Brands and retailers

Net-a-Porter adopts a new fur-free policy: The Yoox Net-a-Porter Group (YNAP) has announced that it is embracing a fur-free policy, one that excludes all items containing animal fur from its e-commerce sites which include Net-a-Porter, Mr Porter, Yoox, and The Outnet. The announcement comes in the wake of the conglomerate’s 2016 Sustainability Report, which outlined its strategies for a greater environmental awareness (07 Jun).

Fashion brands are feeling the effects of climate change: “Over the past several years in particular, retail sales have suffered as a result of unseasonably warm weather. In early 2016, H&M reported that an unusually warm autumn put a dent in its sale of winter garments. As noted by Reuters, “As in 2014, temperatures stayed unexpectedly high in many of H&M's key markets in December, as well.” The Swedish fast fashion giant is not alone. According to Planalytics – a research and consulting firm that tracks the impact of weather on businesses – the warm temperatures cost apparel stores an average of $572 million between November 1 and December 31, 2015, compared to the same period the year before” (05 Jun).

Eileen Fisher, H&M, Kering are latest brands to join cradle to cradle’s Fashion Positive PLUS: The apparel industry continues to make progress on sustainability, with more brands making moves to rethink traditional supply chains. Five companies – H&MKeringLoomstateZero + Maria Cornejo and Eileen Fisher – have joined Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s Fashion Positive PLUS initiative in an effort to transform their material inputs through the development of circular solutions that can remain in perpetual cycles of use and reuse (02 Jun).

Camper launches limited edition collection with Ethical Fashion Initiative: Camper and Ethical Fashion Initiative have joined forces to launch a new limited edition collection manufactured entirely in Ethiopia. The brand has supported the development of non-chrome leather, shared insights into shoe making and helped local craftsmen gain a better understanding of international quality standards (02 Jun).

H&M Chile’s workforce protests for higher wages: A mass strike by Chilean workers at H&M in demand of higher wages has completely disrupted the operation of the Swedish retail giant’s stores in Chile. Members of H&M Chile’s labor union met on Tuesday at the Costanera Center shopping mall and other commercial centres, where they counted 429 workers in attendance, approximately 65 percent of H&M Chile’s total workforce (02 Jun).

China’s missing factory inspectors have nothing to do with Ivanka Trump: “[Last week], an activist group reported that one of its investigators had been arrested and two others had disappeared while conducting an undercover probe of a Chinese shoe factory. The factory, owned by the Huajian Group, makes as many as 20 million pairs of shoes a year for some of the world's top labels. But in recent months, it’s become famous for one of its smaller clients: Ivanka Trump’s brand. Much about this incident remains unclear. But I’d bet on one thing: It’s highly unlikely that it has much of anything to do with the Trumps. Instead, the officials involved were most likely engaged in a ham-handed effort to prevent labour unrest and protect a major employer at a time when China’s traditional factories are badly ailing” (01 Jun).

Muji panel discussion promotes circular design: Muji Fifth Avenue this month held a panel discussion on circular design that included Naoko Yano of Muji, Minä Perhonen designer Akira Minagawa and fashion consultant and sustainability enthusiast Julie Gilhart (01 Jun).

M&S paves the way for a sustainable future: M&S’s new environmental and ethical Plan A is said to be ambitious, as it focuses on the customers, aims to support 1,000 communities, help 10 million people live better lives while transforming the department store group into a zero-waste business. In order to achieve these goals, Marks and Spencer has designed a three-pillar plan to help tackle the biggest issues retailers, consumers and businesses face today when it comes to sustainability. The new pillars take customer and colleague wellbeing into account, as well as communities and workers lives and the overall health of the planet (01 Jun).

UW administration tells Nike to just stop it: Nike’s troubles with the UW started in the 2015-16 academic year, when it refused to allow one of the university’s anti-sweatshop monitoring organizations — the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) — into a Nike supplier factory in Vietnam. Besides independent labor unions, the WRC is the world’s premier anti-sweatshop monitoring organization, and was the only organization that Nike workers at a Vietnamese factory called Hansae trusted to lodge their complaints (01 Jun).

UCSB to drop Nike as athletics sponsor: The University of California, Santa Barbara’s athletics department confirmed 23 May that it will drop Nike as the school’s athletic sponsor, because the university cannot confirm whether Nike factories comply with supplier standards (31 May).

Asics launches energy efficient project in Europe: Asics has launched an energy efficient project in Europe with an aim to double its total use of renewable electricity in the continent. Further, the company has also introduced new store concept with several innovative sustainability features (31 May).

Reformation is bringing sustainable fast fashion closer to reality: “[Reformation uses] intelligent customer product suggestions to move fast and react,” said CEO and founder Yael Aflalo. “If there’s something that converts really well, we’ll promote that item. If something never goes in the dressing room and doesn’t convert, we’ll stop putting that item out. It’s about tracking real-time traffic and conversion.” That proximity to its customers has helped Reformation react to demand at a rapid clip, without coming under fire for unethical labor practices and conditions like fast-fashion giants Zara and H&M (both of which have been making pushes to appear more transparent) (31 May).

Esprit, Levi Strauss called to aid dock Madagascan workers: The International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF) has urged Esprit to join Levi’s help end the exploitation of Madagascan dock workers. The call was backed with the launch of a report on 29 May highlighting the double standards in the company’s supply chain, alongside global actions at Esprit stores. The report is called “Esprit: End the double standards in your supply chain”, and can be seen here in full (30 May). More information here and here.

How US-made ethical fashion happens: A podcast with Kathryn Hilderbrand (CEO of Good Apparel and Good Clothing Company) covering topics related to domestic apparel production in the US and what’s ethical and sustainable and what’s not (30 May).

How a custom blazer in 90 minutes just might change the apparel business: “With its tidy racks of dress shirts, trousers and sweaters, the Ministry of Supply shop on Newbury Street in Boston looks, in many ways, similar to other clothing stores. That is, except for the 10-foot-long 3-D knitting machine positioned next to the checkout counter: The one that weighs as much as a car, is outfitted with 4,000 needles and can manufacture a customized blazer in about 90 minutes” (30 May).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

World Sailing’s sustainability commission: Following the announcement of World Sailing’s sustainability strategy in November 2016, the international federation of the sport has appointed a leading group of experts to its first sustainability commission which will be chaired by Mike Golding (05 Jun).

The documentary exposing the dark reality of fast fashion: An interview with Machines director Rahul Jain, whose striking new film snagged the Sundance World Cinema Documentary award for Cinematography. Click on the link to see a short clip (03 Jun).

ZDHC releases MRSL Conformance Guidance: The ZDHC Foundation, the global textile, leather and footwear collaboration of 23 brands, and more than 40 value chain partners, released the ZDHC MRSL Conformance Guidance this week. This manual for industry establishes an indication system that assesses the conformance of chemical formulations, used in production, with the ZDHC Manufacturing Substances List (ZDHC MRSL) (02 Jun).

Antonio Banderas kicked off a greener Miami Fashion Week: Accompanied by major designers, Antonio Banderas launched the 2017 edition of Miami Fashion Week (MIAFW) last week. The event presented a mix of major Latin American and Spanish beach and resort trends alongside ecological, social and humanitarian projects (02 Jun).

Book review – Beyond Decent Work: A new book examines Indonesian labour struggles through the lens of international political economy theory. Author Felix Hauf argues that it remains questionable whether low-cost production can ever be compatible with ethical labour standards given that the Indonesian minimum wage (which is not even paid by many employers) is seldom above subsidence levels (01 Jun).

Innovations in vegan leather means global market will hit $85 billion by 2025: The global faux leather market will be worth a staggering $85 billion within the next decade, according to a report by business consulting firm Grand View Research. The footwear sector is a key factor of the growing trend – paired with the lower cost of producing animal-free goods (estimated by the report at one third of the cost of leather) (30 May).

ZDHC Gateway chemical module launch: After running a successful six month pilot, the ZDHC Foundation announced the soft launch of the Chemical Module of the ZDHC Gateway on 01 June to the ZDHC Contributor Community. The Chemical Module of ZDHC’s Gateway makes information on sustainable chemistry broadly available and is an online search tool that will help chemical buyers to choose safer options available in the market (30 May).

Uzbekistan’s Senate ratifies textiles protocol with EU: The Senate of the Oliy Majlis (upper house of the Uzbek parliament) ratified the ‘textiles protocol’ to the partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA) between the EU and Uzbekistan at the plenary session. The document also envisages customs privileges while processing, supplying and transit of Uzbek textile products to the EU countries (28 May). See also here (30 May).


A&E releases 2016-2017 corporate sustainability report: American & Efird (A&E), a manufacturer and distributors of industrial and consumer sewing thread, embroidery thread, and technical textiles, has released its 2016-2017 corporate sustainability report, which says that there has been a 41 per cent reduction in global water consumption (litres per kg of thread) since 2006 in its operations (02 Jun).

Polartec introduces Polartec Power Fill: Made with cruelty-free, 80 per cent post-consumer recycled content, Polartec’s Power Fill insulation technology is said to provide greater warmth retention in colder conditions, without added weight or bulk (02 Jun).

Toward greener apparel – sustainable dye & recovered yarns: DyeCoo is a Dutch company that uses reclaimed CO2 instead of water in a patented process to dye textiles. With DyeCoo’s method, no process chemicals, water or wastewater is required, which means wastewater treatment isn’t needed. In Spain, Hilaturas Ferre S.A. is upcycling textile waste into recycled yarns. The company cuts the waste into consistent smaller pieces and then shreds it to reclaim the longest possible fibres. From there, a “colorblend” process enables consistent colour-matching of cotton fibres without the use of dyes (01 Jun).

Green revolution in Bangladeshi apparel industry: To encourage all industries to establish eco-friendly factories, the government is providing loans at 9% interest, especially to the RMG sector. The number of environment-friendly, “green” RMG factories is on the rise in Bangladesh, revolutionising the country’s apparel industry and slowly uplifting its downward reputation in the world. Since 2011, a total of 67 Bangladeshi RMG factories have received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC), one of the top green building rating systems in the world, according to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) data (30 May).

RadiciGroup formalises supplier codes: Italian synthetic fibres, chemicals and plastics company, RadiciGroup has formalised its commitment to a sustainable supply chain with the establishment of new supplier and customer codes of conduct. The codes cover issues such as business integrity, transparency, the refusal of forced use of labour, the correct treatment of employees and freedom of association, with an overriding focus on value creation, environmental performance and social responsibility throughout the supply chain (30 May – subscription required to read full article).

The Supply Chain

Garment industry exports up, jobs down, in Cambodia: Exports grew at a solid pace in 2016, rising by 7.2 percent to $7.3 billion, but the number of registered exporting factories fell by 10.4 per cent, while the number of workers declined by 2.9 per cent, compared to 2015 (05 Jun).

Indian mill worker who stood up for women labourers commits suicide after management calls him thief: The death of a man who fought for worker rights in Indian spinning mills has prompted sympathy protests and opened questions about work conditions in an industry that supplies yarn to top international brands. The company, Prabhu Spinning Mills (Open End Division), denies any wrongdoing or role in his suicide, saying there is no police complaint or investigation to this effect (02 Jun).

Vietnam prepares draft plan to restructure industry: The Vietnam government has prepared a draft plan on the country’s industrial restructuring during 2017-2020, which needs to be fine-tuned according to experts. The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) should clarify weaknesses and bottlenecks in the industrial sector to come out with a better plan on industrial restructuring, they said at a workshop. Speaking about the plan, Le Tien Truong, general director of the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group, said parts of data in the draft on the textile and garment industry, such as labour productivity, added value and import were incorrect. Therefore, the plan’s reliability remained modest and needed revision (02 Jun).

Foundational training for Bangladesh labour inspectors comes to a close: A comprehensive labour inspection training programme which has seen 239 inspectors gain the skills needed to boost working conditions and worker safety in Bangladesh has ended (31 May).

Fire at leading textile showroom in Chennai: A huge fire gutted a leading textile showroom in Chennai, affecting normalcy in the key commercial area, even as the blaze continued to rage 13 hours after it broke out. None was injured and 12 persons were rescued from the seven storied building, which houses Chennai Silks, a leading textile showroom on the busy Usman Road (31 May).

Questions raised over Cambodian garment statistics: While Cambodia’s garment sector exhibited solid growth last year, employment levels declined, raising concerns about a potential rise in unregulated subcontracting, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a report released last week. In its sixth bulletin of the Kingdom’s garment sector, the ILO noted that while garment exports increased by 7.2 percent in 2016, the number of officially registered factories fell by 10.4 percent, and total workers declined by 2.9 percent (30 May).

Garment industry facing subcontracting threat, says ILO: Cambodia’s garment factories appear to be ramping up their use of subcontractors, which tend to get the least attention from regulators and raises the most fears of abuse among labor rights groups, according to a report released last week (30 May).

Cotton made in Africa supply chain workshop in India: The aim of the Cotton made in Africa Supply Chain Workshop, held in Coimbatore/India mid-May, was to further establish CmiA in India where demand is also increasing. Some 80 experts attended the meeting, representing actors along the textile value chain – from spinning mills and ready-made garment and fabric producers right through to cotton traders and merchandisers for textile companies (24 May).

(Image, Aaron Burden, CCO)