Brands and retailers

REI distribution centre gets LEED Platinum: REI has announced that its newest distribution centre, located in Goodyear, Arizona, has achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification—the highest level in the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) green building rating system—making it the first distribution centre in the U. to achieve both LEED Platinum certification and Net Zero Energy (21 Dec 16).

Ivanka Trump’s clothing Is made in China, Indonesia, and Vietnam: Throughout his presidential campaign, one of the biggest platforms that Donald Trump ran on was his opposition to American companies that manufacture their products overseas. However, as his opponents quickly pointed out during election season, both Donald and Ivanka’s clothing lines are made in countries like Bangladesh and China (28 Dec 16).

Bangladesh garment factories sack hundreds after pay protests: At least 1,500 workers have been sacked from Bangladesh garment factories after protests forced a week-long shutdown at dozens of sites supplying top European and American brands. Tens of thousands of workers walked out of factories this month in the manufacturing hub of Ashulia which make clothes for top western brands such as Gap, Zara and H&M, prompting concerns over supply during the holiday season (27 Dec 16).

Odlo joins Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Odlo, a sports clothing retailer, has entered the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) as its first Swiss company, with an aim to take on environmental responsibility in its entire supply chain, focussing on sustainability (26 Dec 16).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

Vietnamese textile sector workers need retraining to compete with robots: “Dao Thi Thu Hien, chief of office of Canon Viet Nam, said that seven years ago, Canon Thang Long Plant in Dong Anh District employed 13,000 workers, but the number had dropped to 8,000 with automation, while turnover and production remain stable” (02 Jan 17).

Vietnamese textile sector faces challenge as cheap labour no longer an advantage: Textiles are often regarded as one of Vietnam’s key export sectors with an average annual growth rate of 15% during 2010-2015. However, it is also faced with a range of challenges, of which the most recent challenge stems down to labour in the country no longer being as cheap as it once was (30 Dec 16).

Brazilian slaves to fashion: “Sao Paulo is one of the world's most dynamic and populous cities, Brazil’s financial capital and a magnet for economic migrants from neighbouring countries. But as a team led by journalist Ana Aranha and filmmaker Lali Houghton has been finding out for this disturbing episode of Latin America Investigates, it is also home to thousands of clandestine textile sweatshops, in which under-paid workers toil long and exhausting hours in dreadful conditions to mass produce garments for the country's clothing industry” (29 Dec 16). Includes video and text.

What’s distressing about distressed clothing: “Fashion writers are committed to calling this school of fashion “street.” Slashed, repurposed, mended, patched, and abraded — these clothes, magazines would like us to believe, are simultaneously authentic, elegant, and easy. It’s clothing that’s not supposed to look as if it costs $900, which is the price of the Fear of God jeans favoured by Yeezy and Russell Westbrook, and it’s fashion that’s not supposed to read like it’s $1,450, the cost of the patchwork Vetements jeans that are sold out, like, everywhere” (28 Dec 16).


Sympatex releases green membrane: Sympatex technologies, makers of fabrics featuring waterproof and breathable membrane, will be presenting its first fully climate-neutral and ‘guaranteed green’ membrane at ISPO Munich 2017. The company will offset the total CO2 emissions it produced each year in membrane production through various climate protection certificates from 2017 (31 Dec 16).

Natural alternative to chemical-based textile making in India: “A new crop of small businesses are investing in organic farming, natural dyes and a transparent supply chain that encourages shoppers to think about the effect of their purchases - and they're selling their products online and in a small but growing number of U.S. stores, from small trendy boutiques to Target” (30 Dec 16).

EFI Reggiani’s textile printing innovation: EFI Reggiani exhibited advanced, environmentally friendly industrial digital inkjet textile technology at the International Textile Machinery Exhibition (ITME) in Indian during December (28 Dec 16).

Tiruppur’s smart water: “While the [textile] industry and the farmers fought in courts and elsewhere [over water], both the government and the players recognised that a lasting solution had to be found. T.R. Sivaram, Managing Director of Royal Classic Mills (RCM), which sells its garments under the ‘Classic Polo’ brand and is one of the largest players in Tiruppur, says “a permanent solution had to be found and that too quickly.” (15 Jan 17).

Concerns over environmental pollution to limit global textile chemical market’s growth: The global textile chemicals market has been witnessing sluggish expansion since the last few years. The rise in concerns over the harmful impact of textile chemicals on the environment has limited the growth of this market significantly. Even the future prospects of this market do not indicate much of an improvement in this situation. The declining application of synthetic textile chemicals is likely to create more troubles for the market in the coming years (28 Dec 16).

BSTIM knitwear fair to promote sustainable fashion: The show organiser Fira d’Igualada, the Textile GroupFAGEPI and the City Council of Igualada, have decided to focus on environmental and social responsibility in design, manufacturing and commercialisation stages at the upcoming show edition. The trade fair will take place from 22-23 February in Igualada, Barcelona (23 Dec 16).

The Supply Chain

Bangladesh Alliance condemns arrest of labour leaders: The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a building inspection agency of 28 North American retailers and brands, condemned the arrest and detention of labour leaders after the recent unrest at Ashulia-based garment factories (03 Jan 17).

Sacked workers in Bangladesh on the run: Apparel workers sacked for joining strikes in the Ashulia industrial belt on the outskirts of Dhaka in December 2016 for a pay hike are on the run from law enforcers to avoid arrest while firing of workers continues (02 Jan 16).

Dhaka district administration recommends new wage board: The Dhaka district administration in a brief report on recent labour unrests at Ashulia recommended that the government should constitute a new wage board for apparel workers. It also recommended that an executive magistrate should be engaged in keeping the law and order at Ashulia where the week-long labour unrest flared up to disrupt production of export oriented apparel factories badly (03 Jan 17).

Bangladesh apparel growth hinges on reining in labour unrest: A look at what the new year holds from the Mohammadi Group (01 Jan 17).

A new wave of strikes in the Bangladeshi garment sector: “The strikes have ended and those workers and union militants not in jail, hiding, on the run or sacked are back at work; but the resentments remain, as do the material conditions giving rise to them. The present movement shows the limits and cosmetic nature of many of the reforms brought in since 2013; without adequate enforcement, many of the legal ‘rights’ of workers used as camouflage by Western clothing brands to absolve themselves of guilt and to distance their Corporate Image from ‘sweatshop exploitation’ remain a dead letter. It is a sign of garment workers’ continued collective strength and determination that, even under the present repressive conditions, they can still organise their own resistance on a mass scale” (31 Dec 16).

Bangladesh factories sack 1,500 after garment worker protests: At least 1,500 garment workers in Bangladesh have been sacked after a week of protests over pay, say police. Dozens of factories supplying major Western brands were forced to close after a mass walkout and subsequent demonstrations in the Ashulia district. Police said factories opened on Tuesday with many now back at work, but they also detained several labour leaders (28 Dec 16).

Nonsense about the minimum and living wages in Bangladesh: “The place is a poor country, we know that. There are also a lot of garment factories there, we also know that. And as is normal in a poor country the people working in those factories do not receive high incomes. This is normal because that's what it being a poor place means--wages are low, incomes are low. As Paul Krugman has pointed out that's because productivity is low--human labour there adds little value thus it is lowly paid. And the solution is that that labour should be adding more value. And when the average value added of that labour is the same as it is in the US then everyone will be getting paid US wages. And yes, wages will rise to US levels, not US fall to those of Bangladesh” (28 Dec 16).

Garment truck crash injures 45 in Cambodia: According to a statement released by the Ministry of Labour, the crash resulted in two people on the motorbike and 43 of 50 workers on the truck being injured – eight of them seriously. All victims were sent to a provincial referral hospital after being treated at a clinic (26 Dec 16).

140 workers strike at Tri Star Apparel Exports over unpaid wages: Around 140 workers at the Tri Star Apparel Exports garment factory in Sri Lanka have staged a protest over unpaid wages and a number of problems including delayed salaries, unpaid gratuity to retired workers, company’s failure to contribute to social security fund as required by law, and other (23 Dec 16).

 (Image, Andrew Collins, CCO)