THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Boohoo, PrettyLittleThing and Missguided (subject of article about whether you can be into fast fashion and sustainable at the same time), Gap (partnering with IFC program to reduce energy use in Pakistan textile mills), H&M and Zara (questions over exploitation), Hanes ($2m clothes donation to Hurricane Florence victims), Chinese eco-brand Icicle (possible acquisition of Carven), M&S (Indian gender equality program), Next, M&S, Asda, TK Maxx, HomeSense, Arcadia, Tesco, JD Sports, Debenhams and Sports Direct (asked by UK government to submit sustainability evidence), Nike (attacked by USAS over Indonesia withdrawal; and Phil Knight’s billion-dollar donation), Roarlay (reduced carbon footprint by 90%), Uniqlo (Indonesian workers travel to Tokyo to meet), Zara, Asos, M&S, Monsoon, Next and River Island (declined to comment on new BBC fashion documentary), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • Stacey Dooley Investigates: Are your clothes wrecking the planet? A BBC documentary\

  • Crowdfunding campaign for new film called Dying To Clothe You

  • Can influencers combat fashion fashion’s toxic trend (two articles)

  • How will Trump’s trade war affect ethical fashion?

  • UK government begins inquiry into fast fashion sustainability

  • Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week is underway

  • Why so much ethical fashion looks the same

  • Research shows consumers need to be educated about sustainable fashion

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: truck strike puts RMG business at risk; new study shows excessive working hours still a challenge for social compliance

  • Cambodia: minimum wage up $12 to $182 per month starting January; EU says Cambodia will lose special access; government says it will pay for workers’ unpaid wages in defunct factory case; song about garment workers not being paid banned; and new implementation guidelines for seniority and twice-monthly salary payments

  • Myanmar: the EU’s threat of suspending trade privileges rattles garment sector

  • Pakistan: 25 workers hospitalised after drinking toxic water; greater legal protection for women over harassment

  • Philippines: labour groups welcome expanded maternity leave law

  • Thailand: accusations of extortion and abuse by Thai recruitment agents against debt-laden migrants from Myanmar

Manufacturers in this issue include: Eastman (gold sponsor for 2019 Redress Design Award), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “I feel like we understand what plastic does to the Earth but I had no idea what cotton was capable of.” Stacey Dooley, BBC presenter and journalist, in her latest documentary, Fashion’s Dirty Secrets (09 Oct).

  • “I’ve never associated clothes production with pollution before.” Stacey Dooley, BBC presenter and journalist, in her latest documentary, Fashion’s Dirty Secrets (09 Oct).

  • “The whole supply chain is rotten to the core, the time for change is now.” Mark Greenwood-Whitely, director and producer of Dying To Clothe You, a movie currently seeking funding on Indiegogo (07 Oct).

  • “I think we’ve got a real crisis in confidence in young people and when you pair that with the Instagram culture of: “I don’t want to wear the same outfit twice', people buy new clothes in response.”” BBC (06 Oct).

  • “Sustainability needs to start with taking a long, hard look at the psychology of fashion.” Jess Cartner-Morley (06 Oct).

  • “I never had any idea the amount of waste fashion incurs, or the resources needed to produce it. Most importantly, I did not realize the mistreatment of humans that still occurred. I thought that sweatshops and child labor were a thing of the past!” Antoinette Russell, a recovering shopaholic, talking about real ethical fashion (05 Oct).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Are Zara & H&M exploiting people? “Featuring case-studies on two of fast fashion’s power-houses: Inditex, and H&M Group, interviews with ex-factory workers, and public Vox Pops, I gain an in-depth and exclusive insight into the realities of the industry” (08 Oct – 17:14-minute video). [Ed’s note: a surprisingly well-researched and nuanced by a young YouTuber who avoids simple answers.]

USAS attacks Nike over withdrawal from Indonesia: “After producing for Nike for 17 years, 1,500 unionized workers in Indonesia will find themselves without a job so that the company can switch to cheaper labor. This is just the start of Nike’s plans to pull 30,000 jobs from the country that built its empire” (08 Oct).

China’s Icicle closing in on acquisition of Carven: “Chinese company Icicle Fashion Group may acquire troubled Parisian fashion label Carven” (08 Oct). [Ed’s note: Icicle focuses mostly on sustainable collections.]

Indonesian garment workers head to Japan to meet with Uniqlo: “In 2015, the Jaba Garmindo factory suddenly closed and fell into bankruptcy after its major buyers, most notably UNIQLO, withdrew their business from the factory.  The thousands of workers employed by Jaba Garmindo were given no warning that their factory was in trouble.  The workers were never paid their full wages and severance payments, amounting to 5.5 million USD. UNIQLO has refused to meet the workers. So now the workers are coming to Japan to meet them” (06 Oct – 3:28-minute video – in Indonesian, with English, Japanese and Chinese subtitles available).

Roarlay delivers sustainable fashion and reduces carbon footprint by 90%: “Roarlay delivers sustainable fashion through the use of renewable energy and low-impact organic farming. Their clothing is produced entirely from organic cotton in a plant that uses mostly wind and solar energy. This allows them to reduce their carbon footprint by around 90%. The company’s apparel selection includes vests, hoodies, sweatshirts and shirts for men and women, bodysuits and shirts for babies and shirts for kids” (06 Oct).

5 brands that are changing the face of sustainable fashion: The five brands are: Stella McCartney, Dagny, MadeByWave, Horizon Athletic, and Finisterre (06 Oct).

Phil Knight just gave $1 billion of Nike shares to philanthropy: “Nike Inc.’s Phil Knight donated almost $1 billion of the apparel maker’s stock to a charitable organization this week. Knight, 80, Nike’s founder and chairman emeritus, gave 12 million shares, according to a regulatory filing that didn’t identify the beneficiary beyond noting that he and his wife Penelope are directors of the entity” (05 Oct).

UK and partners launch next phase of gender equality programme in garment industry: “The programme focuses on raising awareness among garment factory workers on gender issues and the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act. The British High Commission and Marks and Spencer were the founding partners of the initiative, and were quickly joined by other leading international brands. The organisations worked with Change Alliance (India) and Treble Partners (UK) as implementation partners in the last phase” (05 Oct).

HanesBrands donates more than $2 million of underwear, socks and t-shirts to assist Hurricane Florence victims: “HanesBrands announced today [05 Oct] that it is donating nearly 350,000 pairs of underwear, socks and T-shirts to assist victims of flooding from Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas and the Southeast” (05 Oct).

It’s easy being green – the pop-up reinventing eco-fashion: The Maiyet Collective, selling goods from 60 brands, says its new store has “the largest curation of sustainable brands in the UK” (04 Oct). [Ed’s note: article lists four of the best sustainable brands: Mother of Pearl, Guy Morgan, Carolina Wong, and Oshadi.]

NEWS & REPORTS

Stacey Dooley Investigates: Fashion’s Dirty Secrets: “Stacey Dooley travels the world to uncover the hidden costs of the addiction to fast fashion. She sees for herself how toxic chemicals released by the garment industry pollute waterways that millions of people rely on. She witnesses the former Aral Sea, once one of the largest bodies of fresh water, now reduced almost entirely to dust. These are shocking discoveries likely to make you think twice about whether you really need those new clothes” (09 Oct).

Stacey Dooley Investigates: Are your clothes wrecking the planet? “The BBC tried speaking to representatives from brands including Zara, Asos, M&S, Monsoon, Next and River Island, but they all declined to comment” (09 Oct). [Ed’s note: see story above for the BBC documentary to which this story is related.]

Better business for all: six ways companies can integrate human rights: “Companies across industries are improving human rights in the workplace, with benefits for workers, businesses and communities. New research offers insight for SMEs about to embark on the process” (08 Oct).

A one-of-a-kind sustainable fashion festival is coming to Mumbai this weekend: “With slow fashion, an antidote to its hazardous counterpart of factory-produced ‘fast fashion’, becoming more integrated with mainstream ideas of the fashion industry, every day is an opportunity for its vanguards to find new ways of making sustainable fashion more accessible to the world” (07 Oct).

Dying To Clothe You launches crowdfunding campaign: “This is a campaign to raise money for a major feature length documentary film: ‘Dying To Clothe You’ - the dark and deadly side of the fashion industry – so well-hidden or so conveniently ignored? This is the story of the destruction of our environment and the innocent people who are literally ‘dying to clothe you’ (07 Oct).

Cheap fashion sales threaten the planet. Could online influencers be our saviours? “‘Vloggers have fuelled a boom in cut-price clothing. Now they could persuade big brands to change their behaviour” (07 Oct).

Influencers can combat fast fashion’s toxic trend: “We need the young to turn their fire on an industry that could soon account for a quarter of all global carbon emissions” (07 Oct).

Can you be sustainable if you're into fast fashion online? “Sites like Boohoo.com, PrettyLittleThing and Missguided offer loads of clothes at really low prices - and they update much quicker than the high street. But how are these online retailers impacting the environment? And what role does social media play in the “wear it once” trend?” (06 Oct). [Ed’s note: article is related to the UK government’s concerns over the sustainability of fashion – see story below.]

How Trump’s trade war with China affects ethical fashion: “The most ethical option is to reduce the salaries of senior staff and CEOs, but most will either pass on prices to consumers or find ways to reduce their costs through their supply chain; the latter could potentially see clothing manufacturing move from China to places with even fewer regulations, like Ethiopia or Myanmar” (06 Oct).

The fashion editor’s eco-makeover: can I rethink my love affair with clothes? “I’ll always love the thrill of shopping, but I care about the planet, too. Where do I begin?” (06 Oct).

Antoinette Russell about what REAL ethical fashion is: “Over the past year I have begun to dig more deeply into this subject, and today I have a different opinion about what ethical fashion is than I did a year ago” (05 Oct). [Ed’s note: this article reinforces the NPD Group’s view that Sustainable apparel is evolving but consumers need to be educated.]

Government begins inquiry into Next, Arcadia and M&S sustainability: “The ten largest clothing retailers in the UK have been asked to submit evidence for a government inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry …  MP Mary Creagh, the chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, has written directly to each of the ten retailers’ chief executives, including Marks & Spencer, Next, Asda, TK Maxx, HomeSense, Arcadia, Tesco, JD Sports, Debenhams and Sports Direct” (05 Oct).

Why does so much ethical fashion look the same? “Earth tones, neutral colors and minimalism dominate the average ethical fashion fan's feed. But why is that – and who is getting left out of the equation?” (04 Oct).

Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week kicks off fifth edition: “From 5 October until 14 October, Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week celebrates its fifth edition. This year’s event focuses on the themes of circular fashion, sustainability and innovation” (05 Oct).

Sustainable apparel is evolving but consumers need to be educated: “An increasing number of environmentally-conscious consumers are looking for sustainable apparel, and nearly a quarter of U.S. adult consumers say that they have purchased sustainable apparel, reports The NPD Group. As consumer interest in sustainability grows so do the efforts of the apparel industry, but there is a clear need to educate shoppers in order to make this connection” (03 Oct).

GOTS at the International Convention on Sustainable Trade and Standards: “‘The International Convention on Sustainable Trade and Standards’ (ICSTS) was convened by the Quality Council of India (QCI) in collaboration with the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS). It was held at 17th & 18th September 2018 at the Andaz, New Delhi, India. GOTS was the Supporting Partner to this Convention” (02 Oct).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Bangladesh Alliance factories completing upgrades 28 Sep to 05 OctMega Yarn Dyeing Mills Ltd., Lhotse Ltd., and Sea Blue Textile Ltd. (09 Oct). [Ed’s note: this list is gleaned from the Bangladesh Alliance Twitter feed.]

Businesses suffer for truck strike: “Truck-owners and drivers continued their work abstention for the second day yesterday, dealing a blow to businesses and affecting the supply chain of goods to the capital. No trucks left Dhaka yesterday while many from different districts remained off the streets, transport leaders said. Faruque Hassan, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said they had been suffering because of the strike and the impact would increase unless the strike was withdrawn immediately” (08 Oct).

Excessive work hours a challenge for social compliance in RMG, says a study: “Interestingly, workers want excessive work hours due to low wages. Excessive working hours are a great challenge for ensuring social compliance issues in the country’s readymade garment (RMG) industry, as nearly 62% of workers in the sector work 12 hours a day, contradicting labour law, says a study report” (07 Oct).

Cambodia

Cambodia hikes textile workers’ minimum wage, falls short of union demands: “Cambodia on Friday raised the minimum monthly wage [by $12] for workers in its crucial textiles and footwear industry to $182, an increase of seven percent, with effect from January” (05 Oct). [Ed’s note: current wage is $170.]

EU to hit Cambodia with trade sanctions, says Myanmar may follow: “The European Union told Cambodia on Friday it will lose its special access to the world’s largest trading bloc, and said it was considering similar trade sanctions for Myanmar in a toughening of EU policy on human rights in Southeast Asia” (05 Oct).

Government to cough up for workers’ unpaid wages: “The Labour Ministry on Wednesday told workers of the now-defunct Lida Garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district to come to the plant on Friday to receive their unpaid wage” (05 Oct). See also Government to pay LIDA workers (05 Oct).

Labour Ministry seeks ban on missing Pchum Ben pay song: “The Labour Ministry yesterday asked both the Information and Culture ministries to ban a Khmer song about garment workers not being paid before Pchum Ben” (05 Oct).

Implementing guidelines provide new details on labor law amendments: “Cambodia’s Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training (MLVT) has introduced two new Prakas (implementing guidelines), one of which seeks to clarify recent amendments to the country’s Labor Law pertaining to seniority payments, and the other establishes a new requirement to make salary payments twice per month. Below we set out full details of the changes” (01 Oct).

Myanmar

EU trade privileges move alarms garment sector: “A announcement by the European Union that it is considering suspending trade privileges for Myanmar because of alleged Tatmadaw atrocities in Rakhine State has alarmed garment firms, which say hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk” (06 Oct).

Pakistan

25 workers hospitalised after taking toxic water: “Up to 25 labourers [employed at AZGARD-9 textile mill] were hospitalised on Thursday after consuming toxic water on the mill’s premises at Basti Lal Shah, Kot Radha Kishan” (05 Oct).

Protection against harassment of women at workplace: LHC ruling: “The Lahore High Court has ruled that the jurisdiction of the Federal Ombudsperson for “Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace” is not limited to the federal capital territory as it is competent to hear complaints related to trans-provincial organizations, institutions, employers and workplaces” (28 Sep).

Philippines

Labor groups welcome approval of proposed Expanded Maternity Leave law: “Once signed into law by the President, PM said the current 60-day maternity leave benefits will be increased to 105 days. “This is one week (7 days) higher than the ILO standard of 98 but it falls short of the 120 days approved by the Senate”” (01 Oct).

Thailand

Extortion and abuse: Myanmar workers arrive debt-laden in Thailand: “A ‘mafia’ of recruitment agents is trapping Myanmar migrants to Thailand in debt bondage despite a 2017 law meant to fight exploitation in the kingdom's notoriously shadowy job market, activists and workers say” (04 Oct).

MANUFACTURERS

World Bank to help Pakistan textile mills conserve energy: “The International Finance Corp (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, yesterday said it will help textile manufacturers in Pakistan slash energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to boost their productivity and efficiency. IFC signed an agreement with US-based clothing and accessories retailer Gap Inc to increase resource efficiency in its operations in Pakistan and drive long-term sustainability” (06 Oct).

Eastman named gold sponsor of 2019 Redress Design Award: “Eastman has been named the gold sponsor of the 2019 Redress Design Award. The Redress Design Award is the fashion design competition focused on environmental sustainability and zero-waste in the fashion industry” (04 Oct).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

10 – 11 October, London: 13th Responsible Supply Chain Summit Europe: “Focus on the emerging technologies, innovations and collaborations critical to sustainable, cost-effective supply chain strategies.”

11 October, Geneva: Giving Women’s 8th Annual Conference: “The Fashion Industry: Women’s Friend or Foe”

11 October, New York: Sourcing Journal Summit 2018: Several panels tackle sustainability in the supply chain.

11 – 12 October, Kilkenny, Ireland: Global Forum on Responsible Leather. Hosted by TextileExchange Responsible Leather Roundtable.

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 Nam NguyenCCO)

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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