Brands and retailers

Target dumps one of India’s biggest textile companies over fake bed sheets: Target has cut ties with Indian textiles manufacturer Welspun India because of fake Egyptian cotton sheets supplied by the Mumbai-headquartered company. Target said that between 2014 and 2016, Welspun India supplied sheets (750,000 units) saying they were made of Egyptian cotton, although they were not (22 Aug 16). According to another report, Walmart had started to review Welspun’s cotton certification records (23 Aug 16).

H&M factories in Myanmar employed 14-year-old workers: A report from the Guardian says allegations H&M sourced from clothing factories in Myanmar where children as young as 14 worked for more than 12 hours a day are made in a book being published in Sweden this week. H&M told the Guardian is had already taken action against the factories named (21 Aug 16).

1 year on: Where are the top fashion brands on water in China? Hong Kong NGO China Water Risk asks for the second year running how sustainable the top fashion brands are when it comes to water in China. They note some improvements over last year; e.g., water is often a main focus now, reduction actions are high, and more companies going more circular. But also say there is still a long way to go. They cite the Corporate Information Transparency Index (CITI) report published by the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) and the National Resources Defence Council (NRDC), to show changes in brand rankings year on year. The top five this year are, in order, Adidas, H&M, Levi’s, Marks & Spencer, Walmart and Esquel (18 Aug 16).

KBS Fashion Group launches eco-fashion campaign to drive global sales: Chinese KBS Fashion has announced an eco-fashion campaign to promote environmental awareness and sustainability both at the Company and in the fashion/apparel industry. It aims to move the company “towards an ethical and eco-friendly apparel company through environmentally and socially responsible business practices, including: the pursuit of ethical and fair trade standards for our employees, sourcing of materials that are not made from animal products (such as leather) and focus more on re-cycled or man-made materials, the adoption of sustainable manufacturing processes, and the partnerships with suppliers, designers and distributors who embrace responsible practices” (22 Aug 16).

Nike ranked in Fortune’s Change the World list: Nike has been ranked 6th in Fortune’s Change the World list for 2016. It was cited for reducing the impact of the shoes the world runs in and the surfaces it runs on (Aug 16).

Gap Inc. ranked in Fortune’s Change the World list: Gap Inc. has been ranked 40th in Fortune’s Change the World list for 2016. It was cited as a retailer empowering its far-flung female workforce (Aug 16).

Under Amour kills sponsorship deal after bear spearing: Under Armour this week terminated its sponsorship of hunter and fitness guru Sarah Bowmar after she filmed her husband fatally spearing a black bear. Josh Bowmar posted the video of himself killing a black bear with a homemade spear. An internet campaign has been pressuring Under Armour to drop her for some time (23 Aug 16, 23 Aug 16). However, not everybody had a problem with the Bowmars’ hunting methods, and hunters have hit back on Under Armour’s Facebook page accusing the company of a knee jerk reaction that will ultimately cost them sales from a community that buys from and supports them (23 Aug 16).

Lindex launches textile recycling program for customers: The Swedish fashion chain has announced its new customer textile and reuse program, where shoppers may donate old clothes to be turned back into raw materials for apparel production (17 Aug 16). Our long term goal is to close the material look and use fibres recycled by consumers in our own production in order to decrease our need of new raw materials, says, Sara Winroth, Sustainability Manager at Lindex (17 Aug 16).

Guess to launch denim recycling scheme: Guess will partner with Cotton Incorporated’s Blue Jeans Go Green program by launching a Fall Denim Recycling Campaign that will take place in over 160 GUESS Stores across the US and Canada from 16 August to 01 October 2016 (16 Aug 16).

Saks Off 5th launches recycled denim campaign: Saks Off 5th will partner with Cotton Incorporated’s Blue Jeans Go Green program by offering consumers a $10 off coupon to purchase new jeans for every pair of old jeans donated until 25 September at all 101 of its stores across the US (17 Aug 16).

Adidas donates school in the Philippines: The Adidas Group, together with the Sports City International Foundation, has donated a two-storey school building in Barangay Budla-an in Cebu. The building was one of the newly built facilities of the Budlaan Integrated School. It includes three new classrooms for the Grades 1 and 2 pupils and a function hall in the second floor (15 Aug 16).

Patagonia’s CEO explains how to make on-site child care pay for itself: There are quite a few ways to recoup costs in the US. Here’s one: “Turnover costs (of losing an employee and training a replacement) include lost productivity while the position is vacant, plus recruitment, relocation, and training time. This can range from 35% of annual salary for a non-managerial employee, to 125% of salary for a manager, to a couple of years’ pay for a director or vice president. In the United States, 20%–35% of working mothers who give birth never return to their previous job. At Patagonia, for the past five years, we’ve seen 100% of moms return to work after maternity leave” (15 Aug 16).

n:Philanthropy partners with model Elsa Hosk for charitable campaign: n:Philanthropy has teamed up with Elsa Hosk in supporting the anti-human-trafficking organization FAIR Girls. The charity, which works to prevent the exploitation of girls worldwide, will receive a $200,000 donation from n: Philanthropy’s founder Yvonne Niami to mark the debut campaign (16 Aug 16).

Bestseller’s Sustainability Report: I’m not sure when Bestseller released its Sustainability Report 2014/15 (here), but this month a video appeared online about the process behind the graphic design for the report. It’s an interesting peek into the side of reporting that’s not often visible (16 Aug 16).  

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

Today’s Fight for the Future of Fashion: Hong Kong NGO China Water Risk has published a new brief titled “Today’s Fight for the Future of Fashion – Is there room for fast fashion in a Beautiful China?” The brief summarises water risks faced by the global fashion industry, and explored opportunities and the “future of fashion” (16 Aug 16). You can download the full brief here (downloads as PDF).

On thin ice: Can the fashion industry help save the planet? Marie Claire’s Nina Garcia heads to Alaska to witness climate change, and asks how fashion can be part of the solution. It’s a long article, and interesting to read about Garcia’s response to seeing a glacier melt: ‘“It's hard to think about,” Garcia says. “That our actions are responsible for this’” (18 Aug 16).

People would buy green products if e-commerce showed them how: The academic study on which this story is based addresses various industries, including online retail, and concludes that given the choice to go green when making purchases online, a lot of people would follow through; they just need companies to provide them with enough information to do so. The study is called “Online purchasing creates opportunities to lower the life cycle carbon footprints of consumer products”, and can be downloaded here (as PDF) (15 Aug 16).

Young consumers will pay 10 per cent more for sustainable products: So says a recent study of 2,000 UK consumers by internet based market research firm YouGov. The appetite for products that claim to be sustainable is growing, to the extent that consumers will now pay more for products that have environmental or social credentials” (16 Aug 16).

The shrinking lifespan of high street fashion: “Just as the food industry introduced additives, fast fashion took to cheap, blended fabrics. The average lifespan of a high street garment is just 7 wears and as a result the average wardrobe size has quadrupled since end of last century, before fast fashion became the norm” (18 Aug 16).

The outdoor industry’s problem with millennials: “Gear companies know how to make packs lighter, jackets more waterproof, and skis burlier. The only problem: young people couldn’t care less” (30 Jul 16). The article was published by Outside.

Why fur is back in fashion: An article from the new September edition of National Geographic (see companion piece immediately below).

“In truth, getting past the killing doesn’t seem like much of an issue anymore. Top models who once posed for ads with slogans like “We’d rather go naked than wear fur” have gone on to model fur. Fashion designers who were “afraid to touch it” 15 or 20 years ago have also “gotten past that taboo,” said Dan Mullen, a mink farmer in Nova Scotia.”

It’s a long article, well worth reading (Sep 16).

Fur farms still unfashionably cruel, critics say: An article from National Geographic (and should be read in conjunction with the piece immediately above).

“After the animal welfare movement hit a high-water mark in the 1990s, the movement has lost some ground. Nearly two-thirds of women’s 2016 fall fashion collections featured fur, according to the International Fur Federation” (17 Aug 16).


Crystal Group ranked in Fortune’s Change the World list: Hong Kong apparel manufacturer Crystal Group has been ranked 17th in Fortune’s Change the World list for 2016. It was cited for teaching women vital job skills while helping the denim industry cure its pollution blues (Aug 16).

Textile Exchange’s supplier spotlight from Egypt: This month, the spotlight is on SEKEM Group/NatureTex in Egypt. “NatureTex is an organic textile company and belongs to the SEKEM Initiative in Egypt. In 1977, Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish started to reclaim desert land into vital soil by using organic and biodynamic agricultural principles and building up SEKEM as a holistic initiative that is working in four dimensions for sustainable development: Economy, Ecology, Cultural and Societal Life” (17 Aug 16).

JSP announces green mannequin solution: Tokyo-based foam products specialist JSP Corp. and Italy’s Lideimmagine have introduced a series of mannequins made from recyclable expanded polypropylene. The Livelymen mannequins, made out of the company’s Arpro brand foam are more cost effective and more environmentally friendly (22 Aug 16).

US textile manufacturers call for boycott on prison-sourced apparel: “The government rightly forbids the importing of goods manufactured by foreign detainees, but then does an about-face and purchases goods from US jails that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) has pointed out (22 Aug 16). 

Sustainable Fashion

Purple Impression: Founded by sisters Afshan and Drakshan Khan, who say they “took the production of our line to our home town in Multan, Pakistan, a city rich in the culture of handmade embroidery, to not only provide an alternative to fast fashion, but also to preserve the dying art of handmade embroidery that the modern buyer demands” (17 Aug 16). See more at Purple Impression’s site.

Brazilian brand features products made in-country: Liquido, which make fitness clothing, yoga and swimwear has over 80 stores throughout Brazil. All products are made in sweat-shop free environments (17 Aug 16).

Non-leather handbags are changing the world: Handbag designer Matt & Nat (which stands for “material and nature”) have been making vegan bags since 1995 in Montreal (and using recycled plastic bottles for linings since 2007) (17 Aug 16).

Food waste fashion – fabric made from tea: There have been multiple, successful efforts of harvesting fabrics from tea cellulose fibres, but one the first to come up with viable product was BioCouture’s Suzanne Lee. Her fabric was made out of a green tea mixture that, once dried out, looked and felt like real leather (16 Aug 16).

Freitag’s brotherly love: Markus and Daniel Freitag started Freitag 20 years ago, repurposing tarpaulins into waterproof messenger bags. Then they launched F-abric, a line of European-grown and -sewn “toxin-free” clothing derived from 100 percent biodegradable textiles such as hemp, linen, and modal (17 Aug 16).

What Daisy Did: An ethical accessories label in the United Kingdom wants to pilot a program that provides the region’s homeless with sewing and other marketable skills. What Daisy Did has raised £12,118 to date from a Kickstarter campaign hoping to raise £12,000 (with another six days still to go) (18 Aug 16).

Kilomet 109: Designer Vu Thao collaborates with ethnic women of northern Vietnam to produce natural dyes and fabrics for her eco-conscious clothing line (21 Aug 16).

The Supply Chain

Li & Fung joins FTA: Global sourcing company Li & Fung has joined the Foreign Trade Association (FTA), becoming a participant of its Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), which aims to help improve working conditions in factories globally. (23 Aug 16).

Foreign buyers resume Bangladesh visits as police provide escort: The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said that factory owners had sought police protection for foreign buyers (17 Aug 16).

Islamist attack has Bangladesh clothing industry on edge: From the BBC, writing by a reporter on the ground in Dhaka.

“Some in Bangladesh describe the recent upsurge in Islamist violence as a game changer in the country’s turbulent history. Bangladesh has also seen a string of deadly attacks on secular writers, bloggers and members of religious minorities. No-one knows how far radicalisation has penetrated society. There is a sense of fear and despair. This Muslim-majority nation is on edge following the recent violent incidents. “It will definitely affect our industry very gravely,” says Rubana Huq, managing director of Mohammadi Group, which makes clothes for many Western fashion brands” (17 Aug 16).

32 Alliance factories complete remediation: 32 garment factories affiliated with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety have implemented their recommended corrective action plans to turn into fully compliant production units (17 Aug 16).

Bangladesh garment factories receive funds for dormitories: The Bangladesh Bank has approved low cost funds for 13 apparel manufacturers to construct dormitories for their workers in order to provide them with better living facilities (17 Aug 16).

Dormitory not yet open: Bangladesh’s first dormitory constructed for apparel workers has still not opened despite being inaugurated three years ago. Venting anger over the foot-dragging on the project, labour rights activists demanded the dormitory buildings be opened for the workers without further delay (18 Aug 16).

Five diplomats press government to raise RMG trade union registration: Five foreign diplomats at a meeting last week pressed the Bangladesh government to speed up the pace of trade union registration in the readymade garment sector and to lower the instances of rejection of applications for formation of trade unions (19 Aug 16).

Cambodian union questions government’s factory maths: The deputy president of the Free Trade Union said unions were surprised to see the Labour Minister write on his Facebook page that there had only been one factory closure in 2016, when news reports have provided information on multiple closures, including Great Honour Textile Factory and the Juan Shi and Chung Fai Knitwear factories in the capital (17 Aug 16).

VITAS suggests new garment sector strategy: The Vietnam Textile and Garment Association (VITAS) is pushing the government to amend environmental regulations around waste water treatment, saying in China, India and Bangladesh, which have a developed textile and garment sector, enterprises did not have to invest in wastewater treatment factories; the government did (18 Aug 16).

Apprenticeships in Tanzania: With the East African Community (EAC) member states agreeing recently that no clothes shall be imported from outside the region, Tanzania launched a training programme last week at the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) headquarters in Dar es Salaam. The program is sponsored by the government and private sector investment from China (19 Aug 16).

Violations at garment factories ‘minor’, says Labour Ministry: In Jordan, the Labour Ministry has said that violations reported at garment factories in Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) were “minor” and did not amount to human trafficking. In June, the NGO Tamkeen Fields for Aid reported a number of violations at two factories in the QIZ which it said could constitute human trafficking (19 Aug 16).

(Image, Nad Hemnani, CCO)