BRANDS AND RETAILERS

Fashion giants LVMH, Kering to ban underweight and underage models: French fashion groups Kering and LVMH will stop hiring excessively thin models on catwalks worldwide in response to criticism the industry encourages eating disorders. The two groups, whose fashion labels include Christian Dior, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci, said they had signed a charter for “the well-being of models”. The charter also forbids the hiring of girls under the age of 16 to pose as adult models for shows or shoots (06 Sep).

How fashion addresses textile waste: An overview of best practice in Europe, North America and Japan in fashion sustainability. The focus is on Marks & Spencer, Uniqlo and Gap in the Philippines (05 Sep).

Gabriela Hearst on mission to create the first sustainable luxury brand: Gabriela Hearst prides herself on creating perhaps the first sustainable luxury company. “I think the transparency of luxury is what is important,” she contends. “There’s not trickery, this is the price that it costs for us. These are the materials we’re using, these are the people making our clothing, and this is the margin we need to have in order to run a sustainable business where people can make money. There was never a price strategy, and I think from the beginning honest luxury is the best description I’ve heard of my brand, because that’s what we’re trying for” (05 Sep).

Interview with Dorothy Maxwell, Head of Sustainability, House of Fraser: “We’re moving faster than I would have anticipated from my experience, so that’s really good and testament to the culture in House of Fraser. When they commit to something they really commit to it” (04 Sep).

Behind a $13 shirt, a $6-an-hour worker: From the Los Angeles Times, How Forever 21 and other retailers avoid liability for factories that underpay workers in LA to sew their clothes. “Like other major clothing retailers, Forever 21 avoids paying factory workers’ wage claims through a tangled labyrinth of middlemen that stands between the racks in its stores and the people who sew the clothes.” Other brands mentioned include Ross Dress for Less and TJ Maxx (31 Aug).

Cheap Monday’s 100% sustainability goal: Swedish denim brand Cheap Monday, of the H&M group, has decided to scale up sustainability in its business model. Growing the project from a capsule collection to its main line, the brand is now targeting 100% sustainability (31 Aug).

Hanes voluntarily discloses environmental-performance data to CDP for seventh year running: Hanes earned a B score for carbon emissions in the CDP’s 2016 report. Hanes is committed to a 40 percent reduction in energy use and carbon emissions, 50 percent reduction in water use, sourcing renewable energy for 40 percent of the company’s needs, and achieving zero waste by diverting company-owned supply chain waste from landfills (30 Aug).

Exhaustion causes 73 to faint at H&M factory in Cambodia: Over 70 garment factory workers at an H&M supplier factory in Cambodia fainted due to exhaustion on Wednesday, according to local reports. The fainting episodes occurred at Berry Apparel due to ill health, and most were transported to local hospitals for treatment (30 Aug).

H&M’s new brand, Arket, names the factory that made its clothes, but it’s not enough: H&M’s newly launched label, Arket, which is priced slightly higher than H&M and focused more on staple pieces than trends gives the location and name of the factory where each and every piece of clothing was made. It’s a move that pushes transparency, which is vital to help keep corporations accountable, to a new level for mass-market fashion. But it also raises important questions: What is a shopper supposed to do with that information? And how useful is all this transparency, really? (30 Aug).

Nike agrees to help watchdog group inspect its overseas factories: After pressure from Georgetown students, the apparel giant will aid inspections by a worker rights group at a Vietnam plant and others. Nike now says it will help facilitate inspections at its suppliers’ factories by an independent watchdog, the Worker Rights Consortium. The group claimed last year that Nike had refused to allow it to inspect a Vietnam factory roiled by a labour strike (30 Aug).

The robot startup using static electricity to make Nike sneakers: Four years ago, Nike made an investment in a startup based in Sunnyvale, California called Grabit, which uses static electricity to help machines manipulate objects in novel ways. More recently, Nike has quietly become one of the startup’s first customers. In the past month, Grabit has begun providing facilities with a handful of upper-assembling machines that can work at 20 times the pace of human workers. By the end of the year, about a dozen of these machines will be operating in China and Mexico (30 Aug).

Hong Kong conference for sustainable change in fashion: An event this week in Hong Kong will bring together NGOs and companies to discuss sustainable change in the fashion industry. Fashion Summit HK takes place on 7-8 September, and attendees include WWF, Better Cotton Initiative, Nan Fung Group, Kering, H&M Foundation, PVH Corp, C&A Foundation and Patagonia (30 Aug). See event website here.

REPORTS, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS

Why you should stop making excuses to buy fast fashion: “Struggling to boycott cheap fashion? Here's some motivation” (05 Sep).

Hudson River dumps 300 million microfibers into Atlantic Ocean daily: A study published by the Marine Pollution Bulletin said the Hudson River in New York pumps out around 300 million microfibers into the Atlantic Ocean every day (05 Sep).

China’s migrant workers feel pinch as Beijing pulls back on wages: An article from the Financial Times, outlining slower wage growth for migrant workers in China (03 Sep).

Clean and circular: The future of made in China fashion: The complex aspects of this were explored in a panel discussion lase week hosted by the Stockholm Water Institute (SIWI) as a part of its annual World Water Week -- Clean and Circular: The Future of Made in China fashion. The panellists represented on-the-ground Chinese stakeholders and their actions on managing waste water, chemicals, raw materials and waste (03 Sep).

Consumer perceptions of the social vs. environmental dimensions of sustainability: From the September issue of Journal of Consumer Policy: “We demonstrate that consumers perceive the social and environmental dimensions of sustainability as psychologically distinct in theoretically and practically important ways. Specifically, consumers associate the social dimension of sustainability more with affective, short-term, and local considerations and the environmental dimension more with cognitive, long-term, and global considerations” (01 Sep).

How Indian textile mills force girls into bonded labour to ‘earn dowry’: The banned Sumangali scheme still thrives in Tamil Nadu, albeit under new names (01 Sep).

Your organic T-shirt is doomed to end up in a dump: An overview of the August 2017 Marie Claire issue, which was devoted fully to social and environmental concerns within the fashion industry. A good summary if you didn’t see the MC in question (01 Sep).

Consumers buy into story of wool: The sustainable, biodegradable nature of wool is a story which needs to be conveyed to the world, according to Australian Wool Innovation. And the company is confident producers will continue to cash in on global campaigns exposing fast fashion and less sustainable materials, including synthetics. “There’s a massive oncoming trend in China, making fake fur from 100 per cent wool” (31 Aug).

Cotton Australia welcomes government water use efficiency grant: Cotton Australia has welcomed a Queensland Government initiative to invest in water infrastructure on the state’s farms. The organisation was one of eight rural industry groups to receive funding for the Rural Water Use Efficiency Initiative (RWUEI) for 2017-18 – administered by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines – which is designed to help irrigators improve efficiency through irrigation system design and management (31 Aug).

Subcontracting in the global supply chain: An op-ed from Project Just. “Many large brands have policies prohibiting unauthorized subcontracting.  While codes of conduct usually prohibit unauthorized subcontracting, manufacturers often skip this level of disclosure when they are running late on orders. The failure by brands to inspect supplier factories frequently allows manufacturers to shift production to subcontracted workers without being noticed” (31 Aug).

The new fashion podcast that will make you rethink your shopping habits: Review of a podcast from Fashion Revolution: “All I want is to be able to trust the brands and retailers who are making an extremely good business out of selling us some really fantastic fashion to ensure the garment workers are not worried that the factory they work in is about to collapse around them, and that they are not having to work 60+ hours a week on a wage that doesn't feed them or their families” (31 Aug).

Insights from China’s textile manufacturers: Gaps to overcome for clean & circular fashion: A new report from NGO China Water Risk assess actions by Chinese textile manufacturers with regards water risks and the circular economy. 98% of respondents say they are taking actions to be green, 74% are recycling water, 88% have upgraded their waste water equipment and 84% upgraded equipment for chemicals. As for the circular economy, 68% have heard of it and positively 72% see business benefit in moving to it (Aug). See a good summary from C&A Foundation here (which provided a grant for the report).

MANUFACTURERS

DyStar advances sustainability performance for more responsible products: DyStar’s 2016 Sustainability Performance Report marks a step forward for the supplier of colours, chemicals and services to the textile industry, incorporating new benchmarks and taking a more critical approach to measuring its sustainability goals (01 Sep).

A new t-shirt sewing robot can make as many shirts per hour as 17 factory workers: One of SoftWear Automation’s robotic sewing lines can replace a conventional line of 10 workers and produce about 1,142 t-shirts in an eight-hour period, compared to just 669 for the human sewing line. The company has emerged as a leader among those trying to automate sewing, drawing the interest of businesses that make home goods and of course clothing manufacturers, including Tianyuan Garments. Tianyuan Garments has invested $20 million in a 100,000-square foot factory in Little Rock, Arkansas, planned to open in 2018. The factory will be staffed with 21 robotic production lines supplied by SoftWear Automation, and will be capable of making 1.2 million t-shirts a year, with a human labour cost on par with Bangladesh (30 Aug). See also this article in Popular Mechanics.

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Cambodian PM to visit factories where workers faint: Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to visit factories where large numbers of staff faint to inspect working conditions. Addressing 4,000 garment workers, factory managers and union representatives at a meeting in Koh Pich on Sunday, Mr Hun Sen said he wanted to see for himself what it was like on the factory floor. He also said he would carry out a number of unannounced visits to factories to see the reality of working conditions (05 Sep).

150 Cambodian garment workers protest: About 150 garment workers have begun protesting in a bid to gain better working conditions after submitting a petition to the labour department. The workers, employed at the Teng Xun Ltd, are demanding better working conditions on six main points (05 Sep).

Cambodian factory owner leaves 660 workers in lurch: More than 100 workers from the Nantai Garment Factory in Steung Meanchey commune were told that ownership of the factory would be changing and their contracts would not be renewed after Friday of last week. Each worker was given $60 severance pay, which they claim is contrary to what they are owed under the Labour Law (04 Sep).

Start date set for garment worker health checks in Cambodia: A Ministry of Labour spokesman has announced that free medical treatment for garment workers, announced by Prime Minister Hun Sen last week, will start on 1 January 2018. He said that all formal and informal workers would receive treatment and health checks at state hospitals across the country. Cambodia has 1,107 factories and enterprises in garment and footwear and more than 740,000 workers in the sector (01 Sep).

Cambodia PM woos garment workers with cash and pay rise vow: During a speech to more than 10,000 garment workers, Hun Sen announced a raft of new benefits for employees, including a commitment to annual pay rises. The monthly minimum wage for garment workers, currently $153, “won’t be lower than $160” in 2018, he said, adding “the salary will be increased every year”. Employers will be ordered to pay for health insurance while all garment workers will receive free medical check-ups and treatment at state-run hospitals from January. He also promised a guaranteed pension for the workers from 2019 and said they could travel on public buses for free for two years (31 Aug).

Will Bangladesh’s apparel industry make the cut? The Bangladesh government has dragged its feet prosecuting labour and building safety officials, as the relatively minor charges for which the owner of Rana Plaza (Sohel Rana) was jailed recently show (31 Aug). See also the following article that takes a similar line: while it is right that Sohel Rana is in the dock for murder – he should not be there alone (30 Aug).

Myanmar garment, textile industries training in chemical management: The European Union-funded SMART Myanmar project has launched a six-month advanced chemical-management training program for garment and textile factories. The training follows a curriculum developed by the Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry (PSES) project.  PSES is a joint project of the governments of Bangladesh and Germany, implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, which works on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (31 Aug).

Entrapment of trainee girls in south Indian garment factories to end with legal change: Trainee workers in India’s garment manufacturing hub in south India can no longer be trapped in apprenticeships for years after changes to a 56-year-old law that must be implemented immediately, campaigners and trade unions said last week (30 Aug).

(Photo by Denys Nevozhai on UnsplashCCO)

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