Brands and retailers

Patagonia’s philosopher-king: A long New Yorker profile on Patagonia co-founder Yvon Chouinard, which includes some great quotes, including this:

“I was faced with the prospect of owning a billion-dollar company, with thousands of employees making ‘outdoorlike’ clothing for posers,” he said early in 1991, in a speech to the employees, in which he outlined his misgivings and his new resolutions. These subsequently appeared in the Patagonia catalogue, as a manifesto, under the heading “The Next Hundred Years”” (19 Sep 16 Issue).

Patagonia launches voter education campaign for upcoming US election: Patagonia has launched a non-partisan campaign called Vote Our Planet to encourage voters to elect environmental supporters and vote pro-environment in the US election this November. You can visit Vote Our Planet here (at the Patagonia website) (12 Sep 16).

Muji’s quiet revolution: You don’t hear much from Japanese lifestyle brand Muji about its sustainability, but that’s not because they don’t do anything. They just don’t talk much, preferring to focus on getting things right internally rather than preaching to customers. For instance, they have recycling boxes in stores, but instead of sending them off for processing, the company dyes them indigo and resells them instore as one-of-a-kind garment. An interesting article about an interesting company (10 Sep 16).

Inditex industry leader in DJSI annual review: Inditex has been ranked by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) Annual Review (2016) as one of 24 Industry Group Leaders 2016 (for retail). You can see the DJSI report on Inditex here (pdf). You can see the full list here.

Kering, Burberry, Gilden Activewear DJSI sustainability leaders: In the Textiles, Apparel & Luxury Goods, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) has recognised Kering (Gold Class, Industry Leader), Burberry (Bronze Class, Industry Mover), and Gildan Activewear (Bronze Class) for the sustainability performance. Adidas, Asics, Hugo Boss, and Li & Fung have all been recognised as Sustainability Yearbook Members (Sep 16).

Gap Inc. releases list of supplier names: Gap is the latest fashion brand to release a public list of suppliers this year, with Cotton On, VF, Inditex (wet processing units), C&A and Marks & Spencer all doing likewise. You can see the full list here (PDF, Sep 16).

People Tree founder on ending supply chain slavery: People Tree founder Safia Minney is urging the public to take steps to end ‘modern slavery’ in the fashion industry. Her solution, which is essentially GoBlu’s as well, is “complete transparency” from brands about their supply chains (08 Sep 16).

IPE issues report criticising Disney’s green campaign in China: The Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) has published a report accusing Disney of “shirking [its] environmental responsibility” with regard to a campaign it launched this year in China to increase visibility of its green initiatives (and coinciding with the new park in Shanghai). Titled Going Green or Greenwashing: Textile Report 5, Special Edition on Disney (full report in English here – downloads as PDF), the IPE alleges that Disney’s supply chain environmental management lags behind other brands, and that Chinese manufacturers producing textiles under licence (or – as the report states – say they are licensees but are not) are polluting waterways (24 Aug 16).

Chinese leather suppliers to Coach and Disney criticised in NGO report: One of China’s leading news magazines, Caixin, reports that three Chinese NGOs (including IPE, as noted in the story above) have voiced concerns that leading brands including Coach and Disney have breached their commitment to green products, specifically related to leather goods. However, Caixin neither clarifies the report title, nor provides a link to it, and I can find no such report on IPE’s website. You can see more in Chinese here, or an English report on the Caixin article here. Other brands named in the Caixin article include Tumi, Asics, Polo, Liz Claiborne, DKNY, and Ted Baker.

Puma offers suppliers financial incentives to be sustainable: Puma, BNP Paribas, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and GT Nexus (cloud based supply chain management)   have teamed up to offer a supplier financing program to Puma suppliers to assist them improve their environmental, health and safety and social performance. The rate at which the bank discounts supplier invoices depends not only on Puma’s credit standing but also on Puma’s supplier rating (based on compliance with its social and environmental standards (07 Sep 16).

Uniqlo puts PFC elimination plans on back burner: Ecotextile reports “Fast Retailing, owner of fast growing Japanese fast fashion brand Uniqlo, has put back by 18 months plans to eliminate per-fluorinated chemicals (PFCs) from its textile supply chains as part of its Greenpeace Detox commitments” (07 Sep 16 – subscription required to read full article).

Just Approved: Athletic wear: Project Just, an initiative to provide consumers with information about sustainable brands, has released the brands it loves for athletic wear. They are: Patagonia, Samanata Yogi, Elle Evans, and Fibre Athletics. Nike and Adidas didn’t make the cut (09 Sep 16).

Walmart stops selling Egyptian cotton sheets made by India’s Welspun: Walmart said last week it will stop selling Egyptian cotton sheets made by Welspun after the Indian manufacturer was unable to assure them the products were authentic (10 Sep 16).

Kangol manufacturer brings hat-making machines back to US: Bollman Hat Co., which produces a style of hats made famous by actor Samuel L. Jackson and rappers, has moved its hat-making machines from China to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (09 Sep 16).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

The darker side of ‘Made in USA’: With all the talk of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US, it’s interesting to note that the Federal Bureau of Prisons operates a program called UNICOR that presents a growing challenge to the fashion industry. More than 12,000 inmates across 80 prison factories manufacture items for sale, with sales of clothing and textiles reaching $177 million last year (at 37 per cent apparel and textiles are UNICOR’s largest and most lucrative operating segment) (05 Sep 16).

The future of sustainable fashion: A long article that looks at innovative materials, low impact dyes, and changing consumer habits. The conclusion is that there’s a long way to go, but there are real sustainable options in place (07 Sep 16).

Fair Wear Foundation releases India country study: Dutch-based Fair Wear Foundation has released its India Country Study, 2016 (download PDF here). At 56 pp., it’s a substantial document and should be useful for any company seeking to manage supply chain issues in India. As we reported in an earlier issue of FSWIR, FWF released a China Country Study earlier this year (which you can download here).

First robot to sew a garment: For the first time, a robot has sewn an entire, wearable piece of garment. Sewbo, an industrial robot programmed to tackle the tricky task, assembles clothes and makes it look easy. See a video here.

“Despite their precision, robots still lack the cognitive abilities and motoric skills to process soft fabrics reliably. Sewbo tackles this by impregnating the fabric with PVA, a non-toxic biodegradable polymer. The temporarily stiffened fabric then can be processed as if it were sheet metal” (13 Sep 16).

The Ethics of Style: An Interview with Sigrid McCarthy of Intent Journal: “Truth be told, I struggle to find concrete meaning in the term ‘sustainable fashion’. When you look at the two terms individually and really consider their traditional meanings, the thought of them married together seems quite jarring. Fashion, as a general rule, is fleeting and trend focused; whereas sustainability looks to longevity and extending life cycle. If these two terms are to be used together, we need to re-evaluate the overall fashion system and how it currently operates. It’s much more complicated than making something out of organic cotton and putting ‘sustainable’ on the tag” (06 Sep 16).

Will wool ride the eco-friendly wave to become fashion’s next ‘It’ fabric? This story comes from the South China Morning Post (where it was published in the print edition as “Give fleece a chance”), and, as the title suggests, does indeed think this will be the case (12 Sep 16). However, it’s worth noting that PETA has started to campaign strongly for the case that companies should drop wool completely because it is not an animal friendly product (see here – warning, some images may be disturbing).

Prince Charles extends patronage of Campaign for Wool: HRH Prince Charles announced at the first ever Wool Conference at Dumfries House in Scotland that he will extend his patronage of the Campaign for Wool for a further five years to 2021. The Prince of Wales presided over the signing of the Dumfries House Wool Declaration, a promise to uphold the best possible practices for sheep welfare and a commitment to promoting the natural benefits of the wool fibre (13 Sep 16).


Company at heart of Egyptian cotton scandal was certified in program to detect false goods: Welspun, the Indian manufacturer accused of providing fake Egyptian cotton sheets to US retailers such as Target and Walmart, received the Egyptian Cotton Gold Seal in three product categories, part of a DNA-based authentication program designed to rid the supply chain of falsely labelled goods (12 Feb 16).

Recycled remnants to yarn by Marchi & Fildi: Ecotec, a yarn produced by French manufacturer Marchi & Fildi, is produced using a process that is completely traceable and certified. Redundant remnants from garment production are recovered and transformed into 100 per cent yarn. Brands like Marimekko and Eileen Fisher are among brands using this new generation of smart cotton (07 Sep 16).

DyStar releases 2015 Sustainability Performance Report: DyStar, a textile dyes manufacturer, released its 2015 Sustainability Report last week, reporting that it has reduced energy intensity by 16 per cent compared to 2011, and invested heavily in developing environmentally responsible products. See full report here (PDF).

Cotton Inc. and Archroma to develop textile dyes from cotton biomass for dyeing cotton: The new dye uses by-products of cotton harvesting as a base instead of oil and offers both sustainability and traceability for retailers and brands (12 Sep 16).

Sustainable Fashion

3 green businesses recognized for offering ethical apparel: Three small green businesses offering ethical apparel in New York, Arizona and Wisconsin, have been named winners of Green America’s “People & Planet Award”. The winners, selected by an online vote, are Themis and Thread of Hector, NY; Fed By Threads of Tucson, AZ; and Fair Indigo of Madison, WI (08 Sep 16).

LSwop launches luxury sneaker rental service: LSwop (luxury swap) is a Rent the Runway experience for men, and operates on a monthly subscription model where customers can rent exclusive European sneakers for one to four days (13 Sep 16).

Blind and visually impaired employees to cut and sew for Dallas fashion label: Dallas-based fashion designer Tish Cox has inked an agreement with the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind for the manufacture of her namesake line (13 Sep 16).

The Supply Chain

KiK tops up Ali Enterprises factory fire compensation: The families of victims of the 2012 Ali Enterprises factory fire in Baldia, Pakistan have accepted a compensation payment facilitated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) between KiK (Kunde ist Konig, German for Customer is King) and the representatives of the victims, IndustriALL Global Union and Clean Clothes Campaign. Under the new terms, KiK, will pay another $5.15 million in compensation to the families (12 Sep 16).

Ali Enterprises factory fire case referred to ATC: An administrative judge from the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) of Pakistan has referred the Ali Enterprises factory fire case to the ATC for trial. Recent evidence has suggested the fire resulted from an arson attack by members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) (05 Sep 16).

Garment factory owner in Myanmar refuses to rehire striking workers: A Japanese-owned garment factory is refusing to rehire workers striking over new daily production requirements, which workers said were nearly impossible to meet (07 Sep 16).

Cambodian factory owners want 4 per cent wage rise: Last week, trade unions set a target of $179.60 per month for 2017 wages. This week, employers say wages should rise 4 per cent to $144.20 a month (08 Sep 16).

Bangladesh plans unit to oversee safety in garment factories: The government plans to establish a Remediation Co-ordination Cell to oversee post-inspection safety activities in the garment industry (08 Sep 16).

Bangladesh Accord terminates relations with 4 factories: The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has terminated relations with four factories. They are: Danys Knit wear Limited (08 Sep 16), Kento Asia Limited (08 Sep 16), Han A Hats & Caps Ltd (08 Sep 16), and Hanwen BD Ltd (08 Sep 16).

BGMEA urges 553 factories to speed up remediation works: The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has asked 553 garment factories to speed up remediation work to avoid the risks of termination of business relations with international buyers (10 Sep 16).

(Image, Scott Webb, CCO)