BRANDS AND RETAILERS
Clothing brands support Mexico’s labour reform: International clothing brands, including Adidas, C&A, Inditex and Nike, have written to the Mexican government declaring their support for constitutional reform of the labour justice system and for secondary legislation to reflect the constitutional changes. (30 Aug – subscription required to read full article).
H&M and WWF team up to tackle water challenges in Turkey: During World Water Week in Stockholm this week, H&M and WWF announced a new initiative to help Turkey tackle its water challenges, particularly pollution, and ensure sustainable, clean water supplies for businesses, people and the environment (29 Aug).
Dr. Martens vegan boots recalled due to chemical exposure hazard: Dr. Martens has recalled over 30,000 vegan boots in the US and Canada after it discovered wearing them exposed people to the toxic dye chemical benzidine. The recall involves Dr. Martens unisex Vegan 1460 eight eye boots sold in cherry red with black shoelaces in all sizes. The boots have a chunky sole and a golden heel pull tab with “AirWair” printed on it. “Made in Vietnam” and product code 14585 are printed on the tongue label with the batch code starting with “GV” and ending in Q, R or S (25 Aug). See more here.
M&S launches sustainable selvedge denim jeans: M&S has launched sustainable selvedge denim jeans. These jeans have been manufactured with lower environmental impact in terms of its overall energy use, and used sustainable finishes, whilst focusing on the style and quality. For sustainable innovation, the company worked with Jeanologia, which specialises in sustainable technologies. (25 Aug).
House of Fraser opens first sustainable store: House of Fraser has opened its first sustainable store at the Rushden Lakes shopping and leisure complex in Northamptonshire. It complies with BREEAM certification for sustainability (24 Aug).
After 44 years Patagonia released its first commercial & it’s not about clothing: Over Patagonia’s 44 year history it has never aired a single commercial, up until now. The goal of the ad isn’t to boost sales or drum up excitement on a new product launch, but to highlight the need to protect America[s public lands (24 Aug).
How to make sure workers weren’t abused while making your clothes: “Genuine commitment to sustainability – rather than merely the show of it – requires monitoring of the entire supply chain and a willingness to meet internationally-recognized standards. For most brands, this is still more than they’re ready to do” (24 Aug).
H&M’s Arket encourages transparent shopping on its new e-commerce site: The interesting part of H&M’s new Arket stores is how they’re foregrounding the provenance of each product down to exactly where each item is produced (23 Aug).
Everlane’s quest to make the world’s most sustainable denim: Making a pair of jeans creates massive pollution. But Everlane found a factory where denim by-product is turned into bricks and polluted water is filtered (23 Aug).
Uniqlo’s eco-minded jeans innovation centre in Los Angeles: It’s not often that retailers welcome the press or public into their clothing factories, but as transparency becomes more important for brands, that appears to be changing. Uniqlo recently invited a select group of media to check out its Jeans Innvovation Center in Gardena, California (23 Aug).
Adidas ramps up production in new Speedfactory: This summer, Adidas has launched the production of sports shoes made partially with 3D-printed materials. “Speedfactory combines the design and manufacture of sporting goods in an automated, decentralised and flexible production process. Thanks to this flexibility, we will be able to get closer to our consumers in the future, and produce on site in our key markets. As a result, we are reaching new potential and can choose where and when we produce our products,” said Herbert Hainer, CEO (22 Aug).
Vaude to broaden environmental stewardship initiative: German outdoor clothing firm, Vaude has announced it will be extending its ‘Environmental Stewardship in the Supply Chain’ initiative to all its textile suppliers. Vaude says the project has saved firms over US$58,000 each over the last two years. Previously, the project covered 80 per cent of the primary materials and lining fabrics used in the company’s products, but now Vaude says it wants to roll out the project to 100 per cent of its material suppliers (21 Aug – subscription required to read full article).
Uniqlo workers in Canada complain of unfair conditions: “Uniqlo workers have decided to form a union in order to improve their working conditions,” said Jas Randhawa, organizer with WUCC. “The workers want fair shifts and breaks, they want labour laws to be followed, and they want respect from their management” (21 Aug).
Asos and New Look join lobbying forces over UK garment factory conditions: Nick Beighton, chief executive of Asos, and Anders Kristiansen, who leads New Look, have teamed up to speak out over practices at factories in Leicester, home to a third of the domestic sector. The fashion rivals are now calling for measures to be introduced to protect workers before they can invest more in the UK. Mr Kristiansen said New Look could double its £35m orders from Leicester factories but was “afraid of using these units because what is going on is just so plainly wrong” (19 Aug).
British factory standards ‘worse than Asia’: Many of Britain’s clothing factories have worse ethical standards than manufacturers in China, Bangladesh and Burma, the boss of one the UK’s biggest fashion retailers has claimed. Anders Kristiansen, chief executive of New Look, said the “vast majority” of factories in Britain underpay staff and fail health and safety standards, and that much of the competition is deliberately turning a blind eye. (09 Aug). See a follow up opinion piece here (21 Aug).
Seven dirty denim brands destroying the environment: “Popular denim brands, including Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Express, American Eagle Outfitters, Wrangler and Lee are hiding as much as 90 per cent of the climate pollution they generate by outsourcing production to contractors in developing countries, and then avoiding responsibility for the carbon pollution emitted by manufacturing their products” (11 Aug).
REPORTS, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS
New plant-free cellulose fibre under development: An Australian biotechnology start-up aims to raise AU$5 million from investors to commercialise a new type of cellulose fibre that it says is ‘plant-free and environmentally friendly’. Nanollose claims its fibre, which is derived using microbes that convert biomass waste products from beer, wine and food, could be an alternative to lyocell, viscose or other cellulose derived textile fibres (29 Aug – subscription required to read full article).
UN releases tool to assist textile industry reduce water consumption: The United Nations Development Organisation (UNIDO) has launched a new tool to help the textile industry manage its water consumption. The Water Calculation Tool for the Textile Wet Processing Sector enables textile companies to evaluate the water footprint of their manufacturing processes (29 Aug).
Why we need to slow the fast fashion cycle: “Our demand for novelty is killing designers and the planet. But if brands won't slow down, then who will?” (29 Aug).
Is counterfeiting actually good for fashion? According to this article, the answer is yes. Counterfeits provides free advertising, and people who buy counterfeit products start getting interested in the real thing (29 Aug).
Banana fibre: An overview of the banana fibre industry, which appears to be experiencing something of an upsurge as brands look around for sustainable materials (28 Aug).
Australian Modern Slavery Act – Why big brands will have nowhere to hide: The Australian Government has confirmed that new legislation will be introduced requiring large Australian businesses to report annually on their efforts to address modern slavery. The result will be a framework similar to the corporate-focussed legislation enacted in the UK in 2015 and similar initiatives that are under discussion in other jurisdictions including the US, France and Switzerland. (25 Aug). However, the government has not yet stipulated a date for adopting the Act (25 Aug).
7.5 per cent of global fashion industry commits to circularity: As many as 64 fashion companies forming 7.5 per cent of the global fashion industry have committed to follow a circular fashion system. These companies represent 143 fashion brands. Global Fashion Agenda, a non-profit organisation, has taken the initiative to mobilise the global fashion system to change the way to produce, market and consume fashion (25 Aug).
Industrial waste blamed for blue dogs of Mumbai: Authorities in Mumbai have shut down a manufacturing company after it was accused of dumping untreated industrial waste and dyes into a local river that resulted in 11 dogs turning blue (22 Aug).
UNICEF launches program to promote maternity rights in Bangladesh factories: The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with Bangladesh government has launched a national initiative aiming at supporting maternity rights and promoting breastfeeding at workplaces for female workers. The initiative, titled “Mothers@Work”, is aimed at the growing number of female workers in the industrial sector especially in the country’s readymade garment which has the largest concentration of female workers (22 Aug).
What does it actually mean to shop ethically? “In case you missed the memo: Ethical shopping is hard. Production chains are so complicated that major companies often can’t guarantee what conditions their products were made in, and even alternatives like the Salvation Army aren’t always ideal because of their anti-LGBTQ track records. (22 Aug).
Backlash as China proposes textile scrap ban: The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has filed comments with the World Trade Organisation in response to China’s proposed ban on scrap imports, which ISRI says would have a negative impact on textile recycling industries in the US and China. Chinese government officials say the proposed ban will stop scrap textile waste from polluting the environment, while ISRI says the ban will damage the recycling potential of the textile industry and lead to more waste (22 Aug – subscription required to read full article).
Three signs brands are shifting supply chain behaviour: Nicole Rycroft, founder and executive director of Canopy, lists three key indicators to assess whether a sustainability initiative is making real headway: collective action, suppliers responding with proof of action, and innovators investing in solutions (21 Aug).
How blockchain is disrupting fashion: If blockchain is still not on your radar, or it is but you’re not sure what all the fuss is about, this article provides a pretty good overview of its capacity to change things in supply chains (15 Aug).
North Korea factories making ‘Made in China’ clothes, traders say: Chinese textile firms are increasingly using North Korean factories to take advantage of cheaper labour across the border, traders and businesses in the border city of Dandong told Reuters (12 Aug).
The apparel industry’s environmental impact in six graphics: This blog post from Science Based Targets might prove useful for presentations, or just to impress people with how much you know (13 Jul).
New textile firm to create over 600 jobs in Rwanda: Burera Garment Factory is a joint project by Burera District and Noguchi Holdings, a Japanese venture capital firm, and is part of Integrated Craft Production Centres (ICPC) locally known as ‘Udukiriro’. The factory that will soon start operations in the Northern Province district is a huge boost to the Made-in-Rwanda initiative and efforts toward self-reliance and import substitution, according to Jean Marie Niyonzima, the chief executive officer of garment factory (29 Aug).
Stahl introduces PFC-free water-repellent portfolio for leather industry: Stahl’s new portfolio of water-repellent solutions ensures that leather items such as footwear and hiking gear are able to withstand outdoor conditions like rain, water, and snow without compromising on performance and assuring low impact for the environment. These new solutions are PFC-free (Perfluorocarbon) and BTX-free (benzene toluene xylene) (29 Aug).
Indian government orders 387 polluting industrial units to be shut down: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued directions to shut down 387 industrial units across Uttar Pradesh after inspections found that they had been violating pollution control norms. According to the CPCB report, the identified industries, which range from tanneries to textile mills, sugar mills to chemical processing plants, have been discharging effluents directly or indirectly into the Ganges and its tributaries, thereby contaminating the water (27 Aug).
Modern Meadow will debut factory-made leather: Modern Meadow is experimenting with leather developed entirely in a factory and plans to debut its product at a fashion show at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. The company was founded in 2011 and plans to develop the world’s first biofabricated leather. Modern Meadow uses a strain of yeast which produces a protein that mimics bovine collagen. The company’s bioengineers are able to manipulate the proteins into creating fibres, which then form layers to create leather (26 Aug).
‘Textile industry consumes more water than needed’: Experts at a seminar held by World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan last week stressed the need for sustainable water consumption practices in textile sector of the country and to address the wayward patterns of resource consumption (25 Aug).
Cordura strengthens position with durable textile campaign: Cordura, the Swiss brand known for its resistant fabrics, has released a new campaign and slogan to strengthen its commitment to the development of sustainable and innovative textile and fibre technologies. (24 Aug).
US manufacturing wages lowest in rural textile areas: Average manufacturing wages in rural US are lowest in the leather manufacturing, textile product and apparel manufacturing sub-sectors, according to a new report from the United States Department of Agriculture (23 Aug – subscription required to read full article).
Water contaminated, say Indian villagers: Residents in Kongampalayam, Tamil Nadu, have alleged that tannery and textile units in the area are releasing untreated industrial effluents from released and polluting ground water (22 Aug).
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Bangladesh court jails Rana Plaza owner for graft: A Bangladesh court this week jailed the Rana Plaza owner for three years for graft, the first of many charges laid against him after the garment factory complex collapsed in 2013 and killed more than 1,130 people. Sohel Rana was given the maximum three-year sentence by a special court in Dhaka for failing to declare his personal wealth to Bangladesh’s anti-graft commission, one of a series of charges brought after the disaster (29 Aug).
40 per cent of Bangladesh garment factories yet to pay Eid bonuses: Nearly 40 percent garment factories did not pay Eid bonuses to their workers as of yesterday although a deadline set by the labour ministry ended five days ago. “As per our estimate, more than 60 percent factories paid bonuses to their workers by Monday,” Nawsher Ali, additional inspector general of the Industrial Police, said yesterday. His estimate was based on the information about 3,500 factories, mostly garment producers, in Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Chittagong (29 Aug).
SSC, ILO sign agreement to improve workplace safety in Jordanian factories: The Social Security Corperation (SSC) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on Monday signed an agreement that seeks to enhance workplace safety in factories. The agreement aims at promoting the culture of work safety in industrial institutions out of their social and economic responsibilities towards workers and the entire community, said SSC Director General Nadia Rawabdeh (28 Aug).
Cambodian PM hands out benefits to garment workers: Prime Minister Hun Sen met garment workers again this week, handing out more benefits. He told more than 4,000 garment workers that from September 1, the price of water for workers who stayed at rented rooms and houses would drop from 1,200 riel (about $0.27) per cubic metre to 800 riel. He said the cost of electricity for workers in rented rooms would stay at 450 riel for a kilowatt hour. The new water fee would affect 5,119 houses, the equivalent of 120,787 rooms, in Phnom Penh and Kandal province, he said. He added that in 1997, Cambodia had only 64 factories but now there were 1,127 factories providing jobs to more than one million people (28 Aug).
Increase not enough, says Cambodian Labour Confederation: The Cambodian Labour Confederation has said garment workers need a monthly wage of $224 to survive, a steep rise from Prime Minister Hun Sen’s proposed increase to $168 (25 Aug). The ILO has urged dialogue on proposed minimum wage legislation (25 Aug).
Willbes & Co reinstates 15 dismissed workers in the Dominican Republic: National and international solidarity, combined with intervention by global brands, played an important role in encouraging the Korean clothing company Willbes & Co to reinstate 15 workers who were dismissed for exercising their right to organise (25 Aug).
Training centre for garment workers in Cambodia: The Cambodia Garment Training Centre Institute (CGTI) was officially launched last week, a day after a visit by Prime Minister Hun Sen to garment and textile factories. The centre, which is open to the public, is aimed at workers in the garment and textile industries and is a place where they can gain more intensive skills for the development of productivity in the sector (24 Aug).
Myanmar children’s rights bill inconsistent over child labour regulations: A children's rights draft law introduced on July 7 fails to address inconsistencies between existing domestic laws regarding child employment and the legal minimum working age. The bill does not tackle grey areas regarding child employment in sectors unregulated by the labour law (23 Aug).
Haesong garment workers assaulted in Bangladesh: “More than 50 garment workers at Haesong Corporation Ltd. in Bangladesh have been injured after being attacked by hired goons as they took part in a peaceful protest against the sweater manufacturer on 16 August. The sit-in and strike, which took place outside the Korean-owned company’s headquarters in Hizalhati, Gazipur, was organized by IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF). (23 Aug).
Hundreds attend labour laws seminar hosted by SMART Myanmar and GIZ: The European Union funded SMART Myanmar project and GIZ’s Social and Labour Standards in the Garment & Textile Sector in Asia (SLSG) project jointly organized a half-day seminar on labour laws most relevant for factories in Myanmar. Although initially aiming to host about 70 managers and staff, over 200 individuals attended to hear lawyers from Luther Law firm answer questions on existing labour laws in Myanmar (23 Aug).
Free sewing operator training for Myanmar garment workers: “Every new worker willing to work for garment factories are invited to join free sewing operator training organised by Pyoe Pin inclusive development organisation and the Department of Immigration and Populations,” officials have announced (23 Aug).
Bus rides and health insurance for workers in Cambodia: Garment and footwear industry workers have been promised a range of services from Prime Minister Hun Sen, including free bus rides, a minimum wage hike and health insurance (21 Aug). A follow up article says factories will foot the bill for new worker benefits. Kaing Monika, deputy secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), said that the benefits package, if it comes into effect, would require the nation’s garment and footwear manufacturers to spend at least an additional $10 million per month on factory worker wages, and another $3.5 million per month on health care (22 Aug).
Indian fashion industry must embrace safety: The Indian fashion industry needs to embrace the highest safety standards, says Suki Dusanj-Lenz, country co-ordinator for Fashion Revolution India. For this, India must first stop using chemicals that are banned in the rest of the world, she said, talking about a global movement that desires greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry (21 Aug).
Bangladesh set to launch its own garment worker safety initiative: Bangladesh textile and apparel companies have reportedly drawn up new proposals to launch their own factory inspection and remediation initiative – similar to those currently been run by overseas interests such as the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Safety and the Alliance for Worker Safety. The new move to strengthen workplace safety in the Bangladesh apparel sector via a local organisation is consistent with the Bangaldesh Accord’s own objectives, which hopes that a Bangladesh-based regulatory body will take over its work by 2021 (19 Aug – subscription required to read full article).