Brands and retailers

Water is top concern for textile industry executives: Water is the most serious long term environmental challenge facing the global textile industry – that’s the finding of research by Ecotextile News among 50 senior textile industry stakeholders from the likes of H&M, Inditex, Puma, adidas, Benetton, the ZDHC Group, the Sustainable Apparel Coaliton, M&S and the China National Textile and Apparel Council (30 Jan).

Patagonia expands garment recycling program: Patagonia has announced the expansion of its Worn Wear garment repair and recycling program, adding an online platform for resale (30 Jan).

Germany’s Jan ‘N June show full transparency is possible: Juliana Holtzheimer, one of the two founders of Jan 'N June, a sustainable, fair and transparent eco fashion label from Hamburg, says, “We have an Eco-ID for every piece of clothing. … A kind of identity card that everyone can easily scan with their smartphone. Because transparency is important in sustainable fashion now. And it helps the customer to distinguish truly consistent eco-fashion from the rest.” Customers can trace their clothing through the entire supply chain (29 Jan – in German).

Target revamps chemical use policy, asks suppliers to list ingredients: Target Corp said it would introduce a policy aimed at removing many harmful chemicals used in its personal care, beauty and textiles products, and the retailer would ensure suppliers disclose ingredients in certain products it sells by 2020. The retailer also said it would invest $5 million in green chemistry, which involves the reduction or elimination of hazardous substances in chemicals, over the next five years (26 Jan).

Suppliers urge authorities to act on Leicester sweatshop claims: Suppliers not implicated in the sweatshop allegations, who pride themselves on high standards and ethical practice, told Drapers they were deeply disappointed by the claims. Mick Cheema, general manager of Leicester-based supplier Basic Premier, which works with firms including New Look and River Island, said the problem was “endemic” in Leicester. He believes it is time for the authorities such as Revenue and Customs and Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), as well as city councils, to crack down: “They have known what’s going since the last ETI report in 2015. Now they need to act on it in a big way” (25 Jan).

H&M launches new garment collection campaign, ‘Bring It’: a new film directed by Crystal Moselle will kick off the next garment collecting campaign, Bring It, which will debut globally on January 26 at The campaign raises awareness on the importance of garment recycling. H&M wants to close the loop on fashion by giving customers an easy solution to hand in unwanted garments so they can be reused or recycled through H&M’s garment collecting initiative. By doing so, less garments go to landfill. The Bring It film tells the journey that unwanted garments go on after they have been collected in store. Through inspiring stories the film illustrates how the lifespan of a garment can be increased to keep it in the loop for as long as possible (25 Jan). See the film here.

Kering raises bar with far-reaching sustainability strategy: Kering has launched a new, long-term sustainability strategy for its luxury brands following a one-year fact-finding process involving the CEOs of its luxury brands, the brands’ creative directors and their teams. The strategy is one of the most wide-ranging and ambitious to emerge from the global apparel industry, incorporating the entire supply chain, starting from the design process (25 Jan – requires subscription to read full article).

François-Henri Pinault, Kering chief, on why green is the new black: After sharing the results of Kering’s 2012-16 sustainability report at the end of last year, Mr. Pinault released on Wednesday a secondary phase of targets for the group to meet by 2025. The targets, which are in line with United Nations goals for sustainable development, include cutting carbon emissions by 50 per cent and reducing Kering’s environmental impact by at least 40 percent, largely from production of raw materials (25 Jan).

How Veja sneakers help save the Amazon: “In October 2016, Highsnobiety travelled across Brazil and deep into the Amazon rainforest with the Parisian sneaker company, Veja, to meet the people who make its sneakers. From the factory workers Veja employs in the south, to the families in the far north-west who score the rubber trees in the rainforest for the sneaker’s soles, the experience was awe-inspiring” (19 Jan).

Selfridges Hot Air film examines sustainable fashion: “This short film uses charming animation to tell a serious story. Created as part of the Selfridges Hot Air series of shorts, it features interviews with fashion designers working with sustainable materials, and explains why this matters, while also prompting consumers to think about their clothes by asking the question ‘what on earth are you wearing?’” (Jan 17). See the video at the link or here.

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

Why won’t social media stars speak out about the murky ethics of fashion they promote? The fashion industry regularly faces allegations of unethical working practices. But on Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and blogs, it’s business as usual. (31 Jan).

BSI launches supply chain slavery index: The British Standards Institution (BSI) has launched the BSI Human Trafficking and Supply Chain Slavery Index, which identifies Russia, Slovakia, India and Pakistan as ‘severe risk’ source countries of ‘modern day slaves’ to the UK. Of the G7 nations, Italy is identified as a ‘high risk’ nation – partly due to the conflict in Syria. Greece and Turkey are additionally categorised as ‘high risk’ countries (30 Jan).

Modal: Sustainable textile or another case of greenwashing? Modal is soft man-made fibre that is made from natural materials and is completely biodegradable. It is soft and strong. And is commonly used as an alternative to cotton jersey (t-shirt fabric). It is used for t-shirts, soft dresses and cardigans and just like cotton when used in this way, modal is easy to care for. It doesn’t wrinkle and it holds the quality of its surface well. It is also resistant to shrinkage and, for this reason, it is often seen as a much better choice than cotton. Modal is often touted as a sustainable textile. But as we learn time and time again, the story is much more complicated (30 Jan).

Labour leader seeks review of Nigeria’s trade agreements: Labour leader, Issa Aremu, told the Federal Government on Monday to review various trade agreements entered into by Nigeria in the past 15 years. He said the review was to prevent dumping of goods into Nigeria’s recession-hit economy. Aremu, General Secretary of the National Union of Textile, Tailoring and Garment Workers made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos. According to him, some of the agreements have promoted dumping of sub-standard goods, closure of factories and destruction of local jobs (30 Jan).

The Maasai want their brand back: The Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania have a distinctive look that is widely imitated, but none of the products bearing this look are actually made by the Maasai people, nor are they compensated for anything sold under brands using their name, which has helped sell good worth billions of dollars worldwide over the years, according to Light Years IP, a Washington, DC nonprofit that works on public interest intellectual property issues internationally. That’s why it created the Maasai Intellectual Property Initiative (MIPI), putting businesses on notice. Companies must cease and desist referring to the trademark name Maasai or copying the signature Maasai style without a licensing agreement (28 Jan).

Fashion Revolution fanzine #001 hits the stands: Fashion Revolution has published its inaugural fanzine Issue #001: Money Fashion Power. The digital version is now online. Read it for free here. The first issue explores the hidden stories behind your clothing, what the price you pay for fashion means, and how your purchasing power can make a positive difference (26 Jan). 

Sweatshops, slavery and general counsels: “When asked what their company is doing to combat poor working conditions, GCs in the retail industry usually say their company has implemented a code of conduct and hired auditors to check in on the factories. These guidelines are sure to appear on the company's website and its annual report to investors. But in-house lawyers are increasingly finding it will take more than a code of conduct to minimize risks and protect their company's reputations” (30 Jan). 

€2 million boost for Better Cotton growth fund: The Better Cotton Initiative’s Growth and Innovation Fund (GIF) has been awarded grant funding of €2 million from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation. The GIF is managed by BCI’s strategic partner, The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and is a global investment vehicle for supporting Better Cotton projects globally (25 Jan – requires subscription to read full article).

ZDHC launches online academy & announces first training sessions: The ZDHC Foundation has officially launched the ZDHC Academy, an online portal for ZDHC chemical management training. The ZDHC Academy enables brands and manufacturers to receive certified training to improve their knowledge and practice of responsible chemical management. The release of the platform is significant for the ZDHC Programme as it shifts its focus from the development of tools to implementation (25 Jan).

The Veggie Awards: To help designers get more attention, and raise awareness of sustainable alternatives in general, VegNews Magazine began hosting the Veggie Awards in 2008. VegNews is read by more than 225,000 subscribers in over 38 countries; last year, they received more than 1.3 million votes in the open poll for the award. “More and more consumers are using the power of voting with their dollars to seek out vegan fashion, which they consider to be not only trend-setting, but fulfilling a moral imperative” (24 Jan).

Social compliance concerns amplified in 2017: “There is a lot to be worried about in 2017 for those companies reliant on global trade. You are encountering theanticipated shifts in worldwide trade policies stemming from a series of governmental changes such as the U.S. election, last year’s trade volumes and retail sales hitting bottom, transportation and logistics companies running aground, brick and mortar stores turning out the lights for good, and everyone being asked to do less with more” (23 Jan).

Bengaluru to host sustainable textile summit in May: Planet Textiles 2017, the leading sustainable textile summit for the global textile sector, will kick off from May 24 in Bengaluru. The event on textiles and sustainability will discuss about various crucial issues including textile wastewater pollution, chemical management and natural resource conservation including both energy and water use (20 Jan).


Isko first denim mill to get EU Ecolabel certification: Turkish denim label Isko has become the first denim mill in the world to have received EU Ecolabel certification for its Earth Fit platform dedicated to sustainability. The Isko EU Ecolabel products will be launched in May 2017. EU Ecolabel is the official environmental label in the European Union, based on a commitment to environmental sustainability (27 Jan).

Ecotec cotton by Marchi & Fildi is now even smarter: Marchi & Fildi, a leading Italy based manufacturer of natural, artificial and synthetic fibre yarns, has received the Tessile e Salute certification promoted by the Italian Ministry of Health for its Ecotec smart cotton. Ecotec yarn is made in Italy and produced by an exclusive traceable and certified production process that transforms pre-dyed textile clippings into a 100% cotton yarn with record savings in water and energy consumption, according to the manufacturer (25 Jan).

Can 3D printing PLA make a more sustainable textile industry? Collaborative research between the Swedish University of Borås; French universities GEMTEX and Université Lille Nord; and the Chinese College of Textile and Clothing Engineering has led a publication into the direct 3D printing of PLA onto fabric. The research is funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus Mundus Programme, encouraging collaboration to achieve a universal goal. The study, Investigation of the adhesion properties of direct 3D printing of polymers and nanocomposites on textiles (23 Jan). You can see the full report here.

MAS Holdings and Siam Pro Group of companies join ZDHC: Two manufacturers are among six companies committing to the goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals in the textile and footwear value chain (20 Jan).

The Supply Chain

5,000 sacked for demanding higher wages – the human cost of Bangladesh's $27-billion garment industry: “Supplanting India, Bangladesh is currently the second largest exporter of readymade garments in the world. This principal source of foreign earning brought in $27 billion in 2016, and the target is to swell that to $50 billion by 2021, the year the country turns 50. A billion dollars for each year of independence lends poetry to capitalism, but fails to account for the true, human cost of production in a country that is the byword for cheap labour. When the demands of workers for respect and higher wages took the shape of peaceful protests in December, the nationwide refusal to entertain these was indicative of the commonplace myopia of the industry having evolved into an endemic blindness about it” (29 Jan).

Bangladesh garment makers keen to include all stakeholders into new initiative: RMG makers want all stakeholders, including the government, ILO, brands and representatives of trade union leaders, to be included in the new initiative to inspect apparel industry after the expiry of Accord and Alliance tenure. According to the steering committee’s draft proposal for Version 2, BGMEA representatives, International Labour Organisation (ILO), Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment (DIFE), Trade Unions and Brands would find place in the proposal to continue safety inspection for sustainability (29 Jan).

BGMEA wants ‘Version 2.0’ to replace Accord, Alliance: A new initiative named ‘Version 2.0’ comprising of the government, BGMEA, ILO, trade unions and global brands is likely to replace two buyers’ groups the Accord and the Alliance when their readymade garment sector safety initiatives expire in July next year. According to a draft proposal of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the Version 2.0 will also include the Sustainable Development Goals as part of a bigger agenda in the RMG landscape with the help of development partners (29 Jan).

Protest data for Phnom Penh don’t add up: City Hall yesterday reported a threefold increase in the number of strikes and protests across Phnom Penh, largely due to garment worker protests, though the city’s numbers failed to match up with recent government figures and, in certain instances, their own. A report released during the city government’s annual meeting yesterday identified 1,326 protests and strikes last year, a considerable jump from 443 in 2015. It added that most incidents had the backing of political parties, NGOs and trade unions (27 Jan).

Garment workers in Myanmar trying to unionise fired: More than 20 workers who were trying to establish a union within their Hlaing Tharyar township garment factory say their employment was forcibly terminated this month. They believe they were edged out in retaliation for collectively organising, but the factory managers said the layoffs were part of a downsizing effort (26 Jan).

US companies urge Bangladesh PM to help review apparel wages: The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) has called for swift resolution of wage issues and arrests of Bangladeshi garment workers to ensure a healthy relationship with the brands the sector supplies, according to Sourcing Journal. It says in a letter to prime minister Sheikh Hasina, the AAFA, an American industry trade group, addressed ongoing wage concerns, labour leader arrests and worker terminations (25 Jan).

6 labour leaders’ bank details summoned following Dhaka unrest: The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has asked the banks to submit details of transactions by six labour leaders, along with account details of spouses of four of them, officials have confirmed. Some of the leaders expressed apprehension that the move might have a correlation with the recent protests by garment workers in Ashulia demanding pay hikes as many of them have been fired, sued and detained (24 Jan).

International labour unions demand fair treatment of garment workers in Bangladesh: Two international labour union groups have launched an online campaign calling on the government of Bangladesh to “immediately and unconditionally” release garment trade union leaders detained in recent weeks. The IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union also called for reasonable treatment of garment workers, including fair pay (24 Jan).

Cambodian garment truck crash leaves 25 injured: Twenty-five workers were injured yesterday when a garment truck overturned while attempting to pass another vehicle in Kampong Speu’s Samrong Tong district, according to the Ministry of Labour. Six of the workers sustained serious injuries while 19 others only suffered minor injuries, according to a news release by the ministry. (24 Jan).

Pakistan commission wants five-year records of water, sanitation schemes: All district and sessions’ judges have been tasked with collecting details of projects or schemes that the Sindh government claims to have launched in the last five years to provide clean drinking water and improve sanitation in each district. It has granted one week to the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association’s chairperson file a report regarding the disposal of untreated effluent generated by textile mills (24 Jan).

Panda Textile workers back on strike after last-minute revisions to negotiated truce: Eight months and a failed negotiation attempt since the start of the Panda Textile Factory strikes, disgruntled workers are pressing the Union government to intervene in the dispute. The workers began protesting again yesterday over post-negotiation additions to their employment handbook made by the factory management (23 Jan).

Bangladesh tannery workers want 2016 pact implementation: Tannery workers last week demanded the implementation of a bilateral pact signed between the tanners and workers in 2016 to ensure worker’s job security in the export-oriented industry in its entirety by January 26. At a rally organised by Tannery Workers Union in Dhaka Tannery crossing at Hazaribagh, tannery worker leaders also demanded immediate establishment of accommodation facilities and health services for the workers at the tannery estate at Savar, on the outskirts of the capital (22 Jan).

Italian textile & garment workers demand renewal of labour contracts: Italian textile, garment, and footwear workers observed a general strike last week seeking renewal of the national labour contracts for the period of 2016-2019 pending for more than ten months now. Upset over the delay on renewal of contracts, trade unions held demonstrations in Florence (20 Jan).

(Image, Steven Wei, CCO)