Brands and retailers

“Nobody in the US wants to pay full price for clothes anymore”: A report from NPD a couple of weeks ago (14 Jul 16), which concluded that off-price consumers account for 75 per cent of all apparel purchases across retail channels”, resulted in several articles wondering what it all means.  One (20 Jul 16) noted that “clothing retailers are vying directly for most of their customers with competitors who only sell at a discount … and are stealing department store business.” Another (18 Jul 16) noted that retailer such as Kohl’s, Macy’s and Gap have responded by offering more off-price options.

It will be interesting to see how this impacts in the long run on apparel and textile sustainability.

Kelly Slater’s Outerknown brand releases list of factories: Just one year after the brand’s launch, eleven-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater and menswear designer John Moore’s clothing company Outerknown has publicly released its supply chain (22 Jul 16).

Chanel buys four companies to secure high-end silk supplies: Chanel has purchased four silk suppliers, aiming to strengthen its supply chain. Chanel said the four companies, in the Loire region, were long-standing suppliers involved in every step of silk production from yarn making to weaving and printing (23 Jul 16). It has also purchased a tannery. As noted at The Fashion Law blog, this move fits into a broader trend in luxury, with growing number of luxury brands taking control of supply (25 Jul 16).

Inditex and Lenzing sign deal on textile waste: Inditex says it will provide 500 tonnes of textile waste to the Tencel fibre supplier Lenzing to make “premium textile raw materials from textile waste” (19 Jul 16, requires subscription to read full story).

Old Navy aims for $1M back to school donation: Old Navy's back to school campaign this year is aimed at engaging kids directly. The company has set a goal of raising $1 million to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Canada (20 Jul 16).

MPs say Ashley to blame for Sports Direct’s “appalling” labour practices: In a report released on the sporting goods retailer, MPs said that Mike Ashley, founder and majority shareholder of Sports Direct, must be held accountable for what they called "appalling" working conditions and practices at the retailer’s shops and warehouse (21 Jul 16).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

Jeremy Corbyn campaign T-shirts “made by Bangladeshi workers earning 30p-an-hour”: So says the UK’s Mirror, highlighting once again that if you’re an organisation with a socially conscious message it is – at the very least – a good idea to check the provenance of give-aways or cheap items (or other organisations using your name). Because if you don’t, someone else might (24 Jul 16).

It’s easy to talk about labour rights (or sustainability more broadly), but decidedly harder to ensure everything associated with your organisational brand/image corresponds in reality with the message (in this case, Corbyn’s former connections with now long defunct National Union of Tailors and Garment Makers gave the headline more punch). Momentum, a campaign group set up to support Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, was selling the T-shirts in question for £10 at rallies and through their website. Momentum says it had cancelled the contract, but the damage has been done.

Textile Exchange says companies getting the mix right for sustainability: The Textile Exchange has released two reports; the Organic Cotton Market Report, 2016 (suggesting early indications of increased adoption of “Organic Fair Trade”), and the Preferred Fiber and Materials Benchmark, 2016 (showing that polyester continues to gain market share, highlighting the need to increase the use of recycled polyester and bio based alternatives, and down and feather product certification is growing).

German textile organisation latest to adopt ZDHC MRSL: The German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (Textilbündnis) became the latest organisation to adopt the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL – downloads as PDF) (18 Jul 16).

Call for papers on efficient and sustainable approaches to textile wastewater: WTiN and SDC International Limited are hosting a dyeing and finishing conference at India ITME 2016 in Mumbai in December this year, and are calling for paper from companies or organisations with solutions to wastewater issues in Asia. Deadline to submit proposals is 31 August (21 Jul 16).

Nobel laureate slams India on child labour: Nobel Peace Prize winner and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi has criticised the Modi government over amendments allowing children to work in family enterprises, including garment firms, leather units and tanneries. The Rajya Sabha (India’s Upper House) passed the bill to amend a 1986 child labour act, restricting employment of children below 14 in all occupations, but with two exceptions - enterprises run by a child’s family, and in films, TV serials, ads and sports (but not circuses) with some safeguards and riders (21 Jul 16).

Textile nanofinishing for green fashion: A major challenge in nanotechnology is how to introduce green and sustainable principles when assembling individual nanoscale elements to create working devices. Textile nanofinishing is restricted by the many constraints, such as use of costly chemical precursors to produce nanoparticles, high liquid and energy consumption, production of harmful liquid wastes, and multistep batch operations. One solution to this is integrating a low-cost, scalable, and environmentally benign aerosol processes to produce a new class of multifunctional fabrics (25 Jul 16).

Sustainable Fashion

Red Dirt Road’s support for Cambodian village seamstresses: Red Dirt Road, a non-profit organisation training Cambodian women to earn a living wage as seamstresses, has worked with rural women to develop products for the US market (20 Jul 16).

Eight Instagram accounts for sustainable fashion: From @reformation – with 473k followers, to @the_acey – with 6,046, there’s something in that list for just about everyone (20 Jul 16).

Silky Vietnam making strides in ethical fashion: Silky Vietnam, one of the leading ethical fashion brands in Vietnam, has announced the launch of their first yoga clothing line Silky 2.0, made with 100 per cent organic silk and plant-based dyes (25 Jul 16).


DyStar invests in new Global Innovation Center in China: DyStar has announced the establishment of a new Global Innovation Center in Nanjing. It will include laboratories for the synthesis and finish of dyes, textile chemicals and industrial segments chemicals. The centre will also help clients realise shorter and more economical dying procedures, reduce energy and water consumption and pollution (26 Jul 16).

Lenzing launches recycled fibre: Cellulosic fibre supplier Lenzing is launching a new Tencel fibre made from cotton waste fabrics in a bid to drive circular economy solutions in the textile industry (20 Jul 16).

ColorJet to launch eco-friendly digital printing: Digital inkjet printer manufacturer, ColorJet, will introduce its direct to fabric digital printing machines using water based pigment inks aimed at green digital printing in early August. The machines use environment-friendly water based pigment inks (25 Jul 16).

Dr. Cool named official chemical-free cooling apparel provider for the 2016 NYC triathlon: Coolcore's Dr. Cool – chemical-free cooling apparel – was the official chemical-free cooling apparel provider for last weekend’s NYC Triathlon. Dr. Cool shirts were designed and produced for all athletes and volunteers participating in race (22 Jul 16).

VDMA promotes German textile machinery in Vietnam: Germany’s Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau (or the Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, VDMA) held events in Vietnam in July to promote textile technology providing higher productivity, sustainability (energy, water, material efficiency), new textile applications, quality improvements and so on for regional manufacturers (22 Jul 16).

The Supply Chain

Bangladeshi boy, 10, murdered by fellow textile workers: A 10-year-old boy who worked in a spinning mill in Bangladesh died after other workers inserted a high-pressure nozzle into his rectum and activated it. Last year, a 13-year-old boy was killed in the same way in a vehicle workshop in another part of the country (24 Jul 16).

Cambodia’s Rainsy says EU should use threats: The self-exiled head of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Sam Rainsy has told the European Parliament’s human rights subcommittee the European Union should use threats against the garment industry as a way of improving the human rights situation in Cambodia. Rainsy said diplomacy was only “symbolic” and ineffective in getting the government’s attention. Instead, the bloc could threaten to restrict garment imports, he said. Trade unions have objected to Mr. Rainsy’s suggestion (20 Jul 16).

Fire destroys textile factory in Tanzania: A fire at 21st Century Textiles in Morogoro gutted the factory after a spinning mill exploded. The fire department was aided in their efforts by police, who used a water cannon normally used for rioters (20 Jul 16).

Indian court orders 30 per cent pay hike for garment workers: An Indian court has ordered a pay rise of up to 30 per cent for hundreds of thousands of garment workers in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the first minimum wage hike in more than 12 years (19 Jul 16). Garment unit owners say paying higher wages is going to be a tough ask, given that they are already “reeling under financial troubles” (25 Jul 16).

South African textile worker agreement a victory for living wage: 4,630 workers employed in 70 woven cotton textile factories across South Africa have received an above-inflation wage increase of 8.25% backdated to 1 July 2016, which has been hailed as a victory for a living wage (19 Jul 16).

Korean factory pays only partial compensation after Myanmar closure: After drawn out negotiations, 85 workers from a recently shuttered garment factory in Yangon received part of their severance compensation, following a second protest (19 Jul 16).

(Image, Annie Spratt, CCO)