BRANDS AND RETAILERS
Inditex creates uproar, refuses to pay wages to over 150 Turkish garment workers: In a follow-up to last week’s story about tags appearing in Zara garments from workers in Turkey appealing for unpaid wages, Sustainable Brands argues that the compensation fund set up by Inditex, Mango and Next appears to be “too little too late” (14 Nov).
ASICS, Stahl partner with bluesign to strengthen chemical management, sustainability: Chemicals management continues to go mainstream, with sporting goods manufacturer ASICS and chemical company Stahl joining the growing body of brands, manufacturers and chemical suppliers to achieve bluesign system partner status (14 Nov).
A native Parisian spins a thriving ethical clothing brand from sustainable fibres: Amour Vert (‘green love’) makes sustainable and durable T-shirts in American factories paying fair wages. It uses sustainable fabrics and non-toxic dyes, and the brand is committed to zero-waste manufacturing (13 Nov).
Marmot to launch first garment made entirely without water: In Spring 2018, outdoor brand Marmot will launch the Phoenix Jacket, the first-ever garment made entirely without any water at any stage of its production (13 Nov).
Do sustainability and luxury go hand in hand? According to this article, the short answer is yes. It focuses on Econyl a company that turns waste materials into new nylon through a process of never-ending regeneration. It presents a mini-case study on Fighetti, a luxury swimwear brand from Amsterdam, is using regenerated nylon by Econyl. Also mentioned Levi’s, Stella McCartney, H&M, Marks & Spencer, and Adidas (13 Nov). On a related now, see The supply chain is becoming part of luxury designers’ branding strategies: Everlane and American Giant are making transparency trendy, and H&M, Zara and Gap are following in their footsteps (13 Nov).
Fashion’s interest in alternative fabrics keeps growing: The New York Times looks at alternative fabrics, including those used by Salvatore Ferragamo, Stella McCartney, The North Face, and Adidas (12 Nov).
Claims of ‘ethically made’ abroad clash with reality at American Apparel: American Apparel was sold to Gildan and moved operations outside the US – now the idea the brand was based upon clashes with what workers actually experience (12 Nov).
How will Gucci ban affect Hong Kong fur industry? Hong Kong is the third largest re-exporter of fur clothing, though most fur comes from China, with Chinese “fur garment production increase[ing] by 41.3 per cent from 2011 to 2016 … and output value near doubled.” The answer, then, is not very much (12 Nov).
NGOs rank brands on using sustainable cotton: WWF, Solidaridad, and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) have identified four clear pioneers seriously trying to work with sustainable cotton (Tchibo, C&A, Marks & Spencer, and H&M), but say that Zalando, Ralph Lauren and Forever 21 show little interest in it. The companies with the worst results, with a score of zero, included for Amazon, New Yorker, Footlocker, S Oliver and Walmart (a German retailer) (12 Nov – in German). The article is based on a report called Sustainable Cotton Ranking 2017 (which you can find here (PDF)).
How ethical is ethical fashion: Remake filtered 50 pioneers and emerging fashion brands through its sustainability framework to measure their adherence to environmental, social and governance goals. These brands came out on top: Mud Jeans, Kowtow, Soko, Asos Eco Edit, and Nudie Jeans (10 Nov).
BF+DA Positive Impact Awards acknowledge apparel’s sustainability leaders: At the BF+DA Positive Impact Awards held last week at Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator, more than 800 apparel industry members came together to celebrate the sustainable milestones of select companies, documentaries, organizations and individuals blazing a trail in the sector, including Avery Dennison, Target, and Alabama Chanin (10 Nov).
Levi’s global fellowship program to tackle climate impact in apparel industry: Just-Style reports that Levi’s has revealed the second year of its global fellowship program will address the climate impact of the apparel industry (10 Nov).
Zayn Malik, Gucci, and H&M Among Winners of PETA U.K. Fashion Awards 2017: This year’s winners include singer Zayn Malik, whose Versus Versace collection took home the Collaboration Award for its vegan “eco-leather” statement pieces, and H&M, which nabbed the Red Carpet Dress Award for its custom BIONIC dress, made from recovered shoreline waste. Gucci landed the Biggest Fashion Moment award for its monumental decision to drop fur after more than 20 years of PETA protests, while Stella McCartney‘s Elyse won the Best Vegan Shoes award (10 Nov).
Wolverine to spend $3M on water contamination costs in 2017: Wolverine is prepared to spend millions of dollars to clean up water contamination tied to tannery waste, the shoe company’s CEO said last week. The contamination is linked to a toxic chemical discharge that has polluted the Rogue River in Rockford, Michigan, and poisoned drinking water supplies in Plainfield Township (09 Nov).
Report finds ‘Made in Europe’ label tied to garment and shoe production in European sweatshops: A new report published last week by the Clean Clothes Campaign, titled Europe’s Sweatshops, documents endemic poverty wages and other stark working conditions in the garment and shoe industry throughout Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. Despite working overtime, many workers in the Ukraine for example make just EUR 89 a month, where a living wage would have to be five times that much. Among customers of the factories are fashion brands like Benetton, Esprit, GEOX, Triumph and Vera Moda. (09 Nov). See the report here, with links to new country research on Ukraine, Serbia and Hungary.
Levi’s teams up with Outerknown for sustainable denim capsule: Levi’s has partnered with surfer Kelly Slater’s sustainable men’s brand Outerknown to launch a four-piece capsule collection using Levi’s Wellthread eco-friendly and socially conscious production methods (09 Nov).
First-ever sustainable hosiery brand: Nadja Forsberg and Linn Frisinger have created Swedish Stockings, a sustainable hosiery brand making stockings from recycled yarn and natural fibres, and contracting sustainable factories using eco-friendly dyes, post-dyeing water treatments, and solar power (09 Nov).
Brands shortlisted for Stop Slavery Awards: Five brands/retailers have been shortlisted for The Stop Slavery Award, an initiative of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which will be announced this week. They are Adidas, Aldi, Walmart, C&A, and Marks & Spencer (08 Nov).
LVMH boss says assets referred to in ‘Paradise Papers’ known to tax bodies: Bernard Arnault, France’s richest billionaire and the head of luxury goods group LVMH, said last week that assets referred to by Le Monde newspaper, in the “Paradise Papers” leaks tracking tax affairs, were known to tax authorities (08 Nov). In FSWIR Week 45, we noted that corporate tax may be about to become the next big CSR issue, with Nike the first apparel company coming under scrutiny after the story broke.
New UW contract with Nike that allows inspections of overseas factories is first of its kind: The University of Washington has signed a contract with Nike that gives a watchdog group Worker Rights Consortium the right to inspect its overseas factories. The contract could become a model for other universities around the country (08 Nov).
Organic cotton guides: Kering and Textile Exchange published two comprehensive guides on the organic cotton trade last week in order to provide a blueprint for companies sourcing organic cotton, and incorporating it into their supply chains (08 Nov). Download “A World Beyond Certification: A best practices guide for organic cotton trade models” here (PDF), and “Organic Cotton: A fibre classification guide” here (PDF).
New audit framework for new focus on remediation: Just-Style reports on the second stage of a converged assessment framework by the Social and Labor Convergence Project, with input from brands such as Nike and Timberland, which seeks to reduce excessive audits so that manufacturers are able to work on sustainable social and labour improvements (08 Nov).
Marimekko to help commercialise Spinnova’s wood-based textiles: Finnish brand Marimekko and the Finnish fibre technology company Spinnova have begun cooperating on the development and market entry of new, wood-based textiles. Marimekko supports Spinnova in developing and commercialising textiles made with pulp-based fibre spun with Spinnova’s technology (07 Nov).
Why is H&M burning new clothes? From the Greenpeace blog: “You might remember that H&M has been heavily promoting its recycling scheme. Whenever Greenpeace campaigned on the need to limit their immense use of resources, H&M responded with grand promises that soon everything will be “kept in the loop” and that technical innovations will make their manufacturing chain more sustainable” (07 Nov). This story, which broke in mid-October (see FSWIR Week 42), was quickly refuted by H&M.
Global Fund for Women campaigns for female garment workers: In order to eliminate gender-based violence and reinforce the rights of female garment workers, the Global Fund for Women has begun a campaign with C&A Foundation and Gender at Work on behalf of female garment workers in Asia (07 Nov).
Democrat House candidate linked to Chinese sweatshop operations: Reports from 2004 on workplace conditions at Chinese factories supplying to athletic apparel company AND1 are being cited to link Chrissy Houlahan (running for Congress) to operations in Chinese shoe factories that had sweatshop-like conditions (07 Nov). This news, from conservative news outlet Breitbart, mirrors exposés published this year on the supply chain of brand Ivanka Trump.
REPORTS, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS
Four anxieties keeping fashion CEOs awake at night: “Anxiety #4: Environmental sustainability. With so much talk of brands being eco-friendly but still no notable progression, it is imperative to rethink the strength of commitment to the environment” (14 Nov).
Recycling ‘breakthrough’ on poly/cotton textiles: For the first time a new chemical process has been demonstrated that recovers viscose filaments from polyester/cotton blended fabrics to give three commercial outputs from a single waste stream. The new technology is being described as a breakthrough by Mistra Future Fashion where cotton is turned into new high-quality viscose filaments and two pure new monomers are derived from polyester/cotton blended materials – all at high yields (09 Nov – subscription required to full article). See more here.
Apparel industry ramping up apparel recycling efforts: “Momentum is growing amongst sector leadership to align initiatives and join forces for scale and impact in this area,” says Ted van der Put, consultant and former executive advisor of IDH, Sustainable Trade Initiative, a public/private partnership for sustainable development. Among other things, IDH works on recycling programs with organizations like Fashion for Good, Cradle-to-Cradle, and Fair Fashion. “Most leading brands are active in this space,” he says (09 Nov).
How unions are keeping workers safe: From the Guardian comes a story about how codes of conduct from Florida to Bangladesh are improving the lives of millions of workers in corporate supply chains in, among other industries, clothing. ““We want to go from a culture of audit-and-ignore to a culture of inspect-and-remedy,” said Ineke Zeldenrust director of the Clean Clothes Campaign, a European-wide anti-sweatshop group” (08 Nov).
ZDHC announces new certification standard: The ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme has announced that BLC Chem-MAP will be a ZDHC Accepted Certification Standard. The company will offer certification products to chemical suppliers to certify their formulations at the ZDHC MRSL Level 1 conformance. BLC provides a range of testing, auditing and other professional services related to the leather industry (08 Nov).
Is Bangladesh really closing the gender gap? This report from the Dhaka Tribune is based on the the World Economic Forum’s The Global Gender Gap Report 2017, released on 02 November. The report benchmarks 144 countries, and the article is only concerned with detailing how Bangladesh performed. It ranked 124 in labour force participation, 104 in wage equality, and 108 in earned income, with the report noting that “the participation of women in the economy may have increased, but they are mostly in low-paid and low-skilled jobs” (08 Nov). You can find The Global Gender Gap Report 2017 here.
Why mindful millennials are modern pagans: Maggie Montagna and Mortimer Singer from Marvin Traub Associates argue that storytelling and mythology is driving millennial consumer culture today in the US. “The Goddess of Nature: Sustainability: To today’s customer, a purchase is no longer just an exchange but an indication of support for the broader brand narrative. Brands that tell a story and incorporate an authentic social mission resonate deeply with the modern consumers, creating a critical competitive advantage” (07 Nov).
Oeko-Tex says sustainability awakening is ‘definitely coming’: Oeko-Tex has released results from a survey of more than 11,000 consumers around the world to understand opinions about clothing and home textiles. Titled “The Key to Confidence: Consumers and Textile Sustainability – Attitudes, Changing Behaviours, and Outlooks”, it “should serve as a call to action for the textile industry … Consumers are fast learning that their textile buying decisions impact not only their families but also their communities and beyond. Brands, retailers, and manufacturers need to be ready for this awakening. It is definitely coming” (25 Oct). You can see more results in Brands are key for sustainability, from Fashion United, which notes, “a significant 70 per cent of those surveyed indicated that they are “committed to a sustainable, environmentally friendly lifestyle”, their actual behaviour does not - yet - reflect this” (02 Nov).
Sustainable chemicals in shoe production: The Huafeng Textile Group is one example of how companies are employing more sustainable chemicals with digital technologies. The company is employing the latest safe, high-solids, fully water-based chemistry to provide high film build up in fewer process steps, while reducing waste, labour, drying time and energy, in an environment that is completely safe for those working in it (13 Nov).
Salt-free denim dyeing with lower effluent: Dyestuff and chemical manufacturer Dystar has added Cadira Denim to its portfolio as part of its continued resource efficiency program in a bid to reduce water, waste and energy consumption during denim dyeing (09 Nov – subscription required to read full article).
Jeanologia urges Bangladesh’s denim industry to collaborate: Last week, Jeanologia gathered agents involved in the Bangladeshi textile industry to create a 100 per cent “Made in Bangladesh” collection. The collection serves as an example of ethical, eco-efficient fashion and how the technology firm can become a reliable partner in the country’s textile industry’s growth. (08 Nov).
Spandex gets recycled certification: For the first time, recycled spandex from the Sheico Group waste has been certified to the Global Recycled Standard. The GRS certification was awarded to a Taiwanese-based textile producer in October 2017 (07 Nov – subscription required to read full article).
Birla defends viscose pollution allegations: Aditya Birla says it has put in place a range of new partnerships with the textile value chain to lower the environmental impact of its viscose staple fibre production. The statement comes following a report earlier this year in which Birla was implicated, amongst other fibre suppliers, of pollution from the its viscose textile mills in Indonesia, China and India where the local ecosystem was exposed to hazardous processing chemicals, such as caustic soda and sulphuric acid (02 Nov – subscription required to read full article). The report cited in this report is Dirty Fashion: How pollution in the global textiles supply chain is making viscose toxic. We covered this in FSWIR Week 24. You can see the report here. Note also the story directly below on Canopy’s ranking of viscose producers, which Birla Cellulose (part of the Aditya Birla Group) tops. See also Birla Cellulose tops global sustainability list (09 Nov).
NGO ranks global viscose producers: Canopy, a not-for-profit environmental organisation dedicated to protecting the world’s forests, species and climate, has released updated and expanded edition of the Hot Button Report, a ranking of eleven viscose and rayon producers that represent 70% of global viscose production. Highlights include: Birla Cellulose and Lenzing, representing 25% of global supply, now have ‘light green shirt’ ranking; and Chinese producers, Sateri, Sanyou and Fulida, are well underway with CanopyStyle Audits (01 Nov). You can read the full report here (PDF).
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Two die as crowded workers’ truck rolls in Cambodia: Two workers died and nearly 100 were injured when a truck carrying garment workers to work overturned on Friday last week (13 Nov).
Korea donates safety monitors to Cambodian factories: The Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency has donated more than 65 pieces of safety equipment to the Ministry of Labour to assist it in making working conditions better in garment factories (09 Nov).
Cambodia to phase out short-term contracts: Garment industry employers and unions met Labour Ministry officials last week to discuss measures to reduce the use of short-term work contracts in the sector. The meeting came after Prime Minister Hun Sen last month called on garment factory owners to reduce the use of short-term contracts, which he said threatened the health of employees (09 Nov).