BRANDS AND RETAILERS
Tchibo offers rental service for children’s clothes: German retailer Tchibo has announced a rental service for children up to four-years-old, with 50 products made from organic cotton. Customers are invoiced monthly (08 Jan – in German).
Green supply chain map links Chinese environmental impact to brand names: Six brands (Esprit, Gap, Inditex, New Balance, Puma and Target) have shared their supplier lists with two NGOs, the Natural Resources Defence Council (in the US) and the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (in China), to create a map linking apparel brands to their Chinese factories. The map provides real-time data and historical trends in air and water discharge (05 Jan). You can see the Green Supply China Map here, and the press release from the NRDC here.
Moncler and UNICEF team up support children during winter: Moncler and UNICEF have announced ‘Warmly Moncler for UNICEF’ project to support children who need help and assistance during the cold weather (05 Jan).
Today’s trend, tomorrow’s garbage: “The textile industry preaches sustainability and promotes recycling projects, but ruins the environment like no other industry. If anything is really going to change, companies must rethink radically - and consumers too.” So says the lede in an article last week in Germany’s Der Spiegel. Companies mentioned include C&A, H&M, Zara, Gap, Adidas and Nike. The article starts with strong criticism of the fast fashion industry, highlighting the scale and growth of the sector, consumption rate and mostly the environmental and social impacts. C&A receives positive coverage for its C2C T-shirt, but H&M comes in for criticism over it and I:CO’s clothes collection/recycling program (04 Jan – in German). [Ed’s note: Der Spiegel is one of Europe's most influential and opinion leading magazines, and the article is a lengthy and thoroughly researched piece of investigative journalism.]
Scottish fashion brand Cloh creates menswear with a conscience: Cloh, founded by independent designer Faisal Mohammed, repurposed fabrics, reduces wastage, is not mass produced, and ethically sources fabrics (04 Jan).
Workers held captive in Indian mills supplying Hugo Boss: A Guardian inquiry into concerns raised by Hugo Boss reveals Tamil Nadu firm, which also supplies major UK brands, stops women leaving factory. Hugo Boss said it has found cases of forced labour, a form of modern slavery, in its supply chain. Young female workers have been held captive behind the walls of garment factories in southern India and prevented from leaving the premises at any time. Hugo Boss, which raised concerns about the free movement of resident mill workers in its 2016 sustainability report, said it has been working to resolve the issue with local suppliers. The factory supplying Hugo Boss is Best Corporation, which also supplies to Next and Mothercare. The Guardian’s investigation also names Primark and Debenhams (04 Jan). [Ed’s note: According to this profile, “Best Corporation (P) Limited (BCPL) is one of the pioneers in the manufacturing of knitted garments at Tirupur, India. BCPL is an integrated textile company having operations from spinning to garmenting. Established in the year 1967 with 25 machines, it has grown steadily over the years and is today a USD $100 million enterprise. BCPL employs about 7,500 people and is one of the leading exporters of knitted garments from Tirupur.”]
Bestseller heads for textile circularity and tells the world who its suppliers are: Bestseller is joining the apparel sustainability movement—and its latest environmental efforts, including additional textile waste management and supply chain transparency, may help it pursue a more circular path (04 Jan).
Circular sportswear is next on sustainable fashion’s checklist: An article from Sustainable Brands, which features: i) H&M’s inclusion of activewear into its Conscious Collection; ii) Helen Newcombe, founder of Britain-based Davy J, who has been recognized with a Women of the Future Award for her solution to solving the expanding problem of marine waste; iii) and UK-based GRN Sportwear for its efforts at utilizing alternative materials to drive sustainability in the apparel industry (04 Jan).
Lee and Wrangler invest in new dyeing process: The new approach, called IndigoZero, which is financed by VF Corp-owned bands Lee and Wrangler, sees companies reduce their overall dyeing costs by minimising the use of chemicals and eliminating the use of water for rinsing. It works by applying the mousse dye directly to the fibre, taking away the need for dye baths and thus reduces water use (04 Jan).
H&M launches new sustainable activewear line: H&M has unveiled an activewear series made of recycled materials. The Conscious activewear line is predominately made from recycled polyester and elastane (lycra), and furthers H&M’s mission to close the production loop and become 100 percent circular (04 Jan). See more here.
REPORTS, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS
Bacteria makes blue jeans green: This week, scientists announced they had developed a greener method to produce indigo dye using lab-grown bacteria. While not yet commercially viable, the technique holds promise for a “much-needed update to the historic, but unsustainable, indigo dyeing process,” researchers wrote in the journal Nature Chemical Biology (09 Jan).
Why price trumps ethics when we’re out shopping: While shopping ethically is very much the fashion these days, it turns out price remains the deciding factor for most UK consumers. So says a new report from EY, which claims 78 per cent of shoppers base their purchasing decisions mainly on price. (08 Jan).
The rise of authentic fashion: Authenticity, inclusivity and conscious consumption are the major themes and buzzwords for 2018. Jackie Burger, salonniere of Salon 58, editor-at-large and style influencer unpacks these fashion trends and more (08 Jan).
The environmental cost of fast fashion: Water pollution, toxic chemical use and textile waste: fast fashion comes at a huge cost to the environment. An article by Patsy Perry, a senior lecturer in fashion marketing at the University of Manchester (08 Jan).
Nine easy ways to get into ethical fashion: From Huffington Post, and includes: unsubscribe from fast fashion, demand transparency, fuss over fabrics, and rent your wardrobe (07 Jan).
Harvard publishes study on airline cabin crew health reactions to uniforms: Focussing on uniforms worn by Alaska Airlines crew, the Harvard study systematically assessed flight attendant symptoms, which were dominated by irritant and allergic-type symptoms, finding “a relationship between health complaints and the introduction of new uniforms”. The study has given voice to advocates fighting for the right to safe clothes that don’t cause illness for flight attendants (06 Jan). An academic publication resulting from the study can be found here.
How an NGO is tackling fashion’s waste problem and succeeding: An article about Christina Dean and Redress, the NGO she founded in Hong Kong eleven years ago. It cites Zara, H&M and Stella McCartney, and notes a new platform just launched by Redress called BYT, a new e-commerce platform selling up-cycled clothes designed in-house by the NGO and their EcoChic Design Award winner (06 Jan).
With more fashion brands declaring themselves fur free, what's next for the fur industry? With Gucci and Michael Kors becoming the latest to declare themselves fur free, is this the final death knell for the controversial industry (06 Jan)?
The real story behind fake fur: Here’s the fault line: “But not everyone believes that faux fur is the most ‘eco-friendly’ option. In a recent debate on the fur trade hosted by Business of Fashion, Frank Zilberkweit, director of the British Fur Trade Association, argued that natural fur was more sustainable, pointing out that many forms of faux fur are not biodegradable. “Our industry is about raising animals in a natural way, a kind way and it's a renewable resource,” he said. Others argue that the chemical processes needed to treat animal furs in order to be worn are just as detrimental to the environment” (05 Jan).
SXSW 2018 to include sustainability and ethics in fashion technology: Sustainable fashion will be up for discussion at the world’s largest tech innovation conference “South By South West” (SXSW); an event attended by roughly 400,000 people each year. The panel Sustainability and Ethics in Fashion Technology will be presented by The Candid Entrepreneur and virtue + vice, an ethical clothing brand founded in 2016 by fashion veteran Melanie DiSalvo which offers 100 per cent full supply chain transparency, one of the world’s first fashion labels to do so (05 Jan).
Millennials will spend money for eco-friendly clothing: The Shelton Group, a marketing company specializing in sustainability, found 90 per cent of millennials will buy from a brand whose social and environmental practices they trust, and are thus more likely to recommend their purchase to friends (04 Jan).
Fashion fair focus on British trade: Pure Origin, a three-day fashion and textile trade sourcing show centred on promoting ‘Made in Britain’, is set to be held in February as organisers seek to facilitate a wide-ranging discussion between representatives from all stages of the apparel supply chain. The themes of innovation, sustainability, fabrics of the future, reshoring, and the potential ramifications of Brexit on the industry have been outlined in order to fulfil the brief of establishing the ‘future of manufacturing’ in the apparel sector (04 Jan).
Oeko-Tex reboots standards portfolio: Oeko-Tex has carried out its annual review of standards which sees amendments to standards including; Detox to Zero, the Eco Passport, the STeP limit value tables, Made in Green, Standard 100, and the Leather Standard (04 Jan – subscription required to read full story).
Handcrafting takes centre stage in modern luxury: “From small- and mid-range companies to large corporations, brands are incorporating locally, and ethically made handcrafted items into their offerings to keep up with consumer demand” (04 Jan – p. 13).
Ethical fashion – the new fashion formula: On 10 January, TOC Fashion Academy Tuscany will host a conference on ethical fashion, which will include the awarding of the “303 Tuscans” certificate to communities, following the principles of ethical fashion and supporting the Italian supply chain (03 Jan).
New California laws impact LA garment industry: California has enacted a series of new laws effective January 1, 2018, that will have an impact on the state’s apparel industry. Laws include changes to minimum wage, parental leave and immigration (02 Jan). See a good breakdown here (28 Dec).
Italian government releases strategic paper on the circular economy: The Italian government has published a strategic paper on the development of a circular economy in Italy, with a supporting manifesto signed by leading businesses (21 Dec).
Jeanologia saves a year of water for Miami in 2017: Spain’s Jeanologia has contributed to a saving of around 8 million cubic metres of water in 2017 with their technology, equivalent to the quantity of water needed for human consumption for a year in Miami. This has been possible with the company’s laser, ozone and eflow technology used in 60 countries (09 Jan).
Sacked Avery Dennison staff in India take case to labour department: The labour department has issued a notice to Avery Dennison after it sacked 47 workers. The company produces apparel labels and tags for leading fashion brands around the world. (06 Jan).
Water-saving towels to debut at Heimtextil trade fair: Portuguese home textiles manufacturer, Mundotextil, has launched a range of towels made from cotton, which it claims uses a fraction of the water and energy comparative to the industry norm. The towel, manufactured using Marchi & Fildi’s Ecotec cotton yarn – a product which the company says can contain up to 80 per cent pre-consumer cotton offcuts and clippings – is said to save up to 77.9 per cent of water usage in production, according to a LCA assessment (05 Jan – subscription required to read full article).
Archroma joins the United Nations Global Compact: Archroma, a global leader in colour and specialty chemicals, has become a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact, joining more than 9,500 participating companies from 160 countries (04 Jan).
Environment tax helps rein in polluters in China: Starting 01 January 2018, China started collecting a new type of tax - the environment protection tax - aimed at protecting the environment and cutting pollutant discharge. Companies and public institutions that discharge listed pollutants directly into the environment will pay taxes for producing noise, air and water pollutants as well as solid waste. Fujian Futian Textile Printing and Dyeing Company is used as an example of a company that has purchased equipment to reduce waste water discharge (04 Jan).
Furrier’s work sustainable: An interview with designer Edward Crutchley on his collaboration with Kopenhagen Fur: “What I found fascinating was the holistic and sustainable approach that Kopenhagen Fur have, their WelFur ethical treatment program…” (04 Jan – pp. 6-7).
Crystal factories to adopt Higg Index FEM 3.0 in 2018: Crystal International Group, a Hong Kong headquartered clothing manufacturer, has committed to 100 per cent adoption of the new Higg Index FEM 3.0 in 2018, says the company’s sustainability report. The company has been a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition since 2012 (04 Jan).
More companies join ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme: Ten new organisations have committed to the ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme, a coalition of over 85 contributors. Among the ten are: Jollity Enterprise (leather, textile auxiliaries); Smit & Zoon (tannery chemicals); ACS Textiles Bangladesh (garment manufacturing); SALIRONE (Chinese maker of silicone coated materials); Santori Pellami Spa (leather); and UNPAC (the national association of leather chemical manufacturers in Ital) (03 Jan).
Indian dyeing pollution under new scrutiny: An unprecedented special monitoring committee has been initiated in India’s textile-producing city of Tiripur. The decision was made following a meeting between representatives of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), the department for agriculture, Dyers Association of Tiripur (DAT), and local farmers (02 Jan – subscription required to read full story).
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Rising minimum wage puts pressure on Cambodia’s garment export industry: Garment workers in Cambodia will see their wages increase 11% this year, but this will put further financial pressure on the country’s export sector. Cambodia’s minimum wage, which has grown 150% in five years, will rise from US$153 to $170 a month, and include the 700,000 workers in the garment industry (08 Jan).
More than 300 Alliance factories have achieved all materials components in their corrective action plans: The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) announced this week that in the month of December 2017, fifty-four additional Alliance-affiliated factories completed all material components outlined in their Corrective Action Plans (CAPs), bringing the total to 301 (07 Jan).
New wage board for Bangladesh garment industry scuttled: Despite all government preparations for a new wage board for garment workers, a complexity over fixing worker representatives has stalled the process (06 Jan).
Cambodian garment factory shutters, leaving hundreds unpaid: 200 workers have protested outside the Benoh Apparel factory in Phnom Penh after returning from a work suspension to find the factory shuttered and the owners gone. Benoh Apparel suspended activities under controversial circumstances in November, telling 600 of its 1,000-member staff to return in January and only paying workers $30 per month during that time, well under the then-minimum wage of $153 (05 Jan). [Ed’s note: See the assessment for Benoh Apparel at Better Factories Cambodia here.]
Bid to stop fainting in Cambodian factories: The Labour Ministry has created guidelines for owners in the garment and footwear industry to prevent factory workers from fainting, containing 11 guidelines, which include: turning on ventilation fans one hour before workers arrive, installation of thermostats, and checks both inside and outside factories before workers enter to prevent fainting (05 Jan).
Indian garment worker’s death highlights factory risks, say campaigners: Thomson Reuters Foundation reports on the death of 20-year-old temporary garment worker after her head and hand got stuck in a machine in a knitwear factory in Tirupur, highlighting what campaigners called “a tragic lack of safety at factories in south India that produce for global brands.” No brands have yet been linked to the factory in question. In 2016, Social Awareness and Voluntary Education (SAVE, a civil society organisation) documented 13 accidents and eight deaths in factories in Tamil Nadu (04 Jan). [Ed’s note: As noted in last week’s edition of FSWIR, Thomson Reuters Foundation reported on a mill workers death in southern India in December, which had reignited concerns over workplace safety. The death reported above, last week, will only serve to highlight such concerns.]
Cambodian workers win labour dispute: Nearly 7,000 workers from garment factory Taieasy International have returned to work after reaching a solution to their labour dispute. Workers had demanded better working conditions, including leniency over employee absences, more respect from managers, an end to unjustified firings, permission to create a union and guarantees that pregnant workers who deliver babies would get three paid months off work. Following talks between the parties, the company agreed to cede to all the workers’ demands (04 Jan). [Ed’s note: workers blocked roads on 30 December demanding better conditions, and blocked roads in front of the factory for four days.]
New worker benefits take effect in Cambodia: A slew of new health and maternity benefits for workers took effect at the stroke of midnight yesterday in a dramatic expansion of Cambodia’s social security framework, even as labour advocates and business experts raised concerns about cost and quality (02 Jan).