BRANDS AND RETAILERS

Bottletop links tech and sustainability in new flagship store: Luxury handbag and accessory brand Bottletop has opened a flagship store printed by 3-D robots using recycled plastic (21 Nov – free subscription required to read full article).

C&A’s safe, certified and compostable t-shirt: In June 2017, C&A released the world’s first line of T-shirts to be Cradle to Cradle Certified at the Gold level, demonstrating a “positive ecological and social level never before seen for a fashion garment.” Jeffrey Hogue, chief sustainability officer at C&A Global, says, “What the industry really needs is for other brands to consider that Cradle to Cradle certification is really one of the most well-thought-through, holistic, third-party, peer-reviewed standards for the circular economy” (20 Nov).

Mara Hoffman wins award for brand leadership in advancing sustainability: The Pratt Institute's Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator presented an award this week award for Brand Leadership in Advancing Sustainability to Mara Hoffman. Hoffman “has infused sustainability across her brand by prioritising materials such as organic cotton and recycled spandex, opting for less resource-intensive production methods like screen printing and working to improve the livelihoods of the artisans who make her clothes by helping them widen their client bases” (20 Nov).

UK union adds weight to calls for transparency in Schuh’s supply chain: The Scottish branch of UK union UNISON has announced they will present a petition to global retailer Schuh calling for transparency in its supply chain and action to improve shoe workers’ rights (17 Nov).

Garment buyers asked to transfer technology to Cambodia: The Cambodian government is calling on international buyers to increase investment in the garment and footwear sector and to introduce new technologies to help modernise the industry. H&M, Next, C&A, Debenhams, Inditex, Kmart-Australia and Primark were represented at a meeting to discuss the issue, as well as international union federation IndustriALL. (17 Nov).

CEO of Australian denim brand fights human trafficking:  Outland Denim CEO James Bartle is providing a path out of poverty for young people in Southeast Asia most at risk with the “Denim Project” in 2011 to give vulnerable girls and women a sustainable career and living wage (16 Nov).

Will Zara’s latest supply chain crisis actually cause lasting damage? Julie Zerbo of The Fashion Law has her doubts: Please for help tags affixed to Zara garments was bad press, “but does not tend to be earth-shattering. Zara knows this. Not convinced? You may recall that in 2011 and then again in 2013, Zara was accused of sourcing its garments and accessories from factories maintaining bona fide slave-labour working conditions. Slave-labour. It is still one of the most sought-after and valuable brands on the market” (16 Nov).

LA fashion brand selling dresses made from deadstock fabrics: Christy Dawn Petersen, a model-turned-entrepreneur, used $20,000 of her savings to launch Christy Dawn that would create limited edition pieces using only deadstock (16 Nov).

AITCH AITCH tackles fashion’s sustainability problem: Hailey Harmon, the designer behind luxury handbag company AITCH AITCH, is helping set a new standard for sustainability using an unexpected resource: fish – specifically salmon skin (16 Nov).

Adidas leads way as 4 companies win ‘stop slavery’ award: Adidas was revealed as the overall winner of the second Thomson Reuters Foundation Stop Slavery Award, which celebrates businesses that excel in efforts to identify, investigate and root out forced labour from their supply chains. C&A was praised by the judges for going beyond compliance standards in all categories (15 Nov).

Wrangler advances disruptive denim dyeing: A new potentially disruptive foam-dyeing process for denim has been unveiled at the at the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute of Texas Tech University that claims to reduce water and energy use by more than 90 per cent compared to traditional indigo dyeing. Early stage investors, including VF corporation brands Wrangler, Lee as well as the Walmart Foundation who were on hand for the launch event, hosted by the developer Indigo Mill Designs (IMD) (15 Nov – subscription required to read full article). See a press release here.

REPORTS, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS

Does Ethiopia have an apparel future? This Reuters article asks whether Ethiopia has what it takes to develop an apparel manufacturing sector of scale, but also notes: “With workers’ conditions and safety a big concern for investors, the Ethiopian Textile Development Institute said its leadership was traveling to India - another leading global garment producer - for training on best practices” (21 Nov).

Fashion student grows his own clothes: Luis Quijano has produced a leather-like material composed of fermented water, sugar, green tea, and kombucha. The resulting fabric is a sustainable, durable material that can be crafted into any number of fashionable designs (21 Nov).

Why the fashion industry keeps failing to fix labour exploitation: “The key is this: to ensure individual garment workers receive a living wage, brands would need to exert additional oversight and coordination of their suppliers and subsidiaries. In other words, brands would have to take stronger control not only of their suppliers but also of their suppliers’ suppliers, and their suppliers’ suppliers’ suppliers, and so on” (20 Nov).

“Generation Rent” is targeted by pay-as-you-wear fashion firms: The UK’s first rental fashion trial is being carried out after research showed that 46 per cent of 25-34 year olds wanted to take out a lease on their clothes (18 Nov).

WEAR2017 brings together issues of environment and labour: Toronto hosted WEAR2017 on 13-14 November, organised by Fashion Takes Action and Kelly Drennan. WEAR (not to be confused with the US wearable technology conference of the same name) is an acronym for World Ethical Apparel Roundtable and it takes ethics in the apparel context to refer both to human and environmental issues (17 Nov).

Is the second wave of sustainability finally here? “And while the words ‘eco fashion’ have slipped from our vernacular, sustainability and ethics are very much in vogue. But the words themselves still pose problems. Maybe not so much with the hemp sack connotations, but certainly in our lack of understanding what they actually mean” (17 Nov).

Cambodian political impasse puts garment trade with US, EU at risk: Prime Minister Hun Sen’s banning of the main opposition party has led to commentators calling it the ‘death knell for democracy’. With donors pouring in billions of dollars since 1993, the garment industry is now under threat, with an “EU spokesman [saying] the election could not be legitimate without the opposition and noted that respect for human rights was a prerequisite for Cambodia’s access to EU trade preferences under its “Everything But Arms scheme” (16 Nov). Interestingly, The Nation (in Thailand) reported that the review of GSP scheme is expected to be smooth for Cambodia (18 Nov), and then earlier this week Hun Sen defiantly told US to cut all aid with Cambodia (19 Nov).

Can Bangladesh be a transparency leader? On November 15-16, C&A Foundation, Ethical Trading

Initiative (ETI) and Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC) hosted representatives drawn from organisations across the fashion supply chain in Bangladesh to discuss transparency, and how the Bangladesh RMG sector can take a position of leadership not just in their country but globally (15 Nov).

Puma accused of defacing 17th century Indian buildings: Puma has been accused of irreversibly damaging 17th-century architecture in Delhi’s old quarter when it spray-painted colourful murals on to the facades of several buildings in Old Delhi as part of an advertising stunt to promote a new line of shoes. (14 Nov).

Group calls on SJSU president to ban school apparel made with sweatshop labour: A San Jose State University group has called on the school to work with the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) to ensure university clothing is not made with sweatshop labour. Video report only, but no specific clothing brand was mentioned, though Barnes & Noble College was named as the company distributing SJSU clothing (14 Nov).

MANUFACTURERS

Teijin revises its CSR procurement guidelines: Japanese fibre producer Teijin has announced it has completely revised its CSR procurement guidelines, and is requesting suppliers to comply with the guidelines, and promoting its initiatives in collaboration with them. The new guidelines specify more detailed efforts regarding human rights and labour in supply chains such as “Forced labour”, “Child labour and young workers”, “Foreign workers”, “Working hours and holidays”, “Wages and benefits”, “Discrimination”, “Harassment” and “Freedom of association” (20 Nov).

Huntsman makes non-fluorinated water repellent for textile: Huntsman, a manufacturer of high quality dyes and chemicals for textile industries, has unveiled the new non-fluorinated durable water repellent (that raises the standard for repellence on high-performance synthetic textiles. The new product will allow brands and retailers to meet global demand for eco-friendly clothing that require extreme rain- and stain- protection (16 Nov).

Association of Ghana apparel manufacturers launched: The Association of Ghana Apparel Manufacturers (AGAM), a business network and advocacy organization for the Ghanaian apparel business, was launched in Accra last week (16 Nov).

Unifi recycles 10 billionth bottle; announces goal to recycle 20 billion by 2020, 30 billion by 2022: Unifi, which produces recycled performance fibres, announced last week the company has recycled more than 10 billion plastic bottles. Building from that momentum, Unifi is targeting 20 billion bottles recycled by 2020 and 30 billion bottles by 2022. To recognize customers who have partnered for this achievement, Unifi is launching the REPREVE Champions of Sustainability Awards, to be announced at the 2018 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Denver, 25 – 28 Jan (14 Nov).

Tannery project in bid to clean up Ganges: Solidaridad, Stahl and PUM have launched a public-private partnership to clean up the Ganges river. The companies say the project aims to lower the environmental impact of the Kanpur Leather Cluster by implementing new working methods and modern technologies. The five-year project specifically plans to target water use and pollution from the cluster, which is responsible for high levels of pollution in the Ganges (14 Nov – subscription required to read full article).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Mysore threatens legal action against garment factories flouting guidelines: The government of Mysore in the Indian state of Karnataka has warned of legal action against garment factories violation government guidelines on the safety of women workers (21 Nov).

BGMEA seeks garment worker wage boards: The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has put forward a proposal to the Bangladeshi government to alter labour laws and establish ‘wage boards’ in order to bring in a minimum monthly wage for workers in the country’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector (20 Nov – subscription required to read full article).

Cambodian garment workers renew strike over unpaid wages at Korean factory: Hundreds of garment workers blocked a road outside the Gawon Apparel Co. factory this week in yet another demonstration over unpaid wages. Employees at the Korean-owned garment factory have protested several times over the last year over lack of payment (20 Nov). See also Garment workers protest again over unpaid wages: More than 500 garment workers of the Gawon Apparel Co. again staged a protest over unpaid wages, the second such demonstration in as many months (21 Nov).

Unions prioritising women workers’ rights in the garment and textile sector: A meeting of the IndustriALL union building project held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 16 November, with participation from FNV Mondiaal, Solidaridad, and the ILO, agreed to continue supporting the fight for workers’ rights by women in the garment and textile sector. Collective bargaining agreements and promoting health and safety at factories were the other key areas discussed (20 Nov).

Ahmedabad migrants ‘made to work, live’ amidst machines inside Narol garment factories in subhuman conditions: A recent study by Aajivika Bureau, an advocacy group working among Ahmedabad’s migrant workers, who come from the tribal belts of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, has found that many of them live in “sub-human” conditions inside garments factories operating of the Narol industrial belt of Ahmedabad (18 Nov). You can see the report on which this story is based here (PDF). It is called Settlements of the UnSedentary: A study on the living conditions of seasonal labour migrants in Ahmedabad city.

Safety monitoring cell in apparel must be independent: The Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC), formed to monitor workplace safety in the garment sector, should be independent and credible so that it can take sound decisions to avert further industrial accidents. “If there is a good system in place and if the retailers and brands continue sourcing from Bangladesh, it is expected that there will not be any disaster in the garment sector,” said Jim Moriarty, executive director of the Alliance, the factory inspection platform of 28 North American retailers (16 Nov). See the op-ed directly below by Ben Vanpeperstraete, et. al., which states, “It is unrealistic to imagine that the NAP, or its successor, the Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC), will be able to bring this vast amount of unfinished work to completion over the next twelve months, particularly not until additional agreements are put in place to ensure brand support for remediation.”

Why the Bangladesh Accord will be here until 2021: The Daily Star from Bangladesh has published an op-ed by Ben Vanpeperstraete (Lobby and Advocacy Coordinator, Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC)), Judy Gearhart (Executive Director, International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF)), Lynda Yanz (Executive Director, Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN)) and Scott Nova (Executive Director, Worker Rights Consortium (WRC)) in which they argue the Accord is the only initiative currently operating in Bangladesh that has any real chance of averting further industry tragedies. And as such, ask whether such an early departure is desirable given the limited progress made in the development of a credible and functioning national safety regulatory body (15 Nov).

(Photo by DetmoldCCO)

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