Brands in this issue include: Allbirds (valued at $1b), Amazon and Nike (a conversation about the early days of circular economy), American Apparel (doesn’t deserve a second chance in Canada), Armedangels (sustainable design), Asics, KappaAhl, Gap, Nike, Amer Sports, Lojas Renner, H&M, Adidas, Esprit, Asos, Gildan, M&S, Inditex and Puma (rated by Dutch bank on living wages), Kering (CSO interview), Nicholas K (longevity and conscious design), Nike (new book released today on Nike’s special influence over the University of Oregon; awards 6 creative solutions; continues to source from Indonesia despite rumours), Primark (sharpens ethical focus for Germany), Vionnet (temporary liquidation to come back as eco-brand), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • Former President of Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court calls for the principle of sustainability to be included in the Basic Law

  • The Depop sellers shaking up fashion

  • UN underlines importance of human rights due diligence in new business and human rights report

  • Report on Draper’s sustainability roundtable from September

  • Chinese company conducts CSR training course in Myanmar

  • Sustainability at Shanghai fashion week

  • EyeFitU B2B platform, for retailers looking for an eco-conscious approach to clothes shopping

  • TV documentary on Michael Otto, founder of CmiA

  • Results from 2018 assessment of brands paying living wages by Dutch bank

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: commentary on winding up the Accord

  • Cambodia: commentary on the EU threat to remove trade preferences

  • India: Migrants’ exodus from Gujarat to reduce India’s textile output by 10-15%

  • Manufacturers in this issue include: Electronics For Imaging (greener, more efficient digital printing), Itema and Prosperity Texile (sustainable innovation in denim), Rudholm Group (digital labels for sustainability), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “Vintage fashion is not the answer to everything, and the future must provide solutions for the creation of new apparel.” Katie Anderson (20 Oct).

  • “If 99% of clothing on offer is conventional, that is, produced in a non-organic and exploitative way, then one green sock in your wardrobe doesn't help much. In fact, it’s harmful because it calms the conscience.” Christa Luginbühl, Public Eye (16 Oct – in German).

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


Nicholas K cites ‘longevity’ as key to sustainability: “Sustainable fashion brand Nicholas K discusses “conscious design”” (22 Oct).

Allbirds: the billion dollar eco trainers brand that’s about to take London by storm: “Fast-forward two years and the company, who recently sold its millionth pair, has just raised an additional $50 million in funding, valuing it at over $1 billion” (22 Oct).

What the circular economy’s early days look like for Amazon and Nike: “Conversations are less about what it looks like to move away from the old “take, make, waste” linear model and more about how to partner to drive new, circular models forward, Hudson said. “It’s less about, ‘how do I apply this to my organization,’ and more about, ‘who do I collaborate with as I move to this transition.’”” (19 Oct).

American Apparel doesn’t deserve a second chance in Canada: “The brand's problems went beyond shoddy clothes. Prior to bankruptcy, American Apparel, known for touting the moral fibre of its sweatshop-free clothing, found itself under fire for labour complaints and an investigation into unauthorized immigrant workers at its Los Angeles factory” (19 Oct).

Kering’s Marie-Claire Daveu: “Sustainable development is no longer an option for the luxury industry”: “Marie-Claire Daveu joined French luxury group Kering in 2012 to lead its sustainable development strategy, in her role as chief sustainability officer and head of international institutional affairs. In this interview, Daveau reviews Kering’s approach, its objectives and the advances it made in the field of sustainability” (18 Oct).

Primark sharpens ethical focus in bid for German customers: “Primark, the fashion chain owned by Associated British Foods, has emphasised its commitment to environmental standards and safer working conditions as it fights for market share in discount-loving Germany and other countries … German shoppers are also more demanding when it comes to ethical standards, [Wolfgang Krogmann, head of Primark in Germany] said, prompting the company to trial "Primark Cares" posters in its stores in the country, with information about its factories and how it sources raw materials” (18 Oct).

The secret betrayal that sealed Nike’s special influence over the University of Oregon: “In the mid-1990s, University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer needed money to save his school. Alum and Nike chief executive Phil Knight was happy to help—as long as the university could be managed in a way that would maximize the company’s brand and profits. But when Frohnmayer made a key misstep, Knight exacted a brutal punishment” (18 Oct).

Armedangels & sustainable design: “Not just throwing nice products on the market”: “German sustainable fashion label Armedangels has revised its denim collection. The new jeans for women and men not only fit better but have also been produced in a water-saving manner and completely without the use of chemicals. Sara Maier from Armedangels talks about the difficulty and beauty of working sustainably as a designer” (18 Oct).

Luxury label Vionnet halts operations to re-brand as sustainable: “The French luxury fashion house has placed itself into voluntary liquidation. It is temporarily closing down its operations before making a come-back as an eco-friendly label” (18 Oct).

Nike awards six creative solutions for footwear and manufacturing waste: “In February 2018, Nike invited submissions for inventive responses to two pivotal sustainability questions: What can be made from footwear material waste? And how can the footwear recycling process be improved to ensure that higher quality, more versatile resources are created from footwear-related waste?” (15 Oct). [Ed’s note: Design with Grind winners: Yogo, Pdd_kicks, Circular Cities, InShape Mattress, and Stuffed; Material recovery winner: SuMaRec.]

Nike and Indonesian government deny company leaving Indonesia: Two weeks ago, Serikat Pekerja Nasional [National Workers’ Union] claimed Nike was about to cease ordering products from 19 Indonesian factories (and listed the factories – see here, for example). But both Nike and the Indonesian government (the Ministry of Industry, see here) have denied the news (14 Oct – in Indonesian).


Former President of Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court calls for the principle of sustainability to be included in the Basic Law: Hans-Jürgen Papier, former President of the Federal Constitutional Court, calls for the principle of sustainability to be included in the Basic Law. Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) chairman Marlehn Thieme is quoted as saying: “Achieving [the UN’s SDG] goals nationally and internationally requires a new determination on the part of all social actors and above all the Federal Government” (21 Oct – in German).

Weaving their way of out of poverty: “Bringing their weaving products to and triggering the demand in the market would not have been possible for women like Sykai and Papeng without the work of local non-profit organisations and social enterprises such as The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC) and Ock Pop Tok. These entities not only provide support and training for weavers to access the market, but also loans and employment” (21 Oct).

‘Everyone I know buys vintage’: the Depop sellers shaking up fashion: “Caitlin Young is one of millions of teenagers and 20-somethings who are shaking up the fashion industry by digging out their parents’ cast-offs, raiding charity shops and scanning boot sales to build mini businesses online” (20 Oct).

UN underlines importance of human rights due diligence in new business and human rights report: “A new report on human rights due diligence has just been presented at the UN General Assembly in New York. Prepared by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, it provides reflections on the global landscape, and recommendations to businesses, governments and investors on what they could and should be doing” (19 Oct). [Ed’s note: full report – English - here; also available in F, S, A, C, R. Summary here.]

Facing fashion’s sustainable challenge: “Sustainability has risen up the agenda in recent years as brands and retailers have taken action to clean up fashion. Earlier this month, MPs called on retailers such as Next, Arcadia Group and Marks & Spencer to give evidence to a government inquiry on the sustainability of the fashion industry. In light of this, some of the industry’s biggest businesses, including Burberry, Tesco, M&S and Pentland Brands, gathered at Drapers’ sustainability roundtable at in London on 20 September, held in association with sustainability solutions provider Yellow Octopus and clothes recycling app Regain, to discuss how to implement real change” (19 Oct).

Chinese company conducts CSR training course in Myanmar: “The two-day training course is conducted by China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC) with the cooperation of China Enterprises Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar (CECCM), Ethical Trading Initiative, German Cooperation [GIZ] and SMART Myanmar” (18 Oct).

Consumers can’t stop slavery – or can they? “So how do you know who’s ethical? … [look at] the M&S partnership with the Ethical Trading Initiative. A resource like the Fashion Transparency Index [by Fashion Revolution] is also a great way of understanding how leading retailers rank in their efforts to become more ethical. Ethical Consumer evaluates many different companies” (18 Oct).

Shanghai Fashion Week: “Shades of sustainability: In a market where cheaply produced, fast fashion is just a click away, sustainability may seem like a hard sell. Yet, it continues to be a growing force at Shanghai Fashion Week, as both designers and industry leaders recognize China’s unique potential to reduce fashion's environmental footprint” (18 Oct).

EyeFitU B2B platform, for retailers looking for an eco-conscious approach to clothes shopping: “The EyeFitU patented Sizing Engine is now available for integration via a SaaS model for an online store. The fashion-sizing software company … is offering a unique sizing solution that helps fashion retailers increase sales and reduce returns. Promising also to enhance the customer experience with personalisation, EyeFitU also hopes to encourage a more sustainable approach to clothes shopping” (14 Oct).

Typical! Michael Otto: TV documentary about CmiA founder Prof. Michael Otto. Film crew accompanies him on trips to Asia and Africa and shows how he strives to harmonise sustainability and business (02 Oct – 28:30-minute video – in German).

Results from 2018 assessment of brands paying living wages by Dutch bank: Dutch ASN Bank released results of the living wage ratings (assured by Mazars) of 14 clothing brands. The rating were: ‘Embryonic’ (Asics), ‘Developing’ (KappaAhl, Gap, Nike, Amer Sports, and Lojas Renner), and ‘Maturing’ (H&M, Adidas, Esprit, Asos, Gildan, M&S, Inditex and Puma). There were no companies rated a ‘Leading’. See full report here (September 18).



Accord goes slow in handing over responsibility: “Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, the platform of European retailers, has failed to keep its promise to start handing over RMG factory safety monitoring responsibility to the government body in time” (22 Oct).

Fear again for safety of textile workers in Bangladesh: “Joris Oldenziel, deputy director of the Bangladesh Accord, is worried. “According to the judge, the government of Bangladesh must take the controls, but it is not ready yet.” A government service has recently been set up but we want to stay in Bangladesh to help the government” (22 Oct – in Dutch).

Winding up the Bangladesh Accord endangers millions of factory workers: “The Supreme Court in Bangladesh has decided that the [Bangladesh Accord] will come to an end on 30 November. By doing so, the country is endangering the safety of millions of workers, trade unions warn. European politicians and clothing companies are worried. But what can they do?” (21 Oct – 10:18-minute broadcast – in Dutch).


EU, Cambodia talks fail to end trade sanction threat – Mogherini: “Cambodia failed on Friday to reassure the European Union it will address democratic and human right issues that have put its trade preferences with the bloc at risk, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said after a summit with Asian leaders” (19 Oct).

‘Kingdom ready if EBA withdrawn’: Ministry: “A senior Labour Ministry official said a withdrawal of the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) trade agreement with the EU would not hurt the Kingdom’s economy” (18 Oct).


Migrants’ exodus from Gujarat to reduce India’s textile output by 10-15%: “80% of the country's synthetic textile output comes from Gujarat, which is seeing migrant labour move out to escape the violence following rape of a minor, and better opportunities back home” (19 Oct).


Revealed: hidden source of hazardous textile pollutants: “Large amounts of commodity chemicals used in the textile industry are contaminated with potentially hazardous substances such as APEO’s, phthalates, chlorobenzene, toluene and other restricted chemicals – that routinely end up in wastewater” (22 Oct).

9th Bangladesh Denim Expo kicks off Nov 7: “The 9th edition of Bangladesh Denim Expo is going to be held on 7th and 8th November at the International Convention City Bashundhara in Dhaka with a special theme focusing on ‘Simplicity in Supply Chain’ … aimed at defining a much simpler, easier definition to understand sustainability and ecology in denim” (21 Oct).

Itema innovation helps denim go greener through the whole chain: "A important new partnership between Itema and Prosperity Texile signals a greener future for the whole denim production chain. Prosperity Textile, a major denim producer worldwide, has chosen for its new facility one of the most interesting and sustainable-oriented Itema technologies, iSAVER™ equipped on the Itema R95002 denim, which completely eliminates the left-hand weft waste, allowing to insert the weft yarns in the fabric without the need of additional yarns (21 Oct - press release).

Textile businesses win with greener, more efficient digital printing using newly available EFI Reggiani Terra pigment solution: “New EFI Reggiani TERRA solution from Electronics For Imaging, Inc. is a high-performance digital production offering featuring a new pigment ink set and binder for fast, sustainable, and cost-competitive industrial textile printing” (19 Oct).

Walk the walk with digital sustainability marketing for fashion: “Sweden-based Rudholm Group has been in the business of making trims, garment labels and other fashion accessories since 1951 and operates in 22 countries. Not someone you would turn to for delivering a brand’s sustainability story. Yet, Rudholm has come up with a simple and smart concept called ShareLabel” (19 Oct).

EU adopts restrictions on CMRs in textiles: “The European Commission has adopted restrictions for 33 carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic (CMR) substances used in clothing, textiles and footwear. The restrictions place maximum concentration limits on the substances and ban certain textiles that exceed the thresholds from being placed on the EU market. Product exemptions apply, including for natural leather and second-hand clothing” (11 Oct).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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: What to Expect From Fashion and Sustainability in 2019: “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.

* 07 – 08 November, London: Bloomberg Sustainable Business Summit: “…bring[s] together C-suite executives, influential investors, and innovative thought leaders to discuss how companies are using sustainability as a driver of business value.”

* 07 – 08 November, Dhaka: Bangladesh Denim Expo: “[This year’s theme is] ‘Simplicity’ … aimed at defining a much simpler, easier definition to understand sustainability and ecology in denim.”

08 November, New York: Raise the Green Bar 2018: Your Roadmap to Sustainability & Success: “Good Housekeeping Institute and Made Safe present the second annual Raise the Green Bar Summit focusing on maximizing your brand’s sustainability efforts for increased consumer engagement and better ROI.”

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.”

27 November, London: Ethics and Fashion at SKC: “Join us to discuss the complex ethical issues involved in the sustainable fashion debate.”

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.”

26 – 28 February Phoenix, AZ: GreenBiz 19: “Premier annual event for sustainable business leaders.”

28 February, London: The Nature of Fashion: “The panel, which will include Edwina Ehrman and Kate Fletcher, will explore how to use fashion as a pro-environmental force.”

(Photo imageCCO)

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.