BRANDS AND RETAILERS

Two fashion brands front court in The Hague over factory safety in Bangladesh: Trade unions have hailed a landmark ruling allowing complaints to proceed against two global fashion brands for allegedly violating an agreement to improve building and fire safety in garment factories in Bangladesh (they are accused of failing to compel their suppliers to improve facilities and failing to help them to cover costs required to do so). “For any brand that isn't in compliance, this decision sends a message that they cannot shirk their responsibilities to worker safety,” said Jenny Holdcroft of IndustriALL Global Union, one of two union federations to lodge the complaints. The two brands involved must remain confidential (17 Oct).You can read official case information here

Esquel factories adopt sustainable practices: A short case study on Esquel by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE). Esquel Group conducts a series of initiatives to effectively monitor energy and climate change data and pollutant emissions and transfer (PRTR) data in its spinning, weaving, packaging, water treatment, sewage treatment and thermal power plants located in mainland China. Furthermore, the company has taken energy-saving, consumption-cutting and emissions-reducing measures to meet its annual targets for energy savings and emissions reduction in its entire spinning and weaving supply chain (17 Oct).

Tommy Hilfiger is launching clothing for adults with disabilities: After releasing multiple adaptive clothing collections for children last year, Tommy Hilfiger is adding a range for adults: 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles with modifications like Velcro closures, magnetic flies, and adjusted leg openings to make it easier for people of all abilities to get dressed (17 Oct).

Primark denies claims that it encourages disposable fashion: The article says that Primark is known for very low prices, and while this is helping the company build sales as other retailers close their doors, critics are linking this to promoting a culture of disposable fashion. Primark’s CEO denies this, saying he has no sense of throwing away clothing, and that the company’s products are built to last (17 Oct – in German).

Winners of the 8th Annual Responsible Business Awards: Ethical Corporation has announced winners of the 8th annual Responsible Business Awards. Among the winners and shortlisted were: CEO of the Year – Rose Marcario, Patagonia (winner); Sustainable Innovation of the Year – C&A, for showing that holistic and sustainable fashion is possible at scale (winner); Business to NGO Partnership of the Year – Marks & Spencer and Emerging Leaders (highly commended); New Entrant of the Year – Yoox Net-A-Porter Group (highly commended); Employee Engagement of the Year – HanesBrands (highly commended); Best Engagement Campaign of the Year – Myer Give Registry (winner), Gildan Activewear (shortlisted); Supplier Engagement of the Year – Marks & Spencer (shortlisted); Integrated Report of the Year – Marks & Spencer (highly commended); International Community Investment of the Year – Primark (shortlisted); Business to Business Partnership of the Year – Timberland and Thread (shortlisted) Sustainable Communications of the Year – Timberland, for Bottle to Boot (highly commended) (16 Oct).

Burberry Foundation, Elvis & Kresse prepare to tackle leather waste: In a bid to tackle the problem of leather waste, the Burberry Foundation has inked a five-year partnership with the London-based accessories brand Elvis & Kresse that will see at least 120 tons of leather offcuts from Burberry factories made into new products (18 Oct).

Burberry CEO joins seven UK companies in Business Against Slavery forum: Eight of the most influential business leaders in the UK have joined together to spearhead industry action to drive out slavery from supply chains, a list that includes Marco Gobbetti, CEO of Burberry (16 Oct).

Waste collection: A new frontier for the fashion industry? More than 60 per cent of the global fibre market is polyester. 86 per cent of the plastic entering the oceans comes from Asia, which is also where 86 per cent of polyester textiles are manufactured. So why not source the raw material for polyester manufacturing right from Asia’s plastic crisis? C&A is doing just that. Polyester accounts for 21 per cent of the material it uses in its clothing, so the company has set a goal of replacing virgin polyester made from petroleum with polyester made from recycled water bottles. C&A China is leading the way, selling 30,000 denim garments in 2016 made with Global Recycled Standard (GRS)-certified polyester (16 Oct).

IPE ranks textile brands on environmental performance in Chinese supply chains: The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) has released its annual Corporate Information Transparency Index (CITI), ranking the environmental performance of brands on their Chinese supply chains. This year it ranked 65 textile companies. Levi’s was ranked first (see story below), followed by (in order, with last year’s ranking in parenthesis): Esquel (10), Adidas (1), M&S (3), Gap (5), Puma (9), H&M (8), Walmart (6), Target (4) and Zara (7) (16 Oct). You can compare this year’s ranking with 2016 here (report downloads as PDF).

IPE ranks leather brands on environmental performance in Chinese supply chains: The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) has released its annual Corporate Information Transparency Index (CITI), ranking the environmental performance of brands on their Chinese supply chains. This year it ranked 37 companies using leather. Adidas was ranked first, followed by (in order, with last year’s ranking in parenthesis): Puma (2), New Balance (12), Asics (6), Nike (3), Burberry (9), Columbia (4), Li-Ning (10), Mizuno (5) and ecco (19) (16 Oct). You can compare this year’s ranking with 2016 here (report downloads as PDF).

Levi’s ranks first in green ranking for Chinese supply chains: The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) has ranked Levi’s the top company when it comes to reducing the environmental impact of its supply chain in China. IPE, an environment-focused NGO in China, released findings from its latest Corporate Information Transparency Index (CITI), measuring the performance of around 250 brands across 14 industries in terms of how they manage environmental performance in their supply chain in China (16 Oct).

Is H&M burning new products instead of recycling them? H&M is happy to present itself as a cool fashion label focussing on value and sustainability. Customers can even return their clothes and the Swedish company promises to give the old fabrics a new life by recycling. However, a report from Denmark reveals that H&M burns tons of new products. In a statement, the company said: “We are amazed at the current news, because for H&M, there is absolutely no reason to eliminate intact clothing in incinerators” (16 Oct – in German).This story was subsequently picked up in the English-language press. See, for example, H&M accused of burning 12 tonnes of new, unsold clothing per year: H&M said: “This is of course not true. The clothes featured in the program are stopped orders that have been sent to incineration because of mould or not complying with our strict chemical restrictions, which is according to our routines for stopped orders” (17 Oct), and Fashion brands incinerate waste clothing: which also named Bestseller (16 Oct – subscription required to read full article).

Goodbye to the cheap image: Primark focuses on sustainability: Primark and environmental sustainability? This does not fit the image of many critics. But the textile discounter wants to say goodbye once and for all of its cheap image (15 Oct – in German).

EU approval of Sri Lankan labour standards whitewashes abuse: “Fashion giants like H&M and Zara stand to save millions on tariff-free exports from Sri Lanka. The EU has again granted the country a ‘preferential’ trade concession earlier withdrawn in response to human rights abuses of Tamils in the final stages of the civil war. In response to an outcry from civil society and unions, a delegation from the EU is now in Sri Lanka to decide on how to adequately monitor labour standards. It sounds abstract enough. But in reality what it amounts to for workers on the ground is the difference between getting paid enough to live – or not” (15 Oct).

M&S, Primark, and H&M among retailers under the spotlight as it’s feared Myanmar factories have military ties: High street giants including Marks & Spencer, Primark, Next, Sports Direct and H&M are among retailers which sell clothes manufactured in Myanmar, where, as the Rohingya crisis deepens, organisations like Human Rights Watch are calling for sanctions against military leaders, some of whom are said to be profiting from the country’s economy. Phil Robertson, deputy director at Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said that conditions and wages in the country make it the ‘bottom of the barrel’ for the global textiles industry and that wages are ‘significantly less than even Bangladesh’ (14 Oct).

Cheap Monday commits to sustainable materials: Currently, Cheap Monday’s denim is made from 100 per cent sustainable materials, with 88 per cent of its menswear and 59 per cent of its womenswear. The goal for the brand’s Autumn/Winter 2018 Collection is to be 100 per cent sustainable across the board (14 Oct).

Mango reveals second sustainable collection: Mango has presented the second edition of its eco-friendly “Committed” range, made from sustainable materials, including organic cotton, recycled wool and Lyocell (13 Oct).

Textile companies do not care enough about the environment: The majority of textile companies take no action against climate change or water pollution, with a select few – including H&M, Adidas and Mammut – concerned about the environment, a new report from WWF Switzerland says (13 Oct). See also here (13 Oct) and here (13 Oct).

Reformation launches sustainable denim line: Their jeans will save the environment 1,468 gallons of water per pair. Reformation's denim which will be made from deadstock and more sustainable fabrics will only require around 32 gallons, and eliminate the use of toxic dyes. Founder Yael Aflalo has also instated a charitable aspect, called The Wet Program – for every jean purchased, they will clean 1,000 gallons of water. Their first project is to help clean San Gabriel River, which provides most Los Angeles residents with their water (13 Oct).

Stella McCartney is pioneering synthetic spider silk in high fashion: The most ground-breaking clothes at Stella McCartney’s recent Paris Fashion Week show weren’t on the runway. They were only shown backstage. On their face, the bodysuit and one pair of generously cut pants with a languorous drape – ‘parachute pants,’ McCartney calls them – fashioned from a plummy brown knit so fine it was almost sheer, seemed conventional enough. Except, they were created from a lustrous spider silk—formed without the help of any spiders. Instead, it’s a protein brewed with genetically engineered yeast and then spun into fibre strands (12 Oct).

Stella McCartney discusses how sustainable fashion can be sexy, and “how technology can save us”: “I’m hoping what will happen is in 10 years, people will look back at the fact that we killed billions of animals and cut down millions of acres of rain forest, and [used] water in the most inefficient way—we can’t sustain this way of living. So I’m hoping people will look back and say, ‘Really? That’s what they did to make a pair of shoes, seriously?’ If you’re lucky enough to have a business on this planet, you have to approach it in this [sustainable] way” (12 Oct).

Winners of the 2017 Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion: As part of the 2017 Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion, Gucci and Stella McCartney set 100 London College of Fashion students a sustainability challenge. Today, the 2017 Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion was presented to four outstanding students: Laure Fernandez and Charlie Wilkinson for Gucci; and Dianjen Lin and Jennifer Kusowski for Stella McCartney. Winners range from a project on microbial pigments to clothing that absorbs CO2 (11 Oct).

European fashion house HoodLamb brings 100 per cent cruelty-free collection to North America: HoodLamb, a European fashion house specializing in cruelty-free outerwear and knits, aims to address a serious market void for eco-friendly cold-weather alternatives. Since 1993, HoodLamb has been pioneering hemp into fashion. The entire HoodLamb collection is PETA Approved Vegan with annual proceeds from sales supporting both PETA and the environmental NGO Sea Shepherd to further their missions (11 Oct).

Over 36 major brands pledge to achieve sustainable cotton by 2025: 23 more of the world's most renowned clothing and textile companies, including Burberry, Adidas, Kathmandu and Timberland have pledged to use 100 per cent sustainable cotton by 2025.  36 major brands and retailers have now signed up to the 100 per cent by 2025 pledge (Oct 11).

Gucci bans fur, says ‘it’s not modern’: Gucci has banned the use of fur. The Kering-owned says the ban with take effect with its Spring/Summer 2018 collections and it has signed up to the Fur Free Alliance, an organisation that promises to end exploitation and killing of animals for fur, as part of a wider sustainability plan (11 Oct). See also, This is why it matters that Gucci has gone fur-free (15 Oct).

International protests against H&M: The German press reported on upcoming protests against H&M on Friday 13 October last week, with actions planned in 17 cities organised by trade union Verdi. The focus was on H&M’s alleged attacks on the rights of employees and works councils in Germany as well as upcoming collective bargaining with H&M suppliers in India. H&M rejected the allegations, saying it supports union (11 Oct – in German).

New M&S menswear suit crafted with recycled wool: Marks & Spencer (M&S) has launched a new menswear wool blend suit made with 55 per cent recycled wool, which includes materials donated in-store by its customers (11 Oct).

Cora + Spink’s complete guide to ethical fashion backpacks: Ethical backpack brand Cora + Spink has uploaded a very interesting guide to ethical fashion in backpacks, including the state of recycling in the UK, the use of dye, ecological impacts, and so on (10 Oct).

Plans unveiled to boost recycled polyester use: More than 40 textile, apparel and retail companies including brands such as Adidas, Dibella, Eileen Fisher, H&M, Lindex, Target and Timberland have signed either commitments or supporter agreements to increase their use of recycled polyester by at least 25 per cent by 2020. This new pledge has been organised by the Textile Exchange recycled polyester working group and is in-line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal target 12, which aims to achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources, including reducing material footprints (10 Oct – subscription required to read full article).

Yummy & Trendy launches Made-in-America Collection with eco-friendly fabric: The Yummy & Trendy collection is produced in California and features two four-way stretch fabrics, with eco-friendly leggings made with a poly-blend fabric with 76 per cent recycled PET fabric made from recycled soda bottles. The fabric is Bluesign-certified for environmental performance and social responsibility in the supply chain (05 Oct).

Patagonia creates Regenerative Organic Certification: Working closely with Rodale Institute, Patagonia has created Regenerative Organic Certification to establish a new, high bar for regenerative organic agriculture. The certification is the result of a lively and cooperative effort among a coalition of change-makers, brands, farmers, ranchers, nonprofits and scientists, all with a clear goal: to pave the way to an agricultural future focused on enriching the soil, while valuing people and animals (13 Sep).

REPORTS, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS

Novozymes launches open innovation initiative HelloScience: The first theme under the Novozymes new open innovation initiative HelloScience is ‘water’ and includes five specific challenges. Other challenges focus on biological solutions to remove polluting chemicals from water or improve cleaning of wastewater. That includes better filtering, less sludge, and recovery of phosphate, a precious nutrient, from wastewater (16 Oct).

Dutch Design Week explores sustainability: Sustainability and socially responsible design are key themes throughout the Dutch Design Week program; they are the focus of a young designer competition sponsored by HEMA, a program of issue-focused talks called Good Design for a Bad World, and many more events (16 Oct).

How Rent the Runway's closet in the cloud is changing face of sustainability: Many sustainable fashion advocates lean heavily on the idea that consumers need to buy less, as well as choose timeless, trend-immune pieces when they do buy, Rent the Runway CEO Jenn Hyman has a different idea. “We're encouraging people to rent inventory that they never would think about buying – things that are printed and trendy and colorful and completely of-the-moment” (15 Oct).

Professor develops method to purify, re-use water: To lessen organic pollutants in water, used especially in the textile industry, a photoactive nano catalyst technique has been developed by the PEC University of Technology in India. Associate professor of chemistry at the university Satwant Kaur Shahi developed the technique while conducting research on ionic liquid-mediated synthesis of photoactive nano catalysts and their catalytic activity (15 Oct).

Beauty and fashion impacted by ‘the new consumerism’: Euromonitor insights: Euromonitor International, a market research firm, recently held a webinar which covered how shifts in consumer behaviour have changed the way beauty and fashion brands need to present their products, their marketing and their retail channels (12 Oct).

Europe’s creative textiles rebound, sustainability at forefront: Gilles Lasbordes, general manager of Première Vision Paris, says Europe’s creative textiles industry is showing signs of rebounding. A key topic at the recent edition was the circular economy, with a Gucci coat made from sustainable cashmere from Re.Verso in reengineered wool, and a water-based cork coating from Tintex (12 Oct – p. 19).

Failed Promises: The rise and fall of GM cotton in India: A Soil Association report, released last week, “explores the astronomical rise and catastrophic fall of GM cotton in India which is the world’s largest producer and second biggest exporter of cotton”. The report was launched at the Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference in Washington D.C. (12 Oct). See more here and here.

China’s sustainable fashion paradox: Sustainability is moving up the agenda of the Chinese government as the country’s people say they care more about it. So why does the local fashion industry seem so disinterested? (11 Oct).

Textile Exchange released its largest preferred fibres report ever: Textile Exchange released its largest preferred fibres report ever last week, with 95 companies reporting.  findings recognize growth in the usage of recycled polyester (58 per cent), lyocell (128 percent) and Preferred down (54 per cent), the majority of which is certified to TE’s Responsible Down Standard. Organic and other preferred cottons now represent 47 per cent of total cotton usage (11 Oct).

Responsible Wool Standard adopted by Argentine wool industry: Textile Exchange’s Responsible Wool Standard will be used by two key Argentina organizations – ProLana and the Industry Wool Federation – as a basis for the outreach to and training of regional farmers (11 Oct).

PAN report on cotton’s chemical addiction: A new Pesticide Action Network UK report, supported by C&A Foundation, aims to shine a light on the current rate of pesticide use in cotton. It examines trends and patterns of use, looking in at six countries and regions who between them account for around four-fifths of the world’s cotton production: Africa, Australia, Brazil, China, India and the United States. Findings suggest that total pesticide use in cotton has fallen since the 1980s. But progress is not uniform (10 Oct).

Can we make fashion greener? BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth travelled to Milan Fashion week to meet some disruptors (and definitely optimists) who believe we are on the cusp of a green revolution that can turn the industry around (10 Oct).

Textile Exchange conference tackled sustainable development goals in textiles: The Textile Exchange conference focus and call to action this year was “united by action: catalysing the sustainable development goals in textiles” (10 Oct).

WWF urges need to promote water efficiency in Pakistan: World Wide Fund-Pakistan Director General Hammad Naqi Khan has stated the implementation of laws pertaining to industrial effluents generated from the textile and leather industries is weak. He made the statement in the context of a briefing by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Pakistan) under a project titled ‘International Labour and Environmental Standards Application in Pakistan’s Small and Medium Enterprises’ (10 Oct).

Coded yarn could make textiles traceable: A yarn-based coding system that can be used to track textiles through the supply chain has been developed by researchers at the University of Borås in Sweden (09 Oct).

Six sustainable textile innovations that will change the fashion industry: Bananas, coffee, pineapple, lotus, stinging nettles and hemp (09 Oct).

Smartly dressed in 100 percent Swedish paper: Researchers at the Swedish School of Textiles, at the University of Borås, have produced a dress made completely of paper from Swedish forests. The innovation project ‘Establish locally grown textiles in Sweden’ aims at enabling textile production of raw material from the pulp industry (06 Oct).

Fashion report authors hit back at criticism: Global Fashion Agenda and The Boston Consulting Group, which together co-authored the ‘Pulse of the Fashion Industry’ report, which was published in May this year, have sought to clarify some of the report’s findings after criticism from Greenpeace, which said it promoted the fast fashion business model and encouraged shoppers to buy even more clothing (06 Oct – subscription required to read full article).

MANUFACTURERS

Stahl and Lowe Corporation join forces to create a more sustainable leather industry: To strengthen a commitment to sustainability, Stahl and Lowe Corporation have entered a partnership agreement linked to the alternative tanning system Stahl EasyWhite Tan. This tanning system enables New Zealand’s Lowe Corporation to create leather with a lower environmental impact, while using significantly less salt. The companies not only focus on extending the use of Stahl EasyWhite Tan within Lowe Corporation, but to promote more sustainable solutions in leather production elsewhere (15 Oct).

Lanka Leather Fashion renews commitment to sustainability: Continuing on the environmental responsibility journey that they embarked on two years ago, high-end leather garment manufacturer Lanka Leather Fashion recently renewed their CarbonNeutral certification for the third year running. Suppliers to prominent high-street fashion brands such as Hugo Boss, Gerry Weber, Michael Kors and Taleco, LLF is also a staunch advocate of social responsibility both in the workspace and with local small businesses to promote sustainability across the leather industry (11 Oct).

Nanollose raises AUD$5m to develop sustainable fibre: Australian company Nanollose has raised AUD$5,000,000 from investors, with ambitions to commercialise its sustainable fibre technology. Nanollose is developing a world-first plant-free fibre that is set to become a sustainable alternative to commonly used fibres such as cotton (11 Oct).

RadiciGroup releases 2016 sustainability report: Italian chemical company RadiciGroup has released its sustainably report. Highlights include: emissions reduced by 51 per cent during the last six years; 51.6 per cent of electricity used by Group plants in 2016 came from renewable sources; and a strong emphasis on employee training, with 53,228 hours of courses in 2016 (08 Oct).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

High Court halts new Bangladesh Accord on garment factory fire, building safety: After hearing a writ petition filed by a leader of an organisation of garment workers and employees on Sunday, the bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice Mohammad Ullah froze the new agreement until May 15, 2018. It also issued a rule asking the authorities why the decision to 'extend the agreement without permission from the government, owners and workers' would not be declared illegal. Stichting Bangladesh Accord Foundation, the labour ministry and the chief inspector at the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments have been given four weeks to respond to the rule. The agreement has so far been signed by Kmart Australia, Target Australia, Primark, H&M, Inditex, C&A, Otto, KiK, Aldi South, Aldi North, Lidl, Tchibo, LC Waikiki and Helly Hansen (16 Oct). (See related story immediately below.)

Bangladesh High Court questions legality of Accord’s 3-year extension: A bench of the High Court Division issued a rule nisi on the extension of the tenure of the Accord for three more years, as the foreign building inspection agency unilaterally terminated business ties with Smart Jeans Ltd., a Chittagong based garment group (15 Oct).

Inditex supplier unions meet in Hanoi to boost industrial relations: Thirty-three trade union leaders from Inditex supplier garment factory unions gathered in Hanoi, Vietnam from 6-7 October, for the second annual meeting to review their network’s activities for 2017, exchange best practices and set the agenda for 2018. On the first day of the meeting, representatives from global brands Inditex, H&M and 11 local suppliers also joined the meeting for a session on improving social dialogue and industrial relations. The meeting was part of a series of national meetings supported by FES, IndustriALL and Inditex in the implementation of the Global Framework Agreement (13 Oct).

Affordable housing for Honduran textile workers: Employees of the Honduran textiles and apparel industries now have the opportunity to buy affordable homes in mixed-use, gated communities located near their workplaces, thanks to a US$ 120 million public-private partnership facilitated by Honduras2020, the country’s economic development program (13 Oct).

Fashion brands urged to sign 2018 Bangladesh Accord: Global unions IndustriALL and UNI have called on fashion brands to sign the second Bangladesh Accord for Building and Fire Safety, a platform of European retailers that extends the legally-binding commitment to factory safety in Bangladesh for three more years (12 Oct).

Cambodian workers protest as salaries fall short: More than 300 garment workers have protested outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s home to seek intervention after their employer failed to pay their September salaries. The workers are from Gawon Apparel Co. (12 Oct).

New factory culture slashes protests, says Cambodian PM: Garment factory demonstrations and strikes have significantly dropped this year thanks to better working relationships between employers, workers and unions, Prime Minister Hun Sen said last week (12 Oct).

German project to protect social and labour standards in Cambodia’s garment and textiles sector: The project “Social and Labour Standards in the Textile and Garment Sector in Asia (SLSG)”, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), helps the Royal Government of Cambodia address these challenges by promoting labour and social standards through support of the public and private sectors (10 Oct).

A long battle ahead for workers of shuttered Indian factory: Eighty employees of Unitex International, a garment factory that closed in March 2016, are still hoping to receive compensation, despite the owner having evaded his legal responsibilities in a similar incident in 2012. (09 Oct).

Uzbekistan excuses some workers from cotton fields: The Uzbek government has recalled university students and some health and education workers from forced labour in the cotton fields, the Cotton Campaign said recently. “Bringing students home from the fields is a significant change and shows the importance of political will in ending forced labour,” said Umida Niyazova, director of the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights (UGF) (05 Oct).

Vietnam textile association opposes wage hike: The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) has proposed that the regional minimum wage (covering four regions in the country) not be increased next year by 6.5 per cent (05 Oct).

(Photo by Wil Stewart on UnsplashCCO)

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