Brands and retailers

Crisis deepens for Bangladeshi garments as brands pull out of Dhaka Apparel Summit 2017: The global union federation IndustriALL confirmed that global brands H&M, Inditex, C&A, and Tchibo have pulled out of the summit “citing the current climate of repression against unions as incompatible with activities to promote the industry” (22 Feb).

Lindex switches to cleaner dyeing process: Swedish-based fashion retailer, Lindex, claims 90 per cent of its denim is now dyed using the cleanest, most environmentally benign dyeing process on the market as part of its drive to improve the sustainability of its production processes. The company says it is now using the pre-reduced indigo solution of Dystar – DyStar’s Indigo Vat 40% Solution – for most of its denim dyeing (20 Feb – subscription required to read full article).

Debenhams, Peacocks and hundreds more firms under fire for not paying minimum wage: The government has named and shamed hundreds of employers in Britain that have underpaid staff to the tune of £1million (16 Feb).

TopShop staff to walk out after Sir Philip Green denies them a living wage: Staff at two TopShop sites are set to stage a walk-out after shamed BHS boss and head of Arcadia group Sir Philip Green denied them a living wage. Arcadia staff in Leeds and Solihull will walk out on strike for two days on Friday February 24 and Sunday February 26 (15 Feb).

Tengri kick starts the year with sustainable fashion project: British fair trade luxury knitwear brand Tengri has been selected as one of Selfridges’ Bright New brand ambassadors to take part in the Material World sustainable fashion project. The company works with nomadic herders in Mongolia, supporting 4,500 families (15 Feb).

Primark’s Sustainable Cotton Programme boosts profits for smallholder farmers: “A three year pilot in Gujarat India trained 1,251 women smallholders, who saw an average profit increase of 247% in the third year of the programme. The additional income was used by many to invest in farm and home improvements, healthcare and education for their children” (14 Feb).

Brands revolt against US environmental policy: Polartec, the premium provider of innovative textile solutions, has announced its withdrawal from the US Outdoor Retailer trade show in Utah in solidarity with its customer, US outdoor business Patagonia, which recently withdrew from Outdoor Retailer trade shows in Utah in response to the state government’s public land policy (13 Feb – subscription required to read full article). See also: Outdoor retailer to leave Salt Lake City over Utah Gov’s stance on public land: The Outdoor Retailer show is saying goodbye to Salt Lake City after exhibiting there for more than 20 years, and is shopping around for new venues in other cities. The deal breaker was politics, specifically the public lands policy and laws keeping public lands wild (17 Feb).

Asos to publish own-brand factory list in March: UK-based online fashion retailer Asos is to publish a list of all mapped and approved supplier factories which it uses to produce its own brand apparel on its website by March 31 2017 as part of its pledge to supply chain transparency (13 Feb –subscription required to read full article).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

Emma Watson’s new Instagram account is a lesson in sustainable fashion: ma Watson wants to teach you a lesson about sustainable fashion. The actress/activist has launched an Instagram account (@the_press_tour) for the specific purpose of chronicling her press tour wardrobe for Beauty and the Beast, which hits theaters March 17. Watson is working with stylist Rebecca Corbin-Murray, who also counts Sophie Turner and Lily James as clients, to document her looks (21 Feb). Watson’s account already has 288k followers…

Ethical Trading Initiative pulls out of the Dhaka Apparel Summit 2017: Amidst growing international concerns around Bangladesh’s clampdown on trade unions in the country’s garment sector, and following discussions with its member companies, the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is withdrawing from the Dhaka Apparel Summit taking place on 25th February (20 Feb).

The hidden cost of cashmere: Is it naïve to think that a billion-dollar industry can be maintained while wildlife is protected? (16 Feb).

Application of global standards to improve labour productivity: Speaking at an informative session at the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) office on Wednesday, GIZ technical expert Noor Khan said the the implementation of social and labour standards could bring economic benefits over the medium term through increased motivation and productivity of workers, emphasised an expert who was working on sustainable development (15 Feb).

How dialogue is shifting Bangladesh’s textile industry from pollution problem to pollution solution: With this mind set, the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, in partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and other international partners, introduced an initiative called the Water PaCT: Partnership for Cleaner Textile in 2013. PaCT engages with textile buyers, factories, communities, government, and civil society to leverage dialogue as a key ingredient to more eco-friendly textile production. From 2013 to September 2016, PaCT has catalysed several actionable solutions related to water sustainability (15 Feb).

Dhaka Apparel Summit 2017 to focus on sustainability: Dhaka Apparel Summit 2017, an international apparel summit, will focus on improving the sustainable apparel supply chain from local and global perspectives. The Dhaka Apparel Summit will bring together world’s leading experts in their respective fields to share their visionary thoughts on issues pertaining to sustainability in the apparel industry (14 Feb).


All standard Lenzing Fibres are derived 100 percent from nature: Lenzing Viscose and Lenzing Modal fibres including all their product families have been awarded the Biobased Product Label granted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (15 Feb).

Decoupling water consumption and environmental impact on textile industry by using water footprint method: A case study in China: An academic article. “Results show that the water footprint of China’s textile industry has strongly decoupled for five years (2003, 2006, 2008, 2011, and 2013) and weakly decoupled for four years (2005, 2007, 2009, and 2010). A decoupling trend occurred during 2001–2014, but a steady stage of decoupling had not been achieved yet. Based on the decomposition analysis, the total water footprint mainly increased along with the production scale. On the contrary, technical level is the most important factor in inhibiting the water footprint. In addition, the effect of industrial structure adjustment is relatively weak” (15 Feb).

Spanish businesses partner for ocean plastic brand: Three leading Spanish textile businesses have joined forces to create a new brand of fibres which is produced from recycled plastic collected from the ocean. Seaqual is the brand name of a yarn developed by Ecoalf, Antex and Textil Santanderina (14 Feb – subscription required to read full article).

The Supply Chain

BGMEA says global trade unions’ campaign about labour repression baseless: The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association on Sunday claimed that there was no labour repression in Bangladesh’s readymade garment sector and the campaign of global trade unions against union repression was baseless (19 Feb).

Trade union building in Myanmar: “With the introduction of a new labour law as part of the democratic opening in Myanmar since 2011, workers have become increasingly vocal about the inhumane working conditions and labour disputes. Trade unions play a crucial role in helping workers formulate and articulate their complaints” (17 Feb).

Garment factory ordered to reinstate axed workers in Myanmar: Unitedtex overseas garment factory in Yangon has been ordered by the regional arbitration council to reinstate nine workers whom the company fired last month (17 Feb).

Unifor joins call to free Bangladesh unionists: Unifor members lent their voices to the call to free imprisoned Bangladesh trade unionists at a rally held today outside the Bangladesh High Commission in Ottawa. “We demand the immediate release of jailed unionists and an end to the targeting of labour activists and the intimidation of workers,” said Unifor Eastern Ontario Area Director Harry Ghadban, who was part of a labour delegation that met with High Commission officials (17 Feb).

Bangladesh crackdown on labour activists condemned globally: Hundreds of people joined demonstrations in front of Bangladesh’s embassies in over a dozen major cities of the world demanding the withdrawal of “unsubstantiated criminal cases” and immediate release of trade unionists and garment workers arrested recently (16 Feb).

War on Want protest over garment worker crackdown in Bangladesh: “Bangladeshi garment workers are paid $67 (approx. £54) a month, nowhere close to an amount they need to cover meals and rent let alone school or healthcare for themselves and their family. This wage hasn’t changed since 2013 and is only set to increase in 2018. Meanwhile, the cost of living in Dhaka has steadily increased with garment workers earning below the World Bank Poverty Line” (16 Feb).

Bangladeshi union signs collective agreement with Natural Denims Ltd: The Natural Denims Ltd. Sommilito Sramik Union has signed a two year collective agreement with the company for the first time. The union is part of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation (SGSF). The agreement was signed on 29 January by representatives of the company, union and federation, after a period of negotiation lasting six weeks (15 Feb).

Bangladesh Bank to support RMG sector for building safety: Bangladesh Bank (BB) will provide loans to the Ready Made Garment (RMG) sector under its “Urban Building Safety Project” for ensuring structural, fire and electrical safety in RMG factories (15 Feb).

Alliance factories in Bangladesh complete 68 per cent of repairs: The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a consortium of North American apparel retailers and buyers said, 68 per cent of all necessary repairs across Alliance-linked factories, has been completed till date. At a press conference, they also added that 60 per cent of Alliance linked factories had, to a great extent, completed their corrective action plans (15 Feb).

Bangladesh: Stop persecuting unions, garment workers:  A call from Human Rights Watch. “Dozens of garment workers and labor leaders are facing unfair or apparently fabricated criminal cases in Bangladesh after wage strikes in December 2016, Human Rights Watch said today. Arbitrary arrests by the Bangladesh police are growing with each passing day – nine more union organizers were arrested on February 10, taking the number of known arrests to 34” (15 Feb).

Bangladesh crackdown worsens labour situation, says UNI: Geneva-based UNI Global Union and other international labour rights body have voiced concerns over the “deteriorating situation in practising trade unions in Bangladesh as the government resort to punitive crackdown on labourers” (14 Feb).

(Image, Ricardo Gomez Angel, CCO)