THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Apparel Group (new solar system in Dubai), Arket, Eileen Fisher and Marks & Spencer (first Responsible Wool Standard garments), C&A (pulls hoodie over font criticisms), Canada Goose (billboard erected by PETA outside Chicago flagship store), Express (launches clothes rental service), G-Star Raw (sustainable demin with Jaden Smith), Infantium Victoria (winner of PETA’s vegan fashion award), Mud Jeans (joins Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s circular economy 100 network), REI (hosting gear swaps), Tapestry (commits to UNGC), Uniqlo (workers previously employed by Jaba Garmindo travel to Tokyo demanding justice), Victoria’s Secret (rated by Good On You), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • The first step to starting your career in sustainable fashion

  • Sustainable fashion: is it time to build a wardrobe in the cloud?

  • Fashion’s dirty secret is it’s hiding progress on sustainability

  • One in 10 throw an outfit away after three photos wearing it

  • Gujarat sees a spurt in khadi sales by 40 per cent in last two years

  • Germany paved the way for revamping “social audits,” Italy should follow

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: RMG worker gang raped; the Accord will start transferring duty to government on 15 Oct; a new report on boiler room safety; six months maternity leave for all female workers

  • Cambodia: EU threatens to flatten country with tariffs

  • Fiji: leading garment manufacturer builds childcare facilities

  • India: Sumagali scheme; life in strict factory hostels

  • Myanmar: strike at Fu Yuen factory continues

Manufacturers in this issue include: Eastman (receives 303 Tuscans Ethical Fashion award), Far Eastern New Century (new process recycles any PET waste), Lenzing (new collaboration with denim designer), Thai Acrylic Fibre (eco-fibre), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “There is a real hunger among young people in fashion wanting to make the industry more sustainable.” Sara Arnold (11 Oct).

  • “The last thing I would ever want is the clothes to look ‘eco-look’ or anything that looks worthy – soooo un-sexy, just not good enough. It’s not a sustainability message that you can see, it’s just that these clothes are made sustainably with sustainable materials, have sustainability woven into every thread.” Katharine Hamnett (09 Oct).

  • “But for a total of 5,039 active boilers across the country, Bangladesh has just eight government appointed inspectors!” From an article noting 62 deaths in boiler room explosions in the past four years (08 Oct).

By Stephen Frost, CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Fashion Transparency Index in Brazil released: “In partnership with the Centre for Sustainability Studies at Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGVces), the Fashion Revolution Brazil team reviewed and ranked 20 of the biggest fashion brands and retailers in Brazil according to how much information they share publicly about their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts across the supply chain” (11 Oct). [Ed’s note: the index ranks 20 companies: Animale, Brooksfield, C&A, Cia. Marítima, Ellus, Farm, Havaianas, Hering, John John, Le Lis Blanc Deux, Malwee, Marisa, Melissa, Moleca, Olympikus, Osklen, Pernambucanas, Renner, Riachuelo and Zara.]

REI to host 11 used gear swaps across US: “As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability, outdoor apparel retailer REI Co-op is organizing used gear swaps at 11 stores across the US later this month, inviting members to trade their gently used equipment” (10 Oct).

The Coach Foundation is giving back with the help of Selena Gomez and Michael B. Jordan: “[T]he Coach Foundation [has] announce[d] its new Dream It Real initiative, a furthering of its philanthropic work that has seen the brand donate more than $45 million to nonprofits in the past decade. As a part of the Dream It Real initiative, Coach will donate $1.4 million to The Future Project, an organization that equips high schoolers with the skills they need for college and beyond” (10 Oct).

Quest for Justice - Day 1 Arriving Tokyo: “For three years garment workers [from Jaba Garmindo] in Indonesia have been fighting for their rights, demanding that Uniqlo fulfill their responsibility to the workers who made their clothes …  Uniqlo has refused to meet the workers. So now the workers are coming to Japan to meet them. [In this video] the Workers has arrived Tokyo and ready to kick off their one week campaign, demand justice and compensation” (09 Oct – 1:04-minute video with English, Japanese and Chinese subtitles). [Ed’s note: see the first video here. See videos of Day 2 here and Day 3 here. Fast Retailing (Uniqlo’s owner) states on its website (Jan 18) the company “has no legal obligation pertaining to this matter, including the responsibility to financially compensate former PT Jaba Garmindo employees.”]

Jaden Smith gets real about fashion and sustainability with new G-Star project: “[H]is most recent project involves his first-ever design collaboration with a major brand – partnering with G-Star RAW on a sustainable denim capsule collection titled “Forces of Nature”” (09 Oct).

Winter Is coming, and PETA is coming for Canada Goose: “So many top brands—HoodLamb, Save the Duck, and Wuxly Movement, just to name a few—sell warm, stylish, cruelty-free coats that no animal had to suffer and die for. Yet Canada Goose continues to stitch cruelty into every one of its fur-lined, down-filled jackets. So we’re putting the animal-abusing retailer on blast—even more than usual” (09 Oct). [Ed’s note: from PETA, which has erected a billboard protesting the company’s practices near its flagship store in Chicago.]

SirajPower to install solar plants for Apparel Group in Dubai: “SirajPower, providing comprehensive turnkey solutions around solar rooftops in the UAE, continues its growth in Dubai with the signature of a new leasing agreement for a solar system with Apparel Group, a global fashion and lifestyle retail conglomerate” (09 Oct).

The world’s first sustainable wool clothing garments: “Textile Exchange announces that the first Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) certified products are now available in stores with more products making their way to shelves very soon as the commitment to the RWS from across the textile industry continues to grow” (09 Oct). [Ed’s note: RWS-certified garments are available from Arket, Eileen Fisher and Marks & Spencer.]

3 ultra-chic pairs of pumps made from (fruit) leather: “Launched in 2016 by Stacey Chang, Veerah is a luxury, DTC shoe brand that uses a rather unconventional textile to craft their shoes – apple peels” (09 Oct).

C&A pulls hoodie over claims it bore similarities to neo-Nazi street-wear: C&A pulled a sweatshirt/hoodie of its shelves after critics claimed the font used was similar to that on neo-Nazi street-wear. C&A said it was unaware of the similarity in lettering and that the company was against racism (09 Oct – in German). [Ed’s note: C&A’s founding family (the Brenninkmeijers) commissioned German economic historian Professor Mark Spoerer to write a company history (published in 2016), with the explicit aim of looking into the family’s dealings with the Third Reich (and its profiting from forced labour in the Jewish ghetto of Lodz.]

How ethical is Victoria’s Secret? “Overall rating: ‘Not good enough 2/5” (09 Oct). [Ed’s note: rating by Good On You ethical fashion app.]

Mud Jeans joins Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s circular economy 100 network: “Mud Jeans is a Dutch denim brand that has taken the most popular fashion item in the world - a pair of jeans to put the principles of the circular economy into practice. Combining organic and recycled denim, when worn down, MUD Jeans takes back your old jeans, and thanks to innovative recycling techniques, gives them a second life” (08 Oct).

The 5 best ethical brands from Belgium: Katrien Smets, go as u.r, Kioko, La fille d’O, and Honest By (05 Oct). [Ed’s note: rating by Good On You ethical fashion app.]

Tapestry signs UN Global Compact: Tapestry (Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman) has signed a letter of commitment to the UNGC (03 Oct).

Express is the latest retailer to launch a clothing rental service: “The Express clothing brand is the third major retailer in less than a year to allow customers to rent clothing” (03 Oct).

Infantium Victoria named winner of the PETA vegan fashion award: “Infantium Victoria believes only the purest fibers should come into contact with your child’s skin. We are committed to strict adherence with the highest standards of manufacturing, using only organic cotton and low-impact dyes in 100% GOTS certified factories” (02 Oct).

NEWS & REPORTS

Is apparel manufacturing coming home? Nearshoring, automation, and sustainability – establishing a demand-focused apparel value chain: “To meet customers’ needs, apparel companies need to focus on nearshoring, automation, and sustainability. Tomorrow’s successful apparel companies will be those that take the lead to enhance the apparel value chain on two fronts: nearshoring and automation. Both must be addressed, and in a sustainable way. Apparel brands and retailers in Europe and the United States can no longer do business as usual and expect to thrive” (October 2018). [Ed’s note: a 32-page report from McKinsey. See full report here.]

In The Closet with Christine Moriarty: “Is ethical purchasing a middle class luxury? Today In The Closet we chat with Environmental and Social activist Christine Moriarty. Christine’s career was in textiles but now she turns her energy to protecting the environment and those that are being left behind by our current economic model” (11 Oct – 10:16-minute video).

The first step to starting your career in sustainable fashion: “To kick off your career at the intersection of fashion and sustainability, first ask yourself: “Do I want to work for a pioneer or drive change within an established company that still needs to make fundamental improvements?”” (11 Oct).

Sustainable fashion: is it time to build a wardrobe in the cloud? “Given that 50% of fast fashion pieces are discarded within a year, it’s time to look again at the dress rental market. Girl Meets Dress, a leading online rental service, is promoting a more sustainable way of shopping, and fashionistas are responding” (11 Oct).

Fashion’s dirty secret: it’s hiding progress on sustainability: “[Stacey Dooley’s investigative documentary, Fashion’s Dirty Secret, on BBC1] called out major players including Primark, M&S and ASOS for failing to respond to interview requests on the topic. However, all of these retailers state on their websites the steps they are taking to reduce their environmental impact” (09 Oct).

One in 10 throw an outfit away after three photos wearing it: “A study of 2,000 people found that one in 10 would throw away an item after being pictured online with it three times. The survey also revealed one in five throw their clothes in the bin rather than give them to charity” (09 Oct). [Ed’s note: the survey was conducted for eco-friendly cleaning brand Method.]

Germany paved the way for revamping “social audits,” Italy should follow: “Garment workers are leading a global fight against poor factory inspections. A couple of weeks ago, Pakistani worker representatives and European rights groups filed a complaint with Italian authorities against RINA. RINA, an auditing firm, issued a report certifying the Ali Enterprises factory. Weeks after they issued an SA8000 certificate—a standard for labor and social compliance in the industry—the factory burned down killing more than 250 workers” (08 Aug). [Ed’s note: author is Aruna Kashyap, Senior Counsel, Women’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch.]

Wardrobe Crisis with Clare Press: “In interview Katrin and Clare discuss what good looks like when it comes to clothing production and circularity. Case study: the first Gold Cradle to Cradle Certified jeans and T-shirts” (06 Oct – 43:58-minute podcast).

The future of (sustainable) fashion is not about buying, it’s about renting: “WRAP, the UK’s resource efficiency agency, has identified rentals as an innovative business model that gives clothing and accessories a longer shelf life, and at the same time, also reduces material use and carbon emissions - all without forcing consumers to feel short-changed when it comes to the adoption of new trends in light of fashion's agenda of consistent change of style” (05 Oct).

Gujarat sees a spurt in khadi sales by 40 per cent in last two years: “As per Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), khadi sales in Gujarat have grown 40 per cent over the past two years ... Big corporates and brands such as Arvind, Reliance Industries, and Raymond’s have purchased khadi in huge quantities in the form of unfinished fabrics” (04 Oct).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

RMG worker ‘gang-raped’, five held: “Five men have been arrested over an alleged gang rape of a garment worker at two hotels in Kuakata” (10 Oct).

Accord starts transferring duty to govt Oct 15: “The handover of RMG factory safety monitoring responsibility to the government by the Accord will start on October 15 as the extended tenure for the European buyers’ platform will end on November 30” (10 Oct).

Unchecked boiler rooms are making Bangladesh’s industries a dangerous workplace: “Understaffed inspectors, a delay in hiring process and pressure from factories have made it difficult for boiler rooms to be inspected. In the past four years, 62 persons have died in 12 boiler room explosions” (08 Oct).

NSK for six months maternity leave for all female workers: “Nari Sramik Kantha, a platform for working-class women, on Wednesday demanded six months’ maternity leave for all working women including non-government and informal sector women of the country” (04 Oct).

Cambodia

EU tariffs threaten to flatten Cambodia: “EU’s punitive trade response to premier Hun Sen’s rigged election and retreat on rights could devastate the nation's crucial export-oriented garment industry” (09 Oct).

Fiji

Garment manufacturer pioneers ECE for workers: “One of the country’s leading garment manufacturers [Mark One Apparel] has tackled absenteeism by building a child care centre and establishing work hours which allows mums to drop and pick their children from school” (10 Oct).

India

Sweatshops disguised as schools: How young girls are exploited in Tamil Nadu’s cotton valley: With the hope of funding massive wedding expenses, the “Sumangali Scheme” lures minor girls into exploitative work in Tamil Nadu’s textile mills (10 Oct).

It’s a strict hostel life for these garment workers: “Pre-approved family visits, calls using payphones, rules on not going out are some of the restrictions imposed [by companies like Himatsingka Linens and Precot Meridian]. In hostels, where hundreds of women working in garment factories stay, there is a sense of an inescapable prison-like atmosphere” (09 Oct).

Myanmar

Fu Yuen garment workers’ strike continues: “Fu Yuen workers staged a protest in front of Mahabandoola Park in Yangon on Sunday, calling on the authority to immediately handle the unfair sacking of workers” (09 Oct). [Ed’s note: the protest has been underway for seven weeks.]

MANUFACTURERS

Lenzing set to launch new sustainable denim capsule collection at Kingpins Amsterdam: “Tencel Lyocell with Refibra technology takes center stage at Kingpins Amsterdam October 24-25 with a sustainable denim capsule collection, “Midnight Blues.” The collection is the result of Lenzing’s collaboration with emerging denim designer, Pawan Kumar; Saitex, the world’s cleanest denim manufacturer; and more than a dozen global mills respected for their sustainable practices” (09 Oct).

Textile recycling for sustainable fashion in HK – now on a bigger scale: “H&M Foundation and the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel have just opened two first-of-its-kind textile recycling facilities in Hong Kong, in the name of clothing the world in a sustainable fashion” (09 Oct).

Sustainability, performance key focus for Chinese textile producers: “At the Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics fair, apparel fabric brands discussed the features of innovative and sustainable textiles” (08 Oct).

Eastman Naia receives 303 Tuscans Ethical Fashion award: “Eastman Naia cellulosic yarn offers the textile industry the confidence in a product that balances the need for performance and sustainability. Naia is a biobased material that comes from sustainably managed forests and is manufactured in a socially responsible manner in the U.S.A.” (08 Oct).

Radianza fibre grabs eyeballs at Intertextile Shanghai: “Radianza fibre [by Thai Acrylic Fibre] prepared by gel dyeing technology and a fabric made from yarns with 100 per cent Radianza fibres … need much less water/energy as compared to conventional dyeing” (08 Oct).

FENC says new process recycles any PET waste: “Polyester and textile maker Far Eastern New Century Corp (FENC, 遠東新世紀) yesterday unveiled the world’s first all-in-one chemical recycling solution for post-consumer waste textiles, which it said would support the circular economy and help maintain its leadership in smart textile innovation” (06 Oct).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

15 – 17 October, Shanghai: Yarn Expo Autumn: “Sustainable sources of specialty yarns, fancy yarns and chemical fibres will be the focus at this year’s Autumn Edition.”

18 – 19 October, Milan: 5th Bluesign Conference: “TraceAbility. NetworkAbility. TransformAbility. Stitching the blue way together … gathering of all the Bluesign system partners and broader sustainability community for an opportunity to exchange ideas.”

22 October: Short Course (Free): Fashion & Sustainability: Understanding Luxury in a Changing World: “Get an introduction to issues, agendas and contexts relating to fashion and sustainability in a changing world.”

22 – 24 October, Milan: 2018 Textile Sustainability Conference: United by Action: Accelerating Sustainability in Textiles & Fashion: Textile Exchange’s 2018 Textile Sustainability Conference. (See agenda update here.)

23 – 26 October, Louisville, Kentucky: 2018 EHS & Sustainability Management Forum: “This year's EHS and Sustainability Management Forum will offer five tracks, a focus on EHS&S Business Strategy, Leadership and EHS&S Tools.”

25 October, Milan: Introduction to BCI & Better Cotton: “[A]fter the Textile Exchange Conference [22 – 24 October] to find out how BCI is creating opportunities for your more sustainable cotton strategies.”

25 – 26 October, Lisbon: Sustainable Retail Summit: Hosted by the Consumer Goods Forum – “Topics on the agenda include plastic waste, migrant labour, consumer health, food waste and transparency.”

31 October – 01 November, London: Responsible Supply Chains: The future of trade: “[The] event will include analysis of key sustainability trends, the future of business models and leadership and explore new models of collaboration.”

31 October – 01 November, London: ‘What’s Going On? A Discourse on Fashion, Design and Sustainability’: “The Global Fashion Conference is a bi-annual international conference, which aims to contribute to a multidisciplinary approach to fashion studies and brings together academia and industry, promoting a more sustainable model of development.”

01 November, London: Compare Ethics Presents Real Talk: “We are kicking off the festive season with a lively and interactive event that explores ethical fashion.”

04 – 10 November, Port Douglas and 15 – 21 November, Perth, Australia: Eco Fashion Week Australia: “Innovative, forward-thinking event will feature, exclusive informative discussions, exhibitions, hands-on workshops and incredible runway shows.”

06 – 08 November, NYC: A New Blueprint for Business: “[An] increasingly complex environment requires a new blueprint for business, with resilient strategies, effective governance models, and new management approaches.” BSR’s annual conference.

13 – 14 November, Los Angeles: Remode: The premier event for disruptive and sustainable fashion: “[H]ear from fashion’s leading innovators, gain access to a collaborative network of relevant people and resources, and leave with an actionable plan for innovation and growth.”

13 – 14 November, San Diego: 2nd Responsible Business Summit West: “It is imperative to advance ethical leadership in today's age of digital disruption. Failure to do so will result in loss of customer trust, shareholder value and ultimately, profits.” Hosted by Ethical Corporation.

15 November, London: Leather & Sustainability in Retail Conference 2018: “Join BLC, ILM and leather industry professionals at this year’s half-day leather sustainability conference which covers sustainability and innovation around raw materials for leather, uses for waste materials within the leather value chain and circular economy. The conference will also be considering new materials coming to market and look at transparency and traceability of production within existing processes.”

16 – 17 January, Delhi: International Workshop Agreement for the screening of GMOs in cotton and textiles: “The IWA is about a protocol for GMO screening in cotton and textiles.”

24 January, London: 8th Future Fabrics Expo: “Source from 5000+ fabrics, yarns, leathers, trims with a reduced environmental impact from over 150 mills and suppliers.”

(Photo Mabel AmberCCO)

Disclaimer: The Fashion Sustainability Week in Review (FSWIR) is a twice-weekly roundup of sustainability news items relevant to the fashion, apparel, textile and related industries. The views and opinions expressed in the FSWIR by individual authors and/or media outlets cited do not necessarily reflect the position of GoBlu International or any individual associated with the company.

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