Brands and retailers

Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump: The game of “Who’s Worse?” continues in the Most Improbable Election Campaign in Recent Memory. Exhibit 1: Haiti needs electricity, so Hillary gave it a sweatshop (31 Oct 16). This story is based on a long report here (27 Oct 16). Exhibit 2: “Dozens” of safety violations found at Bangladeshi factory that makes Donald J. Trump shirts (31 Oct 16). I link. You decide.

LaborVoices releases crowdsourced data on workplace conditions in 85 Bangladesh factories: LaborVoices has released data obtained from workers in 85 factories in Bangladesh that cover critical factory compliance issues. The organization received 7,255 calls reviewing factory conditions (wages, sanitation, working hours, fire safety, abuse, and child labor) from 5,263 workers during the period January to June 2016. Download report here (Oct 16).

Nail glue sold at Primark an apparel fire hazard? The Sun reports on a video posted to Facebook alleging a dab of glue included in a pack of false nails purchased by Primark caused a coat to “go up in smoke”. The video shows a woman squeezing out a small drop of the nail glue onto an animal-print fluffy dressing gown. Within seconds a hole appears and the dressing gown starts to smoke (01 Nov 16). Video is viewable at the link.

Benneton launches project for female garment workers: Benetton has launched a project under the Women Empowerment Program (WEP), aimed at granting sustainable livelihood and at empowering home-based female workers working in the readymade garments sector in Bangladesh (30 Oct 16).

Forget organic, retailers increasingly are turning to sustainable cotton: Organic cotton is too expensive for consumers, so retailers like Zara-parent Inditex, and H&M “have signed on to the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a coalition of farmers, garment makers, and retailers committed to producing and using sustainable cotton at accessible prices” (24 Oct 16).

Indian organic garment brand Bhu:sattva plans US foray: Ahmedabad and India based eco-friendly and organic clothing brand Bhu:sattva is planning a foray into the US and Canadian markets in the next year (31 Oct 16).

Timberland supports next generation of sustainable business: For the past three years, Timberland has partnered with the University of New Hampshire (UNH) to encourage and support the next generation of sustainable business through the university’s annual New Hampshire Social Venture Innovation Challenge (SVIC) (24 Oct).

In an age of fast fashion, Patagonia is going slow: Patagonia was one of the first clothing companies to adopt organic cotton, back in 1992, before it became a trend. The brand has been using recycled polyester since 1993. By 2007, it became the first clothing company to sign on as a Bluesign partner, and in 2014 began offering Fair Trade Certified clothing (27 Oct 16).

Kering launches free environmental calculator for designers: The app is part of the new sustainably program launched at the Parsons School of Design (see story below), and measures and compares the environmental impact of products. Students will be able to create more sustainable designs (27 Oct 16). See more here. See the apps here: iPhone, Android.

Kering and Parsons launch sustainability program: Kering and the Parsons School of Design are working together to make sustainability a key focus for the school’s students from the start of their design careers (27 Oct 16).

“What H&M doesn’t want you to be ‘conscious’ about”: “What H&M isn’t telling you is that they’re one of the biggest reasons we need sustainable fashion in the first place.” (27 Oct 16).

Meet the woman who made H&M recycle 100 million t-shirts: GQ Magazine talks about the future of fast fashion with Catarina Midby, H&M’s UK sustainability manager, on a tour of a garment sorting plant just outside of Berlin (28 Oct 16).

Radical Transparency? H&M and Zara are actually more transparent than Everlane: You might recall I covered a story about Everlane’s “radical transparency” a couple of weeks ago. Well, Julie Zerbo at The Fashion Law has taken exception to Everlane’s crowing about that, and pointed out that H&M and Zara are actually more transparent on just about every issue (27 Oct).

Recycler of fishing nets makes marine litter trendy: Last year a company set up by an Italian former scuba diver recycled more than 5,000 tons of discarded nets into nylon for apparel brands including Speedo and California surfer Kelly Slater’s Outerknown (23 Oct 16).

Target dethrones Wal-Mart as US business using the most solar energy: Target is aiming to install solar panels on 500 stores and distribution centres by 2020 (25 Oct 16).

H&M Foundation supports building 500 public restrooms in Dhaka: WaterAid Bangladesh and H&M Foundation in association with Dhaka South City Corporation launched the program last week with the opening of two public facilities (31 Oct 16).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

GRI launches world’s first global standards for sustainability reporting: If you’re using GRI, take note: The Global Reporting Initiative (GRIreleased new global sustainability reporting standards, which it says will enhance corporate transparency worldwide. The standards give companies a common language for disclosing non-financial information, and will help firms “make better decisions” and contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (27 Oct 16).

Greenpeace launches Italian Detox group: Ecotextile News report: “New research presented by Greenpeace Italy claims four out of Greenpeace’s eleven groups of hazardous chemical substances were found in laboratory tests of 228 dyestuffs, which represent 90 per cent of colorants used by the textile supply chains” (26 Oct 16 – subscription required to read full article).

Faux fur not as ethical as first thought: There are “growing concerns” that faux fur could be a “toxic time bomb” and is “even less ethical than real fur” (27 Oct 16).

Cheap clothes mean factory workers pay a price: This Bloomberg article cover much familiar ground, but has an interesting section based on a conversation with a factory managing director in Bangladesh who has struggled to keep pace with the upgrades her clients have demanded (27 Oct 16).

The Migrant Worker Diaries: The Migrant Worker Diaries hope to answer all your questions about the lives and wage of garment workers. It’s a yearlong research project led by Microfinance Opportunities in collaboration with Fashion Revolution and supported by C&A Foundation (Oct 16).

What you should know about sustainable vegan fabrics: Just because clothing is animal-free does not mean it’s eco-friendly (28 Oct 16).

Sweat, the opera: “Sweat is an expression of […] outrage that [tailoring] has been replaced by the misogyny and environmental degradation of the global garment industry – which is, in its way, just as personal. [We’re] reminding people of the value of everything they wear, the people behind it” (25 Oct 16). Review here (31 Oct 16).

Sustainable Fashion

Aeon Row: If you order a new T-shirt or dress from Aeon Row, when the package arrives, the start-up wants you to pull an old shirt out of your closet and send it back. You’ll get a discount on your next order, and the company will turn your tattered clothing into fresh fabric for its line (27 Oct 16).


Garmon Chemicals introduces Nimbus range: Italian Garmon Chemicals says the sustainability benefits of the news range include water savings (up to 80%) and significant energy savings (variable according to process).  (27 Oct 16).

The Supply Chain

Enslaved teen boys dial for help from Indian shoe factory: Police have rescued 10 teenage boys, allegedly trafficked and held in bondage in a shoe-sole factory in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, after a tip-off from a children’s helpline (28 Oct 16).

Women in Indian mill pen letter describing sexual abuse at work: A letter from six women at a spinning mill in southern India, describing the sexual harassment they face at work and asking for help, exposes the widespread exploitation of women in the multi-billion-dollar textile industry, campaigners said (31 Oct 16).

Multiple workers faint in Korean factory in Vietnam: 23 workers feeling faint were taken to a local hospital on 28 October, and then another 20 workers on 29 October. The company involved is Panko Tam Thang Company where in July over 2,000 workers held a four-day strike due to disputes over salary, overtime payment and poor lunch standards (29 Oct 16).

Cambodian garment factory employees protest short-term contracts: More than a hundred workers at the Orient Spring Cambodian garment factory in Phnom Penh protested last week against the firm’s continued use of short-term employment contracts (25 Oct 16).

Cambodian garment worker truck accidents this week: 30 injured in this one (27 Oct 16); 20 injured in this one (27 Oct 16); and 72 injured in this one (although it could be the same accident as the previous story reporting 20 injured; details are sketchy).

Cambodian ministry drafting new minimum wage law to cover all workers: The Labour Ministry said last week it was drafting a minimum wage law that would expand beyond the garment industry and cover all workers, a proposal that drew cautious praise from union leaders and advocates, along with a healthy dose of scepticism (31 Oct 16).

Garment workers locked out in Bangladesh: Workers from the Heasohg Corporation and Hasong Sweater in Dhaka, were locked out on 22 October after demonstrating on the factories’ premises over unpaid wages. Management terminated over 600 workers and closed the garment plants for an indefinite period (29 Oct 16).

Bangladesh factories still using collapsible gates: Many readymade garment factories still maintain collapsible gates and other lockable features at their exits, posing a high risk to the lives of workers in the case of any emergency situation like fire incident (26 Oct 16).

65 Bangladesh garment factories finalise remediation: Sixty-five readymade garment factories have completed all corrective measures recommended by two platforms of western buyers and retailers during their initial electrical and structural safety inspections (26 Oct 16).

Textile factory fire in Pakistan: The cause of the fire is said to be an electrical short circuit, and according to fire department officials, a large section of the building was damaged by the blaze (16 Oct 16).

Panda garment workers to march in Myanmar: After five months of sit-in protests, workers from Panda Textile Factory have decided to march. Workers have been protesting over management’s refusal to pay money that the workers claim they are entitled to under the terms of their contracts. (31 Oct 16).

(Image, Maciej Wrona, CCO)