Brands and Retailers

The Australian fashion brands that are silent on sweatshops: Well-known Australian fashion companies are keeping their overseas supply chains cloaked in secrecy, with the likes of Wish, Oxford and Roger David refusing to detail their efforts to stamp out exploitation and sweatshop conditions. Ahead of the fourth anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed more than 1120 Bangladeshi garment workers, Baptist World Aid (BWA) has graded 106 companies A to F based on how transparent they are about their supply chains. Topping the list are Australian Fairtrade-certified companies Etiko, Mighty Good Undies and RREPP. They are closely followed by global names such as Patagonia, Inditex (Zara), and Reebok (19 Apr). The 2017 Ethical Fashion Report can be seen here. See more on the story here. In related news: Kiwi companies come out on top in latest ethical fashion survey: Overall, the 12 New Zealand-owned companies featured in the report scored a median grade of B-. The international average for companies was a C+. A guide for New Zealand shoppers is being launched by Tearfund New Zealand to help people “vote against exploitation with their wallet”. It shows 242 brands available in New Zealand and their associated rankings, based on the levels of visibility and transparency across their supply chain with regards to worker rights, policies and practices (19 Apr).

The Bengaluru garment workers who stitched your branded clothes have probably still not been paid: 96 factory workers at Amruta Creations in BTM Layout, a neighbourhood in South Bengaluru, who have been demanding unpaid wages since October. The factory makes readymade garments – both for the domestic and export markets – including for brands such as Arrow (19 Apr).

New Era Cap launches NBA caps made of recycled fibre: New Era Cap Co. Inc. has announced the debut of its first-ever official National Basketball Association (NBA) cap made with plastic bottles, featuring the Portland Trail Blazers, thanks to the use of Repreve recycled fibre (19 Apr).

Forever 21 prevails in Puma lawsuit: After going head-to-head in cout with Puma after the German sportswear giant filed for copyright infringement, Forever 21 has prevailed. Puma filed against the fashion retailer earlier this month, accusing Forever 21 of copying three Puma x Fenty footwear designs (13 Apr). For another view on this, see Puma’s Forever 21 lawsuit could be bad news for consumers, and Puma: “Cutting off the production of dupes might actually have the reverse intended effect: dimming the buzz surrounding the product. It could be argued that stores like Forever 21, H&M and Zara are what keep trends afloat” (14 Apr).

G-Star, Ted Baker assessed on sustainability: A tool which attempts to independently measure and verify the sustainability efforts of apparel brands and retailers has released its latest results. G-Star, Haikure, Just Brands, Ted Baker, Vivobarefoot and WE Fashion are all now using the Mode Tracker tool of Made-By, the UK-based textile sustainability consultancy. The sustainability performances of each brand are independently verified and published in a consumer-friendly manner, based on a common, albeit subjective standard (13 Apr – Subscription required to read full article).

Fashion made from cow poo wins innovation award: Clothing designers have certainly found some creative ways to make sustainable fashion in recent years – like spinning graduation gowns out of recycled bottles or making shoes out of illegal fishing nets. But a fabric that recently received a Global Change Award from fashion mega-retailer H&M might just take the cake: it’s made out of cow manure. Jamie Feldman at the Huffington Post reports that Dutch artist and entrepreneur Jalila Essaidi, who specializes in bio-based materials, was one of five fashion innovators who received the award, meant to encourage “game-changing ideas that can help reinvent the entire industry” (13 Apr).

Kingpins looks at “cost of being sustainable”: Speciality fibre maker Lenzing, US retailer Target, textile chemicals business Archroma and the Better Cotton Initiative will be among the speakers for a sustainable denim event to be staged in Holland next week. The Kingpins Transformers summit will return to Amsterdam for an event entitled 'The Cost of Sustainability' – a day-long event featuring a series of presentations and panels with experts from along the entire denim supply chain. Each will speak about the opportunities, challenges and progress being made toward making the denim supply chain sustainable from fibre through apparel, specifically discussing the key question of whether or not the cost of being sustainable is prohibitive (12 Apr – Subscription required to read full article).

Stella McCartney launches sustainable fashion videos for Earth Day: The British designer is famous for her ethical approach to fashion and as Earth Day approaches, on 22 April, McCartney has teamed up with Clevercare for Ginetex, the international association for textile care labelling, to create six short features offering up tips on environmental clothing care (11 Apr).

Tandon professor earns award for eco-friendly textile manufacturing: Nylon, the multipurpose fabric made with fossil fuels, has just met its environmentally friendly match. Miguel Modestino, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the Tandon School of Engineering, was awarded the H&M Foundation’s Global Change Award for his research, which has produced a fabric similar to nylon using solar energy, plant waste and water – not oil (11 Apr).

Adidas unveils “light and oxygen” footwear: Adidas has launched the world's first footwear to feature a midsole which was made using light and oxygen. The company partnered with Carbon, a Silicon Valley-based tech company which developed the shoe through a process called digital light synthesis. It says it expects to produce more than 100,000 pairs of the 'Futurecraft 4D' by the end of 2018 (10 Apr – Subscription required to read full article).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

The feminist side of sweatshops: “Strange as it sounds, there are places “where sweatshops are a dream” offering life-transforming wages. Particularly for women” (18 Apr).

Livia Firth explores the true cost of fast fashion on the environment: In an op-ed to kick off Earth Week at Teen Vogue, eco-fashion activist and Creative Director of Eco-Age Livia Firth explores the environmental impact of shopping at fast-fashion retailers (17 Apr).

Global fashion industry fighting hard to reduce textile waste: Textile waste continues to rise around the world as the global textile and apparel industry keeps booming. But the industry is putting more of an emphasis and taking more actions to improve sustainability and reduce textile waste (14 Apr).

Young people are key to ending fashion labour abuses, says British lawmaker: Young people have started to question how their clothes are made but consumers of all ages need to do more to tackle fashion labour abuses, according to a British lawmaker and sustainable fashion campaigner. Baroness Lola Young said young people are increasingly engaged with political and economic issues and willing to fight on social causes - and labour abuses in the garment industry were no exception (12 Apr).

What it’s like to wear six items of clothing for six weeks: “If you could only take six items of clothing with you on a six-week holiday what would you take? I had to think long and hard about that question. Not because I was going on holiday, but because I was starting a fashion fast. I was about to wear only six items of clothing for six weeks. Why would I do that?” (12 Apr).

Planet Textiles to tackle water challenges: The issue of water availability, water conservation in wet processing, wastewater discharge, the circular economy and the rise of environmental awareness in India will dominate this year’s Planet Textiles Summit on sustainability on 24th May at the JW Marriot Hotel in Bangalore, India (12 Apr).

Sustainable Apparel Coalition partners with Avery Dennison and EVRYTHNG, exploring new age of brand transparency: EVRYTHNG, the IoT Smart Products Platform managing intelligent software identities in the cloud and digital product lifecycle applications for manufacturers, today announced a pioneering partnership with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and Avery Dennison Retail Branding and Information Solutions. The partnership explores how suppliers, manufacturers, retail brands, and consumers can access and engage with sustainability information by interacting with digital identities on products. This ground-breaking collaboration begins with the launch of a smart products pilot program leveraging EVRYTHNG’s platform and Avery Dennison’s sustainable unique identity labels, coupled with the SAC’s industry-leading Higg Index. The Higg Index is a standardized measurement tool that enables brands, retailers, and manufacturers of any size to understand their environmental, social, and labour impact and identify areas of improvement. The pilot program enables participating brands to test how Higg Index performance information can be shared directly to consumers and other stakeholders via unique digital identities and smart labels on products. (11 Apr). See also here.

Designer Maria Cornejo talks fashion’s effect on the environment: Maria Cornejo started her label in 1998 with an eye on the environment, using scraps she bought from big companies to cut down on waste. With a spring 2017 collection made of wood pulp from renewable forests, she’s leading the fashion industry charge toward a sustainable future (11 Apr).


Water scarcity threatens Dollar City’s garment industry: With Tamil Nadu facing an acute water shortage, textile units in Dollar City Tirupur are also struggling. Though zero liquid discharge units help revive 90% of the water required for the garment industry, the remaining has to be added afresh every day. Tirupur’s industries are struggling to find the 10% fresh water (14 Apr).

Farmer leaders oppose mega textile park at Pinjrat, India: The Khedut Samaj Gujarat (KSG) has opposed Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (SGCCI) proposed mega textile park at Pinjrat in Olpad taluka. Farmer leaders last week submitted a memorandum to SGCCI president BS Agarwal claiming that it would have ill effects on the environment, mangroves and disturb the inter-tidal zone. The KSG office-bearers claimed that the dyeing and printing mills in Pinjrat would cause immense pollution in the nearby villages and rendered large number of fishermen jobless (14 Apr).

Indonesia’s Intertex to focus on productivity for sustainability: The 15th Indonesian International Textile and Garment Machinery and Accessories Exhibition 2017 (Indo Intertex) has ‘productivity for sustainability’ as its theme. The event to be held in Jakarta from April 19-21, aims to attract over 9,000 visitors. More than 450 participants from 24 countries will showcase their machinery, equipment and more at the event (14 Apr).

China’s Huarich joins Covestro’s waterborne PU program: Chinese polyurethane (PU) functional materials manufacturer Huarich has teamed up with polymer materials supplier Covestro – formerly Bayer Materials Science – by signing up to its ‘Insqin’ Partner Manufacturer program.  The two companies will now collaborate to promote sustainable PU materials in the performance apparel sector (12 Apr).

Fibre expert Juan Hinestroza joins CycloPure: Juan Hinestroza, director of the textiles nanotechnology laboratory at Cornell University, has joined CycloPure's Scientific Advisory Board. Hinestroza is a US Fulbright Scholar and leading expert in fibre science technologies. He is a co-inventor of the company's process to functionalise fabrics with the breakthrough adsorption technology. CycloPure is applying breakthrough adsorption technology to make water resources safe from contamination by micro pollutants. It has been shown that organic compounds in nanogramme concentration, including industrial chemicals, pesticides and pharmaceutical residues, are pervasive in water and retain toxic effect (11 Apr).

The Supply Chain

Bangladesh Government, garment makers move to address ILO conditions: Both the government and the apparel makers have moved forward to address certain conditions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), related to workers' rights, in the wake of the recent warning on withdrawal of the European Union's (EU) GSP facility for Bangladesh. The European Commission (EC) recently issued the warning on temporary withdrawal of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) benefit for the country, if it fails to address the labour rights issues and come up with a proper plan of action in this regard within a certain timeframe (18 Apr).

Awareness and joint efforts, a must for workplace safety: Awareness and joint action by the government, owners and workers can ensure occupational health care and safety at workplaces. With Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Day coming up on 28 April, discussants at a roundtable on 'Occupational Health and Safety at Workplace' organised by Prothom Alo on Sunday, came up with the recommendation. Md Mujibul Haque, state minister for ministry of labour and employment, said Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) has become popular in the country. “But we knew very little about OSH previously as we are basically an agrarian society and are new to the industrial society.” (17 Apr). See more here.

Kenya’s Uhuru pledges pay hike for workers on May Day: President Uhuru Kenyatta has said he will on Labour Day ask the private sector to give workers a salary increment. He said better pay will motivate workers to be more productive. He was speaking when he toured the United Aryan Company, a garment factory in Baba Dogo Export Processing Zone in Nairobi (13 Apr).

USAID team suggests BGMEA-like platform for workers’ welfare in Bangladesh: A USAID delegation last week suggested that Bangladesh should forma platform for ensuring welfare of the workers like the apex body of the garments sector Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers' and Exporter's Association (BGMEA). The delegation members David Tulloch and Marc Cassidy conveyed the message to the parliamentary standing committee on the labour and employment ministry (12 Apr).

Bangladesh Alliance completes 72 per cent of remediation work: Alliance for Bangladesh Workers Safety has reported the completion of 72 per cent of the required repairs almost four years since the collapse of Rana Plaza. Of the repairs completed, 64 per cent were high priority. It has suspended 142 factories for failing to make adequate progress on remediation, while 71 factories have completed their Corrective Action Plans (13 Apr).

High court stays Accord decision to cut business with 4 units in Bangladesh: The High Court has stayed the decision of European buyers group Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh for terminating business relations with four readymade garment factories in Bangladesh. The separate benches of High Court division of the Supreme Court have issued the orders in February and March after hearing separate writ petitions filed by the factory owners (11 Apr).

(Image, Jordan Whitt, CCO)