Brands and retailers
Clemson University bags $420k for sustainable fabric technology: Clemson University has bagged more than $420,000 for creating sustainable water and oil repellence fabric technology. Walmart Foundation and US Conference of Mayors have announced Clemson University as one of this year’s US Manufacturing Innovation Fund grant recipients. The 2017 round of grants are focused on innovations in textile manufacturing processes (24 Jan 17).
Utenos Trikotazas joins Greenpeace Detox campaign: Utenos Trikotazas, the largest textile manufacturer in Central and Eastern Europe, has joined the Detox campaign of Greenpeace. Utenos Trikotazas, a part of SBA group, is the first Lithuanian company to have joined the campaign (24 Jan 17).
Brands paying UK workers £3 per hour, investigation finds: Channel 4’s “Dispatches” reveals River Island, New Look, Boohoo and Missguided used factories paying workers between £3 and £3.50 an hour. The national living wage, the legal minimum, currently stands at £7.20 an hour for workers aged 25 and over (23 Jan 17).
Victoria’s Secret delves deeper into supply chain issues: Victoria's Secret has pledged to trace the sources of its wood-based fabrics, joining the ranks of fashion companies addressing human rights and deforestation, its parent company said. In a new policy statement, parent company L Brands said it aimed to eliminate sources of wood pulp, used to make rayon, viscose and modal, which contribute to rainforest destruction or violate the rights of local people (19 Jan 17).
Inditex and Water.org strengthen their agreement to change lives through access to safe water and sanitation: Against the backdrop of the annual World Economic Forum last week in Davos, the Chairman and CEO of Inditex, Pablo Isla, met with Matt Damon and Gary White, Co-founders of Water.org, an international organisation whose mission is to bring safe water and sanitation to people in need (19 Jan 17).
Invisible workers – Syrian refugees in Turkish garment factories: According to a new report from Fair Action (in Sweden) and Future in Our Hands (in Norway) published this month, thousands of Syrian refugees work long hours in Turkey’s apparel factories in unhealthy conditions with salaries below the minimum wage. Despite Turkey being an important sourcing market for the Nordic brands H&M, KappAhl, Lindex, Gina Tricot and Varner (BikBok, Cubus, Carlings, et. al.), the companies are not doing enough to prevent discrimination of Syrians in their supply chains (18 Jan 17). You can see the full report here (PDF).
Louis Vuitton responds to PETA exposé: Louis Vuitton says it has ceased all trading with a number of Vietnamese farms after the animal rights activist group PETA alleged the farms had mistreated crocodiles, whose skins are used to make handbags and other accessories (18 Jan 17 – subscription required to read full article). (See last week’s FSWIR for the original story).
Patagonia debuts short film about fair-trade fashion, expands program to improve workers’ lives: Called Fair Trade: The First Step, this 13-minute film asks: how is your clothing made? It investigates why choosing Fair Trade Certified clothing is an important first step toward changing the garment industry (17 Jan 17). Watch the film on YouTube here.
Reports, Guidelines and Standards
Protests in Bangladesh shake a global workshop for apparel: “Protests over low wages had erupted at dozens of garment factories in Bangladesh, one of the top suppliers of clothing for global brands like H&M and Gap, and the officers had come to question Jahangir Alam, the president of a local trade union in Ashulia, a suburb of the capital, Dhaka. They told his wife that he would be back within a few hours. That was a month ago. Instead, his wife said, Alam has sat in a jail cell so dark he could not see his own hands. She said they had spoken briefly when she finally tracked him down to a Dhaka court” (24 Jan 17).
Berlin eco fashion show sees record visitor turnout: The twin trade fairs, Greenshowroom and the Ethical Fashion Show Berlin, which ended recently, witnessed record visitor turnouts. The trade fairs once again earned their place as the main platform for ecologically and fairly produced fashion during Berlin Fashion Week and as a unique hotspot within Europe for sustainable fashion (23 Jan 17).
In Bangladesh, the people who make your clothes are striking for their rights: After the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse killed 1,138 people, there has been a focus on building safety, but garment workers striking over Christmas for better wages have been sacked and even arrested. i-D spoke to union leaders and H&M about how the situation can move forward (18 Jan 17).
Garment factory auditors should be held liable: A new report claims garment factory auditing companies should be liable in the event of factory accidents such as Rana Plaza. The paper claims liability should be a "minimum condition" of the work of auditing companies and that this liability should entail the payment of compensation following factory accidents (16 Jan 17). You can read the full report, Liability of Social Auditors in the Textile Industry, by Carolijn Terwindt and Miriam Saage-Maass, here (PDF).
High rents trap Bangladesh’s garment workers in a cycle of debt: Some very interesting new data from Microfinance Opportunities’ Garment Worker Diaries shows that current rent levels are driving garment workers to accumulate debt in order to provide basic necessities for themselves and their families. Consequently, the government’s promise to hold rents steady is unlikely to provide workers with financial relief (Jan 17).
MagnaColours sets new industry standard with GNA: As industry leaders in water-based inks, Magna has created a new robust sustainability standard for the textile printing industry, creating the GNA mark in order to encourage the use of sustainable and environmentally friendly methods throughout the textile printing industry (18 Jan 17).
Xeros Technology exploring textile sector for technology adoption: Xeros Technology Group says it has continued to make ‘excellent progress’ in 2016 as it sought to drive recognition and adoption of its polymer technology, and has now decided upon a third area to focus the development of its technology, which will be the textile sector. In this sector it has started small-scale trials, and said that early indications are that its technology can reduce the chemistry, water consumption and effluent in textile manufacturing (19 Jan 17).
Asahi Kasei showcases sustainable fibre: Japanese fibre producer Asahi Kasei is showcasing its Roica Eco Smart sustainable stretch fibre at two upcoming international trade shows. Roica Eco Smart is an exclusive premium elastomer and sustainable stretch material. It is the only Global Recycle Standard (GRS) certified stretch fabric in the world (19 Jan 17).
Dibella signs CmiA partnership: German industrial textile business, Dibella, has signed a partnership with the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative with the aim of promoting a social and environmentally friendly cotton harvest in various African countries (17 Jan 17 – subscription required to read full article).
Lenzing opens new Tencel facility in the US: Lenzing is expanding its US operations for production of Tencel fibres in Mobile, Alabama. The new facility will have a capacity of 90,000 tons of fibre and represents an investment of nearly $300 million. Lenzing will build the new plant on the site of its existing facility in Mobile. Once completed, the new facility will be the largest Tencel fibre plant in the world. The facility is scheduled to start production in 2019 (12 Jan 17).
The Supply Chain
Anger at plan scrapping Vietnamese women’s work benefits: Officials from the Vietnam General Labour Confederation have voiced concern over a recent proposal revoking the maternity benefits to which female workers are entitled (22 Jan 17).
Labour shortage troubles Fiji’s garment sector: Despite being the best contributor in country’s GDP, the garment export sector of Fiji, is on all-time low on availability of skilled manpower in garmenting units. Currently, there are more than 40 garment factories in the country and most of them have been facing labour shortage issues for quite some time now (21 Jan 17).
Cambodian figures show falls in worker crashes, faintings: Statistics from the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) released yesterday showed a 14 percent drop in garment worker traffic accidents and a 44 drop in faintings, though one expert said the lack of structural changes in the industry meant the drop could be little more than a fluke (19 Jan 17).
Bangladesh strife ends as Donglian Fashion signs collective agreement with union: The Donglian Fashion Sommilito Sramik Union has signed a collective agreement with the company, ending years of union oppression. On 14 January, a two year collective bargaining agreement was signed between representatives of the union and of Donglian Fashion, a ready-made garments manufacturer in Ashulia, the garment-producing hub in Dhaka, Bangladesh (23 Jan 17).
Accord writes to Bangladesh PM for new wage board: The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a consortium of European fashion brands and buyers, has requested the Bangladesh government to form a wage board for the workers of the readymade garment sector (22 Jan 17).
Bangladesh government committed to ensuring compliance in apparel sector, says PM: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Tuesday her government was highly committed to ensuring compliance in the readymade garment (RMG) sector, reports BSS. “The contribution of apparel and textile industry to our economy is immense. We are highly committed to ensure compliance with regard to labour rights, workplace safety and environmental standard in the industry,” she said (18 Jan 17).
Apparel factory workers protest in Dhaka’ for annual leave wages: Workers of Euro Zone Fashions abstained from work and gathered in front of Queen Marry College after management had promised them wages for 18-day annual leave last week. “We were compelled to take it to the streets as they (management) did not respond,” said one worker. (19 Jan 17).
Reproductive health facilities for female apparel workers sought in Bangladesh: Speakers at a roundtable in Dhaka last week urged the garment factory owners in the country to provide adequate sexual and reproductive health facilities to their female workers to ensure a healthy workplace. The facilities, if provided, will also increase the production of the factories, they said at the roundtable organised by newspaper Prothom Alo in association with SNV Netherlands Development Organisation at the newspaper's office in the capital (18 Jan 17).