Brands and retailers

Pablo Isla highlights sustainable growth and circular economy as key to the Inditex of the future: Pablo Isla took advantage of the Annual General Meeting to detail “Inditex’s sustainable growth strategy”, which in 2016 reached all stages of the value chain thanks to the Group’s Closing the Loop strategy for reusing and recycling textile products (18 Jul).

Retailers bank on environmentally-friendly clothing for increased sales: Many shoppers will shell out a little more money if they know a product, especially clothing, is environmentally friendly, market researchers report. Major retailers like J.C. Penney, H&M, and Target are increasingly tapping into that consciousness with fashion lines made from recycled fabrics. But the catch is that the prices still need to be competitive with non-recycled garments to appeal to eco-minded consumers (18 Jul).

Primark recalls men’s flip-flops after carcinogenic chemical discovery: Primark is offering full refund on khaki, black and blue colours from its men’s Cedar Wood State range as it recalls thousands of pairs of flip-flops after discovering they contain a chemical that can cause cancer (17 Jul).

Judge rejects Joe Fresh class action related to Bangladesh factory disaster: A proposed class-action lawsuit seeking $2 billion from Joe Fresh and Loblaw over the collapse of a Bangladesh garment factory in 2013 has been rejected by an Ontario judge. In a sometimes scathing decision issued this month, Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell said the Toronto-based counsel for three garment workers who were injured in the Rana Plaza building near Dhaka failed to argue a viable cause of action in their claim (17 Jul).

Do textiles need to travel around the world three times before we can wear them? An interview by the Hohenstein Group of the Daniel and Markus Freitag, founders of Freitag. “We asked ourselves: It must also be possible without wasting resources, endless transport routes and excessive use of chemicals? The textiles should be manufactured at fair conditions nearby and be suitable for wearing in the factory, as well as for having a beer after work. Once they have been worn out, it should be possible to throw them on the compost, where they can biodegrade without any residues, with a clear conscience” (17 Jul).

Fruit of the Loom joins The Sustainability Consortium: Fruit of the Loom, Inc., has recently joined The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) as part of its ongoing commitment to corporate social and environmental responsibility. TSC is a global, non-profit organization working to transform the consumer goods industry so that mainstream consumer goods bought each day, like Fruit of the Loom products, are more sustainable (17 Jul).

Ivanka Inc.: Yet another story on conditions in factories supplying to Ivanka Trump, the fashion brand, this time from the Washington Post (14 Jul). And here, from Marie Claire (17 Jul).

Genetic Los Angeles launches jeans recycling program: Genetic Los Angeles, a premium women's denim brand, has launched a programme to recycle old and unwanted jeans. Under the initiative, any old pair of women’s jeans will be recycled regardless of brand or condition. The company will give $30 off for a new pair of Genetic jeans in place of the unwanted pair of jeans (14 Jul).

Nearly a third of Burberry investors object to top executives’ pay: Nearly a third of shareholders in Burberry voted against the luxury goods company’s executive pay report last week, despite a move by its new finance chief Julie Brown to head off the opposition by foregoing a share options award worth up to 2.4 million pounds ($3.11 million) (14 Jul).

Tesco pledges to remove potentially hazardous chemicals from its F&F clothing range: Tesco says it will remove chemicals including phthalates, brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, chlorinated solvents and heavy metals, as part of its commitment Greenpeace’s Detox Campaign (14 Jul). See Greenpeace press release here.

SCAP members outperform peers on sustainability: Signatories to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), including ASOS, Next, and Primark, have helped slash the environmental impact of the UK clothing sector. Water use has seen a 13.5% reduction – saving enough water to fill 23,000 bath tubs for every tonne produced; carbon use has also been reduced by 10.6% for every tonne of clothing sold by SCAP retailers; water and carbon have a 15% reduction target by 2020; and material waste, which has a 2020 target of 3.5%, has achieved a 0.8% saving, equivalent to 30 pairs of women’s jeans for every tonne of jeans sold (14 Jul).

Argentine textile crisis shutters VF factory: As a result of poor sales, VF Corporation, owner of brands such as Lee, Wrangler and Timberland, decided to close its textile plant located in the Argentine province of La Rioja. The plant employs a workforce of 105 people, says Nicolás Farias, representative for the factory’s workers union (13 Jul).

Conflict resolved at Turkish sock and underwear factory: IndustriALL Global Union says it has successfully resolved conflict at Beks Sock and Underwear Factory, with the employer recognizing the union. The Beks plant, which employs 2,000 workers, is a major supplier of Tchibo, H&M and Marks and Spencer, who all took action to ensure that management took corrective measures following the dispute (13 Jul).

Campaign calls for Cambodian garment workers from shuttered factory to be repaid: The call by Clean Clothes Campaign and other groups last week that Marks and Spencer (M&S), Bonmarché and Canadian brand Nygård should compensate workers at the Chung Fai Knitwear Factory has been picked up by the Cambodian press. The Cambodian report says M&S and Nygård deny sourcing from the factory, but according to the campaign, factory workers showed them labels from the clothing with the brand names (12 Jul). See an additional article focussing on Nygård here: Nygård falls out of fashion over supply chain transparency: (14 Jul).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

Nordic Council calls for PFAS labelling: In a new working paper, the Nordic Council, an inter-governmental body representing Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, has suggested swift regulatory action is required on per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs). The Council points to extensive evidence which suggests PFASs, and their degradation products are extremely persistent in the environment. The working paper draws on the outcomes of a workshop on joint strategies for PFASs, hosted by the Swedish Chemicals Agency (Kemi) in spring (19 Jul – subscription required to read full article).

Stitched up by robots: the threat to emerging economies: “[Kiran Kumari] and the other 4,800 or so garment workers spread across three Matrix Clothing factories south of Delhi form just a small part of the army of inexpensive labour that many developing countries hope will propel them towards prosperity. This is particularly true in South Asia, where populations are growing fast and wages remain low. … Yet 8,000 miles away in the US city of Atlanta, a robotics company is working on a machine that could in time put Ms Kumari out of work for good. The “Sewbot” technology, being developed by Softwear Automation, aims to automate the entire clothes-making process (18 Jul – subscription required to read full article in FT).

Polluters “should pay” for viscose industry clean-up: Viscose manufacturers should clean up the polluted sites mentioned in the recent Changing Markets report and also look to introduce better technology to drive cleaner, sustainable viscose production. In an interview with Ecotextile News Urska Trunk, a campaign adviser with Changing Markets, said: “As the industry which created the problem, viscose producers bear a clear responsibility for cleaning up polluted sites. This is in line with polluter pays principle” (18 Jul – subscription required to read full article).

There’s a pressing need to value eco-friendly wool: “The best action any enthusiastic environmentalist could do for sustainability is to proudly promote wool. As the ‘green movement’ is sensibly returning to basic values like making compost, eating home-grown vegetables, upcycling clothing, using less chemical cleaners and being more aware of our footprint, it is high time we championed wool again, as our grandparents did” (17 Jul).

Miroslava Duma on the biggest sustainability problems facing the fashion industry: August 2017 marks Marie Claire’s inaugural sustainability issue, an entire magazine dedicated to the environmental causes it cares about most. In this interview, creative director Nina Garcia sits down with friend and fellow tech geek Miroslava Duma to discuss Fashion Tech Lab, her new venture set on bringing sustainable innovation to the fashion industry (17 Jul).

Marie Claire launches first-ever sustainability issue: “The more we learned about sustainability, the more we realized we had to learn. So we assembled a powerhouse advisory board of experts in the field…” (17 Jul).

How Danish fashion brands are conquering sustainability: Denmark is known for its minimalistic Scandinavian designs that every year take over the Fashion Week’s catwalks. However, most people aren’t aware that many Danish designers steer clear of fast fashion and open the way for sustainable fashion, producing high-end garments while at the same time protecting the environment (16 Jul).

Are we ready for the Airbnb of clothing? It could be only a matter of time before we're leasing everything from jeans to ball gowns (15 Jul).

77% in UK say they care about Fairtrade: New research released by the Fairtrade Foundation reveals that 77% people in the UK now say they care about Fairtrade, and 78% say they trust the label. One in four people (25%), are actively choosing to buy Fairtrade products when they shop (13 Jul).

USAID signs grant to create 2,000 apparel jobs in Kenya: The US Agency for International Development (USAID) East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub) has signed a grant with Generation Program Kenya Limited, a local subsidiary of the McKinsey Social Initiative. It aims to create 2,000 full-time jobs and provide over 100,000 hours in skills development for young people in the apparel industry (12 Jul).

Where many of the clothes you throw away end up: Often, they are sent to India, joining a global second-hand trade in which billions of old garments are bought and sold around the world every year. Specifically, to Panipat in northern India which is known as the world’s “cast off capital” (12 Jul).

Fibre made from water: a team of researchers at the University of Cambridge have harnessed the power of nature to create a strong, low-impact material that can be produced without high heat or toxic chemicals. The fibre mimics the strength and flexibility of spider silk and is made from a soupy material called hydrogel, which is composed of 98 percent water. The remaining two percent is made of silica and cellulose, held together in a network by barrel-shaped molecular “handcuffs” known as cucurbiturils (12 Jul). More here  (11 Jul).

For supply chains, it’s digitize or die: This is the message from Hong Kong’s Li & Fung. Although the focus is on retail and sourcing, the implications for sustainability are clear. Business as usual is about to get a shake up, and a lot of companies will fall by the wayside (08 Jul).

New guidance for tackling child labour and modern slavery in your supply chains: The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) has posted guidance for tackling child labour and slavery, including advice to help companies develop a deeper understanding of key concepts and legal responsibilities. Importantly, it also lists tools, tips and techniques for reducing and mitigating risk (05 Jul). You can see Base Code Guidance: Child labour here, and Base Code Guidance: Modern slavery here, on the ETI’s website.

Are supply chains ready to go ‘beyond’ audits? A white paper from Asia Inspection says, “[In 2017], surveys show that supply chain visibility still remains low: only 15% of brands have good visibility into their Tier 2 suppliers, and only 6%, into Tier 3” (Jul 17)

The Supply Chain

India’s low-paid garment workers seek $7.6 million compensation: Last year, the Madras High Court ordered that the garment workers should receive a pay rise of up to 30 percent - the first minimum wage hike for 12 years - and that they could claim arrears going back to 2014. But 12 months on, many factory bosses have failed to pay up. But now, it has come to light that more than 150 claims have been filed against tailoring and export garment manufacturing units in the Chennai region alone, which would benefit at least 80,000 workers at factories around the port city, and which add up to more than $7.6 million (17 Jul).

Bangladesh to finalise draft labour law suiting international prescriptions: The government has formed a high-level committee to finalise the draft amendments to labour-and EPZ laws accommodating all labour-rights issues raised by western stakeholders, failing which Bangladesh’s European GSP may be at risk. As per a requests from last month’s International Labour Conference (ILC), the government has to remake the laws within a timeframe set by the meeting, officials said (17 Jul).

92 Alliance-affiliated Bangladesh apparel factories complete corrective plans: The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety has announced that during the month of June, ten additional Alliance-affiliated readymade garment (RMG) factories completed all material components outlined in their Corrective Action Plans (CAPs), bringing the total number of factories to have completed their CAPs to 92 (16 Jul).

ITUC says new Bangladesh Accord will protect workers: The signing of the new Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh will protect workers, and improve the garment industry, according to International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). ITCU general secretary Sharan Burrow said, “This new accord underlines the successes already achieved under the existing 2013 Accord, and will provide vital protections for workers who, while producing vast export wealth for Bangladesh, are at risk of workplace injury and death” (16 Jul).

GMAC slams union’s criticism of new Garment Training Institute: The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) issued a statement on its Facebook page on Wednesday hitting back at comments from a union official who criticized its new Garment Training Institute. Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, in an article last week, questioned GMAC’s use of loans from the French Development Agency (AFD) while charging students a fee to attend classes (13 Jul).

Artificial intelligence and Bangladesh’s predicament: Written by a local professor, the article concludes: “Even before the invasion of robots, we will be in AI centre-field; and once we are, the socio-political questions will spiral: how many can be operationalised before sparking labour unrest. Since labour unrest can push technological progress and profit-making back to the medieval age, it is not an issue to be taken too lightly in Bangladesh” (13 Jul).

Cambodian ministry orders worker survey: The Labour Ministry has announced that the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) will survey garment workers on their living conditions ahead of minimum wage talks, though some unionists have questioned the likely quality of the survey (13 Jul).

Global buyers cut business ties with more Bangladesh apparel factories: Western retailers’ and buyers’ groups with the Accord cut business relations with ten more Bangladeshi readymade garment factories in June on charge of failure in implementing workplace safety measures in their manufacturing units, including Saascotex (Bd) Ltd, Leather Craftsman Ltd, Pack-Saas (BD) Ltd, Julfikar Fashion’s Ltd, SAASCO Garments Ltd, Muksudpur Apparels Ltd, Earthee Wear Ltd, SB Design Ltd, Ornate International Ltd, and GS Garments Ltd (12 Jul).

(Photo by Andrea Reiman on Unsplash, CCO)