BRANDS AND RETAILERS

H&M launches garment collection initiative in US: H&M has announced that its Garment Collecting initiative will have a new partner in the United States with Keep America Beautiful, the a community improvement non-profit organization (07 Nov).

Is corporate tax the next big CSR issue? The so-called Paradise Papers are shaping up to be a major driver for a re-examination of corporate tax avoidance/minimisation. Already some of the world’s most recognisable, and profitable, brands are coming under scrutiny, including Nike, which has made use of “loopholes, tax havens and zero tax rates, and the movement of money and royalties from one jurisdiction to the next” to pay less tax via the Dutch CV model (07 Nov).

Lush warns about mislabelling of fur products in new campaign: Lush has launched a nationwide window campaign across its 103 UK stores to make shoppers aware about the mislabelling of real animal fur as fake. The campaign was launched in partnership with Humane Society International UK, with the hashtag ‘#WhatTheFur?’ (06 Nov).

Home textiles go sustainable: An interesting blog post on sustainable and traceable sourcing, and consumer facing labels on home textiles. Among the leading-edge examples are: PimaCott sheets and towels at Bed Bath & Beyond; Made In Green by Oeko-Tex towels at JCPenney, and Repreve curtains at Target. Also mentioned is Finnish home textiles brand and retailer Finlayson, which has created the world’s first circular economy solution for home textiles, and San Francisco-based Coyuchi, which launched a new service for recycling luxury linens (06 Nov).

Unpaid labourers are ‘slipping pleas for help into Zara clothes’: This story started with a report that said customers in Istanbul had found handwritten notes from Turkish workers had been found in the pockets of in-store Zara garments asking shoppers to back their campaign for better labour standards and pressure the company into paying them the wages they say they were owed (04 Nov). The story received quite a bit of press covering, including one on the fast fashion business in general: Are Zara labourers ‘pleas for help’ the result of the fast-fashion business model? (06 Nov). Then came The real story behind those desperate notes that Zara workers left in clothes, saying Inditex had been manufacturing clothing at Bravo Tekstil, along with other European-based fast fashion labels like Mango and Next. However, 155 labourers had been left high and dry when the factory owner disappeared in July 2016. In response, Inditex, Mango and Next, along with the union IndustriALL, have established a hardship fund to solve the workers’ pay issue(06 Nov).

CFDA and Lexus announce finalists in sustainability-focused initiative: Five brands will participate in a nine-month program and receive funds, mentoring and more to propel their environmental efforts. The five finalists for the 2018 program are Cienne, M.Patmos, St. Roche, Studio One Eighty Nine and Whit. (04 Nov).

European fashion chains profit on back of Syrian refugees in Turkish factories, says human rights watchdog: The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRCC) has claimed some of Europe’s biggest stores are failing to stem the abuse of Syrian refugees who work in the Turkish factories that supply their clothes. Aldi, Asda and Topshop were singled out as lagging behind other brands in making progress on protecting workers. ASOS, Inditex, New Look, Next, Otto Group and Super Group (SuperDry) topped the ranking of brands surveyed (03 Nov). You can find more at the BHRCC website here, or download the full report – What’s changed for Syrian refugees in Turkish garment supply chains?here (PDF).

How a t-shirt from C&A is driving a circular economy: In an article for Sustainable Brands on SB'17 Copenhagen, Forum for the Future CEO Sally Uren interviewed Jeffrey Hogue, Chief Sustainability Officer at C&A, to delve into the organic fibre that made up Sally’s C&A t-shirt, which is the first of two Cradle to Cradle Certified gold t-shirts on the planet. The shit is made with non-toxic, biodegradable materials, is designed for its next use, so it can be turned into any fibre cycle, and it was made using 100 per cent renewables, in factories meeting high standards for social fairness (01 Nov).

PVH shirts to have Oeko-Tex label: Variations on this story abounded last week, noting that Oeko-Tex labels will now be included on men’s dress shirts from PVH-owned brands such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen, Izod, and Arrow (01 Nov). It was reported in August 2011 that PVH had been granted Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification for its men’s dress shirts.

Studio British launch focuses on sustainable UK-made fashion: Studio British is a new website that claims to be the first online store to offer clothing and accessories exclusively made in the UK with a strong ethical and sustainable outlook (01 Nov).

Eco-friendly luxe athleisure brand launches: Fashion Network reports on the launch of a new US apparel brand called Bleusalt, which uses “Lenzing Modal fabric [the name for a semi-synthetic rayon registered by the Austrian company] sustainably derived from self-propagating beech trees”.  Bleusalt says it will ship product wrapped in fabric remnants to create zero waste (01 Nov). An issue worth noting is that while Lenzing Modal is certified, the company only sells yarn, which is then sold onto mills that turn it into fabric. It is unclear from Bleusalt’s website how it controls environmental and social impact in this part of the production chain. It is, however, in the process of working towards a B-Corp certification.

Companies curbing textile waste: A report from Sourcing Journal Online about the New York Textiles Summit held at the Fashion Institute of Technology last week, focusing on the work of Eileen Fisher, Patagonia and thrift store Goodwill Industries (31 Oct).

All Röjk products to be ‘biodegradable’: Ecotextile News reports that Swedish fashion brand Röjk has announced the intention to make all its products 100 per cent biodegradable by 2020. The company says that unless it can make it products fully biodegradable, it will not produce them (31 Oct – subscription required to read full article).

Maggie’s Organics brings worker empowerment efforts home: Maggie’s Organics, which helped write the rules that became the Global Organic Textile Standards, has announced it will shift production back to the US, allowing the company to “train workers, bring them apprenticeship opportunities and later develop high-tech production capabilities” (31 Oct).

Lindex launches new Even Better Denim: Lindex has launched new Even Better Denim styles, more sustainable than ever. The washing process for one pair of denim jeans requires 50-70 litres when done the conventional way. Lindex says the jeans are made with a washing process using only one bottle of water (24 Oct).

REPORTS, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS

Animal rights activists force fur into the forefront of London Fashion Week: Animal rights activists from Surge are asking the British Fashion Council to ban fur from the London catwalks, as the debate continues. The BFC refuses to bow to Surge’s demands (06 Nov – free subscription required to read article).

What does transparency mean for the apparel industry? An op-ed in Bangladesh’s Daily Star by Dr Abdullah Shibli, an economist and Senior Research Fellow at International Sustainable Development Institute (ISDI), a think tank based in Boston. He discusses the potential ramifications for Bangladesh of the case against these two apparel brands that was brought by two global labour union federations, IndustriALL and UNI, in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague. Dr Shibli concludes that it would not hurt the BGMEA to embrace transparency as a national goal (03 Nov). We covered the Hague story in Week 42 of FSWIR.

ETI works to improve garment workers’ rights in India: Martin Buttle from the Ethical Trading Initiative has published an op-ed at the Thomson Reuters Foundation taking TRF to task over an article published in July that claiming fashion brands bring hand-washing but little else to India’s garment workers (02 Nov).

The apparel industry has grossly underestimated the world’s water crisis: Mina Guli, founder of ThirstForWater, an organization dedicated to tackling the world’s water shortage crisis, says the apparel industry is often drawing water in scarce supply (02 Nov).

ILO says roundabout solutions to forced labour don’t work: openDemocracy has a long interview with Igor Bosc, a chief technical advisor for a program called Work in Freedom at the ILO. It’s an interesting read, particularly with the emphasis on the structural causes of forced labour (01 Nov).

Project uses microwaves to chemically recycle PET: A new project has been launched this week that enables the chemical de-polymerisation of polyester (PET) using microwaves, says Ecotextile News (31 Oct – subscription required to read full article).

MANUFACTURERS

Stahl starts construction of centre of excellence in China: Stahl, a company producing process chemicals for leather products, has officially started the construction of its centre of excellence for performance coatings in Suzhou, China (01 Nov).

Kordsa Turkey invests over $223k for environment in 2016: Kordsa, a manufacturer of industrial nylon and polyester yarn, tire cord fabric and single end cord, says it has invested $223,000 to prevent environmental pollution through clean technologies and waste management, reduce energy consumption & emissions as well as to make efficient use of water  (01 Nov).

First fleece that does ‘not shed’ microplastics: Ecotextile News reports on the first fleece pile that does not release microplastics, which has been awarded the Eco Performance award by Performance Days. Italian manufacturer Pontetorto says Biopile has a brushed inner side of fabric that is 100 per cent Tencel fibre by Lenzing, and is not made of polyester, like most conventional fleece products (31 Oct – subscription required to read full article).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Cambodian garment factory clinic pilot inadequate say workers, experts: Free medical checkups offered to garment workers as part of a Ministry of Health pilot project are superficial and inadequate, workers and labour rights observers have said (07 Nov).

1,307 Bangladesh Accord-listed factories behind schedule: A total of 1,307 out of 1,624 Accord-listed readymade garment factories are behind the schedule in terms of fixing safety faults, a quarterly aggregate report of Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has said. (05 Nov). You can read the Quarterly Aggregate Report from which this data is drawn here (PDF).

Cambodian factory owners pay up after workers protest: 900 garment workers from the Gawon Apparel factory have finally received their wages for September after weeks of protests (03 Nov).

Bangladesh government introduces Compliance Excellence Award: The government has introduced a Compliance Excellence Award to encourage owners of the establishments and factories to maintain a decent work environment (01 Nov).

Bangladesh boosts protections for garment workers, says trade union: The Thompson Reuters Foundation reports Uni Global Union says, “Bangladesh will extend an agreement to protect garment workers drawn up in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster and embed it into national regulations, promising more stringent safety checks for its 4 million apparel workers” (31 Oct).

Six hurt in Cambodian garment factory blast: The Khmer Times reports that six workers were injured in a boiler explosion at the Qing Xun garment factory in Phnom Penh (31 Oct). In related news, a boiler explosion has injured 19: A steam boiler exploded at Korng Sung Factory, injuring workers at the factory and two neighbouring fajctories, the Fung Sin Factory and Tang Pheng Por (31 Oct). Other boiler explosions this year: October – one injured at the Bright Sky factory (a Singaporean-owned garment factory that in 2016 locked workers inside the factory after union leaders attempted to mount a protest); April – two boiler explosions killed two people and injured four – six workers injured when a gas-fuelled steamer exploded at the an electronics factor; March – one garment worker died and seven were injured in a boiler explosion at Zhen Tai garment factory (a factory that has seen workers fainting and fire alarms).

(Photo by Aaron Burden on UnsplashCCO)

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