Brands and retailers

Inditex releases details for 404 wet processing units: Inditex has published a list (downloads as PDF) of wet processing units (dyeing, washing, tanning and printing) by company name, country and address. The information for the list was provided by Inditex suppliers (both direct and indirect), and is dominated by units from Bangladesh, China, India, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey (with fewer numbers from Argentina, Cambodia, France, Germany, Morocco, Pakistan and Tunisia). An example of the information provided is:

Aboni Textiles Ltd., Bangladesh: 169-171, Tatulzhora Union, Dhaka, Bangladesh

As Inditex states in its release, “The accuracy of our indirect suppliers list is heavily dependent on the disclosure provided to us by our direct suppliers, who have the [direct business] relationship with [the] wet processes mills.”

Inditex now joins the ranks of very few brands and/or retailers in fashion providing names and addresses of suppliers (and particularly wet processing units).

Inditex president announces new environmental strategy: Inditex president Pablo Isla has written to investors saying, “This year we are putting in place a new strategic environmental plan 2016-2020”. A key component of the plan will involve recycling, with Zara rolling out a recycling scheme across its stores after a successful pilot in 37 stores (12 Jul 16).

Kering Group releases EP&L report: Last week, the Kering Group released its third Environmental Profit & Loss (EP&L) Report (opens as PDF), which coincided with the launch of the Natural Capital Protocol (for which it was one of ten companies involved in deep-dive projects in a testing phase, see below in Reports, Guidelines and Standards for more). Just out of interest, Hugo Boss was the other apparel industry firm involved in the deep-dive roll-out.

Kering Chief Sustainability Officer Marie-Claire Daveu said at the launch, “Our 2015 EP&L report marks the third year running that we have published our results. We have now fully integrated pioneering natural capital accounting tool into our business, and it has become automated and standardised reporting within the Group. By doing so, we have created relevant and decision-ready information for our management and our brands. Overall, the EP&L is being used operationally to inform our product design, sourcing decisions and manufacturing research and development. Our EP&L methodology has also now been adopted into the Natural Capital Protocol and it is exciting to see that more and more companies are now using this natural capital accounting framework to understand their impacts and take action” (13 Jul 16).

Kering’s EP&L report is not your everyday CSR report, and is an important step in understanding questions such as: how does the mix of products affect impacts? What types of sustainable production practices are available? What production technologies are available, and how will these influence the level of impact? And so on. Exactly the kinds of questions that textile and apparel companies will increasingly need to ask.

Is Patagonia’s natural rubber wetsuit the end for neoprene? Slated for an August arrival, Patagonia’s Yulex-based FSC-certified hevea rubber wetsuit looks set to change surfing.

“The company is encouraging their competitors to utilize the same technology. ‘We don’t want to be the only company making wetsuits with sustainably sourced natural rubber—our hope is that every company, especially the ones bigger than us, will start shifting away from non-renewable materials’” (15 Jul 16).

Adidas turns ocean plastic into T-shirts: Adidas is once again partnering with Parley for the Oceans, this time to make T-shirts from Parley Ocean Plastic. (You might recall they worked together earlier this year to produce a shoe.) (15 Jul 16).

Vaude and Rotauf commit to Greenpeace’s detox: European mountain equipment brands Vaude and Rotauf are the latest signatories to the Greenpeace Detox Commitment (13 Jul 16). See Vaude’s commitment here (Jul 16 – open as PDF), and Rotauf’s here (opens as video).

Vaude releases CSR report: In other news from Vaude, the company has released its 2015 CSR report (Jul 16). It appears to be available in an online version only (or at least I couldn’t find a PDF version to download – please let me know if there’s a downloadable version).

Decathlon releases CSR report: Decathlon has released its 2015 CSR report, Vitality and Responsibility (opens as PDF). You can see a summary of information online here. Interesting to see the SDGs (3, 6, 8, 11, 12, and 13) making an appearance.

Aldi North releases CSR report: Aldi North has released its 2015 Sustainability Report. It’s based on the GRI G4 framework, and covers its Greenpeace Detox Commitment, along with Aldi Factory Advancement (AFA) Project, which the company works on with Aldi South.

ASICS enters FTSE4Good: ASICS has been invited onto the FTSE4Good Global Index, which measures the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of companies. This is the first time the company has been included (13 Jul 16).

Levi’s, wearable tech, and sustainability: Paul Dillinger, Levi’s Vice President of Innovation, made an important point in a recent interview:

“Conventional strategies for sustainable design have relied on the recalibration of a single material or process, explained with a short message such as: “This product is made with Organic Cotton.” Although efforts like this are important, they also create a false sense of success. The apparel supply chain is incredibly complex, and opportunities for improvement exist at every stage, the industry’s greatest challenges will require us to embrace the complexity of the whole process” (15 Jul 16).

Country Road wants to pay you to recycle your clothes: Country Road has again partnered with the Australian Red Cross for their yearly Fashion Trade initiative, which gives customers the opportunity to refresh their wardrobe and give back all at once (13 Jul 16).

Eileen Fisher’s focus on organic linen: “Linen has always been a key fabrication and one that we are striving to be 100% organic. We already knew that linen required less chemical inputs and little to no irrigation. However, what did fewer mean? When less than 1% of linen is organically grown globally, we knew we had a challenge in front of us. Fortunately, we had an opportunity to speak with Ludovic Hervieu located in Normandy, France. Ludovic grows flax in rotation with wheat, corn, potatoes, sugar beets and beans, which means when we choose organic fibre, we reduce pesticides and herbicides in local food supplies” (14 Jul 16).

Jack & Jones teams up with Cotton made in Africa for Ugandan-made clothes: Jack & Jones – a Danish menswear brand – has teamed up with the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative to provide clothes made in Uganda from local cotton (14 Jul 16).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

Hidden in Plain Sight: A new report by Greenpeace has alleged concentrations of poly-fluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in the indoor air of stores selling outdoor gear in Europe and Taiwan is up to 1,000 times higher than urban outdoor air. Samples were taken in the flagship stores of the brands Mammut, The North Face, Norrona and in non-branded outdoor stores (13 Jul 16, & 13 Jul 16). The report – Hidden in Plain Sight: Poly-fluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in the air of outdoor stores – can be downloaded here (as a PDF).

RCS and GRS revision underway: Textile Exchange has launched its International Working Group (IWG) for the revision of the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) and Global Recycle Standard (GRS – downloads as PDF). The open, multi-stakeholder process will bring together interested parties to review the current drafts of the standard and make any necessary changes to ensure the standards continue to meet their goals (Jul 16).

Natural Capital Protocol released: As mentioned above in the story on Kering’s EP&L report, the Natural Capital Protocol is a collaborative effort between multiple business leaders, academics, conservationists, and policy makers encouraging business to conserve and enhance natural capital (i.e., plants, animals, air, water, soils, and minerals). The Natural Capital Coalition has released two guides to the Protocol: a. Natural Capital Protocol: Principle and Framework (PDF); and b. The Path Towards the Natural Capital Protocol: A Primer for Business. There is also The Natural Capital Protocol: Apparel Sector Guide, which provides industry specific guidance.

The Protocol is a standardised framework to help businesses identify, measure, and value their impacts and dependences on natural capital. There is too much involved to reasonably summarise the Protocol here, but two examples from the apparel industry should suffice to show the direction this is going:

i) Clothing brand – The rising cost of new materials such as leather, caused a brand’s gross margins to decline contributing to a 36% drop in pre-tax profit

ii) Denim processor – a four year drought impacted many Californian fashion companies, but a denim processor continued with a waterless ozone machine and reduced water use and bills by 50%, saving USD 1,300 per month

Impacts can be negative (e.g., pollution) or positive (e.g., improved water quality). While impacts are more commonly measured, many businesses have not traditionally recognized their dependencies, e.g., the need for water in production processes. All impacts and dependencies create costs and benefits not only for the business, but also for society. Understanding the connections between business and society and the associated risks and opportunities can inform better, timelier decision making.

What's wrong with buying fake luxury goods? “There's no reason to think [buying fake luxury] more of a problem than with many "fast fashion" brands, such as Primark. How sure are we that anything we buy is ethically sourced?” From the BBC (15 Jul 16).

100 Indian companies receive warnings on CSR non-disclosure: Under the Companies Act, 2013, Indian companies above specified thresholds for net worth, net profit and/or turnover must disclose CSR spending (see more here on the specifics). Nobody doubted the new law would be enforced, but the Registrar of Companies has served warning to about 100 companies over non-disclosure or improper disclosure of their CSR spending, sending a strong signal that non-compliance will not be tolerated (16 Jul 16).

US excludes Bangladesh from GSP list over poor labour rights: Bangladesh has once again been left off the US list of beneficiary countries for trade privileges on grounds of poor labour rights stemming from the Rana Plaza collapse (12 Jul 16).

China’s factory workers returning home: In Guizhou, provincial officials are offering migrants who come back home “free entrepreneurial training, tax waivers for businesses they start, and low-interest loans” (13 July 16). If companies are looking for community investment projects in Chinese factories, this is a perfect opportunity to build training programs that that dovetail with a government’s development agenda.

Made in China: A new video from Remake, featuring Ming Hui, a production worker in a fabric mill, who talks about of her work and dreams (19 Jul 16). It’s part of Remake’s “Who makes your fashion” initiative.

ZDHC updates draft wastewater guidelines: The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) group is updating its draft wastewater guidelines (you can see the 2016 Wastewater Guidelines Draft V.3 here – opens as PDF). This is an effort to harmonise the guideline, clarify requirements and reduce duplication (13 Jul 16).

Sustainable Fashion

“Less is more” taken to new heights: Mandeep and Hardeep Kaur have founded what is perhaps the ultimate fashion response to the claim by Steve Howard (IKEA’s sustainability boss) earlier this year that we’ve hit “peak stuff”. The London-based twins new company Per/Se will release only one item of clothing every two months; the first of which is a Nebula coat (12 Jul 16).

Luxury luggage made from aeroplane seats: Plane Industries, a new upcycling venture (currently seeking funding through a Kickstarter campaign), uses recycled fabrics from aeroplane seats as the base for its line of luxury bags (11 Jul 16). With three weeks to go, funding has surpassed the £20,000 goal.

Recycled and Made in America: Eco-friendly Appalachian start-up SustainU has its sights set on changing the sustainable apparel game. Chris Yura (CEO and founder) wants to change the way clothes are made to improve the environment and reinvigorate American manufacturing. Targeting college sports teams has been a successful move – as he says, “College sports make so much sense to me … They have sustainability departments, idealistic and passionate students” – and has paid off with a license to make 100% recycled t-shirts for all 30 Major League Baseball teams this season. SustainU is the only company selling pro sports licensed 100% recycled t-shirts at retail under its brand (12 Jul 16).

Recycling outdated clothes into tomorrow’s designer fashion: With the tagline “You can be a diva, or you can be a bitch”, DivaBitch Couture was never going to be just another fashion brand. For a start, founders Justin Orenthal Goff and Joseph Daniel Muzzin were motivated to reduce the 85 per cent of all garments that end up in landfill. Using yesterday’s shorts, shirts, pants, jeans, and overalls, the pair create vibrant, appealing couture (12 Jul 16).

San Francisco start-up turns plastic water bottles into shoes: A debut line of flats from Rothy’s are producing using only one material: polyester fibre sourced from 100% recycled water bottles. Co-founders Roth Martin and Stephen Hawthornthwaite spent more than three years perfecting the almost zero-waste, 3D-knitting technology required. The shoes are machine washable, recyclable (via a return label provided at purchase), and Gwyneth Paltrow loves them. What’s not to like?

Looking for ethical fashion after Ivy Park sweatshop allegations? Even when she’s being grilled online over Ivy Park sweatshop allegations, Beyoncé somehow comes out of it as a catalyst for change. This article (14 Jul 16) starts by saying the allegations against Ivy Park saw “many flock to the internet asking questions like ‘Are there any orgs that monitor sweatshops and can tell us what companies don’t use sweatshop labour?’” So here are ten brands they recommend for ethically inclined Beyoncé fans:

Naja, Everlane, White Rabbit, Beru Kids, Eileen Fisher, Freedom of Animals, Reformation, Matt and Nat, Vitamin A, and Amour Vert.

Stella McCartney criticises designers for (still) using fur: “There are a lot of designers who are very ‘f**k you’ when it comes to using fur … If it’s wrong to do fur, then they're going to do it” (18 Jul 16).


Huntsman Textile Effects debuts High IQ Repel program: Huntsman Textile Effects has launched a non-fluorinated, durable water repellent (DWR) innovation. The dye and chemical provider introduced its High IQ Repel brand assurance program last week, to help apparel brands, mills and retailers meet the needs of eco-conscious consumers looking for rain and stain protection. The program features non-fluorinated DWRs, including the new Phobotex RCO finishing for cotton and cotton-rich blends (15 Jul 16).

AEC Narrow Fabrics awarded OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certification: The OEKO-TEX® Association has awarded AEC Narrow Fabrics the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certification, which ensures fabrics produced by the company have been tested to be free of harmful levels of more than 300 potentially injurious substances, including residual pesticides, carcinogenic dyestuffs, phthalates, heavy metals, and formaldehyde (12 Jul 16).

Lenzing highlights centrality of eco-friendly materials to sustainability strategies: Lenzing’s director of business development for apparel and denim, Tricia Carey, spoke at Texworld last week, highlighting the environmental and social attributes of organic cotton, recycled polyester and manmade cellulosic fibres (14 Jul 16).

Textile firms critical of formaldehyde directive in Vietnam: The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) has criticised the Ministry of Industry and Trade, urging it retract a directive that took effect in December 2015, which regulates acceptable levels of formaldehyde and aromatic amines derived from azo dyes in apparel materials imported for local production (19 Jul 16).

Bangladesh factory recycling 60 per cent of waste water: Remi Holdings, a denim washing factory and part of the Bitopi Group, is recycling water using technology developed in India. (Jun 16).

Tonello launches UP: UP, the latest innovation from garment finishing technology company Tonello, changes garment washing by reducing the amount of water required and brings the liquor ratio down to new levels (14 Jul 16).

The Supply Chain

41 face murder charges over 2013 Rana Plaza collapse: A court in Bangladesh has indicted 41 suspects on murder charges over the deaths of more than 1,100 people in the collapse of Rana Plaza. Masud Rana, who owned the building, and 33 other people pleaded not guilty when the charges against them were read out in court. Another seven who absconded will be tried in absentia. The judge presiding said the trial will begin on 18 September.

Japanese companies commit to Bangladesh: Fast Retailing (Uniqlo), Adastria, Aoki and Toray Industries have all indicated will continue doing business in Bangladesh, although they will boost security after the recent attacks in Dhaka (13 Jul 16).

Hotline for Bangladesh garment workers gets little response: A government-run hotline for garment factories has met with a lukewarm response from workers. The government established the hotline on 15 March last year and in the first year received 1,105 complaints (of which 387 were deemed irrelevant (11 Jul 16).

VGCL proposes 10-11 per cent minimum wage increase: The Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) has asked the National Salary Council to increase regional minimum wages in 2017 by 10-11 per cent. Surveys conducted by the VGCL showed that only eight per cent of workers had an income that met their basic needs and also save money; about 20 per cent of the workers had income below their living standards; and the rest were struggling to make ends meet (15 Jul 16).

Vietnamese workers protest low wages at Korean garment firm: More than 1,000 workers went on strike at Panko Tam Thang, owned by the Panko Corporation, saying they have been paid less than promised, and the factory lunches are of low standards (10 Jul 16).

Cambodia's garment workers vulnerable to unsafe abortions: A 2014 survey (downloads as PDF) published by Partnering to Save Lives – a collaboration of three NGOs – found more than 90% of women working in garment factories didn’t know abortion was legal. It also found that out of 900 garment workers interviewed for the study, 18% said they had had an abortion. The national average at the time (downloads as PDF) was 5%. Almost 75% of women couldn’t indicate where to seek a safe abortion” (13 Jul 16). 

Cambo TDG strikers return to work: Around 400 striking Cambo TDG garment workers in Cambodia began returning to work on 8 July after management agreed to reinstate sacked employees and dropped charges against three union leaders. The garment workers walked out on 27 June to demand the rehiring of 21 workers whose contracts had expired (16 Jul 16).

Cambodian shoe factory workers on strike: Aerosoft Summit Footwear workers in Battambang’s Sampov Loun district have been on strike since 1 July to demand permanency and entitlements. More than 300 strikers gathered at Battambang city hall to present a log of claims (16 Jul 16).

Nine garment workers granted bail in Pakistan: The workers were arrested for torching a vehicle, damaging others and blocking the road outside Artistic Denim Mills in Korangi on 4 July. The workers say they took to the streets in protest after the company failed to pay their salaries and bonus before Eid (11 Jul 16).

Egyptian textile workers in open-ended strike: Dozens of workers at KCG Textile, Egypt, have mounted an open-ended strike, protesting against the company’s worsening management and demanding retroactive profit shares that are eight years late (13 Jul 16).

The struggle for decent work in Kyrgyzstan’s garment sector: “The garment industry is the largest employer of women in Kyrgyzstan, with the workforce between 70 and 90 per cent female. But in spite of the huge growth of the industry – according to official data, Kyrgyz garment exports saw an average growth rate of 29 per cent between 2001 and 2010 – many workers are condemned to low-paid and precarious jobs in informal workshops, or engage in unregulated and unprotected home-based work” (18 Jul 16).

(Image, Annie Spratt, CCO)