curve Tuesday, injuring 54 of them, including seven who are in critical condition, police said (11 Oct 16).

Third Cambodian garment crash in three days sees 25 hurt: Of the 25 injured, three were seriously hurt (14 Oct 16).

India’s migrants fill gap in mills left by locals seeking better prospects: Labour rights campaigners in India say spinning mills in Tamil Nadu are hiring more migrant workers on low salaries as a growing number of educated youngsters in the southern state say no to exploitative working conditions (18 Oct 16).

(Image, Firasat Durrani, CCO)

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