Brands and retailers

H&M unveils new collection made from recycled ocean waste: H&M will soon release their newest Conscious Exclusive Collection for 2017. This time, it’ll be made from recycled shoreline waste. It is incorporating a recycled polyester known as BIONIC, which is “made from recovered plastic from shorelines, waterways, and coastal communities.”

Child labour “rife” in Myanmar garment sector: A new report claims children as young as 14 are making clothes in Myanmar for leading international brands, including New Look, H&M, and Sports Direct's Lonsdale brand. Many workers at the factories investigated were not even receiving the minimum wage which in Myanmar currently stands at US$2.48 – one of the lowest in the world. The report also suggests the development of some garment factories has been linked with land rights violations – an ongoing issue of major concern in Myanmar (06 Feb – subscription required to read full article). You can see the full report, from SOMO, here.

Ivanka Trump’s foreign manufacturing practices could be her brand’s next big headache: An examination of shipping data associated with Ivanka Trump’s clothing and accessory brand reveals another problem that could hurt the business: a significant amount of her brand’s shoes, clothes, and handbags are imported from China and Hong Kong, going against President Donald Trump’s ‘buy American’ policy (06 Feb).

How to transform lingerie into a salad: Wolford is bringing the Cradle to Cradle approach to the lingerie business. What if your lingerie set or your tights could be turned into a #lingeriesalad for the planet? Or the yarns of which they are made of could be part of an infinite cycle that will never create waste? Or the ingredients, dyes and chemicals used are healthy and safe? (06 Feb).

HeiQ, Patagonia team for sustainable textile technology: The Swiss textile technology innovator HeiQ and sustainable outdoor clothing brand Patagonia have teamed up for an exclusive strategic research partnership to explore novel ways for a sustainable textile finishing technology to achieve breathable and durable water repellence (DWR) (06 Feb).

Beyonce’s clothing line is paying sweatshop workers 54 cents/hour, sources say: Beyonce’s Ivy Park apparel line is still abusing factory workers in Sri Lanka, according to more claims disclosed over the weekend.  The clothing line, which preaches female empowerment, is paying women approximately 54 cents an hour (04 Feb).

Vaude honoured with CSR award from German government: German outdoor apparel company, Vaude was honoured at the German government’s annual Corporate Social Responsibility awards. A total of 25 companies were nominated in five categories for the CSR awards held on 24 January, which recognises companies that have been successful in integrating CSR into their businesses (03 Feb).

Farfetch Group announces share options scheme for all employees: Farfetch Group announced last week that from 1 February all employees will be offered share options in the company through a new initiative called ‘Farfetch For All’.  1,300 people, from junior staff to executives across 11 offices globally, will be included in the scheme (02 Feb).

Patagonia chief says fast fashion “absolutely killing” planet: The chief operating officer of Patagonia has warned that the current system of fast fashion and ‘hyper-consumption’ is “absolutely killing the planet.” Doug Freeman made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with Ecotextile News, in its special 100 page 10th Anniversary issue, where he joined executives from the likes of H&M, Otto Group, Primark, Puma, Inditex, Adidas and M&S in outlining what the next decade may bring for the global textile and clothing sectors (31 Jan – Subscription required to read full article).

Villanovans Against Sweatshops pushes for re-evaluation of Nike: Due to a special, one-time arrangement that enabled the WRC access to Hansae, the most recent WRC report was able to detail the reprehensible working conditions behind Villanova Nike apparel: “wage theft; verbal abuse of workers; pregnancy discrimination; forced overtime; illegal restrictions on workers’ use of toilets; denial of sick leave, family leave, and bereavement leave; and an array of health and safety violations, from interior factory temperatures well in excess of the legal limit of 90 degrees, to unsafe spraying of toxic solvents, to padlocked exit doors, to the chronic problem of workers collapsing unconscious at their sewing machines due to heat and overwork” (31 Jan).

Levi Strauss makes worker well-being guidebook available to all: The Levi Strauss Foundations has released a new guidebook to help factories improve worker health and manage their health activities as a basic management function. “Managing Health at the Workplace: A Guidebook” takes research evidence and industry experience of what factories can do to improve their workplace health services and puts this knowledge into a form that managers can use. It makes the case that the health needs of women and men workers in low- and middle-income country should be considered a fundamental business concern (30 Jan). You can see the guidebook here.

Helly Hansen joins Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Helly Hansen has announced that it has joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and will use the group’s sustainability measurement tool, the Higg Index, to drive environmental responsibility across its supply chain (Jan).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

“We’re at the point now that we need standardization in the ecolabel jungle”: What is fair clothing? And why are millions of people committed to buying eco-friendly foods, but only a few buy eco-friendly clothing? In a presentation at ISPO MUNICH, Braind founder Tomas Vucurevic discussed the problems in the textile industry – and calls for an end to the label jungle that is so detrimental to customers (06 Feb).

Would you wear a leather jacket grown in a lab? “Founded in 2011, Modern Meadow has turned to biotechnology to literally grow leather in a lab. It works like this: Using DNA-sequence editing, ordinary cells are transformed into little factories that churn out collagen, which is the main structural protein found in animal skin. As they churn, the cells are rapidly grown on a diet of nutrients until their collagen forms into a network of fibres. The fibrous sheet is then processed into a “hide” that can be tanned and fashioned into various products. This material is biologically comparable to one procured directly from the backs of animals, but avoids harming any living animals in the process. Subsequently, the method eliminates the ethical questions of raising livestock, as well as limits the human and environmental impact of preparing and treating leather”  (05 Feb).

Bangladesh apparel sector has 540 trade unions: The readymade garment industry of Bangladesh boasts of 540 registered trade unions, according to M Mujibul Haque Chunnu, the state minister of labour and employment. He also said that a worker welfare foundation fund has been formed by the government and close to Taka 190 crore has already been deposited in it, which will be spent for workers’ welfare (03 Feb).

Can Kenya break the global fashion industry's low-wage model? The textile industry is the second largest employer in developing countries, but most artisans are trapped in domestic markets with no links to international trade (02 Feb).

Most people don't care about ethical fashion: And those who DO care about ethical production are denigrated by those who do not. People need to start paying the true cost of clothing, so as to ensure that garment workers earn livable wages, that resource-intensive fabrics aren’t thrown in the landfill within weeks of production, and that the industry cleans up its chemical usage (01 Feb).

Parsons students show off sustainable designs on Madison Ave: Parsons design students have taken over the windows of a Madison Avenue building. This installation, named #UN_MADE, will show off the newest in sustainable garment innovations, along with student-produced editorials, behind-the-scenes videos, and works in progress (01 Feb).


Saving water is on trend in the apparel industry: A few powerhouses are leading efforts in the fashion industry to be more water smart in every part of their supply chains. The rest of the industry needs to catch up. This story focuses on the New Fashion Products’ Los Angeles facility and how some of the leaders in the fashion world are rising to the challenge of making their clothing more water smart (31 Jan).

The Supply Chain

Indian textile firms fail to investigate abuse complaints, say activists: No record of committees to look into sexual harassment in more than 3,000 mills across four districts (02 Feb).

How repressive law enforcement crushed minimum wage protests in Bangladesh’s garment sector: Arrests of trade union organisers and workers, along with the suspension by garment manufacturers of as many as 1,500 workers from their jobs, has been a great success for the employers (02 Feb).

BGMEA asks factory owners not to publish photos of sacked workers: The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association has asked factory owners not to display the photos of the workers sacked or suspended for their alleged involvement in labour unrest. In December last year, factory owners fired or suspended 1,600 workers for their alleged links to unrest in the manufacturing hub of Ashulia. Some companies posted the pictures of those employees on factory walls for easy identification, said Siddiqur Rahman, president of BGMEA (01 Feb).

BGMEA to form steering committee to oversee garment industry: The BGMEA has said it will form a steering committee comprising members from all stakeholders to oversee the industry in absence of Accord and Alliance in 2018. According to the proposed formula, name of the new committee would be 'Version 2.0' comprising members from BGMEA, International Labour Organisation, Department of Inspection For Factories and Establishments, trade unions and brands (31 Jan).

‘Bangladesh crackdown calls preferential EU trade deal into question’: Three trade union organisations have said the latest crackdown on Bangladesh’s garment workers for demanding relief from poverty wages and hazardous working conditions must call into question the country’s continuing eligibility for trade preferences under the EU’s GSP regime. The opinion piece jointly written by Philip Jennings, Sharan Burrow and Valter Sanchez-general (respectively the heads of International Trade Union Confederation, IndustriALL Global Union, and UNI Global Union) said, “It is still extremely difficult for workers to exercise their fundamental labour rights in Bangladesh” (31 Jan). You can read the original op-ed here.

28 workers faint at Sihanoukville garment factory: Twenty-eight workers fainted at Romantic Leather (Cambodia) Co Ltd in Sihanoukville yesterday morning, though the exact reason remains unknown. Yov Khemara, director of the provincial Labour Department, said the cause of the faintings hadn’t yet been identified, but it started when one worker, who was feeling weak, fainted, and workers who witnessed the incident followed one by one (31 Jan).

(Image, Greg Rakozy, CCO)