Brands and retailers

Faux fur not faking it anymore: The rise of faux fur, a market that is reportedly growing. Ready-to-wear brands are increasingly interested in the synthetic material, led by the likes of Stella McCartney. The English brand Shrimps, known for its bright colored faux furs, now also shows during the official London Fashion Week calendar and has seduced high-profile accounts like Colette in Paris and Net-A-Porter. And even luxury brands are crossing the line into the faux fur world, such as Miu Miu, whose invitation to its recent Paris Fashion Week runway were lined in fake fur (29 Mar).

H&M Foundation lets the public decide how to split money between five winners of Global Change Award: With the second round of winners chosen, the public now decides how to split the grant of EUR 1 million between the five winners – a unique opportunity to influence one of the world’s most powerful industries and contribute to a sustainable future. The online vote is open 27 March to 2 April (27 Mar). You can see the five winners and vote here.

Sustainable fashion app to help consumers decide: Not My Style is a fashion app that enables users to see how their favourite fashion brands perform in their treatment of workers, the environment and animals by assessing publicly available information. The app is now live in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US, and can be found in the Apple Store and Google Play. Currently, H&M, Zara and Primark appear to be the highest rated (March).

Asos’s Made in Kenya: Asos Made in Kenya, which is a partnership with African clothing workshop, SOKO Kenya. The Made in Kenya range is designed by Asos’s in-house team, then cut and manufactured by Soko Kenya, who provide fair and safe employment and training for some of Kenya’s poorest communities. Over the last six years, it’s grown from four to 50 employees (24 Mar).

Ethical is the new black: British brand Made By Riley proves that fashion really can make a difference, meaning shopping with a clear conscience is a reality (24 Mar).

Blast at Levi’s supplier kills one, injures seven in Cambodia: A wood-fired boiler [Editor’s note: another article says steam generator] exploded at a Chinese-owned garment factory that supplies Levi’s brand trousers, hurtling through the air and crashing into a group of workers, killing one and wounding seven others in Phnom Penh last week (23 Mar). The factory in question was Chinese-owned Zhen Tai Garment, which is registered with Better Factories Cambodia (BFC), a program run by the International Labor Organization to ensure safe and fair working conditions in factories that export their goods (23 Mar).

Brantano collapse puts 1,000 jobs at risk: Shoe retailer Brantano has gone into administration, putting more than 1,000 jobs at risk. The chain was bought out of administration just over a year ago by a company controlled by turnaround specialists Alteri Investors (22 Mar).

Is Adidas’ tech venture a leading signal for the future of sustainable fast fashion? Adidas is envisioning a brand new way of adapting to the fickle trends of the fast fashion industry – the company has been trying out an in-store technology to knit customized 200 euro (US$215) sweaters for customers within the day in order to tap into fast fashion with a personal twist (22 Mar).

H&M launches sustainable clothing line for 2017: H&M has launched its sustainable clothing line for women and children for 2017. The new Conscious Exclusive collection includes sustainable material Bionic-recycled polyester made from plastic shoreline waste. It is a collection of pieces with a sense of occasion, each one showing different ways that sustainable materials can create the best style (21 Mar).

Exclusive interview with Tom Glaser, supply chain president, VF Corporation: A ‘scorecard approach’ with metrics on responsible sourcing allows VF Corporation to encourage its sourcing teams to deliver sustainable merchandise, instead of standard financial incentives for meeting deadlines. Tom Glaser, supply chain president at VF Corporation speaks to Ecotextile News (17 Mar – subscription required to read full article).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

Nordic Fashion Association sets new sustainability agenda: The Nordic Fashion Association recently gathered in Oslo in order to set out a new direction and vision for a "common Nordic platform for fashion and textiles." Norwegian Fashion Hub, the fashion cluster of Norway, is the newly appointed Secretariat for the Nordic Fashion Association (28 Mar – subscription required to read full article).

Companies face a sustainability nightmare down the track: Companies could find themselves swamped in a new era of regulation as a raft of international laws and codes of conduct come into play over the next three years, a team of experts will tell delegates at this year’s Luxury Law Summit on 16 May. From the UK’s Modern Slavery Act to pressure from celebrities and the expectations of millennials, legal and social concerns will make this a highly charged area for luxury (24 Mar).

Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2017 announces 4 new speakers: Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2017 has added four new celebrated names to the speaker line-up for this year – designer Prabal Gurung, Public School's designer duo, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, and the former dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons School of Design, Simon Collins. They will take part in the panel debate ‘Fashion for a cause’ (24 Mar).

Are ethical brands greenwashing? “Buyer beware – greenwashing is definitely a thing, and it’s not just the big fast fashion brands. Project Just takes a look (23 Mar).

How ethical fashion brands are marketing to conscious consumers: A Verdict study last year found that 20.2 per cent of consumers say they would refuse to pay more for sustainable clothing. So, how are fashion brands convincing consumers that sustainability is the way to go? The article has a run-down of how new and existing brands are promoting the message (23 Mar).

Study finds US consumers rarely pay full price: A U.S. study conducted by First Insight, a predictive analytics technology company, revealed that in the Baby Boomer generational segment, 76% of customers look for a discount. Millennials were less influenced by discounts but still drawn to them. 40% of Millennials stated they would not buy an item at full price (23 Mar).

DNA tagging lets customers track cotton: With a tiny marker on every grain of cotton, Pimacott can keep labels honest. The marker insertion process happens at the gin: little molecules are released into the cotton and permanently bind to it. From this point onward, it is possible to place a piece of cotton or fabric under a simple DNA scanner to see whether the marker is present (22 Mar).

Development MEPs call for rules to curb worker exploitation: The EU Commission should propose rules obliging all players in the textile and clothing industry supply chain to respect the labour and human rights of their workers, say Development Committee MEPs in a resolution voted on last week. They also advocate introducing EU tariff preferences and labels for sustainably-produced textiles (21 Mar).

Sewbots, 3D printing, FGILA on future of fashion: Get ready for the new machines of fashion production, according to a Fashion Group International of Los Angeles panel (21 Mar).

PR, profit and ‘empowering women’ in the garment industry: “How can a global garment value chain that relies on the systemic devaluation of female labour be expected to fulfil promises of empowerment for women informal workers? It can’t. Here’s why” (21 Mar).

Pretty soon your entire wardrobe will be made from plastic: The clothes we are wearing and buying are increasingly becoming plastic. According to Tecnon Orbichem (a world leader in providing data and analysis to the petrochemical industry since 1976), from 1980 - 2007, the amount of polyester increased from 5.8 million tons to 34 million tons and is expected to jump to 99.8 million tons by 2025 (20 Mar).

Brands urged to empower women in sub-Saharan Africa: BSR says companies should act in areas under their direct control; enable by supporting, incentivizing and investing in others; and use their influence by advocating and sharing expertise to enhance women’s economic opportunities and empowerment. In BSR’s new report “Women’s Economic Empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Recommendations for Business Action” and three accompanying briefs, one of which is for the apparel industry, it has prioritized the areas in which companies are likely to have the greatest impact on advancing women’s economic empowerment (07 Mar).


Korean apparel group Sae-A opens secondary school in Haiti: Sae-A Trading, a leading global apparel manufacturer, celebrated the opening of the S&H Secondary School in northern Haiti. As part of its commitment to the community where it employs more than 10,000 Haitians, the company funds the operations of a primary school, and now is in the first year of supporting a secondary school (28 Mar).

Indian textile units pollute Bandi River despite NGT stay: Textile units in Pali continue to release polluted water into the Bandi River, violating a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order staying their operation. On 3 October last year, the NGT stayed the operation of about 800 textile units after environmentalists moved the tribunal over pollution (27 Mar).

Archroma’s sustainable path: Chemical suppliers need to be proactive in their approach to addressing environmental issues, according to Alexander Wessels, CEO of Switzerland-based Archroma, a global colour, dyes and specialty chemicals company. “Archroma’s recently launched SmartRepel technology, a waterproofing agent for outdoor clothing that not based of fluorine, is a bright demonstration of this commitment,” Wessels stated (21 Mar).

Dyed without waste, developing a process to save water in the textile industry: Every year around 12,000 kilometres of textile materials are dyed. And for that, millions of litres of water are needed. After use, the water is full of colorants, chemicals and salts. How to recycle this polluted water in an efficient and affordable way, so it can be re-used in the whole dyeing process? European researchers think they’ve found an answer to this question (20 Mar).

The Supply Chain

It’s time to work together, says Managing Director of Bangladesh’s Mohammadi Group: “The tale of the three million female workers in the readymade garment industry is an unbeatable narrative of toil and survival. As a woman, I have a soft spot for the women who work in the industry. They are far smarter than I ever was. They have more courage than I ever had. They have more persistence than I ever dreamt of. They are the face of the unsung heroes while I sit in my own elite bubble and enjoy a privileged life” (29 Mar).

All steps taken to ensure labour rights, says Bangladesh minister: Bangladesh has taken all the steps recommended by the European Union and the International Labour Organisation to ensure labour rights, said Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday. He said, “Bangladesh's government has taken all necessary steps in line with the suggestions from the European Union. As a result the situation has improved. Bangladesh is now setting up factories that have good working condition and are safe and green.” Among the measures taken, the minister said the bargaining rights of the workers have been ensured. Workers can now form union if 30 percent labourers of a factory want to do so (29 Mar).

EU calls for single labour law for all workers: The European Union yesterday called for a single labour law for all workers of Bangladesh – including those employed at factories housed inside the export processing zones. Arne Lietz, a member of the European Parliament, made the demand at a press conference after a meeting with the leaders of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association in Dhaka (28 Mar).

Bangladesh’s garment industry under fire over toxic leather trade: Hazardous, heavily polluting tanneries, with workers as young as 14, supplied leather to companies that make shoes and handbags for a host of Western brands, a charity that investigates supply chains says. The report by New York-based Transparentem, released on Friday to The Associated Press, didn’t say the leather ends up in American and European companies’ products, only that the manufacturers of some of those goods receive it. In addition, A British Medical Journal study published this week found Bangladeshi tannery workers as young as eight frequently have untreated rashes and asthma (25 Mar).

Bangladeshi knitting workers quit protest over BKMEA request: Hundreds of ready-made garment workers called off a demonstration on Saturday as the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BKMEA) authority assured them they are considering their demands. Garment workers at SGM Knit had barricaded the BKMEA building in Karwan Bazar, demanding outstanding wages for January and February this year (25 Mar).

Declare April 24 as Garment Workers’ Mourning Day, says Bangladeshi union: A garment workers’ organisation yesterday demanded that the government announce April 24 as “Garment Workers’ Mourning Day”. The demand was made at a human chain organised by Garment Workers’ Front (GWF) in front of Jatiya Press Club in the city, ahead of the fourth anniversary of Rana Plaza tragedy – the largest factory disaster in the world to date (25 Mar).

CMAI conducts seminar on labour laws: The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) recently held a seminar on labour and related laws, such as ESI, PF, bonus, and gratuity payments. Speaker Talakshi Dharod, of TR Dharod & Co, a labour and industrial law consultant, focused on the importance of going cashless during the seminar which saw participation of over 200 members (24 Mar).

1,200 workers affected by Can Tho factory fire in Vietnam: 500 people were evacuated and 1,200 workers affected after a large fire burnt down a Taiwanese garment factory, Kwong Lung - Meko Garment Company, in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho late last week (24 Mar).

EU warns Bangladesh of GSP suspension over labour rights: Three European Commission bodies in a joint communique on 18 March said it was essential that Bangladesh implemented the four recommendations made by an International Labour Organisation committee last year, or risk being shut out from the Generalised Scheme of Preferences that it enjoyed. Without progress on this issue, the commission could launch a formal investigation, which could result in temporary withdrawal of preferences, the letter said. Currently, Bangladesh enjoys duty-free market access to the EU countries for all products under the Everything but Arms (EBA) preferential tariff scheme. A suspension of this facility could lead up to 12% tariff on imports from Bangladesh (24 Mar).

Children fuel Myanmar’s economic boom: Legally children can start working at 14 in Myanmar, although they are meant to be restricted to four hours a day and are barred from hazardous industries. But experts say there is little awareness of the laws and many children are sent to work even younger in a country where one in four people live below the poverty line. The issue is problematic for reputation-conscious Western companies looking to take advantage of Myanmar's cheap labour – the minimum wage is equivalent to around 33 cents an hour, below Thailand, Cambodia, China and Indonesia (22 Mar).

Bangladesh government okays draft textile act: The cabinet last week approved the draft Textile Act-2017 to bring the apparel sector under a legal framework. The cabinet also gave consent to the draft Expatriate Welfare Board Act-2017. The act has been formulated in line with international laws and conventions on the protection of migrants and their family members. The proposed law will enable migrant workers to seek assistance and cooperation when they face “troubles such as illness and death” (21 Mar).

Cambodian labour organiser and delegate to U.N. Conference on the Status of Women speaking at American university: Sophorn Yang, president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) and a delegate to the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women, will speak at Appalachian State University on 30 March. Yang began working in a garment factory in Cambodia when she was a teenager. By the time she was 30 years old, she was president of the 10,000-member CATU (21 Mar).

(Image, Wexor Tmg, CCO)