Brands and retailers

Levi’s, Marks & Spencer, H&M, Target and VF named in list of world’s most ethical companies: Five apparel brands and retailers have been named as honourees in Ethisphere’s list of World’s Most Ethical Companies®.  The complete list of 124 companies named and insights into each honouree can be found at the link (Mar). See below in Manufacturers for a textiles company that also made the list.

“Closing the Cycle”: Sustainable Fashion with Eileen Fisher and Patagonia: For those of you in New York City on 4 April, there’s this: a discussion with two fashion leaders whose companies are at the forefront of the industry’s sustainability movement. Eileen Fisher, who founded her namesake company in 1984, and Nellie Cohen, Patagonia’s Worn Wear program manager, will explain how their organizations have innovated the reuse of textiles in the production process and transformed “closed cycle” design into a profitable business model.

Lindex launches upcycled products: Lindex has launched Re:Design – a collection of upcycled products that have been redesigned and remade locally in Borås, Sweden. The launch represents Lindex latest step in exploring new innovative more circular ways of working (13 Mar).

New benchmark says Marks & Spencer, Adidas leading on human rights: The first-ever public ranking of corporate human rights performance launched this week, seeks to highlight the moral and commercial advantages for companies with a strong human rights record. M&S and Adidas are among those ranked as leaders (13 Mar).

Ivanka Trump was importing 50 tonnes of Chinese clothing as her father was saying ‘buy American’: Customs bills reportedly show Trump's daughter’s company had 53.5 of tonnes of Chinese goods steaming towards American ports during inauguration speech (13 Mar). In the “no news is bad news” category, Ivanka Trump sales have reportedly skyrocketed despite retailer pull out, increasing 346 per cent from January to February (09 Mar).

Timberland unveils eco collection that also benefits Haitians: Timberland has launched an apparel, accessories, and footwear line made from recycled plastic bottles. The collaboration is a partnership with recycled fibre company Thread (09 Mar).

Otto, El Corte Inglés, Esprit to improve the protection of Syrian workers in Turkey: The Foreign Trade Association (FTA), in collaboration with Otto Group, El Corte Inglés, Esprit and other BSCI participant companies, organised a stakeholder dialogue called ‘Protection of Syrian Labour Rights in Turkey – A Business-Led Call for Supply Chain Action’ on 6 March 2017 in Hamburg, Germany (08 Mar).

Epona the first UK business to join Fairtrade Textile Program: Ethical clothing company Epona is the first UK business to announce its backing for the pioneering Fairtrade Textile Program. The scheme is the first of its kind for fashion companies, monitoring every stage of the supply chain: from cotton field to factory (08 Mar).

Takko supplier found with child labour: Apax Partners, one of Europe’s largest private equity firms, is facing questions from its investors after a company it owns, German retailer Takko, was found to have used a garment factory in Myanmar that employed underage workers. Input received will form the basis of a multi-stakeholder action plan (08 Mar).

Patagonia launches video campaign in defence of public land: Patagonia is ramping up efforts to protect the embattled Bears Ears National Monument through a series of videos. The company released This is Bears Ears National Monument, powered by Google’s 360 technology earlier last week. The ten short films showcase the cultural and economic significance of the 1.35 million acres in the Four Corners regions (08 Mar).

Calvin Klein signs UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles: Calvin Klein has announced that it signed the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a joint initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact, comprising a set of seven areas in which businesses can take action to promote gender equality in the workplace, such as establishing high-level corporate leadership for gender equality, respecting and supporting human rights and non-discrimination, and promoting education, training and professional development for women (08 Mar).

H&M launches sustainable denim collection: The garments in this collection are all made with more sustainable materials such as organic cotton and recycled cotton (08 Mar). Longer story here (09 Mar).

Activists demand Uniqlo pay workers what they are due: On International Women’s Day a coalition of global campaigners organised a series of actions aimed at Uniqlo. The immediate goal is for the company to take responsibility for 4,000 workers in their supply chain. Protests in front of Uniqlo stores took place in Hong Kong, running parallel to a letter petition targeting Uniqlo’s CEO (08 Mar).

H&M joins the transition from cash to digital payments in the supply chain: H&M has joined the United Nation’s Better Than Cash Alliance, and will encourage its suppliers to pay their workers through digital channels, such as bank accounts, cards or mobile money (08 Mar).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

Textile Exchange and NSF International to merge two down standards: Textile Exchange and NSF International will work together to merge the Responsible Down and the Global Traceable Down Standards into one global down standard. The two organisations hope that combining and improving the best attributes from each of the current standards will result in a best practice standard that respects the treatment of birds throughout the down supply chain (14 Mar).

Internal communication key to driving resource efficiency in fast-fashion world: Sustainability professionals working within incumbent fashion retailers need to be more closely aligned with procurement departments in order to accelerate the transition to more sustainable fashion industry (14 Mar).

Study says one in seven women in Indian garment industry faces sexual violence: One out of seven women in Bengaluru’s garment industry faces sexual violence at the workplace, says a study by Munnade, an NGO working with the Garment Workers Union along with Sisters for Change, United Kingdom. Union representatives claim that lack of awareness and stigma are the main reasons why many workers do not come forward to report the violence (10 Mar).

Eight advisors join ECAP for sustainability drive: Eight special advisors have joined the European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP), the first EU-Life funded project to drive sustainability throughout the entire lifecycle of clothing. These individuals represent a variety of disciplines from academia and design to manufacture and recycling, and interest groups within participating EU member states (10 Mar). See full list in story.

Consumer interest in fair trade at all-time high: Research by the Natural Marketing Institute found that 67 per cent of consumers in the US recognize the Fair Trade Certified seal. This percentage saw an 8 per cent growth over the course of 2015. The research also revealed that 64% of consumers prefer to buy products from companies whose views align with theirs (09 Mar).

The female workers in India’s garment factories: An article from India to commemorate International Women’s Day. Here’s one interesting quote: “A case study of 90 women workers in Delhi-NCR revealed that only 3 female workers among them got maternity benefits” (08 Mar).

Dutch Parliament adopts child labour due diligence law: On 7 February 2017, the Dutch Parliament adopted the Child Labour Due Diligence Law (‘Wet Zorgplicht Kinderarbeid’), with 82 votes (of 150 MPs) in favour. Initiated by member Van Laar of the Dutch Labour Party, the law requires companies to examine whether child labour occurs in their production chain (08 Feb).


Milliken named in list of world’s most ethical companies: Textile and chemical manufacturer Milliken has been named an honouree in Ethisphere’s list of World’s Most Ethical Companies®.  The complete list of 124 companies named and insights into the honouree can be found at the link (Mar).

eVent Fabrics becomes Bluesign system partner: eVent fabrics – which created the first fully waterproof and air permeable membrane technology for apparel, footwear and accessories – has become a Bluesign system partner. Bluesign system partners include textile manufacturers, brands and chemical suppliers, united in their commitment to responsible manufacturing through the application of the Bluesign system (14 Mar).

Indian textile units seek land for worker hospital: Textile companies in Sachin have requested the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) to transfer 20,000 sq m land to the Sachin GIDC association for developing state-of-the-art hospital for textile workers (11 Mar).

Archroma to provide technical expertise to women entrepreneurs in Pakistan: Archroma, a global provider of color and specialty chemicals, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ethical Affair, a knowledge based platform striving to provide training, skills development and technical assistance to women entrepreneurs in the textile industry (08 Mar).

Textile industry gears up for Planet Textiles 2017: The issue of water availability, water conservation in wet processing, and wastewater discharge in the textile supply chain will dominate this year’s Planet Textiles Summit on sustainability on 24th May at the JW Marriot Hotel in Bangalore, India (08 Mar).

China's first wastewater plant using radiation opens: China has inaugurated its first facility using electron beams to treat industrial wastewater yesterday, ushering in a new era for radiation technology in the world’s leading textile producer (07 Mar).

Kraig Biocraft readies for spider silk production: Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, a developer of spider silk based fibres, has announced it has completed the planting of the first 2,000 mulberry trees at its Texas location.  This facility and these trees will be used to supply the Company’s US recombinant spider silk operations with fresh mulberry leaves.  The Company expects to begin harvesting these leaves in the 3rd or 4th quarter of this year (03 Mar). You can see spider thread ties from Bolt Threads here.

Denim chemical companies agree to collaborate on industry-wide solutions: Global leaders in the chemical industry for textiles are taking a first step to meet and collaborate on a set of practices that will serve the industry at large. Lead by House of Denim, a non-profit foundation in Amsterdam, chemical manufacturers have been invited to discuss collaboration with the ultimate goal of including all players operating in textile chemistry to drive towards consistent and conscious chemistry throughout the denim supply chain and beyond (23 Feb).

The Supply Chain

Form committees at factories to monitor violence against female workers, say analysts: Apparel factory management must form committees that monitor and resist violence against female workers inside the factory, speakers said at an even this week. Female workers should be able to approach the committee to raise their voice against harassment and thereby help reduce gender-based violence in the garments industry, they added. The event was organised by Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), a Netherlands-based organisation working to improve workplace conditions at garment factories (15 Mar).

Worker-owner trust key to avert damage to Bangladesh garment sector, says US: US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat last week laid emphasis on building trust between management and workers to avert any damage to the industry done by “troublemakers” (12 Mar).

Can Myanmar’s garment industry deliver decent jobs? An opinion piece from the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), which concludes that without significant reform, workers will continue to be exploited (11 Mar).

Bosses, workers negotiate return to work after $75,000 rampage at Myanmar garment plant: Management and employees are negotiating a return to work at a Chinese-owned garment factory in Yangon where striking workers destroyed machinery late last month, media reports said. Damage to the production line in the February 23 incident at the Hangzhou Hundred-Tex Garment (Myanmar) Company’s factory at Hlaing Tharyar Township was estimated at US$75,000 (10 Mar).

MGMA disputes Guardian accusations of labour abuse in Myanmar: The Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) has hit back at international news outlets over alleged child labour and labour abuse issues. Members of the MGMA have accused those news reports as “unacceptable” and “not accurate” at a press conference held on 6 March in Yangon (09 Mar). [See here for the original Guardian article from early February.] See another story on the issue here (13 Mar).

Workers win big minimum wage rise in El Salvador: The largest rises came in the maquila or textile industry, notorious for low wages and difficult working conditions, where the minimum wage rose nearly 40% from $211 to $295 a month, and for seasonal coffee and cotton pickers, who will see their wages more than double from $98 to $200 a month (10 Mar).

Council formed to resolve crisis in Bangladesh garment sector: The government has formed a tripartite council to resolve any crisis in the garment sector through dialogue. In a gazette last week, the labour ministry published the names of the representatives of the council, which will be headed by the state minister for labour and employment (09 Mar).

Bangladesh Alliance announces six more factories compliant: The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety announced today that six additional Alliance-affiliated factories have completed all material components outlined in their Corrective Action Plans (CAPs), bringing the total number of factories that have reached this milestone to 66 (08 Mar).

(Image, Mike Wilson, CCO)