Which brands are going toxic free? Kirsten Brodde, the Detox My Fashion Project Leader for Greenpeace Germany, has a message for the companies that committed to going toxic free by 2020 but are not moving fast enough: To check on progress towards the 2020 goal, Greenpeace is publishing the Detox Catwalk, an online platform ranking 19 fashion and sportswear companies. And, she says, “This is just the tip of the iceberg. Mass production of cheap clothes will never be sustainable. Post-growth business models is what we want to talk about next - and with your voice with us, we can transform the entire fashion industry” (05 Jul 16).

80 per cent of Dutch fashion industry to sign sustainability agreement by 2020: On 4 July, 55 fashion companies and industry organisations signed a Sustainable Fashion and Textiles Covenant in the Netherlands, a binding agreement for sustainable fashion and textile and the first of its kind. The companies commit themselves to approach and solve sustainability problems with their suppliers in countries such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Turkey. Companies include G-Star Raw, C&A and Hunkemoller, which together account for over a third of the Dutch fashion market turnover, or €3.5 billion. 80 percent of the Dutch fashion industry is expected to sign the agreement by 2020 (04 Jul 16). You can see the Covenant here (in Dutch only, downloads as PDF).

Jeanologia talks about Environmental Impact Measuring: Jeanologia’s EIM software allows companies to measure impact and then do something about it. From a short Q&A in the article:

Q: Why should laundries invest in sustainable technology?
Jeanologia’s Begoña García: Laundries should invest in sustainable technologies because there is no other way to produce in the near future. Those not introducing technologies and sustainable production practices will be, very soon, not able to produce. Firstly because they will not be competitive, and second, there will not be any buyer ready to buy product showing bad EIM scores.

An interesting article (28 Jun 16).

Fast Retailing (Uniqlo) suspends most Bangladesh travel after Dhaka attack: Uniqlo has announced it will suspend all but critical travel to Bangladesh and has told staff there to stay home after 20 people, including seven Japanese, were killed in a terror attack at a Dhaka café last week (04 Jul 16).  Spokesperson Ulrica Bogh Lind, from H&M, a major buyer in the country, said the Swedish chain was “deeply sad about the tragic incident” and that it is “of course monitoring the situation in Dhaka closely” (03 Jul 16). Numerous other articles ask whether this will sound the death knell for Bangladesh garment factories, but it’s too early to tell.

38 per cent of Kappahl’s fashion range labelled sustainable: Swedish apparel retailer Kappahl has increased the proportion of its sustainability labelled fashion range to 38 per cent from 24 per cent a year ago, up 60 per cent. “Our ambitious sustainability work has produced results. The goal is for our share of sustainable fashion to continue increasing every year,” CEO Danny Feltmann said (02 Jul 16).

Stella McCartney takes aim at forests levelled for fabric: In a video she’s made for NGO Canopy, McCartney says, “Up to 100 million trees can be cut down a year solely for the use of fabric.” This statistic — which is expected to rise, according to Canopy — refers to the making of semi-synthetic materials, such as rayon, which is made from cellulose that's extracted from wood pulp (01 Jul 16). Video also available here.

Chinese consumers turn to traditional materials: “As the market has matured, local fabrics, materials and products are seeing both a renaissance and reinvention thanks to demand from a sophisticated clientele seeking out unique styles and craftsmanship.” From tea silk to yak wool, discerning Chinese consumers are looking for something local, and both local and international luxury brands are meeting demand (04 Jul 16).

Activewear made from coffee grounds: Activewear label Rumi X has created a range using coffee grounds, which are embedded into fibre made from recycled plastic bottles. Added bonus? Odour control (02 Jul 16).

US consumer want domestically-made clothes: When asked about factors that are important to apparel purchase decisions, 53 percent of those surveyed cited “whether it’s made in the USA.,” according to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor Survey.  Among those who say it’s important that the clothes they buy are made in the US, 79 percent say it’s because they prefer to support the US economy, 46 percent believe US-made apparel is better quality, and 30 percent believe it’s environmentally-friendly (29 Jun 16).

Walmart’s “Made in the USA” claims take another hit: Truth in Advertising (TINA) has alleged it found more than 100 products on Walmart.com that were erroneously labelled as “Made in the USA”, saying they were either partially or completely produced overseas (29 Jun 16).

FWF names Mammut a leader in supply chain work:  Following an annual review of management systems, otherwise known as the “Brand Performance Check”, the Fair Wear Foundation awards its Leader rating to a few members who have made exceptional commitments to improving working conditions at suppliers and are actively seeking solutions in complex areas (27 Jun 16). You can see the most recent Brand Performance Check from FWF for Mammut here. Mammut also released its Social report 2015 last month (see here, downloads as PDF).

Coincidentally, I’m in the market for a good pair of hiking boots, and this news is swaying my thinking.

First partners for Fairtrade Textile Standard and programme: The first companies to sign up to the new Fairtrade Textile Standard have announced their commitment at the Ethical Fashion Show in Berlin. The three companies are: 3Freunde, Shirts for Life, and Melawear (28 Jun 16).

Louis Vuitton Hackathon to build a connected supply chain: The hackathon, dubbed “Unlock Supply Chain”, gave teams of students and recent graduates 48 hours to invent ground-breaking applications to improve management of Louis Vuitton’s supply chain (21 Jun 16).

Chinese court finds against New Balance in long running trademark case: In 1994, the three Chinese characters New Balance would use in 2003 to register its name in China were trademarked by a Guangzhou entrepreneur. In 2011, the ownership of the trademark passed to Zhou Lelun, who subsequently sued the American shoe maker for infringement. The Intermediate People's Court of Guangzhou agreed with his claim, and ruled that New Balance owed Zhou half of all its China profits from 2011 to 2013 (when he brought the case against them) – a sum of 98 million RMB ($14,685,829). The court has since reduced the figure to $749,277.

The court reasoned as follows: Zhou’s trademarked Chinese name is 新百伦 – pronounced shin bai lun. The first character means ‘new’, but the remaining two have no  meaning other than a rough approximation of how ‘balance’ sounds (a transliteration). However, the court reasoned that if New Balance were to truly translate its name into Chinese it would more logically use 新平衡 (shin pingheng - literally new balance), or transliterate it as 纽巴伦 (niu ba lun) – a closer approximation of the English sounds in Chinese.

New Balance is reportedly considering an appeal. See more here, here and here.

Chinese court finds for Invista in IP case: Invista, the company that owns brands like Cordura, Lycra and Thermolite (among a host of other fabrics, fibres, plastics and chemicals) has had a win in a Chinese court over a local company’s misuse of Invista’s confidential and proprietary purified terephthalic acid (PTA) technology (used in polyester production including polyester fibre, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle resin and polyester film) (22 Jun 16).

Made in Equality: A project that aims to change the way the world perceives garment workers in Bangladesh was launched last week with support from the C&A Foundation. Through photos and personal stories, the website provides a glimpse into the lives of people who populate and industry. Here’s one:

“I won a national level singing contest out of 40,000 people in 2010. I received the award straight from the hands of the Prime Minister. It had to be the best moment in my life!”

Mossamot Roksana Khatun (Assistant HR officer, at a ready-made garment factory)

See more here.

C&A Foundation releases annual report: Speaking of the C&A Foundation... With the ambitious goal of making fashion a force for good, you can check out the 2015 annual report (here) to see how far they’ve come in meeting that objective.

Trafficking in Persons Report names garment producing countries: The U.S. State Department released its Trafficking in Persons Report for 2016 in June, naming Burma (Myanmar), Chile, Guatemala, Jordan, Russia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam as locations where forced labour in garment factories was reported. You can see the report here (downloads as PDF).

Eileen Fisher’s journey to 100 percent sustainability: “When Eileen Fisher was a kid she was shy, had crossed eyes and mentally spaced out a lot” (29 Jun 16). It doesn’t sound like an auspicious start, but it just goes to show there may be hope for me yet…

Interview with Sonia Agarwal, Founder and CEO, Whitenife: Whitenife is Asia’s first platform curating luxury ethical fashion brands & designers from around the world. The company was found in 2012, by Sonia Agarwal, with the vision to celebrate luxury and ethical fashion. Whitenife also developed Elfh - a patented, mineral based composite, which is a substitute for ivory and certified by PETA (30 Jun 16).

Interview with Anannya Bhattacharjee, trade unionist, on garment supply chain: Anannya Bhattacharjee is President of the Garment & Allied Workers’ Union, India. She is the founder of the Asian Floor Wage campaign, which aims to hold global brands accountable for paying garment factory workers a living wage (02 Jul 16). You can also see the video here.

Interview with interview with Jessica Smulders-Cohen of Greater London Fibreshed: The Greater London Fibreshed is trying to build a network of small-scale clothes manufacturers using natural materials produced in the UK (03 Jul 16).

Ex-Bed & Bath workers in Thailand build own company: The Bed & Bath workers’ strike in 2003, along with similar actions at Gina Form Bra, was a seminal labour event in the early 2000s that helped shape Thai industrial relations. So I was interested to find this long story about what the workers involved in that strike are doing today.

“With that solidarity [resulting from the strike], a new factory, run by the workers themselves, was born. Forty former Bed & Bath stitchers, calling themselves the Solidarity Group, rented a four-story building in a small-factory zone on the outskirts of Bangkok and set out to show there was another way for the working poor. The tight-knit group formed a set of principles to guide the development of their workplace — “life, pursuit, faith, ideal” — a sign that continues to hang on a wall in an airy, open room with just 20 sewing machines. “We want to be unchained from capitalism,” says Kaewpaka. “When we said that to officials, they said it was impossible, but we’re doing it.”

A story well worth reading (04 Jul 16).

$40m for biotech company growing animal-free leather from living cells: Eight investors have put their faith in Modern Meadow, a bio fabrication company that grows animal-free leather made from living cells, to transition from research and development to manufacturing and commercialisation of bio fabricated leather (28 Jun 16).

Brexit causes uncertainty over textile/apparel chemical rules: Ecotextile (subscription only) raises a good question about what Brexit will mean for chemicals used in textile and apparel production by British companies. REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) – an EU regulation promulgated in 2006 to improve the protection of human health and the environment from risks posed by chemicals – puts the onus on importers to be compliant and register products greater than one tonne per annum. UK firms are now wondering whether REACH will apply to them as it did before the British voted to exit the EU (29 Jun 16). 

Sweden to develop automatic textile sorting plant: Textiles for are manually sorted for recycling, but that may be about to change with Sweden's IVL Environmental Research Institute announcing they plant to develop an automated sorting machine that will make sorting a lot speedier and accurate (25 Jun 16).

Automation will hit Indian textile sector jobs: A new report from Ernst Young has sowed doubts that the package approved by the Indian government last month to stimulate investment and jobs in the textile sector can meet its ambitious ten million jobs goal. The EY/ Texprocil report concludes that automation will see that number reduced to 2.9 million (04 Jul 16).

Denmark and ILO team up for Bangladeshi workers: Denmark has signed an agreement with the ILO to strengthen worker and employer organisations in the readymade clothing sector in Bangladesh. The project titled “Promoting Social Dialogue and Harmonious Industrial Relations in the RMG Sector” is jointly funded by Denmark and Sweden and will be implemented by the ILO over the next five years, the Danish embassy says (01 Jul 16).

Tazreen factory fire victims receive compensation: The Tazreen Claims Administration Trust (TCAT) has paid $2.15m to the injured and dependents of missing and dead workers of the Tazreen Fashions factory fire on 24 November 2012 in Dhaka (03 Jul 16).

Indian central government advisory on night shift work for women: The central government has sent advisories to all Indian states asking them to amend laws to allow women to work night-shifts in factories, including textiles and garments (29 Jun 16).

Garment factory with runaway owner auctioned for $ 47,678: A Garment factory in Myanmar whose Taiwanese owner fled the country without paying workers has been sold at auction for K56.7 million. The price covers all back wages owed 178 workers (01 Jul 16).

Workers hospitalised from truck accident and faintings: Nineteen garment factory workers were injured in Cambodia when a truck overturned on National Road 44. In a separate case, 10 workers fainted at Leda garment factory in Phnom Penh (01 Jul 16).

Better Factories Cambodia says conditions in factories improving: The International Labour Organization's Better Factories Cambodia's (ILO-BFC) 33rd Synthesis Report released on Friday, notes that for the second year in a row, the number of confirmed cases of child labour (typically workers between 12 and 15 years old) has dropped from 65 in 2013 to 28 in 2014 and 16 in 2015 (04 Jul 16).

(Image, João Silas, CCO).