Brands and retailers

Cotton On releases supplier list: Australia’s Cotton On Group (owner of Cotton On, Cotton On Body, Cotton On Kids, Factorie, Supre and Rubi) has published a partial list of its suppliers. The group has committ4ed to have 100 per cent of their suppliers, from farms to factories, traced and disclosed by 2018. You can see the full list here (downloads as PDF). This is the second supplier list we’ve seen from fashion brands in as many months; Inditex published a list of 404 wet processing units in July (see here).

Levi’s and Jeff Yokoyama work on sustainable denim collection: Mr. Yokoyama’s concept is to deconstruct old Levi’s denim samples and worn-out thrift store finds and use the pieces to create a pair of unique, one-of-one, Levi’s 501 jeans. This both eliminates waste and create new custom garments using salvaged pockets, rivets and waistbands (04 Aug 16).

Walmart stays mum on sustainability: The retail giant boasts an impressive sustainability record, but the company is strictly business about its accomplishments, for good reason, experts say. One of them is this: “For many consumers, saying you are a sustainable company often translates into ‘oh they're going to be more expensive now,” one said. Wal-Mart has “to be very laser focused on a very simple message: save money, live better” (09 Aug 16).

Adidas to rely on robots in Atlanta shoe factory: Adidas revealed plans this week for its first automated production facility in the US. At 74,000 square feet – about 1.5 times the size of an American football field – the Atlanta facility’s robot army will start next year and eventually produce around half a million pairs annually (10 Aug 16).

UK Labour Party questions workplace practices at Asos: UK opposition Labour Party leadership candidate Owen Smith has called for an inquiry into working practices (such as invasive surveillance, limited access to toilet facilities and random searches during lunch breaks) at Asos’s distribution centre in Barnsley, northern England, saying talks with unions left him concerned the retailer could be “the new Sports Direct” – a company parliament criticised for treating its lowest-paid workers “without dignity or respect” (10 Aug 16).

H&M video on why factory overtime doesn’t work: H&M has made a video showing how it is acting to remove excessive overtime at suppliers by working with them to improve purchasing practices.

Toms and Prabal Gurung team up on footwear to support Nepal: Prabal Gurung and Toms footwear have collaborated on a four piece footwear collection to increase awareness about and support Nepal, Gurung’s birthplace (14 Aug 16).

Otto runs ad highlighting African cotton: German e-commerce retailer Otto started running an ad this highlighting clothing produced in conduction with Cotton Made in Africa (CmiA) an initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) that helps African smallholder cotton farmers in Africa to improve their living (see the ad here, which incorporates the message “Helping people help themselves”). The company is highlighted in another video where Dr. Michael Otto, Head of the Otto Group, explains the idea behind Cotton Made in Africa (see here). 

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

High risk of slavery in 58 per cent of countries, says new report: The Verisk Maplecroft Modern Slavery Index released last week says modern slavery constitutes a ‘high’ or ‘extreme risk’ in 115 countries (supply chain giants China and India are included in the ‘extreme risk’ category), with only four countries listed as ‘low risk’ – the UK, Germany, Denmark and Finland (11 Aug 16). “Ten of the world’s 12 biggest garment-exporting countries hold a ‘high’ or ‘extreme risk’ of slaves working in their supply chains” (11 Aug 16).

FLA reports on garment worker compensation in 21 countries: The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has released its first annual compensation report, publishing data on the earnings of workers in 124 mostly apparel and footwear factories assessed by the FLA in 2015. The reports includes charts depicting how much workers are earning, compared with other local benchmarks, such as the legal minimum wage, World Bank poverty levels, and cost-of-living figures developed by governments, unions, NGOs and others (03 Aug 16). See here for links to reports for each individual country, or here (downloads as PDF) for data on every country in a single report.

Legal action against fur in the US: The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to bring enforcement action under federal consumer protection laws against 17 retailers for false advertising of fur garments. The HSUS alleges retailers sold a combined 37 different styles of apparel and accessories that were advertised or labelled as “faux fur,” but actually included animal fur from raccoon dogs, rabbits and coyotes. The retailers named are Amazon, A-List/Kitson, Barneys, Belk, Bluefly, Century 21 Department Stores, Eminent/Revolve, Gilt, Kohl’s, La Garconne, Mia Belle Baby, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Ross, Ruelala, Searle and Stein Mart (09 Aug 16)). You can see the full HSUS request for enforcement action here (downloads as PDF), and a summary of evidence (including photographs) here (downloads as PDF).

PETA says “wool is as cruel as fur”: Elisa Allen, director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) UK, says wool has escaped the levels of scrutiny directed at the fur industry (which has “caused a great many to ditch fur, exotic skins, and angora), but it’s now time for consumers to “leave wool and other animal skins out of our wardrobe once and for all.” She adds, “[W]hether it’s a frightened fox’s fur, a calf’s skin, or the wool from a gentle lamb, it’s not “fabric” and it’s not ours for the taking” (10 Aug 16).

Brands that have given up on Angora: The campaign to persuade consumers to stop purchasing products that contain angora by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been a successful one. Starting in 2013 (see here for PETA’s ten reasons to stop buying angora – warning, some images are graphic), the campaign has resulted in 42 brands (as of 16 July) signing a pledge promising not to use the fur in products (10 Aug 16 – article is in French, but Google translate is your friend; all brands signing the pledge are named).

Pressure mounts to reform throwaway clothing culture: Americans dispose of about 12.8 million tons of textiles annually, 80 pounds for each man, woman, and child. In the U.S. and around the world, a growing number of environmentalists and clothing industry executives say it’s time to end the wasteful clothing culture and begin making new apparel out of old items on a large scale (09 Aug 16).

Can sustainable fashion be fashionable? “Why is it so hard to find sustainable clothes that genuinely excite us?” asks Nadine Farag, who researched and authored Zady’s New Standard (02 Aug 16). She makes some interesting points, and the discussion in the comment are worth looking at as well.

Can Sustainability Be Sexy? The money quote from author Edward A. Gribbin:

“Research shows that looks come first for ethical fashionistas, who tend to buy sustainable fashion. While consumers might have a clearer picture of the not-so-glamorous reality behind fashion production, especially after the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh, not much has changed in regard to their shopping habits” (11 Aug 16).

Exchange a T-shirt, change the world: Beyond the Label was promoting sustainability at the Sourcing at MAGIC show at the Las Vegas by exchanging old shirts for “healthy” ones with a “nutrition facts” list of the tee’s content on the front. The made-in-America T-shirt is from MetaWear Organics in Virginia from certified cradle-to-cradle organic cotton and dyed using seaweed dyes (10 Aug 16).

The MIT lab that’s quietly pioneering fashion for everyone: Open Style Lab wants the fashion industry to think about more bodies, more ages, and more abilities and is promoting the concept of universal design for consumers from wheelchair users to autistic kids (15 Aug 16).


Jeanologia presents “one glass, one garment”: Jeanologia presented its new “One Glass, One Garment” finishing process for the first time in the US at Sourcing at MAGIC in Las Vegas, 14-17 August. The One Glass, One Garment system allows the reduction of jean finishing to a single glass of water. In comparison, Jeanologia states that on average, one pair of jeans requires 70 litres of water to complete the finishing process (10 Aug 16).

New line of sustainable denim jeans: Jimtex Yarns, a division of Martex Fiber Southern Corp., launched a sustainable denim collection called R3 Denim™ in cooperation with Denim North America (DNA). The launch of the R3 Denim™ line further advances Martex’s “No Fiber Left Behind – Zero Landfill™” campaign (10 Aug 16).

Applied DNA and BLC Leather to improve transparency in the leather supply chain: Applied DNA Sciences (Applied DNA) has signed an MOU with BLC Leather Technology Centre (BLC) to use DNA tags to increase transparency and prevent the introduction of animal pelts from unsustainable and unethical sources (09 Aug 16).

Tanatex Chemicals develops sustainable scouring and bleaching agent: Tanatex Chemicals, which develops innovative textile processing solutions, has announced a new sustainable and natural product Tannex Tergeo (see video promo here), a third generation clay based scouring and bleaching agent for bleaching of cellulosic fibres and blends. The product provides an eco-friendly and natural way for textile manufacturers to reach hydrophilicity objectives (readily absorbing or dissolving in water) (10 Aug 16).

Dibella ranked fifth globally in fair trade cotton: Dibella is a manufacturer of textile goods in restaurant, hospitality and healthcare, and was this year ranked fifth in the Textile Exchange’s “Organic Cotton Market Report” (see here) (03 Aug 16).

Brandix wins award for Excellence in Sustainable Development: Sri Lankan apparel exporter Brandix has won the award for Excellence in Sustainable Development at the Presidential Export Award in Sri Lanka last week (10 Aug 16).

New machine combines spinning and knitting to save time, money and energy: German knitting-machine manufacturer spent seven years developing the Corizon machine, which produces lightweight fabrics. The Corizon machines are made in Germany and will be priced at $250,000, a price that Terrot estimates will amortise in about three years once a company realises the cost and time savings (04 Aug 16).

Can a Californian manufacture survive rising minimum wage? JS Apparel, one of the larger clothing manufacturers in the Los Angeles area with $40 million in revenues, has been around since 1995, is one of the few that hasn’t relocated to Mexico or Asia. But can it weather the rise to a minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. Here’s part of the answer:

The company has ordered a $250,000 automatic cutting machine that will more than double the number of pieces cut in a day with one-fifth of the labor. “That is our weakest link,” [one of the co-owners] said. “One automatic cutting machine can cut 50,000 units a day with two people who are not trained cutters but know the computer system. Right now, we are cutting 20,000 units a day with eight to 10 people” (11 Aug 16).

Sri Lanka’s Hela Clothing joins IFC’s Trade Supplier Finance Program: The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank Group, is providing apparel manufacturer Hela Clothing with supplier finance so it is able to negotiate longer payment terms or better prices. IFC provides loans based on borrower’ social and environmental performance (09 Aug 16).

‘Redone’ look is next big thing in denim, says ISKO: A leading denim manufacturer says the new big thing is the 'redone', resulting from heightened awareness of sustainability. “This green attitude is now concrete, real and tangible. For ISKO, this is not a surprise, because sustainability has traditionally been a priority for us, not just in mere terms of sensibility but also in production” (10 Aug 16).

Danish diplomats visit Pakistan textile mills: To highlight sustainable biochemistry solutions, the Royal Danish Embassy, in collaboration with Novozymes, organised a series of seminars, business meetings, and textile mill visits in Lahore, Faisalabad and Karachi last week (10 Aug 16).

Sustainable Fashion

Ethical Style Journal: A new quarterly fashion magazine for ethical fashion: Katherine Pruett, founder of the site Fashion Just Cause, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to publish a quarterly online fashion magazine “celebrating all that’s right with fashion: sustainable, sweatshop-free, cruelty-free and fair trade styles”. The campaign runs until 9 September.

A new sustainable brand from Finland: Kirsi Lille started her fashion design and art studies in Florence, Italy, and established Lille in 2013. Lille’s clothes are designed in Helsinki and responsibly manufactured in Europe, mainly Estonia, using carefully selected European fabrics (11 Aug 16).

Brother Vellies’ Aurora James merges high fashion with global artisans: Brother Vellies produces all of its shoes with local artists across Africa and has recently expanded its manufacturing practices to collaborate with artisans in Namibia and Mali. James says, “The people that I know would prefer to be empowered versus pitied. I’m not really into the idea of charity for Africa anymore, it’s more about creating employment opportunities” (02 Aug 16).

Cross-cultural fashion brand draws on Taiwan aboriginal traditions: Lihiya is a Taiwanese fashion brand with a difference. The company was founded by Dumile and Tivamile Dlamini, two sisters from Swaziland, who partner with aboriginal communities not only to develop more modern products but also to provide training to aboriginal participants and ensure sustainability (14 Aug 16).

Luxury brand sells scarves for water: The Obakki Foundation, an initiative by Obakki, is running its Scarves for Water program to raise money to bring clean water to villages in remote areas of South Sudan, Africa (15 Aug 16).

Five ethical fashion shops in Hong Kong: A Boy Named Sue, Alex Leau, Inspired, Classics Anew, and Angus Tsui.

The Supply Chain

Cambodian garment worker killed as truck overturns: A garment worker was killed last week when an out-of-control transport truck struck her as it flipped over in Kampong Chhnang’s Rolea Ba’ier district, injuring 13 others on board. It was one of two such accidents in a 24-hour period (10 Aug 16).

Labour officials in Myanmar to sue factory for compensation: Officials from Myanmar’s Labour Relations Department pledged last week to help 85 workers at the Korean-owned Hla Won Htet Tha Factory in Hlaing Thayar township file a lawsuit for compensation owed but never paid after the factory closed suddenly on 25 June (10 Aug 16).

Vietnam cracks down on child labour: The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) has urged local authorities to increase inspections and punish all establishments using child labour or forced labour. They are to report their findings by 15 November (12 Aug 16).

Bangladesh Alliance commends four factories, suspends eight: The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety has announced that within the last month, four additional factories have completed all material components outlined in their Corrective Action Plans, or CAPs. They have also suspended operations with eight additional factories for failure to show evidence of remediation progress (09 Aug 16).

(Image, SmAil Ka, CCO)