BRANDS AND RETAILERS
H&M Foundation shows new recycling system at DesignInspire: H&M Foundation with the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) has demonstrated the new concept of innovative Closed-Loop Apparel Recycling Eco-System in the Swedish Pavilion of DesignInspire 2017 (12 Dec).
VF Corporation announces new sustainability & responsibility strategy: VF has announced its new global sustainability and responsibility strategy, Made for Change, which includes the company’s commitment to reduce its global environmental footprint by 50 per cent, from farm to front door, by 2030, and to measurably improve the lives of one million garment industry workers and local community members by 2025. Additionally, VF has committed to a 35 percent reduction in the average environmental impact of key materials used to make its products (11 Dec).
Primark and Sports Direct named for underpaying staff: Primark and Sports Direct have had to pay thousands of pounds back to staff for paying them below the minimum wage. The retailers had to repay the most of 260 firms named on the government's list for paying their staff below the legal minimum. Primark had to repay £231,973.12 mainly due to charging staff for uniforms. Sports Direct, and two staff agencies it used, had to pay back a total of £1.1m to their workers. Both firms said the issues were now rectified (08 Dec).
2017 was the year sustainable fashion got sexy: “Until a few years ago, sustainability rarely came up in the greater fashion conversation, but in 2017, you’d be an outlier if you weren’t paying attention.” So says Vogue, which mentions the following brands and fabric makers that helped make it sexy: Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Edun, House of Fluff, Maison Atia, Shrimps, Burberry, Diane von Furstenberg, Givenchy, Bolt Threads, H&M, Bionic Yarn, Orange Fiber, and more (08 Dec).
Fashion for Good event focuses on disruptive innovation: Fashion for Good’s end of year this year was called “Accelerating and Scaling Daring Innovation,’ which aimed to bridge the gap between laboratory-level technologies and brand implementation, welcomed industry experts from around the world as representatives from the likes of C&A, Adidas and Kering met technological and chemical innovators such as Softwear Automation, ColorZen and TamiCare, in a bid to drive practical change in the fashion sector (08 Dec).
How the fashion supply chain could reduce carbon emissions: Solutions to the problem include more effective use of resources and more renewable inputs. Brands named include: Uniqlo, H&M, Ralph Lauren, Gap, Levi’s, and PVH (08 Dec).
Italian officials inspect working conditions at Amazon hub: Italy’s labour ministry sent officials to e-commerce giant Amazon on Thursday to check on working conditions there, the department’s team of inspectors said in a statement (08 Dec). The news about Amazon comes a week after news that the Italian government raided Gucci offices over suspected tax evasion.
Donna Carpenter of Burton Snowboards talks about sustainability: Donna Carpenter, CEO of outerwear company Burton Snowboards, talks about going 100 per cent sustainable by 2020. In this interview, she says something very interesting with regard to chemical use (specifically polyurethane and a substitute for it): “There’s an industry standard called bluesign and Nike, The North Face, Patagonia and Gore are all using this standard, which is a very limited chemical list. Everybody has a goal to be 100 per cent bluesign and I think we’re the furthest along, even ahead of Patagonia” (08 Dec – free subscription required to read full article).
Splash launches sustainable garments with N9 Pure Silver: Splash Fashions says it will launch anti-bacterial garments, marketed under the brand N9 Pure Silver, a revolutionary silver based anti-bacterial technology by Resil Chemicals, which is sustainable, non-leaching, zero volatile organic compounds and has low silver loading properties (07 Dec).
Ethical fashion grows in the Asia-Pacific: From the region’s first eco-fashion week to changing consumer attitudes in China, Asia-Pacific – long known more for its mass-produced clothing – is joining a worldwide movement towards sustainable fashion. Five brands cited in the article to keep a watch on are: Studio Membrane (Japan), Reclothing Bank (China), Green Embassy (Australia), Merdi Sihombing (Indonesia), and BYT (Hong Kong) (07 Dec).
White +Warren launches circular cashmere collection: White + Warren, a manufacturer and retailer of cashmere garments has launched ‘Reclaimed Cashmere’, a collection of recycled woollen apparel. In the same vein as other post-consumer initiatives, cashmere which would otherwise be sent to waste is being stripped back to its natural fibres and rewoven into new apparel (05 Dec – subscription required to read full article).
US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke fires back after Patagonia says ‘the President stole your land’: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke fired back at Patagonia last after the company made a high-profile protest to President Donald Trump‘s decision to shrink two national monuments. Patagonia posted a message on its website saying, “The President Stole Your Land.” The message was in a response to Trump drastically reducing the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments in Utah hours earlier (05 Dec).
REPORTS, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS
Unravelling Mongolia’s cashmere conundrum: Luxury goods companies have increasingly opted to source their cashmere not from China but rather from its northern neighbour, Mongolia. As a result, that nation’s exports of cashmere garments have nearly tripled from 2009 to 2016. But this has been both a gift and a curse (09 Dec).
Why India’s cotton industry is under threat: The short answer, according to this article, is the use of pesticides (09 Dec).
Fashion must go beyond ‘natural’ to be sustainable: “Conservation, renewables, organic, sustainable. These have become colloquialisms in the energy, ecology and agricultural sectors. But in the fashion industry? Not so much. … The same way we’ve become sticklers for sustainably sourced seafood, local broccoli and, among the most diehard true believers, cashew cheese, we’re increasingly asking “Who made my clothes?” One of these days, we may be as curious about our hangtags as our ingredient labels” (08 Dec).
It would cost you 20 cents more per T-shirt to pay an Indian worker a living wage: Adding just 20 Australian cents (US$0.15) to the price of a T-shirt in Australia would lift all Indian workers in the garment supply chain out of poverty, write Murray Ross Hall and Thomas Wiedmann, two academics from the University of New South Wales in Australia (08 Dec).
Tackling sexual harassment in the garment industry: An article by the senior counsel for the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch, which argues efforts by apparel brands to prevent human rights abuses, including sexual harassment, are falling short (08 Dec).
Legal considerations for fashion brands in a ‘socially conscious’ world: The authors discuss how human rights laws can impact fashion apparel businesses. Apparel companies need to remain up-to-date on how human rights laws impact their businesses. There is a trend in favour of increased reporting of transparency in the supply chains of global businesses, and the development by companies of human rights policies, which should result from human rights due diligence into how business operations may impact human rights of workers and consumers. This article describes the latest developments in this area (07 Dec).
Modern slavery to be targeted in new laws recommended by Australian parliamentary committee: Australia needs a comprehensive suite of new laws to stamp out modern slavery, a Federal committee’s report tabled in Parliament has found. The committee recommended provisions for a mandatory supply chain reporting requirement that requires large businesses to report on modern slavery risks in their supply chains (06 Dec).
Union recruits in Ethiopian industrial parks: IndustriALL’s affiliate, Industrial Federation of Ethiopian Textile, Leather and Garment Workers Trade Unions (IFETLGWU), is on a recruitment drive. Recently it increased its membership by 13,922 workers, of whom 9,802 were women (06 Dec).
What consumers should pay attention to when buying down clothing: Esther Müller from the German Animal Welfare Association says despite the ban of live plucking in the EU, the practice is still being found in Hungary and Poland. In China, where 90 per cent of the world’s down is produced, the author states that live plucking is “approved and widespread”. The reason why live plucking happens is that down collectors can collect multiple times rather than only once as a by-product of meat production (06 Dec – in German).
Landfill becomes the latest fashion victim in Australia’s throwaway clothes culture: Four out of 10 people in a survey say they bin unwanted clothes rather than repairing or recycling them (06 Dec).
Sustainability may be the best way to skirt compliance risks: “There are new ways to avoid risk and be compliant in the supply chain, but there are also new threats. Technology is helping companies better trace their suppliers and manufacturers, and collaborative efforts have emerged to create more transparency and better methods of ensuring a safer route from factory to retail shelf” (06 Dec).
Angola to re-launch cotton cropping with Japanese support: The Japanese Agency for International Cooperation (JICA) plans to send technicians to Angola for experimental cotton cultivation in the Capanda Agricultural Hub in Malanje province. Field trials with cotton varieties using a drip irrigation system, in collaboration with the Angolan Institute of Agrarian Development, will assess their adaptability and yield (05 Dec).
Will Cambodia become a more challenging place to source apparel? The article implies yes, based on rising political tensions ahead of next year’s election and deteriorating relations with the US, and rising wages (05 Dec).
Sunlight a factor in textile microfibre release: New research from the Outdoor Industry Microfibre Consortium suggests that continued exposure to UV light can lower the tenacity of some polyester fibres by up to 42 per cent in laboratory conditions. It was found that finer count polyester filament yarns are more susceptible to breakdown in ultraviolet (UV) light and comes at a time when the textile industry is trying to understand how synthetic textiles fibres are released from fabrics and migrate their way to marine ecosystems (05 Dec – subscription required to read full article).
PRI’s “Wear and Tear” series covers women in the garment industry: Public Radio International (PRI) ran an extensive series last week covering several issues related to women in the garment industry.
1. How fair is your fashion: an interactive quiz where users can grade brands and clothing types (04 Dec).
2. The women who make our clothes: An overview of women in the global garment industry, from Bangladesh to the US (04 Dec).
3. Her job at the mill bought her a new, better life: About Acree Bell Lassiter, 89, who spent her nearly 60-year career at a mill in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Ms. Lassiter was just 17 when she started working in a textile mill. Now that mill, like all the mills in her town, is gone. (04 Dec). Includes 07:49-minute audio segment with Ms. Lassiter.
4. How we can create fashion that is inclusive and adaptive: One company currently trying to situate itself at the intersection of adaptive clothing technology (for the differently-abled community) and on-trend fashion is Tommy Hilfiger. Other companies working on this and named here are: Cat & Jack, Converse, Zappos, and Bezgraniz Couture (05 Dec).
5. How a sweatshop raid in an LA suburb changed the American garment industry: In the early hours of 2 August 1995, authorities raided an apartment complex in El Monte and found 72 Thai workers, including Rotchana Sussman, living in virtual slavery while making clothing. (05 Dec). Includes 09:57-minute audio segment with Chancee Martorell, the founder of the Thai Community Development Center, and Ms Sussman.
6. Are factories better in Bangladesh after Rana Plaza? That depends on who you ask: Focuses on Arati Baladas, who survived the Rana Plaza collapse. The Rana Plaza collapse made companies and consumers more aware of working conditions in the clothing factories. In some places, reforms have made workers safer, but the changes are far from universal (06 Dec). Includes 07:28-minute audio segment of interview with Ms. Baladas.
7. How do consumers make good choices about clothes? Spider silk and brand transparency: We know that fast fashion is polluting the Earth, clogging landfills and underpaying workers. What can consumers do to make better choices? The article focuses on Sam Hudson, at Bolt Threads, who has worked on creating spider silk thread (06 Dec). Includes 05:21-minute audio interview with Sandra Capponi co-founder of the Good On You app in Australia, which rates clothing brands.
8. Working in a garment factory may not bring this mother and daughter long-term economic stability: “Sometimes, Rongmala Begum wonders who wears the sweaters she makes.” (07 Dec). Includes 07:14-minute audio segment of interview with Rongmala Begum.
9. How good is H&M’s clothing recycling program? The clothes we wear come with their own environmental baggage. Focuses on H&M’s global partnership with I:CO, which picks up donated clothes from H&M stores and sorts them (08 Dec). Includes 11:49-minute audio segment about H&M and I:CO.
10. An Argentine start-up that makes shoes from discarded tire scraps and employs single mothers: More than 100,000 tons of rubber tires are disposed of every year in Argentina. Most of them are burned, contributing to the country’s already huge air pollution problem. So, when Alejandro Malgor and two of his friends, Ezequiel Gatti and Nazareno El Hom, realised they wanted to start a business, they decided to focus on tackling the problem, and make shoes from the discarded tire scraps (08 Dec).
The State of Fashion 2018: The Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company have joined forces again to take the pulse of the fashion industry. OF the top ten trends, sustainability credibility comes in at #8. “Sustainability will evolve to be an integral part of the planning system where circular economy principles are embedded throughout the value chain.” The report also says, “sustainability will evolve from being a menu of marketing-focused CSR initiatives to an integral part of the planning system where circular economy principles are embedded throughout the value chain. More fashion brands will plan for recyclability from the fibre stage of the supply chain and many will harness sustainability through tech innovation in order to unlock efficiency, transparency, mission orientation and genuine ethical upgrades” (29 Nov). You can download the report here (PDF).
Rhodia joins Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Rhodia, a Solvay Group company, with its smart and sustainable yarns and fibres, is now part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a not-for-profit international organisation whose objective is to promote the transformation of the textile chain through sustainability (08 Dec).
Bluesign signs Anubha as system partner in India: Anubha Industries Ltd, an Indian specialist for denim and advanced fabric solutions that manages the complete industrial chain, from fabric to finished product, has announced its partnership with bluesign (06 Dec).
EcoVero, an alternative to viscose: Produced by Lenzing, EcoVero is made using sustainable wood from controlled sources which are either FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes) certified in Europe, instead of bamboo or eucalyptus which is commonly used in normal viscose production. More than 60 percent of the trees used to produce EcoVero fibres come from Austria and Bavaria to ensure lower emissions (05 Dec).
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Cambodian ministry holds boiler safety training course: Labour Minister Ith Samheng has asked his officials to pay close attention to boiler safety at garment factories in the wake of a string of deadly explosions (12 Dec).
One dead in Cambodian garment truck crash: At least one worker was killed and another 31 seriously injured when a garment worker truck swerved off of National Road 41 to avoid an oncoming military truck last week (11 Dec).
Better employee welfare key to improving Myanmar’s garment industry: Garment businesses and stakeholders have identified opportunities to exploit synergies between different initiatives and improve labour welfare to enhance productivity in garment factories (11 Dec).
13 more Alliance factories achieve CAP completion: Thirteen more Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety-affiliated RMG factories achieved substantial completion of their Corrective Action Plans (CAPs), bringing the total number of factories to 247 (10 Dec).
BKMEA signs deal on health services for factory workers: The Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Marie Stopes Bangladesh and the Directorate General of Family Planning (GDFP) on health services to garment workers and their family members (10 Dec).
Minister tackles factory faintings in Cambodia: The Minister of Labour has warned factory owners around the country that they would face legal action if large groups of workers faint during working hours within their enterprises. The warning followed the fainting of nearly 200 workers in the JD Toyoma factory last week (08 Dec). See story below.
More than 100 garment workers faint in Cambodian garment factory: More than 100 workers at the JD Toyoma garment factory fainted last week. Police suspected the cause of the fainting was chemical fumes in the factory, but the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia said the fumes did not originate from within the factory, but entered it from pesticides being sprayed on neighbouring rice fields (07 Dec). See also Second mass fainting hits factory (11 Dec).
Cambodian garment workers end protest over demands for better conditions: More than 200 workers at the Nantai Garment Factory agreed to bring an end to their protest about the company’s habit of ending workers’ contracts without due notice after the Labour Ministry, local authorities and company promised to solve their dispute last week (05 Dec). The Nantai Garment Factory has been in the news several times this year: i) 100 workers’ contracts not renewed and claims of less than legally stipulated severance pay leading to dispute involving 600 workers amidst claims the owner had disappeared (04 Sep); and ii) a nine day strike involving 1,000 workers over rumours of a shutdown (08 Sep).
Cambodian garment factory fined for water pollution: The Cambodian Ministry of Environment has fined Chinese garment factory Wintai Sock Manufacture Ltd. $7,500 after villagers complained the factory was polluting nearby streams with untreated waste (05 Dec).