Brands and retailers

Fashion firms rated on managing deforestation risk: According to a report released this week by CDP, a UK-based NGO that promotes corporate transparency on climate-related risks, only 30 per cent of manufacturers and retailers that reported on their deforestation risks could pinpoint where their supply chains began. Inditex, JBS (leather), Kering, Marks & Spencer and Primark listed among best performers at managing risk related to deforestation (05 Dec). See the report, Revenue at risk: Why addressing deforestation is critical to business success, here.

Global Canopy Programme’s ‘Forest 500’ released: The Global Canopy Programme is a tropical forest think tank working to demonstrate the scientific, political and business case for safeguarding forests as natural capital that underpins water, food, energy, health and climate security for all. In its report this year, only one fashion retailer made the leadership group of five companies; Marks & Spencer (05 Dec 16). See company ranking here.

Primark says it’s constantly looking for slavery in its supply chain: Primark said last week it was constantly on the watch for any slavery in its supply chain while dismissing the idea that low cost meant exploitation. Paul Lister, head of Primark's ethical trading team, said the retailer known for cheap, high turnover fashion kept its costs down by not spending on advertising and buying in bulk to achieve economies of scale (30 Nov 16).

Boss of Zara, Mango knitwear supplier in Turkey orders beating of ex-employee: The article alleges the boss of Akcetin Knitting’s three sons ambushed ex-employee Abdullah Izgi on 26 November, beating him with tyre levers in revenge for winning a legal case against the company (when Izgi was fired in January 2016 for joining Bagimsiz-Sen, a trade union, union lawyers successfully represented him in court over a severance pay claim). Akcetin Knitting is a supplier to Zara, Mango and other brands (27 Nov 16).

VF puts its best foot forward on renewables: VF Corp cut its global emissions by 12.6 percent over the five years to 2015, preventing more than 38,000 tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere. And that’s just the start (05 Dec 16).

MBA graduate makes a material difference in sustainable fashion: Doing an MBA allowed Megan McGill her to spend three months studying the feasibility of the circular economy. Now she works for C&A Foundation overseeing projects that hopefully move the industry closer to achieving this (30 Nov 16).

Khloé Kardashian shuts down sweatshop comment about denim brand: The 32-year-old recently took fans inside her denim factory on Snapchat. But one viewer had her own theory about how the jeans are made. The Twitter user said that Khloe had a sweat shop working on her jeans and the reality star didn’t take kindly to that at all. She snapped back, “Watch your mouth. All make salaries and all are employed in [Los Angeles]! Know your info before you chime in.” She followed up with: “It means a lot to me to fight to make my denim in the US, and to be employing good wages to all of my hardworking employees!” (30 Nov 16).

Columbia’s OutDry Extreme Eco jacket keeps you dry without PFCs: Columbia’s OutDry Extreme Eco jacket layers a proprietary membrane developed in Columbia’s PIT Lab over a soft wicking fabric. The wicking fabric is made from 21 recycled bottles, and although the formulation of the membrane is secret, it is entirely dye-free, which saves over thirteen gallons of water compared to a conventional dyed fabric. The labels, toggles, zipper pulls, thread and eyelets are also recycled (01 Dec 16).

Asos accused of underpaying new warehouse staff: The online fashion retailer allegedly breached employment law by restricting new temporary workers’ pay for three months longer than regulations permit (01 Dec 16).

Canada Goose faces continued protests over animal cruelty: PETA has another in depth examination of where the fur and down used to make the coats comes from. Canada Goose claims that their fur is trapped in the most ethical way possible, but videos show the pain and suffering that the coyotes experience (05 Dec 16).

JUST approved knitwear list is live: Project Just researched across the category and product types, including sweaters, cardigans, jackets, beanies, scarves and more. They considered sustainability, ethics, innovation, availability (where the brand is sold and where it ships), durability, style and fit and sought out both men's and women's lines. The approved knitwear brands are Eileen Fisher, Kowtow, Aiayu and People Tree (06 Dec 16).

Japanese man awarded €326,500 in product safety case: A Tokyo District Court has ordered Theory (a fully owned subsidiary of Fast Retailing) to pay a 40-year-old man €326,500 in damages after a ‘cord lock’ (or ‘cord toggle’) on an elasticised cord running through the hood of his jacket caught in his sleeve, stretched, and then released into his eye, resulting in a cataract that required medical treatment (05 Dec 16).

 Reports, Guidelines and Standards

10 fashion trends for 2017, one sustainable: BoF and McKinsey have produced an in-depth report titled The State of Fashion 2017, which outlines ten trends for the coming year. No. 10 is Responsible innovation: “Ethical innovation offers a way forward: Consumers and brands have prioritised sustainable fashion, which is transforming product design and manufacturing” (05 Dec 16).

Recycling or donating your unwanted clothes “is not a solution” for the planet, Greenpeace says: “As of today, recycling is not a solution,” the organization said in the press release for a report on fast fashion ahead of Black Friday. “Markets are overloaded with unwanted clothes and technological challenges mean full recycling of clothing into new fibres is still far from commercially viable” (30 Nov 16).

Pineapple's the new faux leather: Carmen Hijosa, a fashion designer with a Ph.D. from the Royal College of Art and Design, has created a leather-like fabric that utilizes fibres from pineapple leaves. (01 Dec 16). Hijosa's Piñatex fabric is vegan, and it's also sustainable; the fibres used to make the fabric are a by-product that would otherwise be considered waste material. So, as the Piñatex site mentions, "No extra land, water, fertilizers or pesticides are required to produce them." And unlike pleather (leather made from types of plastic) it's also petroleum-free and biodegradable. Both Camper and Puma have made experimental shoes from the fabric so far (01 Dec 16).

Activists tell retailers that shoppers need to know who's making the clothes: Advocates for garment workers think that people will avoid buying clothing they know was made in a sweatshop. “Consumers have more power than they think. If a store manager has their shoppers asking questions about where their clothes are being sourced, we think they are more likely to listen,” Caroline Lewis, director of fundraising for Labour Behind the Label, says (02 Dec 16).

Creating sustainable fashion through cradle to cradle design — a fireside chat with William McDonough: In 2002, William McDonough and Michael Braungart launched the design framework known as “Cradle to Cradle” in their seminal book of the same name, challenging the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world. Now he has a video online titled “The Future of Textiles: Creating Sustainable Fashion Through Cradle to Cradle Design” (02 Dec 16).

Sweatshops persist in US garment industry: As the Made in USA trend continues to gain momentum – and President-elect Donald Trump has centred his incoming administration’s focus on boosting U.S. manufacturing – government investigations continue to uncover illegal working practices in apparel factories, particularly in California (05 Dec 16).


Bluesign unveils new generation of Bluefinder list: Bluesign Technologies AG, developer of the bluesign system adopted by worldwide leading textile and accessory manufacturers for sustainable textiles, has launched the latest generation of the bluesign Bluefinder platform, an online positive list of safe chemicals. The patented platform has already amassed more than 7500 “bluesign approved” chemicals (30 Nov 16).

The Supply Chain

Myanmar factory workers subjected to long hours low pay: Garment factory workers in Myanmar are subject to harsh working conditions, long hours and face workplace intimidation, all for a small minimum wage, according to an investigative report into the industry released last week (02 Dec 16). The report, Raising the Bottom: A Report on the Garment Industry in Myanmar – was published by Progressive Voice, participatory rights-based policy research and advocacy organization rooted in civil society, maintaining strong networks and relationships with grassroots organization and community-based organizations throughout Myanmar.

Four more Alliance factories complete CAPs in Bangladesh: Four additional Alliance-affiliated factories have completed all material components outlined in their Corrective Action Plans (CAPs), bringing the total number of graduated factories to 46. In addition, three factories previously suspended by the Alliance have been reinstated in recognition of remediation progress. Global Fashion Garments Ltd., Global Outerwear Ltd., Ornate Knit Garment Industries Ltd. and Sajid Washing & Dyeing all achieved closure on their CAPs, and Sheehan Specialized Textile Mills Ltd., Smart Jacket (BD) Ltd. and Smart Jeans Ltd. were removed from suspension (05 Dec 16).

Bangladesh Accord cuts ties with 8 more RMG units: The Accord has cut business relations with eight more Bangladeshi factories for failing to implement workplace safety programme in their manufacturing units (04 Dec 16).

Workers fearing wage denial clash with police in Dhaka: Finding their workplace locked without any prior notice and any compensation, workers of an apparel factory Dhaka demonstrated leading to a clash with police earlier in the week. Workers at Rezaul Apparels, an export-oriented company, also blocked the road leading to the zoo that triggered a scuffle with the law enforcers who fired tear-shells and charged them with batons to disperse them (06 Dec 16).

Cambodian unions call for workplace protections: Trade unionists are calling on the government to ratify international labour standards that would safeguard paid maternity leave and improve working conditions for women in a country where the vast majority of factory workers are female (01 Dec 16).

Tirupur Apparel Park in tatters: “The condition of the Tirupur Apparel Park, set by Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidar Housing and Development Corporation with much fanfare exactly two decades ago with much fanfare, is pathetic. Majority of the 100 sheds constructed on the 100-acre park are remaining unused for a long time. Many of the structures are in a dilapidated condition” (03 Dec 16).

(Image, Francis Cheung, CCO)