Brands and retailers

Jim Keady speaks out against Nike: On March 29 Villanova University hosted Jim Keady, speaker for the Oscar Romero Solidarity Lecture.  Keady discussed Nike sweatshop labour, his personal experiences in Nike’s sweatshops, and his battles as an activist.  Keady had visited Villanova in December of 2011, but in light of Nike’s recent worker’s rights violations surrounding Villanova’s contracts with Nike, Keady’s challenged students to take action on campus and through their purchasing power (04 Apr).

CHRB unveils results for apparel sector on human rights performance: The 30 largest apparel companies in the world were assessed against the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark apparel criteria. Marks & Spencer was ranked highest in the sector, followed by Adidas, H&M, Gap, Tesco, Nike, VF, Inditex, Hanesbrand, Target, Kering, and Associated British Foods (the owner of Primark). Click the headline link to see the full list, and to download specific company reports (04 Apr).

H&M keeps going for green with new sustainability pledges: Fast fashion retailer H&M has promised to use 100 percent recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030. The commitment was announced on Tuesday in the retailer’s 2016 Sustainability Report and is just one of many sustainable pledges the H&M group has made. H&M also announced plans to become climate positive throughout its entire value chain by 2040, which will entail a switch to 100 percent renewable electricity and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (04 Apr).

Textile company places rare bet on Turkey's Kurdish southeast: The Iskur group, a supplier to fashion brands including Zara, Adidas and Nike, sees its $100 million investment as showing the way for other companies from western Turkey to take advantage of government incentives and lower wages in the east (03 Apr).

C&A launches Fashion for Good Centre in Amsterdam: Global fashion retailer C&A together with its corporate foundation, the C&A Foundation, has called to transform the fashion industry and drive its transition to a circular economy. “As a leading fashion retailer, we joined forces with Fashion for Good to bring collaboration around circularity to our supply chain. Our first proof point in this partnership was to develop a garment that exceeds all current levels of sustainability - demonstrating that it can be done”, said Jeffrey Hogue, chief sustainability officer of C&A and C&A Foundation board member. “We want to democratize our approach by sharing our learning with the industry through Fashion for Good to encourage other brands to join this holistic approach to designing products for their next life.” Other partners include the San Francisco-based Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, the UK-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation, IDH – The Sustainable Trade Initiative based in Utrecht, Netherlands, entrepreneurial network Impact Hub Amsterdam, the San Francisco-based Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), Silicon Valley start up accelerator Plug and Play, and French luxury group Kering (30 Mar). See also Kering named founding partner of ‘Plug and Play - Fashion for Good’ accelerator (30 Mar).

Joie clothing label bans fur following talks with PETA: Dutch – the parent company of clothing labels Equipment, Current/Elliott and Joie – has agreed to ban fur (30 Mar).

Patagonia full swimwear line now Fair Trade certified: Patagonia is making its full line of board shorts and bikinis Fair Trade Certified. Fair Trade offers direct and practical benefits to workers and is part of Patagonia’s broader drive to support workers, elevate communities and do work in a truly equitable way (29 Mar).

H&M to donate millions for child refugee education, but what about addressing its sweatshop problem? “We love that the H&M Foundation, which is a non-profit global foundation, privately funded by the Stefan Persson family, founders, and main owners of H&M, are using a small share of their gigantic profits for such a noble cause. We want to give credit where credit is due (and we certainly hope they plan to follow up by released statistics and stories about how the money has benefited refugee children). But what we have a problem with is the lack of focus on addressing their ties to cheap, forced, and unsafe labor in countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia. H&M was identified as one of the major global clothing brands to use slave labor where garment factory workers, who are majority women and girls, are forced to endure “criminally abusive conditions” to make clothing for your fave fast fashion chains” (29 Mar).

Pratibha Syntex wins C&A’s Best Global Supplier Award: Pratibha Syntex, a leading manufacturer and exporter of knitted garments and speciality yarns has bagged the ‘Best Global Supplier of the Year Award’ for 2016 by C&A at their Global Supplier Summit in Hong Kong. Pratibha Syntex MD Shreyaskar Chaudhary received the award from C&A’s chief merchandise and sourcing officer Martijn van der Zee (29 Mar).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

Is Ethical Clothing Expensive? “When you look at it on the surface, yes, ethical clothing is expensive. This $120 dress (approximately £96 at time of writing), by Everlane, whose business model is based on ‘radical transparency’, is pretty similar to this £35 dress from a company with no ethical statement. Why would you spend £60 more on a dress that’s pretty similar? It’s hard to make the maths add up” (04 Apr).

“This stuff melts your crappy fast fashion into fabric stronger than cotton”: Simone Haslinger and her colleagues at Alta University have been working on a way to essentially close the loop – that is, turn an old shirt into a fibre that can be spun into a new shirt (03 Apr).

Upcycling ‘fast fashion’ to reduce waste and pollution: The fashion industry and environmentalists are old foes, and the advent of ‘fast fashion’ has strained the relationship even more. But what if we could recycle clothes like we recycle paper, or even upcycle them? (02 Apr).

Commission clarifies scope of proposed CMR in textiles restriction: A list of articles to be included in the proposed restriction of 286 carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic (CMR) substances in consumer textiles and clothing will be drawn up by the European Commission. Following a consultation last year, the Commission is preparing the draft restriction text, which is planned for discussion in the REACH Committee before the summer (30 Mar).

NSF International certifies first US-based farm to the Responsible Wool Standard: NSF International, a global public health organization, has certified Imperial Stock Ranch as the first US-based farm to Textile Exchange’s Responsible Wool Standard (RWS). This voluntary global standard demonstrates that a ranch or farm practices the highest levels of animal welfare and land management, and that the wool is fully traceable throughout its supply chain (30 Mar).

Emma Watson explains how her Beauty and the Beast costume was sustainable and eco-friendly: Not only did Emma Watson champion the removal of the restrictive corset, but she also included an eco-friendly outfit in Beauty and the Beast. The five-layer period piece was created by Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran, Eco-Age, and Disney - who all collaborated together to create the 100 percent sustainable look (30 Mar).

Interactive website for chemical testing for footwear launches: The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) just made staying on top of global legal requirements a bit easier with the premier of The website serves as a one-stop-shop, footwear-specific, Restricted Substance List (RSL), allowing compliance professionals with a FDRA membership to look up crucial information to make sure shoes are within regulation. The substances listed are tiered based on which companies should prioritize (29 Mar).

Anne Hathaway pledges to wear only eco-friendly outfits for the Colossal press tour: Actress Anne Hathaway has taken a leaf out of Emma Watson’s book and decided to dress only in fully sustainable looks for the press junkets surrounding sci-fi comedy film Colossal (28 Mar).

Global Fashion Agenda wants your views on sustainability: The Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), organiser of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, is currently developing - together with Boston Consulting Group as knowledge partner - the “Pulse of the Fashion Industry report,” and has launched an industry survey inviting people to share their insights. (29 Mar). See survey here.

Bureau Veritas and Cotton Egypt Association partner to verify ‘Egyptian Cotton’: Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services (Bureau Veritas), providing testing, inspection/audit, advisory and certification services, have announced an exclusive partnership for the next five years with the Cotton Egypt Association (CEA) to provide conformity assessment services to verify that the materials are traceable to confirmed lots of true Egyptian Cotton at any stage of production (28 Mar).

International Trade Commission issues import ban on bedding labelled with false thread counts: The US ITC, based in Washington, DC, found false labels to be an unfair trade practice and ordered Customs and Border Protection to work with AAVN, a technology leader in the home textile industry, and deny entry to all falsely advertised textile products. With the recent Egyptian cotton controversy, this new ITC ruling becomes all the more important (27 Mar).


“Response for Ecodown is overwhelming in the industry”: Thermore’s Ecodown is receiving an overwhelming response in the textile industry. The acceptance has set a new standard for sustainable down alternatives. Various active sportswear and fashion brands have been actively testing and sampling the environmental friendly product. This shows that the industry is gradually taking a step towards sustainability (01 Apr).

A&E launches industry first recycled core spun sewing thread: American & Efird (A&E) has announced the product launch of an industry first, Repreve recycled core spun industrial sewing thread, Perma Core using Repreve (30 Mar).

Oeko-Tex issues first Leather Standard Certificates: Oeko-Tex, the independent Swiss textile testing institutes for product safety and sustainable production, has announced that its Leather Standard has received the first certifications from sheepskin producers G.L. Bowron and Gerberei Hofbrucker (30 Mar – requires subscription to read full article).

Italian study measures jacket’s environmental footprint: Europe’s only vertically integrated textile mill has announced the results of a pioneering initiative to measure the product environmental footprint (PEF) of a 100 per cent ‘Made in Italy’ jacket. Warp knitted fabric manufacturer Eurojersey worked in partnership with Italian yarn business Radici Group and Herno design and manufacturing on the research, which was aimed at certifying and tracking the environmental impact of a Herno man’s jacket at all stages of its production process (27 Mar – requires subscription to read full article).

The Supply Chain

Crisis in apparel sector to be solved through discussion: The government, apparel factory owners and labour leaders yesterday agreed to resolve any crisis in the garment sector through consultations among the stakeholders. The decision was taken at the first meeting of the tripartite council on the garment sector headed by Mujibul Haque, state minister for labour and employment, at his secretariat office in Dhaka (05 Apr).

Better Work Bangladesh applauds progress, calls for more actions: The Better Work Bangladesh programme held its second stakeholder and buyer forum in Dhaka yesterday where experts lauded its impact on the garment sector and also called for stepping up efforts to improve working conditions and increase factories' competitiveness. Some 300 national and international garment sector representatives attended the forum, including partners from the government, employer associations and unions, as well as 80 members from international brands, according to a statement of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) (05 Apr).

Bangladesh accused of failing to act over murder of trade unionist: A scathing report has accused the Bangladeshi authorities of “washing their hands” of any responsibility to find the people who tortured and murdered a prominent union activist. Despite pledging to investigate the abduction and killing of 39-year-old Aminul Islam, they have failed to make measurable progress or look into allegations of links to state officials, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday (04 Apr).

Labour shortages in Sri Lankan apparel industry: The reasons for the shortage are as follow: competition, mobility, bad social image and changing career aspirations (04 Apr).

Campaign for better workers safety in Bangladesh garment industry underway: The government has launched a workplace safety campaign for garment industry to raise awareness about the basics of Occupational Safety and Health. The radio-based campaign titled “Safe Workplaces, Go ahead Bangladesh” will be implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Department of Inspections for Factories and Establishments in collaboration with and the International Labour Organization funded by Canada, Netherlands and United Kingdom (31 Mar).

EU presses Bangladesh for labour rights compliance by mid-June: The European Union last week suggested that Bangladesh comply with the ILO-recommended labour right standards by mid-June this year to avoid “consequences” with regard to its current trade privileges in the EU market. The suggestion was put forward by a four-member EU delegation that wrapped up its three-day Bangladesh tour (30 Mar).

(Image, Annie Spratt, CCO)