THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Burberry, H&M, Inditex, Selfridges, Stella McCartney, Target, Walmart and Marks & Spencer (signatories to an Ellen MacArthur Foundation commitment to eliminate plastic pollution at source), Fast Retailing (cuts water use in jeans washing by up to 99%), H&M (prejudice awareness raising), Katharine Hamnett (joins Fair Wear Foundation), M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Burberry, Associated British Foods (Primark), and Next (ranked in UK list of firms tackling modern slavery), Native Shoes (partnering with Zappos for Good to turn recycled shoes into playgrounds), Timberland (first ever creative director takes sustainability seriously), Veja (sustainable but expensive), Zara (a look into how the company competes in the fast-fashion race), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • How Bengaluru is championing the cause of zero-waste design

  • CO partners with London College of Fashion to build sustainable industry

  • New framework from Textile Exchange to drive responsible animal-derived fibres sourcing

  • Meghan Markle’s ethical wardrobe is turning heads

  • Mending Matters author explains the slow fashion movement

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: more news on the Accord’s departure on 30 November; Subcontracting loses out to compliance

  • China: garment factory fire

  • Fiji: garment workers unhappy with layoffs statement

  • India: residents complain about factories suffocating kids with pollutants

  • Southeast Asia: wages surge

  • Uzbekistan: Bed linen previously used for children with tuberculosis given to soldiers moblized to pick cotton

Manufacturers in this issue include: RadiciGroup (GRS certification for recycled polyester), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “Of the individuals examined (n = 153), 45% had ingested microplastics, of which fibres were most prevalent (95%). A total of eight different polymer types were isolated; polyamide and polyester were found in the highest concentrations and in the majority of years…” Winnie Courtene-Jones, et. al., authors of the first long-term study of microplastic pollution in the deep sea (January 2019).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Would you pay more for sustainable sneakers? “They’re leather-free and have a sole made from recycled plastic bottles. Could Veja sneakers be the most sustainable shoes in the world? … Making Veja sneakers costs between five and seven times as much as an average pair of sneakers, according to the company” (29 Oct).

British fashion icon promotes better labour conditions: “Fair Wear Foundation is very happy to welcome Katharine Hamnett London as a new member brand! As a FWF member, Katharine Hamnett London will use its influence to work towards better labour conditions for garment workers – together with the factories that produce their clothes. FWF annually checks how well the brand is doing that” (29 Oct).

Ellen MacArthur Foundation launches Global Commitment to eliminate plastic pollution at source: “A Global Commitment to eliminate plastic waste and pollution at the source has been signed by 290+ organisations, representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally. The Commitment was officially unveiled by Ellen MacArthur at the Our Ocean Conference in Bali today (Monday) … are supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and have been endorsed by the World Economic Forum, The Consumer Goods Forum (a CEO-led organisation representing some 400 retailers and manufacturers from 70 countries), and 40 universities, institutions and academics” (29 Oct). [Ed’s note: brands include Burberry, H&M, Inditex, Selfridges, Stella McCartney, Target, Walmart and Marks & Spencer.]

We went inside one of the sprawling factories where Zara makes its clothes. Here’s how the world’s biggest fashion retailer gets it done: “Here’s what it is like to visit the factories and distribution centers that allow Zara to compete in the fast-fashion race” (28 Oct).

After racism scandal: H&M’s diversity manager wants to raise awareness of prejudice: After the coolest monkey in the jungle hoodie issue H&M’s diversity manager, Annie Wu, wants to increase the awareness of each individual employee for the issue of diversity (27 Oct).

Timberland’s first-ever creative director, Christopher Raeburn, talks: “Christopher Raeburn, 36, was once a Cassandra: Because ever since founding his brand in 2009, when few in fashion really gave a fig, sustainability has been at the very heart of his work. Now, as we all know, the wider fashion world has caught up, and sustainability has become central to almost everything. Which is doubtless among the reasons why today, nearly 10 years after his first remade-from-military- surplus garments were produced in his then studio, a disused peanut-packing factory in East London, Raeburn has been named the first-ever creative director of Timberland” (26 Oct).

Native Shoes & Zappos for Good partner to turn recycled shoes into playgrounds: “Native Shoes is … joining forces with Zappos for Good, the community outreach arm of Zappos.com, the customer service company that just happens to sell shoes, clothing and more, to collect well-loved Native Shoes to be recycled and made into playground matting” (25 Oct).

Fast Retailing Group develops innovative washing process for jeans to cut water usage by up to 99%: “The Fast Retailing Group today announces that it has developed a new washing process for jeans that reduces water usage by up to 99%, with an average of more than 90%. The technology was originated at the FR Jeans Innovation Center, the Group’s facility for jeans research and development in Los Angeles, California, and has been adopted from the 2018 Fall/Winter season UNIQLO Men’s Regular Fit Jeans and J BRAND Sustainable Capsule Collection. In 2019 a total of 10 million pairs of jeans from the two brands, the equivalent of almost one-third of FR's annual production quantity, will be manufactured with this process. By 2020 the new technology will be used for all jeans made and sold by the Group” (25 Oct).

Sir Philip Green named in Parliament as businessman at centre of Britain's #MeToo scandal: “Sir Philip Green has been named in Parliament as the businessman at the centre of Britain’s #MeToo scandal. The Topshop owner was identified by Lord Hain, the former Leader of the House of Commons, after two days of speculation over the name of the man behind the injunction” (25 Oct).

Using reclaimed fabric to promote a sustainable manufacturing model: “For Tonlé apparel-brand owner Rachel Faller, entering into fashion wasn’t part of her career plan when she studied textile design at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where she focused on fine art and sculpture” (25 Oct).

23 sustainable and ethical fashion brands every Highsnobiety reader should know: List includes Noah, ALYX Visual, Organic Threads, Nudie Jeans, Outerknown, Nau, Patagonia, Olderbrother, Veja, Finisterre, Nisolo, Bleed, Organic Basics, Satta, Knowledge Cotton Apparel, Armedangels, Edun, Filippa K, Jungmaven, Dick Moby, Apolis, and Christopher Raeburn (25 Oct).

Sustainability-focused site Market45 prepares to launch: “The platform will be an offshoot of Factory45, a program meant to help entrepreneurs start sustainable and ethically made fashion brands … Four years after starting Factory45, a program that helps entrepreneurs start sustainable and ethically made clothing companies, Shannon Lohr will launch the online platform Market45 to help them sell their designs” (25 Oct).

Marks & Spencer tops list of major British firms tackling modern slavery: “Major retailer Marks & Spencer topped a list on Tuesday ranking Britain’s biggest businesses on their efforts to tackle modern slavery, yet labour experts urged the country's top 100 companies to be more transparent and lead by example globally” (23 Oct). [Ed’s note: the ranking is from the first Global Governance FTSE 100 League Table by Development International. Other brands/retailers on the list are: Tesco (#2), Sainsbury’s (#9), Burberry (#16), Associated British Foods (Primark #36), and Next (#81). See full list here.]

NEWS & REPORTS

Consistent microplastic ingestion by deep-sea invertebrates over the last four decades (1976–2015), a study from the North East Atlantic: The first long-term study of microplastic pollution in the deep sea has found ingested microplastic abundance remained relatively consistent from 1976 to 2015, with data indicating microplastics may have been present at the Rockall Trough, North East Atlantic, prior to 1976. Although no trends were observed in polymer type or overall abundance across years, eight polymers were identified of which polyamide and polyester dominated (January 2019). [Ed’s note: Important for the fashion, apparel and textile industry is the finding that of all ingested microplastics, fibres were the most prevalent at 95%.]

Farm-to-fashion: How Bengaluru is championing the cause of zero-waste design: “The IT city is the new hub for the farm-to-fashion movement. Bengalureans are first in the country to champion the cause of zero-waste design philosophy, handloom, organic fabrics and natural dyes from plants, say fashion designers (29 Oct).

CO partners with London College of Fashion: “London College of Fashion, UAL and CO (Common Objective) are proud to announce a new collaboration which will support the next generation of fashion professionals to build a more sustainable industry. The CO platform gives thousands of fashion professionals the tools and connections to build their businesses in the most sustainable way. London College of Fashion (LCF) is dedicated to achieving greater transparency in sustainability for fashion and like CO, LCF is working towards an industry which creates jobs, prosperity, and great products that do not damage the environment. When education and business work together it can be a powerful force for change - which is why this partnership is such a natural fit” (26 Oct).

New framework to drive responsible animal-derived fibres sourcing: “Non-profit Textile Exchange is developing a new tool to help brands and apparel manufacturers address the impacts associated with sourcing animal-derived fibres. The new 'framework for animal welfare', which is expected to be completed by early 2019, will also allow Textile Exchange to expand into new fibre categories currently not covered by global standards” (26 Oct).

The fashion industry is wise to embrace recycled polyester: “[But] regardless of whether or not a piece of clothing is made from recycled or virgin polyester, it's still going to shed microfibres in the wash – and this is a mounting problem that scientists (and the public) are only just beginning to grasp” (25 Oct).

Meghan Markle’s ethical wardrobe is turning heads: “The Duchess of Sussex is already well-known for her trendy and elegant fashion choices that often see lucky brands stand out from the rest. On her recent trip to Australia, she became even more popular among those supporting ethical fashion” (25 Oct). [Ed’s note: article mentions Reformation, Veja, and Rothy’s. See also, from Vogue, The powerful message Meghan Markle’s 2018 royal tour wardrobe is sending (24 Oct).]

Fair Wear Foundation releases Gender Forum report: “One year ago, participants from six garment-producing countries—Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam—gathered in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam to address gender-based violence in the garment industry … A year later, this report revisits the issues that were discussed and the solutions outlined by the participants. It also looks at what has changed since the 2017 Gender Forum, charting the progress achieved and the obstacles encountered by country teams in the past year—in the five countries where FWF is active—as they work toward achieving the goals set in Ha Long Bay” (25 Oct).

Union: sub-standard textiles control 90% of market: “The National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) has said cheap and sub-standard textiles control about 90 percent of the market” (26 Oct).

Worker representation and freedom of association: its crucial importance in supply chains: “Dialogue between companies, workers and their representatives and governments is crucial for establishing rules that give workers a stronger voice in improving pay and conditions while reducing the risk of human rights abuse. In this week’s fourth reflection on ethical trade issues, we discuss why this is often disputed?” (25 Oct).

‘Mending Matters’ author explains the slow fashion movement: “Cheap clothes have a high price tag for workers and the world. Katrina Rodabaugh’s new book explains what you can do about that” (25 Oct).

Inaugural ‘Change Fashion’ event to focus on improving environmentalism: “[G]reen-minded leaders will gather Nov. 1 for the first “Change Fashion” conference at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen. The four-day series of talks and events is being spearheaded by the National Resources Defense Council’s Linda Greer” (25 Oct).

Fashion, textile industries map out sustainable agenda: “At the 2018 Textile Sustainability Conference in Milan, circular economies, shared standards and customer engagement strategies emerged as key in shaping the conversation on sustainability” (25 Oct).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Subcontracting loses out to compliance: “A drought of fresh investment in opening small enterprises is sweeping across the garment sector, an outcome of stringent conditions set by retailers and brands for subcontracting parts of apparel production mainly to avert industrial accidents” (28 Oct).

Accord departs Nov 30: “The government will not extend the tenure of the Accord beyond November 30, ending the hopes of the European agency for factory inspection and remediation to stay on in Bangladesh for three more years” (26 Oct).

China

Garment factory fire in Quanzhou: The first floor of the building was a garment processing factory filled with flammable materials such as clothing and fabrics, with fabrics also stored on upper floors (24 Oct – in Chinese).

Fiji

Garment workers unhappy with layoffs statement: “A group of garment factory workers are disappointed with the statement by Textile Clothing and Footwear Industry Council on Tuesday. The statement was issued by Textile Clothing and Footwear Industry Council expressed alarm about recent comments made by various political parties calling for the National Minimum Wage (NMW) to be increased to $4 or $5 per hour and even up to $10 per hour” (26 Oct).

India

Factories that suffocate kids in Begur: “[A] resident of Ittina Sarva 2 Apartments at Begur Road shocked the authorities and the residents present by showing a foamy cluster of chemical dirt that he had picked up from his home. It comprised pollutant from the garment factory near the apartment complex. He said that burning of chemical wastes from these garment factories is a frequent affair causing toxic fumes to enter the homes. This causes respiratory illnesses among children” (29 Oct).

Southeast Asia

Minimum wages surge across Southeast Asia: “Minimum wages in Southeast Asia are rising sharply as governments strive to please their publics, but the trend could slow foreign investment as the region loses its edge as a low-cost production hub” (28 Oct).

Uzbekistan

Bed linen previously used for children with tuberculosis given to soldiers moblized to pick cotton: “Parents of children at a sanatorium for children with tuberculosis, or who are at risk of developing it, in the Turtkul district of the Republic of Karakalpakstan told Ozodlik that the school administration had given the children’s mattresses to soldiers who had come to pick cotton. They complain that the children are freezing at night and often catch colds because of a lack of warm bed linen and mattresses” (29 Oct).

MANUFACTURERS

58 global investors express concern over Bangladesh leather sector: “Some 58 global investors have expressed their concern over the labour and human rights and environmental practices in Bangladesh leather sector mainly in tanneries. Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the coalition of the institutional investors, on Monday sent letters to the government expressing their concerns over the leather sector. Investors claimed that workers in tanneries in Hazaribagh and Savar were working in hazardous environments with little protective gear and many of them were underage” (29 Oct).

GRS certification for RadiciGroup recycled polyester: RadiciGroup’s post-consumer recycled polyester yarns, r-Radyarn and r-Starlight – UNI 11505-certified since 2014 – have recently been certified to the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) promoted by the Textile Exchange, a non-profit organization that operates internationally for the promotion and responsible development of sustainability in the textile industry” (26 Oct).

VITAS works with WWF to green Vietnam’s apparel sector: “The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) launched a project on October 26 to green Vietnam’s textile-apparel sector through improving water management and energy sustainability” (25 Oct).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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.”

* 04 December, Webinar: Less Becomes More. Responsible Textile Consumerism: “As consumers become more aware of textile sustainability, their shopping habits are likely to change. Join researcher Ellen Karp to learn more about what to expect when sustainability-minded consumers start examining their closets and their consciences.”

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.

Comment