Brands and retailers

Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, Target join committee to advance sustainable artisan supply chains: Nest, a New York-based non-profit focused on creating a better life for workers in the cottage industry, has announced the formation of the Nest Artisan Advancement Steering Committee, a coalition of fashion and home design companies committed to addressing sustainability issues impacting the global community of homeworkers and artisans. Committee members include brand leaders in sustainability and conscious business practices: Eileen Fisher, Jaipur Living, Maiyet, Patagonia, PVH (parent company of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein), Target and West Elm (20 Mar).

Adidas trials customer personalisation in bid to tackle fast fashion: Adidas has been testing a store where shoppers can design a sweater, have a body scan to determine fit and get it knitted by a state-of-the-art machine within hours, as the German company looks at ways to respond more quickly to customer demands (20 Mar).

Stella McCartney and Adidas unveil Parley Ultra Boost X trainers made from ocean plastic: The Parley Ultra Boost X running shoes, unveiled last week, feature Primeknit uppers made from Parley Ocean Plastic – a manufacturing process which replaces synthetic fibres with yarns made from recycled waste plastic from the sea (17 Mar).

Why PETA bought shares of Canada Goose: PETA’s investment is a tried-and-true way to put pressure on publicly traded companies, according to spokesman Ben Williamson. “PETA is trying to bring a shareholder resolution to Canada Goose’s next annual meeting where we will ask them to abandon the cruel use of fur and feathers,” Williamson told CBC News. “At the very least we would like to bring them to the negotiating table,” he said. Canada Goose uses coyote fur as lining on some of its high-end parkas, as well as down insulation made of goose and duck feathers (17 Mar).

Inditex invests €7 billion in sustainability over 5 years: Inditex says it has invested more than €7 billion in the past five years in support of its sustainability targets. These includes the roll-out of its garment collection and recycling programme, investment in better, more streamlined logistics, and the upgrading of stores to make them more eco-efficient. In 2016 alone, these investments totalled €1.4 billion (15 Mar – subscription required to read full article).

A.BCH wants you to know how and where your clothes were made: A new Australian line of men’s and women’s basics encourages shoppers to look deeper into the supply chain. “There’s a lot of green-washing now where brands say they do this and that, but there’s no evidence,” says Australian designer Courtney Holm. “I’m trying to put the evidence out there, say: ‘Here’s all our information’,” she says. “We reveal all our suppliers” (15 Mar).

Thinx promised a feminist utopia to everyone but its employees: From inadequate maternity leave to hostility to salary negotiations, Thinx employees saw a gap between the company’s message and their reality (14 Mar). And see follow up story here: “It’s become something of a tradition: Hot new startup enthuses the public, wows the media, charms investors, turns out to be exploiting its employees, and goes through a spasm of contrition in which the chastened founder publishes an apologetic yet defiant mea culpa. The latest example is Thinx, which makes high-tech underwear for women to wear during their menstrual cycles” (20 Mar).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

ICN calls on major brands to address exploitation in Indian leather industry: A new report by the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), Do Leather Workers Matter? Violating Labour Rights and Environmental Norms in India’s Leather Production, explores the existing labour conditions in the leather industry that are steeped in deep-rooted social inequalities in Indian society based on caste and gender discrimination. Three main production hubs that supply hides, leather, garments and footwear for export – Kolkata, Agra and the Vinyambadi-Ambur cluster in Tamil Nadu – were studied for the report, providing an on-the-ground glimpse at the current state affairs in the industry (20 Mar). You can read the full report here (PDF).

How sweatshops help the poor: “Sweatshops are frequently vilified, and rightfully so. They are often horrible places to work, with long hours and few workers’ rights. But though they may be awful, they should not be outlawed. They play an important role in the world economy and in bettering the lives of millions across the globe” (20 Mar).

Ethics of fashion: Preeti Singh speaks to Indian designers who are part of the worldwide sustainability campaign to make fashion more eco-friendly (18 Mar).

ILO revises Declaration on multinational enterprises: The revised Tripartite Declaration of principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration) adds principles to the Declaration addressing decent work issues related to social security, forced labour, transition from the informal to the formal economy, access to remedy and compensation of victims, inter alia. It provides enhanced guidelines for fostering the contribution of multinational enterprises to achieve decent work for all (17 Mar).

Leading organisations partner to offer organic textile labelling webinar: The Global Organic Textile Standard, Organic Trade Association, and Textile Exchange are coordinating a free webinar to provide the industry with guidance on labelling textiles that contain organic material for sale in the US (16 Mar).

What is ‘rainforest-free’ clothing, and why should you care? There’s a pretty high chance the shirt on your back is made from ancient, endangered trees. The movement is propelled by activist organizations, including Canopy and Rainforest Action Network (RAN), which seek to preserve ecosystems that host endangered species and indigenous communities. It’s the fastest-growing environmental initiative in the apparel industry, insiders say, and 2017 is a benchmark for the effort: Ninety-six major fashion brands have promised to clean up their supply chains by year’s end (16 Mar).

ING report finds circular solutions could save 11% of global water demand: ING has released a new report, Less is More: Circular Economy Solutions to Water Shortages, which claims circular solutions in the water sector could cut global demand by 11%. Produced in partnership with Deltares, an independent knowledge institute for water and subsoil, the report aims to lay out the beginnings of a circular model for water usage. The model aims to transform the water system into one that is regenerative by design, focusing on ensuring that water retains its quality and can be cycled multiple times (15 Mar).

We have no idea how bad fashion actually is for the environment: ““The global fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world.” You’ll hear this repeated at panels, on blogs and news sites, and anywhere else sustainable fashion is being discussed. Intuitively, it sounds true … But when I searched for the source, I couldn’t find it” (15 Mar).

Introducing the world’s first dedicated online course in sustainable apparel: The Sustainable Fashion Academy (SFA) is now offering a dedicated online course on sustainable apparel, namely ‘The Sustainability Fundamentals‘, in addition to classical training (15 Mar).

Exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals can adversely affect brain development: Findings published several weeks ago provide evidence that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) causes changes in thyroid hormone signalling, which disturbs brain development. The impacts – which may include ADHD and lower IQ – are avoidable and can prevent children reaching their full potential. Chemicals of concern include brominated flame retardants (BFRs), a group of chemicals added to furniture, electronics and building materials, per- and poly- fluorocarbons (PFCs), used for non-stick coatings or breathable coatings in everyday products including packaging and clothes (13 Mar). See an associated article here.

AAFA releases latest update to restricted substances list: The AAFA Restricted Substances List (RSL) covers chemicals and other substances whose presence in a product is restricted through a government regulation or law.  The list identifies the most restrictive iteration of that regulation worldwide.  Every six months, the publication is reviewed, updated, and the latest version is made available for free to the apparel and footwear industry (March).


Twin Dragon boosts sustainable denim production: In a bid to boost sustainable denim production, California based Twin Dragon has announced the launch of ecological improvements in their Northern Hemisphere Mexican mills and at their Asian facilities, by introducing liquid indigo and eco-finishing. These eco-initaitves are the most advanced techniques in the current marketplace (20 Mar).

Vietnam revises regulation on use of azo dyes in textiles: The Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) has drafted a new regulation on use of azo dyes and formaldehyde content in textile and apparel products sold in the country. The new regulation stipulates limits and inspection of content of formaldehyde and of aromatic amines derived from azo colourants in textile and apparel products (20 Mar).

Canada reverses conclusion on 73 textile dyes: Having changed its approach in assessing 73 textile dyes, the Canadian government has reversed its tentative conclusion that the substances are harmful to the environment. The final screening assessment of azo disperse dyes concludes that all but one should be considered not harmful, as defined by section 64 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (Cepa, 1999). Consequently, the authorities will take no further action under the national Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) in relation to these substances (20 Mar).

Polluted river water threatens livelihood in Pali, India: At a time when the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has put an interim stay on the operation of textile mills in Pali district for want of pollution-check measures, a research by Jai Narayan Vyas University experts revealed that the river water there is not fit for drinking or irrigation (18 Mar).

Can fashion save the planet? Following international river conservationist, Mark Angelo, River Blue spans the globe to infiltrate one of the world’s most polluting industries, fashion. Narrated by clean water supporter Jason Priestley, this ground breaking documentary examines the destruction of our rivers, its effect on humanity, and the solutions that inspire hope for a sustainable future (March).

The Supply Chain

Bangladesh garment workers fight for their union to be legally registered: Workers at the Orchid Sweater factory in Bangladesh are calling for solidarity support as their attempts to secure formal union registration have been repeatedly denied since February 2016 (20 Mar).

In Burma, garment industry booms, and labour unions pay the price: Discrimination against workers standing up for their rights in Burma’s garment industry was highlighted this month after a union leader was fired and employees’ overtime pay went neglected for more than a year at a factory supplying global fashion brand H&M (20 Mar).

Bangladesh minister urges labour bodies to press buyers to raise prices: Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed has urged labour organisations in the ready-made garments (RMG) industry to insist on increasing product prices while talking to foreign buyers. He said export income from the RMG sector has recently been reduced mainly due to devaluation of foreign currencies. This should be recovered by raising product prices, he suggested (18 Mar).

Bangladesh to fell BGMEA building deemed ‘symbol of corruption’: Bangladesh’s highest court has ordered the demolition of a lakeside building occupied by powerful garment groups, a move welcomed by activists who considered the structure an enduring symbol of corruption. A top union leader described the building as a “symbol of conspiracy and corruption … They (BGMEA) thought they were above the law. They wanted to flex their muscles with no respect for the law,” union leader Babul Akhter said (12 Mar).

William E. Connor & Associates named one of world’s most ethical companies for fifth year in a row: The Hong-Kong based global sourcing company, which represents household names, such as Dillard’s, Crate & Barrel, BonTon, Pier 1, Harrods, Sear’s Canada, Bloomingdale’s, Fullbeauty Brands and others, has been named an honourees in Ethisphere’s list of World’s Most Ethical Companies® (07 Mar).

Philippines textile and garment workers trained in negotiation skills: Textile and garment workers and allied sectors affiliated with IndustriALL Global Union participated in a three day collective bargaining and negotiation training course from 3 to 5 March 2017 at Antipolo City (10 Mar).

(Image, Alan Emery, CCO)