Brands and retailers

VF prohibits use of fur in products, emphasizes ethical treatment of animals with new materials policy: VF has released its first-ever Animal Derived Materials Policy and announced that its brands will no longer use fur, angora or exotic leather in their products. The new policy, developed in partnership with The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, outlines which animal materials are prohibited and sets formal guidelines for the procurement and use of approved materials by the company’s brands and global supply chain partners. The animal derived materials most often used by VF and its brands are leather, down and wool (09 May).

New boot from Puma reduces water and energy: Puma has harnessed a new waterborne polyurethane technology to reduce the impacts of its evoPOWER Vigor 1 football boot, reducing the product’s water consumption by 95 per cent and its energy consumption by 50 per cent. An independently verified environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study showed a 44 percent lower carbon footprint (05 May).

Inditex partners with MIT to develop new high-quality recycled fabrics: Financed by Inditex, MIT will launch a contest aimed at Spanish universities and their research teams to present environmentally driven projects. The winners will receive funding to develop their ideas with the support of MIT experts. “We want to catch up with specialists in this field, which means us developing recycling technology and new fabrics,” Inditex said (05 May).

H&M, KappAhl and Lindex to start charging for bags in Sweden: From 1 June, the three fashion brands will start charging for all plastic bags in store, with the surplus from these sales going to different charities and causes. The initiative, called ‘One Bag Habit’, will launch initially launch in Sweden and is expected to be expanded into other markets at a later stage (05 May).

Ethiopia’s human rights problems may tank its ambition to become a global apparel centre: Ethiopia wants companies that make clothes to view it as one of the world’s most hospitable places to operate. Low employee wages and cheap power have led foreign companies to gravitate towards the Horn of Africa nation in recent years. The government recognizes the strategic importance of garment and textile making, and has continued to invest in the sector by constructing large industrial parks like the Hawassa Industrial Park. But its land and human rights problems could jeopardize that ambition, according to a new report from risk consultancy firm Verisk Maplecroft. Protests over land reform and political participation have rocked the country since 2015, leading to the reported death of hundreds of people and the detention of tens of thousands of others. Retailers such as H&M, Primark, and Tesco have sourced or established textile factories in Ethiopia to diversify from Asian markets like China and Bangladesh. The footwear industry in Ethiopia is also growing, with the Huajian Group, the Chinese manufacturer that produces Ivanka Trump’s shoe brand, talking about plans to move production to Ethiopia (04 May).

Walmart seeks anti-corruption certification, in talks with regulators: Walmart said last week it was considering getting certified under a new international program that could help companies defend themselves against isolated cases of corruption or poor business practices. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed the so-called anti-corruption compliance program and Walmart is hoping to be the first U.S. company to get certified under it, said Jay Jorgensen, Wal-Mart's executive vice president and global chief ethics and compliance officer (03 May).

H&M, Kering sign circular fashion commitment: Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) is calling on fashion brands and retailers to take action on the circular system for fashion by asking them to publicly pledge to define a circular strategy, set targets for 2020 and report on the progress of implementing the commitment. H&M, Kering and Target have already signed the pledge, which asks brands and retailers to take leadership in accelerating the fashion industry´s transition to a more circular system by increasing the volume of textiles collected, reused, and recycled by 2020. I:Collect and Li & Fung have also already signed up to support in rolling out the commitment (03 May – subscription required to read full article).

Patagonia threatens to sue Trump over national monuments order: Patagonia hit back at President Trump last week, threatening to sue over an executive order calling for the Department of the Interior to review national monuments designated during previous presidencies (02 May).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

Transparency about where our clothing is made won't improve the lives of garment factory workers: An op-ed piece that generated over 400 comments on Canada’s CBC website. It begins: “The way we produce many consumer goods is flawed. Completely, thoroughly, fundamentally flawed. And sadly, no amount of "transparency" about the process is likely going to change that” (08 May).

Closing the loop on sustainable fashion: Stacy Flynn’s “moment of clarity came in 2010 after visiting a clothing recycling enterprise in China that operated under a “cloud of pollution.” She saw that children in the area couldn’t enjoy nature, in part because of the impact of the company’s textile waste and pollution. Flynn connected the dots and realized she was contributing directly to this dirty legacy by thoughtlessly pursuing a high-flying career in an industry obsessed with consumption. “I began circling around one question,” she says. “Is there a way to break down this waste and turn it into a new fibre, which [could be] a lynchpin in the entire system?”” (08 May).

The Pulse of the Fashion Industry: Ahead of this year’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the world’s most important event dedicated to sustainability in fashion, the Global Fashion Agenda and The Boston Consulting Group published an in-depth report assessing the industry’s performance in all sustainability-related issues. The report says the sustainability “Pulse” of the industry is weak – scoring only 32 out of 100. The report says the future is bleak unless the industry takes collective action. Apparel consumption is projected to rise by 63%, to 102 million tons in 2030, so there’s a desperate need for the fashion industry to address its environmental and social footprint today (09 May). You can see the full report here (PDF).

Chinese designers are turning waste into luxury fashion: Four fashion designers from Greater China were named among the EcoChic Design Award 2017’s 24 semi-finalists, which were announced early this week. Xia Meng Si, Hung Wei-Yu, and Sung Yi Hsuan, all currently studying or working in mainland China, and Gao Qingzi from Hong Kong, were chosen for their abilities in applying sustainable practices to designing clothes (06 May).

Can Fashion Ever Be Sustainable? A podcast featuring Christina Dean, the founder and chair of Redress, an NGO based in Hong Kong. For 10 years, Christina has been developing novel approaches to reduce waste in the fashion industry, including its annual high-end fashion awards focused on sustainable designs (03 May).

Turning blue jeans green: Researchers from Australia’s Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials have found a way to reduce the huge environmental impact of denim production. Their unique process produces ultrafine particles from used denim, and then coats or prints the colour particles to create typical denim appearance (06 Apr).


Oeko-Tex Eco Passport for Sun Chemical: The digital textile ink range of UK inks business Sun Chemical has achieved the Oeko-Tex Eco Passport certification for its Suntex Sonata DTE Ink Series. Achieving the stringent standard means the series can be used in sustainable textile production when used with certified textile substrates. The series is a six colour dye sublimation transfer inkjet ink range which is compatible with Epson dx 4-7 printheads (08 May – subscription required to read full article).

Large increase in GOTS certified facilities: The number of facilities certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) saw a substantial increase, from 3,814 facilities in 2015 to 4,642 facilities in 2016 according to new figures. GOTS certified facilities are now located in 63 (68 in 2015) countries around the world. GOTS certification covers the processing of organic fibres along the entire supply chain from field to finished product (03 May – subscription required to read full article).

The Supply Chain

EU finds “fantastic” progress under Sustainability Compact, says Bangladesh: Fantastic progress has been made under the Sustainability Compact, which aims at promoting continuous improvements in labour rights and factory safety in Bangladesh's garment industry, EU Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon said this week. The next review meeting on the Compact will focus on what needs to be done in the days to come, he said. This is a very important meeting, he said in response to a question from the news agency while highlighting the three dimensions of the Compact. The third review meeting of the Compact, launched on July 8, 2013, is scheduled to be held on May 18 in Dhaka (09 May).

Bangladesh Accord launches financial support programme for factories: Entering the final year of the current agreement, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has launched a direct financial support programme to help factories complete remediation. A major focus of Accord in its final year will be to establish the Safety Committee and Safety Training programme at as many factories as possible (09 May).

Ten more Bangladesh factories complete CAPs, says Alliance: The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) has announced that during the months of March and April, ten additional Alliance-affiliated readymade garment (RMG) factories completed all material components outlined in their Corrective Action Plans (CAPs). The total number of factories in Bangladesh that have completed their CAPs has now risen to 76 (07 May). See the Alliance press release here.

Bangladesh Alliance suspends nine more factories: You can see the latest suspension listed at the link. Factories listed include: The Cloth & Fashion Ltd, Bando Apparels Ltd, and Maestro Apparels Ltd (04 May).

Bangladesh garment factories go from suppliers to partners: ““Clients don’t just want a supplier, they prefer a partner,” explained factory owner of Towel Tex, Md Shahadat Hossain Sohel, about why it is important for him to comply with safety regulations. And that's when it struck me, the biggest change, which is not tangible – the mind-set. Buyers and suppliers are on their way to becoming long-term partners, not just short-term business associates who may or may not try to pull a fast one on each other in the quest for ever cheaper garments or better deals” (03 May).

New resolution pushing for EU rules to curb worker exploitation: Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have adopted a resolution calling for a formulation of new rules to oblige textile and clothing suppliers to respect workers’ rights. “These practices also harm the EU industry, as they result in social dumping,” MEPs voted in a non-binding resolution. The resolution was adopted by 505 votes against 49, with 57 abstentions (29 Apr).

Bangladesh aware of need to shift from brown to green growth: Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali has said that Bangladesh is aware of the need to shift from “brown to green growth”. But he insisted it cannot be done overnight considering ground realities. He said Bangladesh economy is now at “crossroads” which needs further growth acceleration to achieve the middle-income country status by 2O21 (28 Apr).

(Image, Muhammad Masood, CCO)