THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Adidas (fined over working conditions), Amazon and TK Maxx (selling real fur as faux), Asos (joins ZDHC), Burberry (moving ‘beyond audit’), Bionda Castana (zero-waste strategy), Citizen Wolf (making custom-made the norm), Fast Retailing (signs up to the UNGC), For Days (raises $2.8m), H&M (bans plastic bags in Japan), Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Next, New Look, River Island, and Shop Direct (joins law enforcement to combat modern slavery), nat-2 just (vegan shoes from coffee leather), Orange Fiber and Bioglitz (disrupting materials), Pentland Brands (five new charity partnerships), The North Face (eco jacket from plastic bottles), Uniqlo (two new sustainability videos), United By Blue (sustainable bison insulation in puffer jackets), and more.

Reports released this week:

  • No reports were released during the week

In general news:

  • Vegan campaigners release new ‘horrifying’ footage of animal abuse on sheep farms

  • Slave-free jeans sell out on ‘Markle sparkle’ but can companies back ethical vows?

  • Circularising the textile industry: the challenge begins with product design

  • Louisiana cotton farmer Jay Hardwick wins 2018 Farmer of the Year

  • ‘Made in Romania’: the story behind the tag

  • Not knowing which hazardous chemicals are in our products is crazy – the new waste database is not

  • Your old, unwanted clothes can be turned into building materials

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: deadline for Accord’s exit leads to tension between the EU and Bangladesh (numerous stories); apparel workers in Bangladesh still the lowest paid by global standards

  • Cambodia: EU to Cambodia: Fix human rights or face economic hardship; garment workers injured in crash; workers faint again at Green Meadow factory

  • Pakistan: women trade unions vow to protect rights of cotton workers

Manufacturers in this issue include: DyStar (combats counterfeit textile dyes:), Jou Jou Fish and Green Threads Inc. (award recipients for textile advances), Meghmani Dyes and Intermediates, Denim Expert, Eastman Exports Global Clothing, and Sateri (sign up to ZDHC), PrimaLoft (expands its suite of biodegradable technologies), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “T]he truth is that today recyclers can’t deliver the level of material transparency that many brands are asking for.” Anne-Sofie Andersson, on the European Chemical Agency’s new database, which will include all EU Candidate List chemicals in all products placed on the EU market and will serve recyclers with information about chemical content (13 Nov).

  • “What progress has the Accord made here in Bangladesh? After five years they could only handover 20 out of more than 1,600 factories they have inspected so far.” Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, on the Accord’s threat to invalidate factory compliance if a high court restraining order to remove the initiative from the country on 30 November (13 Nov).

  • Jean Paul Gaultier is a hypocrite to describe fur as deplorable. He has worked with and sold fur for years. So why the sudden change of mind? Why would he listen to PETA, an animal rights group that have made statements offensive to gay and Jewish people?” Mark Oaten, chief executive officer of the International Fur Federation, on Gaultier’s announcement on French TV that he plans to stop using fur (12 Nov).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Citizen Wolf: The Australian ethical brand making custom tailoring the norm: “Citizen Wolf is built on the simple idea that the clothes you wear every day can and should be custom made just for you” (14 Nov).

The North Face to relaunch ThermoBall product line using recycled materials: “The North Face announced Wednesday that it’s re-releasing its ThermoBall line in November using recycled polyester and insulation. The insulation alone in one ThermoBall Eco jacket will be made from five plastic bottles” (14 Nov).

TK Maxx and Amazon among shops selling real fur as faux: “Shops including Amazon and TK Maxx have been selling faux fur clothes and bags which are actually made from rabbit, fox and raccoon dog fur, a BBC Watchdog Live investigation has found” (14 Nov). [Ed’s note: other brands named are AX Paris and Missy Empire.]

The power of partners: “Recently, C&A, an international fashion retail clothing chain, released the world’s first Cradle to Cradle Certified™ GOLD denim jeans … The Cradle to Cradle Certified GOLD jeans were achieved through C&A’s close collaboration with Fashion for Good — an initiative connecting brands, producers, retailers, suppliers, non-profit organizations, innovators and funders to work together in a shared ambition to make the fashion industry a force for good” (14 Nov).

Fast Retailing becomes UN Global Compact signatory: “In October this year, Fast Retailing became a signatory to the UN Global Compact. The goals of the UN Global Compact are to foster responsible action among companies and organizations to materialize sustainable growth for the international community. So far, over 12,000 entities have committed to the Compact” (14 Nov).

Citrus textile fibres? Biodegradable glitter? Who knew?! “Did you know that fruit waste is being used to create clothing? Or that glitter can be made from sources that are better than plastic? Mike Schragger talks to Enrica Arena [Orange Fiber] and Saba Gray [Bioglitz], the brains behind two new material innovations that will change the way we think about the materials we use to create our fashion products” (14 Nov – 20:23-minute podcast). [Ed’s note: see a related article also on Orange Fiber: Award-Winning fashion innovators make vegan silk - from oranges: (14 Nov).]

Patagonia’s most sustainable collection to date: “For the Fall 2018/2019 season, Patagonia’s range of snow garments built with recycled materials continues to increase, diverting about 215,000 pounds of factory scraps and plastic bottles from the waste stream and into the snow gear it makes” (13 Nov).

Oxfam and Burberry: Moving ‘beyond audit’ to impact: “Engaging with Burberry as a ‘critical friend’ has helped Oxfam to understand barriers and opportunities for better workers’ rights. Rachel Wilshaw describes how collaboration has enabled us to innovate and test solutions together” (13 Nov).

Asos signs up to ZDHC: Asos has become a signatory to the ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme, an industry collaboration of brands, value chain partners and associates, driving the industry towards more sustainable chemistry (13 Nov).

Pentland Brands announces five new charity partners: “Pentland Brands has announced new partnerships with five charities, to last until 2021. The company said in a statement, the UK and international charities, which were chosen by its employees, provide valuable support in disadvantaged communities and embody its family business principle of ‘In Good Conscience’” (13 Nov).

Uniqlo releases two more “Unlocking The Power of Clothing” videos: “Uniqlo has adopted a new sustainability statement, “Unlocking The Power of Clothing.” With a focus on products, the supply chain, employees, and stores and communities, we will carry out initiatives through our business to change the world for the better” (13 Nov). [Ed’s note: the two video are “Products” and “Supply Chains”.]

As fashion moves toward sustainability, streetwear’s major players are notably silent on environmental impacts: “As consumers become more aware of the insidious effect that the global fashion industry has on the environment, fashion brands have responded by embracing sustainability both as a business practice and a marketing tool. Yet the biggest names in streetwear, one of the buzziest and most influential sectors of the fashion industry at the moment, seem to have far less of an interest in making sustainability a priority” (13 Nov). [Ed’s note: brands mentioned include Palace, Bathing Ape, Off-White, Public School, 1017 Alyx 9SM, and Noah.]

Sustainable clothing startup For Days raises $2.8M for its closed-loop manufacturing process: “For Days, a clothing startup that wants to reduce the enormous amount of textile waste created annually, announced today that it has raised $2.8 million in seed funding” (13 Nov).

H&M to abolish use of plastic bags at Japan stores: “H&M, which operates 88 H&M casual clothing stores in the country, said Tuesday that it will abolish the use of plastic shopping bags in December.The company plans to sell paper bags for ¥20 apiece instead, aiming to encourage customers to bring their own bags … The company plans to donate some of the profits from its sales of paper bags to World Wide Fund for Nature Japan” (13 Nov).

Top UK fashion brands team up with law enforcement to combat modern slavery: “Major British retailers including Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Next are joining forces with law enforcement agencies in a bid to eradicate labour exploitation and modern slavery from the fashion industry [in the UK], Britain’s anti-slavery body said on Tuesday” (13 Nov). [Ed’s note: the other brands involved are New Look, River Island and Shop Direct.]

Bionda Castana relaunches with zero-waste strategy: “After a two-year hiatus, luxury footwear brand Bionda Castana has relaunched with a new, sustainable approach that celebrates its bestselling designs on a made-to-order basis” (12 Nov).

Adidas hit with fine over ‘working conditions’ in Calabasas Yeezy Studio: [The American arm of Adidas] has been hit with a proposed $45,000 fine in connection with an investigation into the working conditions its Southern California-based Yeezy design studio” (12 Nov).

This brand’s sneakers could be world’s most sustainable — here’s why: “French fashion brand Veja makes sneakers with raw materials sourced from organic farming and ecological agriculture that the founders say avoids chemicals and polluting processes. The distinctive kicks might just be the world’s most sustainable, according to CNN Business” (12 Nov).

The optimized anti-style of Allbirds shoes: “The San Francisco-based brand Allbirds makes shoes so soft and flexible that you can bend them almost a hundred and eighty degrees in your hands. When worn, the lightweight rubber soles flare out at the ball of the foot, creating a slightly geriatric silhouette” (12 Nov). [Ed’s note: this review, from The New Yorker, hardly mentions sustainability at all; something of a breakthrough for a sustainable fashion brand.]

Putting the brakes on fast fashion: “Pioneering solutions to address environmental challenges will be at the heart of the fourth UN Environment Assembly next March [where it] will formally launch the UN Alliance on Sustainable Fashion to encourage the private sector, governments and non-governmental organizations to create an industry-wide push for action to reduce fashion’s negative social, economic and environmental impact and turn it into a driver for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals” (12 Nov). [Ed’s note: article is by UN Environment, which notes the following brands/manufacturers as exemplary: Ecoalf, GumDrop, Explicit, Patagonia, Polartec, Nudie Jeans, Tonlé, Wintervacht, Indosole, Queen of Raw, Novel Supply, H&M, Guess, I:CO, Mud Jeans, Rent the Runway, Girl Meets Dress, and YCloset.]

New vegan sneaker range is made out of coffee leather: “High-end German sneaker brand nat-2 just launched a line of vegan shoes featuring a unique animal-free leather, made from repurposed coffee grounds” (12 Nov).

Gaultier may join ranks of designers going fur-free: “Could Jean Paul Gaultier be the latest designer set to go fur-free? The couturier this weekend on French Saturday night TV show “Bonsoir!” said that’s the plan going forward. A Gaultier spokeswoman declined to confirm the news, however, adding that the designer is traveling” (12 Nov). [Ed’s note: in the last issue of the newsletter (FSWIR 46.1), the news story I linked suggested this was a done deal; this story suggests it is may not.]

Say goodbye to down with the United By Blue bison puffer jacket: “United By Blue just launched a new winter jacket in a way that’s sustainable, nearly unprecedented, and distinctly stylish. The brand believes that what’s in your jacket is more important than you think, hence the launch of the Bison Puffer, a seasonally friendly favorite that just so happens to be filled with sustainable B100 bison insulation” (07 Nov). [Ed’s note: if you’re wondering what B100 is … see here.]

NEWS & REPORTS

Sustainability of the fashion industry inquiry – publications: At the link you can find all the submissions to the UK parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee’s investigation into sustainability of the fashion industry, which is currently underway (November 18).

Vegan campaigners release new ‘horrifying’ footage of animal abuse on sheep farms: “Vegan campaigners have released never-seen-before footage they say documents animal abuse on 49 farms across the UK. The footage, acquired by animal rights charity PETA Asia, shows workers punching sheep in the face, slamming their heads into the floor, beating and kicking them, and throwing them off shearing trailers. According to the charity, it has submitted more than seven hours of footage from the 49 farms visited to Trading Standards and the Scottish SPCA and filed detailed complaints of workers punching, beating, kicking, and stamping on sheep” (15 Nov).

Slave-free jeans sell out on ‘Markle sparkle’ but can companies back ethical vows? “When Meghan Markle wore a pair of “slave-free” jeans on a royal tour of Australia last month, she sparked a sales stampede and shone a spotlight on the growing number of companies aiming to meet public demand for products untainted by modern-day slavery” (14 Nov).

Circularising the textile industry: the challenge begins with product design: “The French National Institute for the Circular Economy (INEC) has made an assessment of the circular economy’s status in the textile/apparel industry, underlining the existing limitations to textile recycling, and the need to anticipate the possibility of reusing materials from the initial design stage” (14 Nov).

Louisiana cotton farmer Jay Hardwick wins 2018 Farmer of the Year: “Honoring the extraordinary contributions of a farmer who is committed advancing sustainable agriculture through outstanding conservation and stewardship efforts on their farm and sharing best practices with their peers, this year’s Farmer of the Year recognizes Louisiana cotton farmer Jay Hardwick for his leadership and dedication to sustainability” (14 Nov).

‘Made in Romania’: the story behind the tag: “According to the figures of Employers Federation of Textile, Garments and Leather Industry (FEPAIUS), the Romanian textile-clothing industry represented 10.8 % of exports in 2016. There were over 7428 companies working in fashion: 4116 in clothing, 1312 in textiles and about 2,000 in leather. Furthermore, 4.51 % of the total Romanian workforce is linked one way or another to the fashion industry” (14 Nov).

Who pays for your fashion? “The Garment Worker Diaries collected from data on the lives of those who make our clothes unveil harsh truths” (13 Nov).

Not knowing which hazardous chemicals are in our products is crazy – the new waste database is not: The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) is building “a database that will include all EU Candidate List chemicals in all products placed on the EU market … One of its purposes is to serve recyclers with information about the chemical content in the things that they are converting into new materials. Chemical transparency is something ChemSec, as well as many brands, has been screaming about for years. It’s essential in order to increase the value of recycled materials, and I urge all recyclers to see the potential here: you will be able to sell your product at an increased price to a whole new set of customers” (13 Nov).

Your old, unwanted clothes can be turned into building materials: “Used and unwanted clothes could be converted into building materials instead of winding up in landfill. This is using a technique whereby last season’s must-haves are shredded and turned into solid panels for floors or walls” (03 Nov).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Bangladesh Alliance factories completing upgrades 13 Nov to 16 Nov: Apex Footwear, Vanguard Garments, and The Civil Engineers (16 Nov). [Ed’s note: this list is based on the Bangladesh Alliance Twitter feed.]

European Parliament slams Bangladesh Government on human rights and calls for the continuation of the Accord: “Today the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the Bangladesh Government to urgently act to address deteriorating human rights conditions. European Parliament slams Bangladesh Government on human rights and calls for the continuation of the Accord. The resolution calls on the Government to address a multitude of human rights abuses such as the ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression and association, extra judicial killings, enforced disappearances, excessive use of force, anti-union discrimination and other labour rights abuses. Notably the Resolution takes a strong stance on the Transition Accord on Fire and Building Safety calling on the Bangladesh government to allow the work of the Accord to continue beyond November 2018.  Currently, the Transition Accord is set to be expelled from Bangladesh on 30 November 2018” (15 Nov).

“Bangladesh puts trade with EU on game by refusing inspection clothing factories”: “The European Parliament demands that Bangladesh international inspections of Bangladesh’s garment factories are not denied. At the end of this month, foreign inspectors (with the Accord) are no longer welcome in Bangladesh. MEP Agnes Jongerius warns the Bangladeshi government that the European Parliament is not afraid to reconsider trade agreements between Europe and the Asian country if the Accord is shut down. The EU is Bangladesh’s most important trading partner” (15 Nov – in Dutch).

Accord list faulty: BGMEA: “The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) yesterday termed faulty a list of 532 garment factories with which the Accord has proposed severing business ties due to poor progress in remediation works” (14 Nov).

Tofail blasts Accord: “Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday came down hard on the Accord for its intent to sever business ties with 532 garment factories for their alleged poor progress in remediation. “We cannot accept this,” he said in a programme on compliance in Bangladesh's garment sector at The Westin hotel in Dhaka” (13 Nov).

Bangladesh needs to get serious about workers’ rights and safety: “The next weeks are crucial to see whether the Government of Bangladesh will continue to expel the Accord. The EU should respond and make a stand towards the Bangladeshi government to improve labour conditions and to ensure full cooperation with the 2018 Transition Accord until an independent assessment concludes that the Bangladeshi national institutions are fit to take over” (13 Nov). [Ed’s note: by Ben Vanpeperstraete from Clean Clothes Campaign.]

Apparel workers in Bangladesh still the lowest paid by global standards: “Bangladesh still enjoys the lowest cost for labour in manufacturing clothing products in global perspective, even after the latest wage hike for apparel workers to be effective from next month, said an international survey report” (12 Nov).

Cambodia

Garment workers injured in crash: “Twenty one garment workers were hurt on Tuesday evening when a container truck grazed their factory truck [for Tripos International] in Kampong Chhnang province’s Kampong Tralach district” (15 Nov).

EU to Cambodia: Fix human rights or face economic hardship: “Both Cambodia and Myanmar heavily depend on the European Union's duty and quota free trade agreement. But the European bloc believes it is time that these countries address human rights abuses” (14 Nov).

Workers faint again at Green Meadow factory: “Sixty more garment workers at the Green Meadow Development factory fainted yesterday morning, prompting Labour Ministry officials to investigate the incident” (14 Nov).

Pakistan

Women trade unions vow to protect rights of cotton workers: “Trade unions of women cotton pickers vowed to work for protection of the rights of cotton workers during the formation meeting held by Sindh Community Foundation in Hyderbad on October 11” (14 Nov).

MANUFACTURERS

Four manufacturers sign up to ZDHC: Meghmani Dyes and Intermediates, Denim Expert, Eastman Exports Global Clothing, and Sateri have become signatories to the ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme, an industry collaboration of brands, value chain partners and associates, driving the industry towards more sustainable chemistry (13 Nov).

Performance Days announces ECO Performance award winners: Performance Days (the functional fabric fair) has announced the two Performance awards for outstanding new developments in the areas of function and sustainability. The two awardees are Jou Jou Fish, for a 100% recycled nylon designed with a micro-porous and is produced without solvents, and Green Threads Inc., for a tear-resistant fabric produced with a significantly reduced amount of raw materials and energy consumed in production (13 Nov).

More areas get water ‘polluted by textile units’: “A section of farmers receiving irrigation water from the branch canals of Cauvery petitioned the district collector on Monday seeking steps to stop the contaminated water they had been receiving of late. Displaying the bottles of water in black and green, they alleged that effluents discharged from textile dyeing units in neighbouring districts were responsible for the pollution” (13 Nov).

PrimaLoft expands suite of biodegradable technologies: “PrimaLoft [has] expanded its suite of biodegradable technologies with the introduction of PrimaLoft Bio Performance Fabric, the first 100% recycled, biodegradable synthetic fabric” (13 Nov).

DyStar combats counterfeit textile dyes: “Textile chemicals company DyStar has been successful in securing the destruction of 3.3 tonnes of textiles dyes, judged to infringe a patent of the company’s for the manufacture of its reactive red dyes” (13 Nov).

Inside The Business – François Girbaud: “Denim legend François Girbaud [of ISKO Denim] tells it how it is on sustainability and the future of denim” (10 Nov – 1:54-minute video).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

20 November, Brussels: Eliminating child and forced labour in the cotton, textile and garment value chains: Co-funded by the EU, ILO and FAO.

* 20 November, London: Comme des Marxists: Pop-up Common Room: A Manifesto Workshop: “The aim of this workshop is to collectively create a manifesto that communicates our ideas for addressing issues of social and environmental sustainability in fashion.”

21 November, Amsterdam: Meet the Maker – Ms. Bay: “Hear from the co-founder of Ms. Bay, Saskia Aelen, about the sustainable handbag brand [made from recycled fish skin].”

* 24 – 35 November, London: Disrupting Patterns: Designing for Circular Speeds: “In partnership with University of the Arts London and Mistra Future Fashion, Filippa K presents the exhibition, Disrupting Patterns, taking the viewer on a journey of Circular Design Speeds in order to understand what this means for the fashion industry today.”

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

27 November, Webinar: Recycling Matters, And Here is What is Being Done to Keep It That Way: “Recycling, for many consumers, is the iconic sustainable behavior. But, if you’ve read the headlines, recycling is in trouble.”

* 28 – 29 November, Munich: Performance Days: The latest trends and innovations in the functional fabric industry, focussing this year on water and sustainability.

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.”

* 06 December, Webinar: Organic textile labeling in the US: “Learn more about U.S. regulations in organic textile labeling, different kinds of organic claims, and how the Organic Content Standard (OCS) and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) can be used to help support labeling organic textiles.

* 06 – 07 December, Amsterdam: Friends of ZDHC Event 2018: “For brands, retailers, supply chain partners and leading sector organisations who reference ZDHC  tools.” [Hit the link to request an invitation.]

12 December, Guangzhou, China: RBA Outreach Meeting: “The Outreach Meeting in Guangzhou, co-sponsored by GeSI is a free event geared toward RBA [Responsible Business Alliance] members, suppliers and non-member companies.”

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.”

18 February, Izmir, Turkey: GOTS Regional Seminar Turkey: “Through focused and challenging discussions, this one-day seminar shall address pressing issues relevant to the organic textiles industry.” 

* 25 February, Tempe, Arizona: GRI Reporters’ Summit: North America: “3rd Annual GRI Reporters’ Summit: Practical Solutions to Improve your Sustainability Reporting.”

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.”

* 10 – 12 June, London: Ethical Corporation’s 18th Responsible Business Summit Europe: “It’s time to Lead: Innovate, Engage and Collaborate.”

18 – 20 June, Minneapolis, USA: Circularity 19: “Circularity 19 will bring together more than 500 thought leaders and practitioners to define and accelerate the circular economy.”

(Photo John Perrett, CCO)

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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