Brands and retailers

PETA celebrates opening of world’s first vegan menswear store: PETA threw a party for Brave GentleMan, the world’s first all-vegan luxury menswear store, celebrating its grand opening in Brooklyn. Founder and Creative Director Joshua Katcher unveiled his Spring/Summer 2018 collection, which includes stylish shoes and belts made of “future-leather” and suits made of “future-wool” (11 Jul).

Zara wants to be sustainable at every production stage: Zara wants to save the planet one blouson at a time. Its chief communications and corporate affairs officer Jesus Echevarria how it is done (11 Jul).

M&S, Bonmarché and Nygård should compensate Cambodian workers after factory closure, says labour rights group: The Clean Clothes Campaign has called for brands sourcing from a Cambodian factory that closed without warning and left 208 workers in Cambodia without jobs, salaries to provide compensation. “A year later these workers, largely women, are still fighting for justice and are in a desperate situation. As they stitched clothes for UK brands Marks & Spencer and Bonmarché, as well as Canadian brand Nygård, the workers are demanding that these companies take responsibility and give them the legally due payments that their supplier failed to provide” (11 Jul).

143 leading brands sign circular fashion pledge: Major fashion brands have signed up to a worldwide scheme aimed at creating a circular fashion economy. The Global Fashion Agenda’s Call to Action for a Circular Fashion System, has seen around 7.5 per cent of the world’s fashion industry pledge its support. One hundred and forty-three fashion retailers and 64 companies, including the likes of Asos, Adidas, Hugo Boss, Zara parent company Inditex, H&M and Tommy Hilfiger, have signed up for the scheme (11 Jul).

Burberry, H&M, M&S, Nike, VF and YOOX Net-a-Porter commit to 100% clean energy: The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, as part of the We Mean Business coalition, has launched RE100,  a global, collaborative initiative of 100 influential businesses committed to using 100% renewable electricity. The fashion companies making the commitment are Burberry, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Nike, VF and YOOX Net-a-Porter (10 Jul).

Burberry faces new pressure over executive pay: Burberry’s executive pay practices have drawn a protest from shareholder Royal London Asset Management, which said it would heed calls from investor advisory groups to vote against the company’s remuneration report (10 Jul).

Saint Laurent launching couture training program: Saint Laurent has announced they are launching a six-month couture training program in collaboration with two educational institutions: the Institut Français de la Mode and the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. The aim of the program is not just to hone couture techniques, but also to emphasize sustainability and innovation, two causes near and dear to Saint Laurent’s parent company, Kering, specifically president Francois Henri Pinault (10 Jul).

Who made my clothes? Inside Cotton On’s Chinese factories: “Six years ago, Zhang Baobao left his family behind in his village home and moved to Wuxi, a large industrial city in southwest China. Home for the 25-year-old today is a dormitory from which he can see the garment factory where he spends up to 10 hours a day, cutting fabric for fast fashion garments that get shipped around the world. If you’ve bought anything from one of the 143 apparel stores owned by Cotton On in New Zealand, chances are it was made in this factory, which produces nine million items for Cotton On each year” (09 Jul).

C&A discloses details of more than 2,000 suppliers: C&A has announced that it is disclose details of more than 2,000 supplier factories in all its 40 sourcing countries around the globe. The list will be included in the company's new sustainability report which is now available online. The commitment is in line with C&A's recent commitment to the Transparency Pledge, and sees the company disclose its suppliers' factory names and addresses, number of workers and product category of 100 per cent of its tier-1 and tier-2 production units (06 Jul – subscription required to read article in full).

Thousands calling on Zara and H&M to drop some of their suppliers: More than 128,000 people have signed a petition calling on H&M and Zara “and other fashion giants” to stop sourcing from producers linked to pollution, after a report by Changing Markets Foundation claimed factories producing viscose linked to the brands were damaging local waterways and emitting “noxious gases” (06 Jul). You can see more on the original report in Week 24 of FSWIR. This story has even been picked up by Teen Vogue (see here).

Dutch apparel sector urged to list suppliers: Companies in the Dutch apparel industry will be asked to list which suppliers produce their clothing as part of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER), a government-backed project launched last year. The aim is for at least 50 per cent of the Dutch garment and textile sector to sign the agreement by 2018, and 80 per cent by 2020. So far 64 businesses have signed up, representing about 80 different consumer clothing and textile brands, and representing more than one-third of all textile sales in the Netherlands. Companies participating in the agreement include C&A, G-Star, O’Neill and HEMA (05 Jul). See also here.

US Department of State critical of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on cotton forced labour: Both countries have been ranked Tier 3 in the in the Department of State’s latest Trafficking in Persons Report. In the two Central Asian states, forced labour is mostly employed in the annual cotton harvest. Uzbekistan has long been notorious for the use of forced labour, including child labour, in its cotton harvest, a practice that sparked a boycott of Uzbek cotton by international brands as diverse as Zara, Nike, Primark and Stella McCartney (05 Jul).

Wrangler joins Field to Market sustainability efforts: Wrangler has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture as an associate member working to help increase the supply of sustainable cotton. Field to Market is a multi-stakeholder initiative working to unite the agricultural supply chain in defining, measuring and advancing the sustainability of food, fibre and fuel production in the United States. Wrangler is the first major apparel brand to join the initiative, and the announcement follows the brand’s launch last month of a pilot project for sustainable U.S. cotton (30 Jun).

Caulfeild Apparel tackles worker rights: Caulfeild Apparel has announced a partnership with Outland Denim, the profit-for-purpose premium Australian brand using jeans as a vehicle for social change. Outland jeans are crafted in the brand's own manufacturing facility in Cambodia by young women seeking sustainable employment and a tangible skill set after experiences of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and other human rights abuses (29 Jun).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

Indian Supreme Court suspends ban on trade in cattle for slaughter: India’s Supreme Court suspended on Tuesday a government ban on the trade of cattle for slaughter, a boost for the multi-billion dollar beef and leather industries mostly run by members of the Muslim minority. The Supreme Court order was also a boost for the leather industry: “The order has brought huge relief,” said Puran Dawar, chairman of Agra-based shoe exporter Dawar Footwear Industries (11 Jul).

WRAP’s sustainable clothing plan nears water and carbon targets: More than half of the UK clothing market has achieved a collective 10 per cent reduction in carbon emissions through collaborative involvement with WRAP's Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), a new report has revealed. (11 Jul).

American Airlines uniforms seem to be making flight attendants sick: New uniforms seem to be making American Airlines flight attendants sick, but the company refuses to pull them. “The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), which represents more than 26,000 American Airlines flight attendants, reports receiving more than 3,000 complaints from employees experiencing reactions to the uniform. Informal counts in private Facebook groups for those affected have reached up to 8,000. American Airlines, however, insists the uniforms are safe. The airline spent over $1 million on three rounds of tests on the uniforms, and points to the results as proof that the uniforms are safe to wear. So why are flight attendants fainting on the job and struggling to breathe during their shifts?” (10 Jul).

ZDHC adds seven new companies as contributors: Seven new companies have joined the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Program, which promotes widespread implementation of sustainable chemistry and best practices in the textile, leather, and footwear industry. The seven companies are: American & Efird, Brachi Testing Services, Britacel Silicones, Bureau Veritas, Intertek, INT International, and C&A Foundation (as an associate) (10 Jul).

Myanmar designers stitch ethnicity and ethics into fashion: With Myanmar emerging as a manufacturing hub for mass-produced clothes, a crop of young designers is using home-grown fashion to preserve the country’s sartorial heritage and reshape the sweatshop model (08 Jul).

Sustainable fashion has never looked so good: The Ethical Fashion Show Berlin is an interesting mix of stylish clothes and sustainable green thinking. Harald Franzen from DW in Germany went to see whether sustainability and style go together (07 Jul).

How necessary are fluorochemicals in a waterproof jacket? New research from the University of Leeds suggests that the use of controversial fluorochemicals in the manufacture of most waterproof outdoor garments may be unnecessary (06 Jul).

Consumers spend around €50 per month on clothing: Consumers were found to spend an average of €153.79 on clothing over a three-month period in a new study which interviewed more than 1,000 people in each of Germany, Poland, Sweden, and United States in an attempt to understand how consumer behaviour affects the environmental impact of clothing consumption (03 Jul – subscription required to read article in full).

Compliance with labour standards and human rights in cross-border supply chains: A legal overview of compliance laws and regulations (e.g., California Transparency in the Supply Chain Act). One I hadn’t seen before was this: “this year France enacted a bill on the duty of care for parent companies. Under this law, parent companies with a) more than 5,000 employees worldwide at group level, and with headquarters in France, or b) 10,000 employees worldwide at group level, may be considered liable for labour and environmental infringements of their subsidiaries, when they did not implement the necessary measures to avoid such infringements.” Interesting (Jul).


Spinnova partners with Brazilian forestry business: Spinnova, a Finnish company that has developed an innovative way to make cellulosic textile fibres using a wet extrusion process based on the flow properties (rheology) of a modified, aqueous wood fibre slurry, has entered into a partnership with Brazilian forestry company Fibria, the world’s leading producer of eucalyptus pulp. Fibria will pay €5 million for an 18 per cent minority interest in Spinnova, a spin-out business from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (10 Jul – subscription required to read full article).

Leather traceability project signs two new sponsors: Applied DNA Sciences has announced the addition of two sponsors to the Company’s leather traceability project with BLC Leather Technology Centre (BLC), which seeks to develop and validate a robust system to provide comprehensive and verifiable leather traceability, from farm to finished products. The two new sponsors are: Scottish Leather Group Ltd., and Tong Hong Tannery (05 Jul).

India visualises ‘waterless textile industry’: The vision of a ‘waterless textile industry’ was raised at a recent UN-sponsored conference which took place in India, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi among the high profile dignitaries in attendance. The event focused on how more resource efficient and cleaner production (RECP) practices can be introduced in India’s textile industry value chains, with the duel aims of enabling the sector to improve its environmental performance while also boosting profitability and market access (05 Jul – subscription required to read article in full).

The Supply Chain

Cambodian garments manufacturing training institute opens: Cambodia’s first garments manufacturing training institute began classes this week, aiming to educate a new generation of students in apparel design, development, management, merchandising and industry engineering. More than 160 workers from 14 factories across the country will begin classes at the Cambodian Garment Training Institute, which has been organized by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia and set up inside the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone (11 Jul).

Bangladesh garment workers demonstrate: Several hundred workers from SHB Garments in Khilgaon Chowdhury Para, Dhaka protested outside the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association’s office on Monday over the sudden closure of their factory. Workers said they returned from Eid vacation to find their factory shuttered and a management notice on the gate saying the plant was closed for renovations. Workers demanded their legal termination entitlements and back pay or that the factory be reopened. Some workers had been at the factory for ten years. A recent media report claimed that over 2,800 workers in Bangladesh’s readymade garments sector were terminated in the first three months of 2017 (08 Jul). See more here.

Apparel makers get united to mount pressure against Accord’s extension: Bangladesh’s apparel makers have strongly opposed the unilateral extension of the Accord by three more years by the global brands and trade unions, and will seek to convene an emergency general meeting this month to mobilise opinion from the member factories of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and seek the government's intervention in this regard (08 Jul).

Better Work Jordan holds its ninth buyer and stakeholder forum: Better Work Jordan (BWJ) held its ninth buyer and stakeholder forum in Amman on Thursday, exploring ways to address compliance with international labour standards beyond the garment sector and announcing its upcoming expansion, according to a statement from the initiative (06 Jul).

Cambodian garment workers hurt in crash: Fourteen garment workers were injured when the steering and transmission of their truck failed and the vehicle smashed into a pagoda gate, the Labour Ministry has announced (06 Jul).

13 charged following fatal garment factory blast in Bangladesh: Police in Bangladesh have filed charges ranging from negligence to murder against more than a dozen people after a boiler explosion at a garment plant killed 13 people and injured dozens, officials have said (05 Jul).

The international effort to fix Bangladesh’s deadly factories has a basic math problem: “… one of the main stumbling blocks to fixing the industry remains: the matter of who pays the bills to install proper fire doors, fix electrical wiring, make sure buildings are structurally sound, and complete other upgrades in a system where low prices and maximum profits drive every decision. … “Companies and unions negotiated without the factory owners, who are the ones who bear the responsibility and cost of implementing the Accord’s requirements,” says Sarah Labowitz, who was co-director of the Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University Stern School until leaving this year. “This was an original flaw in the Accord when it was first negotiated in 2013 and what gave it real legitimacy issues in Bangladesh”” (05 Jul).

Bangladesh factory explosion shows need to expand Accord inspections to boilers: Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights Forum, Worker Rights Consortium and Maquila Solidarity Network have issued a joint statement saying the boiler explosion at Multifabs in Dhaka last week shows the need to include boilers in safety checks (04 Jul).

Low wages an injustice, say young Lesotho workers: Shop stewards from IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho (IDUL) have demanded better wages in the garment and textile sector (04 Jul).

Haitian workers strike for $12.50 a day: Workers in Haiti’s textile sector have been struggling to raise their minimum wage from 350 gourdes (currently about $4.75) to 800 gourdes (about $12.50) a day and to have the eight-hour day (02 Jul).

(Photo Leo Rivas-Micoud on Unsplash, CCO)