BRANDS AND RETAILERS
Model turned CEO is betting ‘bricks and clicks’ can create a green fast-fashion empire: With a growing number of tech stores like the one in West Hollywood, Yael Aflalo is building on that success and putting Reformation on a path to $140 million in sales next year, up from just $25 million in 2015. Aflalo says surveys show product design is the main driver of Reformation’s sales, with the promise of sustainability a close second. Like the fast-fashion giants H&M and Forever 21, Reformation operates on a rapid design-to-rack cycle of 42 days. She is betting that a focus on quality and rising environmental awareness will help Reformation take on not only standard fast fashion but also higher-end Goliaths (24 Oct).
Major companies fail to disclose slavery risks, say UK experts: Some of the world’s top brands including apparel companies are failing to disclose slavery and trafficking risks in their operations and supply chains, British anti-slavery experts said on Wednesday. A new report from CORE, a watchdog on corporate accountability, said a study of 50 big name brands showed many statements were short on detail and lacked transparency. “The level of complacency from major companies, particularly those that trumpet their corporate social responsibility, is startling,” CORE’s director, Marilyn Croser, said in a statement. In the section on apparel and footwear retailers, the following companies were surveyed: Aldi UK, Foot Locker, Lidl UK, Matalan, and Sports Direct. Five football clubs with significant apparel business were also surveyed: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United (04 Oct).The full report, Risk Averse? Company reporting on raw material and sector-specific risks under the Transparency in Supply Chains clause in the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015, can be downloaded here.
IndustriALL signs global framework agreement with ASOS: IndustriALL has signed a global framework agreement with e-commerce brand ASOS, to strengthen the implementation of international labour standards across ASOS’ global supply chain. The GFA is a first for an e-commerce brand, and will establish a framework for protecting and strengthening the rights of workers producing ASOS own-brand products in countries around the world (03 Oct).
Stella McCartney partners with RealReal in sustainable consignment deal: More than 80 billion pieces of clothing are produced worldwide each year. Of these pieces, 75% will end up in landfills. Stella McCartney said of the deal: “Sustainability is important to us and I'm excited to be partnering with The RealReal on this new sustainable program. We believe that consignment and recommerce can play a significant part in reducing the amount of raw materials that are required each year from our planet” (02 Oct).
Tchibo, C&A, M&S and H&M top Sustainable Cotton Report: Leading international retailers Tchibo, C&A, Marks & Spencer and H&M (in that order) are ‘frontrunners’ in 2017’s Sustainable Cotton Ranking (see website here), but overall, big brand progress on cotton sustainability is insufficient, with only just over a fifth (21%) of this being sourced by companies as sustainable (the rest is sold as conventional cotton). The report was released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), together with sustainability-focused development agency Solidaridad and Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK), in a bid to highlight the need for more sustainable practices in the cotton production sector (02 Oct). You can check our company scores here. You can download the full report here.
Stella McCartney achieves first cradle to cradle certified gold level wool yarn: Stella McCartney has been awarded a Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold level certification for its wool yarn by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, in what the company says is a fashion industry first (01 Oct).
New solution for dyeing textile: A jacket co-developed by Odd Molly, Spindye and FashionEx uses new solution for dyeing textile. “Our dyeing solution starts with mixing colour with the recycled polyester chips before spinning into yarns form. Think of turning clear Lego bricks into colour with pigment. This dyeing technology is also used in other industries, too,” said Vincent Djen of FashionEx (30 Sep).
Collaboration between Australian wool farmers and high-end fashion houses for ‘single origin’ clothing: Customers are increasingly demanding product traceability which links the farm with the woollen garment on the rack. This push for ‘single origin’ clothing has led two Tasmanian fine wool farming families to form close partnerships with the fashion industry. The video at the link is worth watching (30 Sep). If you don’t have time for the video, see text story here. The two brands at the heart of the story are MJ Bale and Country Road.
Swedish event talks sustainable fashion: Mistra Future Fashion this week held a two-day event to discuss the progress made during the six years its research programme including the latest news on its polycotton project which produces chemical recycled cellulose (viscose) filaments from cotton/polyester blended textiles. Representatives from government and major industry partners including Swedish retailers H&M, Lindex, Fillipa K and KappAhl gathered to hear a variety of perspectives on innovative measures to improve sustainability in the garment sector (29 Sep – subscription required to read full article).
New PaCT boss claims targets exceeded: The newly appointed program manager for Bangladesh Partnership for Cleaner Textiles (PaCT), Nishat Shahid Chowdhury, has said the initiative which is backed by the Dutch government and retailers such as Inditex, C&A and H&M has met, and in some cases exceeded, all its program targets as it gears up for PaCT Phase II, which is launched last week (29 Sep – subscription required to read full article).
Benetton earns RDS (Responsible Down Standard) certification: Benetton has obtained Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certification, which safeguards the welfare of geese and ducks that provide the down and feathers used in Benetton’s collections. Using specialized third-party certification bodies, the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) independently certifies all aspects related to the animals’ wellbeing and care, including traceability of the feathers and down from their origin to the end product (28 Sep).
Two Californians, 180,000 bags, and an alternative factory model in Bangladesh: Apolis is a small sustainable fashion and lifestyle brand making bags priced at nearly $70. The jute is sourced from Bangladesh, the manufacturing process, which also takes place in Bangladesh, is monitored carefully, and as a result, more than a 100 Bangladeshi women have employment. A new film released by Apolis, and shot by a local photojournalist, shows how it happens (28 Sep).
Is transparency the latest fashion “innovation”? Georgina Rawes from Ethical Consumer discusses the supply chains of some of the most popular high-street retailers, and ranks them on the basis of EC’s latest report into high-street retailers, which shows 70% of high street retailers now receive EC’s ‘best’ rating for supply chain management, but there is still a way to go. Out of 20, the rankings are: ASOS 9.5, White Stuff Clothing 9, H&M (conscious clothing) 8.5, Uniqlo 8.5, and Burton 7.5 (for the top five), down to TK Maxx 4.5, Sainsbury’s 2.5, Tesco 1.5, Amazon 0, and ASDA George 0 (at the bottom) (28 Sep).
The firms that donate as many goods as they sell: The “buy one, donate one” model is getting more popular. The focus is on lingerie brand Making a Difference Intimates (Madi), which charges more for underwear but says it’s “because they are made from bamboo cloth – a material that is ‘more comfortable than cotton, more sustainable, and longer-lasting’”. Toms is also mentioned (28 Sep).
Superdry announces new CSR goals: SuperGroup, the parent group of major fashion brand Superdry, has announced three CSR targets by 2040. The “Super Responsible 40” goals are: 100% organic cotton usage; 100% renewable electricity usage; and helping 100,000 young people to positively contribute to their community (27 Sep).
T-Shirt Printing UK goes renewable: Garment manufacturer, T-Shirt Printing UK, has moved its operations to a new low carbon factory on the Isle of Wight, which is powered entirely by renewable energy (26 Sep – subscription required to read full article).
Is Nike being honest about its new leather offering? A couple of weeks ago, there was a lot of buzz around Nike’s announcement of “the greatest advance in leather, since leather’. The Leather Naturally initiative, which promotes the use of globally-manufactured sustainable leather, was not impressed. “Leather Naturally was surprised and disappointed by the recent announcement by Nike to use a material reconstituted largely from tannery shavings as an affordable and effective material for some of their footwear. Our issue lies with the terminology being used in calling the product leather and in the unsubstantiated environmental claims” (20 Sep).
REPORTS, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS
Fashion Tech Lab showcases sustainable innovations: Seven innovative technologies offered ideas on fashion's path forward at the initiative’s launch in Paris earlier this week. “There is a revolution happening in material science, bio- and nanotechnologies. It’s coming into our industry, which, despite producing new trends every season, hasn’t changed its technology for a century,” Fashion Tech Lab founder Miroslava Duma said (03 Oct).
India’s crackdown on Muslim-run leather units dents exports, hits jobs: A government crackdown on Muslim-dominated abattoirs and the trade of cattle dragged down India’s exports of leather shoes by more than 13 percent in June, as leading global brands turned to China, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan to secure supplies (03 Oct).
Brands encouraged to speak out against human rights violations in Cambodia: Leading fashion brands producing goods in Cambodia are encouraged to speak out about numerous human rights violations taking place following the closing of democratic and civil society space. Labour rights organizations Clean Clothes Campaign, Worker Rights Consortium and International Labour Rights Forum are calling on international fashion companies sourcing from Cambodia to take a stand against the repression of political leaders, non-governmental organization and independent media and urge the local government to respect human rights and labour rights (03 Oct). You can see more here from Clean Clothes Campaign.
BGMEA signs pact for green production: The International Finance Corporation has signed an agreement with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association to implement the second Partnership for Cleaner Textiles (PaCT) in the garment and textile sector (01 Oct).
Cotton USA launches new global website: Cotton USA has launched a new global website. Translated into twelve languages, the website offers its business partners various facilities including live market pricing, weekly export and market reports and global supplier/licensee and exporter search capabilities. Cotton USA is the promoter of United States cotton fibre and cotton products (30 Sep). See new site here.
Five buying practices that put pressure on suppliers: A joint survey launched last year by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Ethical Trading Initiatives (ETI) of Denmark, Norway and the UK has been compiled into an ILO policy brief and a new free ETI Guide to Buying Responsibly. The busying practices mentioned in the title are: accepting orders below the cost of production; the struggle to pay workers; subcontracting orders to other companies because of low order prices; suppliers expected to assume full responsibility for financing social compliance and other ethical requirements, including audits (29 Sep).
How cotton consumed an entire sea and why men need to know: “Informed and intelligent men know that every Dollar or Euro that you spend is a vote for the kind of world we live in. But do you know the real price of your T-shirt?” (27 Sep).
How anti-sweatshop activists and unions made severance pay mandatory: An article by campaigners with the International Labor Rights Forum about how international supporters and grassroots unions have combined forces to hold brands accountable and to set the precedent that multinational buyers are liable for the debts their suppliers owe to workers. Cased at Rio Garment in Honduras and PT Kizone in Indonesia are summarised to demonstrate the point (27 Sep).
Could kelp be the future of sustainable fashion? National Geographic Chasing Genius Challenge winner Asta Skocir, starts with kelp and ends with AlgiKnit, a product that serves as a replacement for everyday man-made textiles, such as polyester. Her goal is to keep fashion products from filling landfills and taking decades to decompose – she is making fashion that does no harm to the planet we want to sustain (27 Sep).
The sea suffers for fashion: A long article focusing on the impact of cotton, leather, denim and plastics on oceans and rivers. It covers pesticides in Pakistan to the chemical death of rivers in Bangladesh via tanneries (26 Sep).
How the fashion industry is shifting toward sustainable wardrobes: The answers are contained in a $1,000 22-page report called Fashion Debrief, which spotlights how key brands, designers and figures in the fashion industry are leading the way towards eco-friendly production (22 Sep).
Eastman makes further inroads with Naia cellulosic fibre: Jeroen B. Jacobs, global director of textile fibres at Eastman Chemical, noted that Naia is manufactured from wood pulp – it’s slogan is “From Nature to Fashion” – sourced from sustainably managed forests in the Americas, specifically pined wood and eucalyptus (28 Sep).
IFC to launch 2nd phase of advisory service for green textile production: The International Finance Corporation (IFC) plans to launch the second phase of its advisory service – Partnership for Cleaner Textiles (PaCT) – in Dhaka on Saturday, with an aim to achieve sustainable textile production. Under the programme, garment and textile makers are advised to adopt modern technologies in factories and changing attitudes to reduce water and energy consumption in the next four years (28 Sep).
Technical textile growth set to soar, but can we sustain the eco impact? Global fibre demand is expected to see growth a little above average GDP at least until 2020, and in that time, technical textile production should reach 42 million metric tons. But all of that growth in fibre demand comes with a dark side too: pollution (28 Sep).
Indian dying units get permission to use sewage water: To meet the shortfall of water needed for textile dyeing and bleaching process, the Dyers Association of Tirupur (DAT) has recommended the city corporation to allow the units to utilise 20 MLD of untreated sewage water being discharged into the Noyyal River (27 Sep).
Naturally coloured cotton could regain popularity as companies seek more sustainable solutions: Naturally coloured cotton used to be part of farmers’ crop rotations until the trend toward the off-white type took over and farmers were asked—sometimes even paid—not to produce the colored variety. But Organic Cotton Colours is trying to bring naturally colored cotton back into fashion. (27 Sep).
Modern Meadow launches Zoa, the first ever biofabricated leather material brand: Zo is the world’s first biofabricated leather brand. Made by Modern Meadow, Zoa is the company’s first generation of materials created with nature’s essential protein, collagen, but grown completely without animal derivatives (26 Sep).
SAC targets 20,000 textile facilities: The Sustainable Apparel Coalition has launched an internal campaign to get 20,000 supplier facilities on board with the new, soon-to-be launched Higg Platform by the end of 2018 as it looks to significantly scale up participation in the sustainability index. The SAC currently has data from around 10,000 supplier facilities on the Higg, but the plan is to scale up significantly with the brand new version of the platform which aims to be launched in early November (26 Sep – subscription required to read full article).
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Cambodian unions, employer reps barely budge on wage: The Cambodian Labour Advisory Committee’s second meeting last week resulted in employer representatives increasing their $161 minimum wage proposal by a mere $0.50, with the unions in turn reducing their demand by $1.25 (02 Oct).
Overview of new Myanmar labour law guide: The International Labour Organisation (ILO), has produced a guide to major labour law issues ranging from minimum wage, public holidays, medical leave to child employment in Myanmar. This article summarises the major aspects (02 Oct).
Cambodian garment workers told to curb wage rise demands: Prime Minister Hun Sen has told garment workers not to demand an excessive increase in the minimum wage, otherwise factories could move to more affordable countries. Speaking to more than 10,000 garment workers in Phnom Penh, he said many employees in Asia get paid less than them, citing the fact staff in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka get $67 a month, while workers in Myanmar are paid $79 and those in Laos get $110 (28 Sep).
Cambodian garment workers stuck trying to stitch together a home: Garment workers in Cambodia face extreme hardship in their private rented accommodation, as they struggle to provide for their families in the provinces. Where some factories in Cambodia provide accommodation for their workers, others must shift for themselves in the local rental market. With the official minimum wage set at $153 a month, margins for many workers are so tight that they skimp on their housing so they can afford the basics (28 Sep).
Saint John lawyer’s work could help millions in Bangladesh garment industry: John Stanley is one of six people worldwide contracted to come up with legislation that would improve the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh for the people who work in it. The specific goal is a sustainable workers compensation system for an industry where workers have laboured in unsafe conditions and experienced great tragedy (28 Sep).
The Cambodian Garment worker diaries: Fashion Revolution has released the next instalment of its worker diaries series by asking, “Who made my clothes?” Research was conducted to learn about what garment workers earn and spend, the hours they spend at work in the factory and at home doing household chores, and what their working conditions are like (28 Sep).
Yangon panel favours minimum wage of K4400-K6400: Yangon Region’s minimum wage committee will propose a range of K4400 ($3.23) to K6400 ($4.70) a day to the national minimum wage panel in the first week of October (27 Sep).
Mexico didn't wait long after the earthquake to raze a building that housed low-wage textile workers: In a follow up to the story of the building collapse in Mexican earthquake last week comes news that least 21 people were killed, including five people from Taiwan, all of whom had apparent links to firms based in the building. A South Korean man also appears to have been among the victims. Almost a week after the earthquake struck, the case of the building on Chimalpopoca Street and its former occupants remain enveloped in mystery. Accusations about illegal clothing factories and official corruption are swirling on social media under the hashtag #Chimalpopoca, though they have been accompanied by no hard evidence (26 Sep).