BRANDS AND RETAILERS
Eileen Fisher makes strides towards circularity with ‘tiny factory’: The American ready-to-wear brand is turning reclaimed garments into an economically viable collection of renewed and remade clothing (06 Dec).
G-Star Raw unveils ‘Most Sustainable Jeans Ever’: G-Star Raw is set to launch its most sustainable denim jeans to date. The latest pair of jeans marks new milestone in responsible denim manufacturing as they are made from the first ever Cradle to Cradle Gold Level certified denim fabric (04 Dec).
Patagonia to sue Trump for shrinking national monuments: Patagonia has announced it would sue the White House over President Trump’s decision to reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah on Monday (04 Dec).
Kanye West sued by Turkish sourcing agent: Kanye West’s West Brands Fashion LLC has been sued by a former Istanbul-based sourcing agent who claims she is owed back pay for work she did on West’s Yeezy (04 Dec).
Sustainable denim is about more than just jeans: “…consumers – particularly of the millennial kind – have become increasingly demanding when it comes to the making of their clothing. This has enabled brands with distinct selling points to distinguish themselves from the ever-increasing number of hot young brands on the rise, and it is in this vein that eco-conscious denim is becoming one of the more noteworthy trends in fashion.” Brands cited include Reformation, RE/DONE, and Everlane (04 Dec).
Gucci confirms its offices were raided over suspected tax evasion: Gucci has confirmed that its offices in Milan and Florence were raided last week over suspected tax evasion. The company, which is owned by Kering, was forced to issue a statement after the Italian newspaper La Stampa reported on Saturday that police had spent three days searching the offices, including its new Milan headquarters, for evidence amid suspicions that levies on profits made from sales in Italy were instead declared in the more favourable tax regime of Switzerland (04 Dec).
Magnus & Novus puts spotlight on artisans in China: Magnus & Novus champions ethical, sustainable, artisanal craft. When Ethan Rye and his partners established the house several years ago, Rye says they had a vision of preserving craftsmanship in China and resurrecting the fine handcraft that has existed in China for thousands of years (04 Dec).
Harvard Business Review’s best CEOs, 2017: in 2015, Harvard Business Review incorporated ESG measures into its annual ranking, and ESG (environment, social and governance) now accounts for 20 per cent of the total score. At #1 this year is Pablo Isla, CEO of Spanish apparel group Inditex, the parent company of Zara. The citation states: “Despite Inditex’s core business being fast fashion, a field notorious for contributing to an environmental crisis, Isla has pushed several sustainability campaigns during his time as CEO. Zara, the company’s largest brand, launched a sustainability line called Join Life in 2015 that produces clothes using recycled fibres. Inditex also encourages consumers to bring unwanted clothing items to their stores by rewarding them store discounts” (02 Dec). Other fashion brand CEOs to make the top 100 are: Bernard Arnault (LVMH, #5), Mark Parker (Nike, #8), François-Henri Pinault (Kering, #23), Tadashi Yanai (Fast Retailing, #42), Blake Nordstrom (Nordstrom, #44), and Leslie Wexner (L Brands, #56). However, if the companies are ranked by their Sustainalytics ranking (Sustainalytics is an independent global provider of ESG and corporate governance research and ratings to investors and cited by the HBR in the rankings), things look a little different. The new ESG ranking is: Kering, 42, Inditex, 76, Nordstrom, 208, LVMH, 240, Nike, 272, L Brands, 377, and Fast Retailing, 440.
UK newspaper lists fashion brands for reducing your environmental footprint: The brands are: Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, H&M Conscious, Reformation, and ASOS Eco Edit (02 Dec).
Cienne gives women a sustainable option: “Cienne’s ready-to-wear line is made in Manhattan’s Garment District using natural materials and textiles sourced from global artisans. In a race-to-market, trend-obsessed industry, the co-founders have taken another route. They’re building sustainable practices into every aspect of their brand: sourcing fabrics, designing to reduce waste, working with suppliers who allow small-batch products, and transparency with customers” (01 Dec).
Walmart joins Cotton LEADS program: Walmart has joined the Cotton LEADS program supporting responsible production practices by cotton growers (30 Nov).
The great fur debate: Is fur unethical and inhumane or sustainable and good for business? Leaders representing both sides of the fur debate presented their arguments in back-to-back remarks on the Business of Fashion’s Voices stage. P.J. Smith from the Humane Society cited Inditex, Armani and Gucci as brands backing away from fur. Frank Zilberkweit, director of the British Fur Trade countered with, “When you make a faux fur, you are making a petrochemical product that is not biodegradable” (30 Nov). Voices is Business of Fashion’s annual invitation-only gathering for big thinkers.
Donatella Versace foreshadows pivot to sustainability in 2018: “[Donatella Versace] also announced a comprehensive company-wide pivot to sustainable practice, already begun with Versace’s denim production and set to extend in the operation of a new boutique due to open [in London] next week” (30 Nov).
H&M and Nike Support Stella McCartney’s campaign to reduce fashion waste: A story noting that H&M and Nike both support calls made in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s new report, A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion's Future (30 Nov).
The power of circularity: As part of Business of Fashion’s Voices event late last month, Dame Ellen MacArthur gave a talk during which she challenged the fashion industry, where less than one per cent of garments are recycled, to work together to implement a circular economy (30 Nov). As you can see in this edition of FSWIR, the report released last week by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion's Future, is getting a lot of airplay, and her talk at Voices obviously referenced this report. There is a video at link.
Inside Adidas’ robot-powered, on-demand sneaker factory: Adidas calls it a storefactory, a miniature factory behind glass that consists mainly of three industrial knitting machines producing customised merino wool sweaters like dot-matrix printouts on the spot. An experiment thus far, the object of which is to gauge customer enthusiasm for a set of concepts that the company has lately become invested in: digital design; localized, automated manufacturing and personalised products (29 Nov). This year, in a CSR course I teach to undergraduates at CUHK Business School, students have raised the question several times of whether companies relying more on automation can call themselves socially responsible. My response is that this is not really on the CSR agenda yet, but will be by the time they’re in middle level management positions. Perhaps it will be earlier, the rate things are progressing.
Dressmann to become retailer of Fairtrade cotton: Dressmann, one of the leading fashion chains for menswear in Northern Europe, is set to become the world’s biggest fashion retailer of Fairtrade certified cotton when it launches a new range of T-shirts, boxer shorts and socks (29 Nov).
LVMH to increase manufacturing and jobs in Italy by 2018: LVMH says it will operate 24 sites in Italy by 2018. The company employed an additional 1,000 people in 2017, and with expansions in manufacturing factories such as the one in Tuscany producing leather good that number is set to increase. The company opened its Italian vocational training programme, held at the Institut des Métiers d’Excellence, LVMH’s institute for luxury goods craftsmanship, in Florence (29 Nov).
Fawaz Alhokair Group co-owner held in corruption crackdown: Fawaz Alhokair, the billionaire co-owner of retailer Fawaz Alhokair Group, which represents brands including Aldo, Mango, Nine West and New Look in the Middle East and Northern Africa region, has been detained as part of an anti-corruption operation in Saudi Arabia (29 Nov). Fawaz Alhokair is also a major shareholder in Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & Co., the franchise partner for Gap, Banana Republic and Steve Madden in the kingdom (26 Nov).
G-Star Raw dyes denim with colours from recycled plant waste by Archroma: G-Star Raw has partnered with colour solutions and chemicals company Archroma to dye denim with dyestuffs made from recycled plants and nutshells (29 Nov). See also here. Earlier this year, in May, Patagonia announced it was using Archroma’s EarthColors in its Clean Colors Collection (see here).
Inside São Paulo's vast illegal Feirinha night market: A longish report from The Guardian about a night market in Brazil where, at 1:00 a.m. each night thousands of workers emerge on to the streets of Brás to sell Disney and Nike knockoffs. As dawn breaks, the police close it down, but as the article notes, the market hides a bigger problem – sweatshops and slavery (28 Nov).
Designs that sustain: Twenty-one-year-old Indian designer-entrepreneur Sayesha Sachdev’s latest collection ‘Conscious’ incorporates organic cotton and industrial waste. It is also devoid of chemical dyes or treatments and her mission is to be 100% sustainable. She has incorporated fabrics made of banana fibre, developed over a period of six to eight months (28 Nov).
Holiday collection made from banana waste: Sustainable fashion brand milo+nicki has released a holiday collection made from banana fibres, which come from the leftover banana stalks resulting from harvesting (28 Nov).
Six ethical brands offering an alternative to fast fashion: According to HuffPost: Rent the Runway (wardrobe rentals), Kidizen (online shopping), Crossroads Trading Co. (second hand clothes), Petit Pli (clothes that grow with children), Houdini Sportswear (compostable clothes), and Veja (sustainable shoes) (27 Nov).
REPORTS, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS
Four technologies that will change the fashion industry: A report called “The Power of Machines,” written by MAHLA and Instituto C&A in Brazil and launched at the end of November, highlights four major technologies with the potential to transform the fashion industry. They are: i) machine leaning; ii) wearable tech; iii) production robots; and iv) virtual reality (04 Dec – in Portuguese). See story immediately below.
170,000 fewer retail jobs in 201 and 75,000 more Amazon robots: The content is self-explanatory; I’m only adding this to the weekly roundup because stakeholders are soon going to be asking is my clothing made and shipped by humans or robots. It’s the CSR question nobody is talking about (04 Dec).
The business case for human rights: “Tackling human rights in business is no longer just an internal process of supply chain compliance. With transparency reaching an all-time premium, it has become a major market and industry priority. Consumers are bearing their teeth around the globe, taking action online and offline against companies with poor human rights records and questionable sourcing ethics, spurred on by media-savvy activist groups fulfilling their own brand of jihad against unscrupulous companies” (04 Dec).
1,200 North Korean workers to leave Mongolia as UN sanctions bite: Key paragraph: “more than 100 North Koreans left Gobi Cashmere, Mongolia’s biggest cashmere factory, after their contracts ended in August. “We hired North Koreans because of a lack of Mongolians skilled in operating garment machines,” the company’s lawyer, Tsogtbayariin Tsaschiker, said (03 Dec).
World Ethical Apparel Roundtable (WEAR) conference: An extensive roundup of proceedings at the World Ethical Apparel Roundtable (WEAR) conference in Toronto, where main topics of discussion centred on waste, water, labour and textiles. It’s a very good wrap up, extensive and inspiring (01 Dec).
Child labour ‘staring us in the face’ in British shops, says Penny Mordaunt: The products of modern slavery “stare at us in the face” as we shop on Britain’s high streets, the International Development Secretary has said. Penny Mordaunt said: “It is possible that the clothes we wear, the electronics we use and the food we eat could be the product of child and forced labour” in businesses’ supply chains around the world (01 Dec). See also UK pledges 40M pounds to ‘modern slavery’ as experts search for common definition (01 Dec).
Barnard affiliates wit WRC: Barnard College in New York will join 190 other colleges and universities nationwide as an affiliate of the Worker Rights Consortium (01 Dec).
SAC releases early registration for new Higg FEM: The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) has released early registration of the Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg FEM), a self-assessment tool that globally standardizes sustainability measurement for apparel, footwear, and textile manufacturing facilities. The Higg FEM, optimized for use at an industrial scale, enables factories of any size, anywhere in the world, to assess sustainability performance and easily share results with supply chain partners (29 Nov).
GOTS conference comes to conclusions on social compliance: With the theme of “Social Compliance Issues in the Organic Textile Supply Chain”, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) conference in India earlier this month came to three conclusions: i) social criteria in sustainability standards help improving working conditions (companies should improve standards with measurable criteria and keep inspection/ certification as a diagnostic tool); ii) in addition, or – if possible – in combination find and apply suitable aspirational approaches and tools; and iii) find and apply efficient means to draw the big brands and retailers into utilising their responsibility for sustainability of the textile industry (29 Nov). See also here.
Report finds washing fleeces damages oceans more than plastic bottles: Washing fleeces and other synthetic clothes is much more damaging for the ocean than microbeads in cosmetics, a report has found (28 Nov). The report in question is A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future, which was released last week by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. You can find the report here.
Report finds that one garbage truck of clothing and textiles is landfilled or burned every second: Billions of dollars are being lost and half a million tonnes of microplastics are being released into the environment by the global clothing and textiles industries every year, according to a new report (28 Nov). The report in question is A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future, which was released last week by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. You can find the report here.
Canada takes step towards ethical procurement of apparel: Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is seeking input from apparel suppliers through a Request for Information to develop guidelines and a collective approach for the ethical procurement of apparel (27 Nov). Apparel contracts awarded by PSPC are valued at about $127 million per year, and majority of the apparel, 88 per cent, is manufactured in Canada.
Nanollose develops plant-free viscose rayon fibre: Nanollose, an Australian technology company, has developed plant-free viscose-rayon fibre. Unlike conventional rayon, Nanollose’s sustainable alternative is derived using microbes that convert biomass waste products from the liquid food industries into microbial cellulose which is then converted into rayon fibres using the Nanollose technology (05 Dec).
Pakistan’s once-booming textiles business in crisis: The country’s share of the global textile market has declined from 2.2 per cent to 1.7 per cent. Muhammad Saleem Farooqi, former managing director of weaving units operated by Dawood Lawrencepur, an iconic Pakistani company and one of the most prestigious names in French and Italian fashion, said: “The business was no longer feasible due to shortages of water, gas and electricity, as we could not meet the demand of exporters” (02 Dec). Shortages of water…
Japanese efficiency to boost Cambodian factories? An article about Bowker, a factory in Cambodia, which says the secret to success lies in a technique that hails from Japan. Employing around 4,000 workers, Bowker Garment Factory has forged an impressive reputation for efficiency and quality thanks to the adoption of the 5S system (01 Dec).
Sustainable denim production in the United States suffers blow: One of the last mills in the United States to make denim fabric has decided to shutter its denim production and concentrate on technical fabrics. The DNA Textile Group announced that it would close down its Denim North America division by the end of January 2018 due to sagging demand and low selling prices. The article notes: Chinese denim can be bought for as little as $1.25 a yard. The average price of DNA denim was from the upper $3 range to the upper $4 range. “It was very affordable, but there was pricing pressure from people to buy it for under $3.30 a yard. We couldn’t do it” (30 Nov). In late June 2016, FSWIR noted that DNA had launched its R3 Denim sustainable collection made from new, pre-consumer cotton knit cuttings discarded during the apparel cut and sew process. The product was wholly manufactured in Georgia, and in addition to conserving water, the recycled fabric reduces the energy used in manufacturing (see here).
U.S. T-shirt factory receives GOTS certification: Sundog Productions, a 25-year-old apparel manufacturer in Fairfax, Va., recently was certified as a fully integrated GOTS factory by the Global Organic Textile Standard. The supply chain for Sundog Productions’ GOTS-certified products is fully transparent from cotton field to finished garment, according to the company (30 Nov).
Startups bring safer chemistry to market: [Note: this article was written by a founder of Safer Made, an early stage venture capital fund dedicated to investing in technologies that eliminate the use of harmful chemicals in consumer products and manufacturing processes.] “We have seen many startups with different approaches to the challenge of water use within the textile sector including new chemistry platforms (Green Theme International), companies using plasma technology (APJet and MTI-X) or super-critical CO2 (Dyecoo). These companies all build their own hardware and produce or source compatible chemistry that can meet their customers' demands” (29 Nov).
Untreated water leads to closure of Indian dyeing unit for fourth time: The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has temporarily closed a textile dyeing unit at Arulpuram for the fourth time under the suspicion that the unit is discharging untreated industrial effluent into an unused bore well (29 Nov). The plant was not named in the report.
Toray reveals 149 cases of quality data falsification: In what is now referred to collectively as Japan Inc. scandals, Toray joins the growing list of Japanese companies caught up in ethical breaches by revealing this week it had falsified up to 149 quality data reports. So far it has not named affected customers (although it did rule out Uniqlo, which uses Toray products), but the company is a major player in fashion and apparel with its fibres and textiles business (with brands including Axtar, Kevlar, LYCRA, Airlet, and ecodear) (28 Nov).
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
GMAC urges international community to continue supporting garment industry amid political crackdown: The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and unions are urging foreign buyers to ignore Cambodia’s deteriorating political climate and to continue financially supporting the Kingdom’s largest export industry (04 Dec). See also story below on trade union fears.
Laid off Bangladeshi garment workers protest: Workers from the shuttered factory of Luxma Sweater are holding daily demonstrations outside the Bangladesh Garment Manufacture Employers Association building in Dhaka. They are protesting non-payment of wages since August and severance entitlements. Workers began protesting on Sunday but riot police intervened on Wednesday and blocked a march to the labour ministry building (02 Dec).
Cambodian labour law revisions hit snag as PM charms garment workers: An early draft of amendments to Cambodian Labour Law, which appears to expand the use of short-term contracts, appears to have been directly contradicted by recent recommendations made by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has launched a charm offensive to woo garment workers, a voting bloc hundreds of thousands strong (30 Nov).
Cambodian garment workers fear rent hike: “Garment workers voiced their concern to authorities on Monday over an upcoming rent increase in Phnom Penh and Kandal province. Van Yin, a garment worker in Phnom Penh, said the owner of the house she rents informed him she will have to pay an extra $10 per month, while the worker’s wage will increase by only $17. “What’s the point of increasing wages if rents immediately rise as well?” Ms Yin complained” (29 Nov).
513 garment factories in Bangladesh closed: 513 garment factories, or one-third of 1,549 readymade garment (RMG) factories inspected under the national initiative (NI), have been shuttered for failing to comply with the required standards, including safety compliance. NI factories remain outside the purview of Accord or Alliance inspections (29 Nov).
Three killed as water tank under construction collapses at Indian textile factory: An overhead water tank under construction collapsed on the premises of a textile factory in Balotara town in Rajasthan, killing three labourers and injuring as many others (28 Nov). The factory was not named.
Cambodian unions fear foreign sanctions: Four independent unions have appealed to buyers and brands to continue ordering products from Cambodia in the wake of the US threatening punitive steps in response to Hun Sen’s ban of an opposition party in the lead up to the 2018 elections. A joint statement from the Workers Friendship Union Federation, the National Trade Unions Coalition, the Trade Union Federation for Workers and the Cambodia Development People Life Association said foreign buyers should treat the textile and footwear industry as separate to politics (28 Nov).