THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Benetton (emphasising durability over speed), G-Star (partnering with Jaden Smith for sustainable denim), Kering (WWD honour for corporate citizenship), Nike (more women join gender discrimination lawsuit), PVH (WWD honour for leadership in corporate responsibility), Reformation, Stella McCartney, Outland Denim, Rothy’s, and Veja (seen on Meghan Markle and rated by ethical fashion app Good On You), Topshop (consumer opinions down over allegations of sexual harassment against CEO), Victoria Secrets and PVH (sourcing from manufacturer in Kenyan court over workers’ rights violations), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • Sustainability is no longer an afterthought in the fashion industry

  • Textilbündnis and FWF join forces

  • A plea to stop making haul video

  • NRDC leader believes in radical transparency (podcast)

  • British lawmakers hear first evidence in parliamentary Sustainability of the Fashion Industry inquiry

  • Research reveals disconnect between retailers and consumers on pricing

  • Canadian parliament says time to end modern slavery in supply chains

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: new minimum wage finalised

  • Cambodia: Health officials asked to curb discrimination against garment workers

  • Kenya: union takes Hela Intimates to court over workers’ rights violations

  • Myanmar: 72-day strike halted as Chinese-owned factory agrees to rehire sacked workers; EU visit on human rights abuses prompts broad show of opposition to ending trade benefits

Manufacturers in this issue include: Nanollose (makes first garment from tree-free rayon; and signs policy with Canopy), Orange Fiber (vegan silk out of citrus fruit), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “As the number of pressure-producing strategies used by retailers and brands increased, the percentage of products priced to cover compliant production decreased.” From Better Buying Index Report, Fall 2018: Purchasing Practices Performance in Apparel, Footwear, and Household Textile Supply Chains, by Better Buying (31 Oct).

  • “Sustainability certification is a conspiracy to do nothing.” Kate Hamnett at the Global Fashion Conference in London (31 Oct).

  • “I am completely against any form of sanction or embargo against Myanmar. Experience shows that this type of measures only harms the poorest sections of the population. They will suffer the consequences, certainly not the rich and powerful.” Myanmar’s Cardinal Bo on the possibility of EU sanctions (31 Oct).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Topshop falling in consumers’ opinion after chairman is accused of sexual misconduct: “Topshop’s brand perception metrics are falling following the sexual and racial harassment allegations against Sir Philip Green, the chairman of the brand’s parent company, Arcadia Group. That is according to a survey by market research and data analytics firm YouGov, which inquired consumers whether they have seen or heard anything about the brand in the past two weeks and, if so, if it was positive or negative” (31 Oct).

3 more women join Nike gender discrimination, hostile workplace lawsuit: “More women have joined the class action lawsuit that was filed against Nike this summer. Kelly Cahill and Sara Johnston initially filed suit against Nike in an Oregon federal court in August, alleging that the Oregon-based sportswear giant has created a hostile work environment for women, who are paid less and have fewer opportunities for advancement than their male colleagues despite comparable experience and performance” (30 Oct).

Kering Extends efforts to protect the environment, women – and now embroiderers: “Since unveiling its first sustainability initiative in 2011, Kering has emerged as an industry leader in the field of corporate social responsibility, and is this year’s recipient of the WWD Honor for Corporate Citizenship” (30 Oct).

Emanuel Chirico: A Guy From the Bronx: “Chirico has taken PVH to new heights, changing the complexion by acquiring several brands and being a leader in corporate responsibility” (30 Oct).

Benetton to focus on durability: “Benetton is revisiting 30-year-old product lines and emphasising durability over speed. Luciano, now 83 and back as the group’s frontman, says realising the outfit you bought last year is already out of style feels like “being robbed in [your] own home”” (29 Oct).

Jaden Smith and G-Star release Forces of Nature collection: “G-Star is at the forefront of denim and sustainable denim technology in fashion which is why I wanted to collaborate with them ~ Jaden Smith” (28 Oct).

NEWS & REPORTS

Better Buying releases second rating cycle results: “Following the spring launch of the Better Buying Purchasing Practices Index (BBPPI), Better Buying now released its second report designed to support industry efforts to improve purchasing practices in supply chains globally. The report reveals that suppliers experience increasingly more financial pressure from their customers, and shows significant regional differences in purchasing practices” (31 Oct). [Ed’s note: see full 30-page report here. See also: Global garment workers exploited as big brands pressure suppliers: report: “Pressure by big brands on suppliers to deliver more quickly and cheaply contributes to labor abuses in factories that manufacture garments, footwear and textiles” (31 Oct); and Global brands demand for quick production leading to workers' abuse: report: “More than half the suppliers surveyed were affected by cost negotiation strategies that cut into their profits” (01 Nov).]

Sustainability is no longer an afterthought in the fashion industry: “Meeting the demands of increasingly environmentally conscious shoppers, the fashion industry, known as one of the worst-polluting sectors, is embracing sustainability as the new ‘it’ trend. In a sign that the issue is no longer just an afterthought, the topic was a key discussion point at this year’s WWD Apparel + Retail CEO Summit, which concluded Wednesday in New York. The two-day event gathered some 300 top industry executives, including the CEOs of Macy’s, Kohl’s and Neiman Marcus as well as the heads of luxury brands Paul Smith and Ermenegildo Zegna” (31 Oct).

Textilbündnis and FWF join forces: “Fair Wear Foundation and the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles [Textilbündnis] are joining forces to promote the payment of living wages and fair working conditions in the garment industry. Both initiatives signed an agreement on Wednesday in Berlin” (31 Oct).

Stop making haul video: “Fast fashion and the culture that supports it needs to change. Lex Croucher gives easily implementable advice for reducing our reliance on the unethical fashion industry” (31 Oct). [Ed’s note: see Lex Croucher’s video here.]

NRDC leader believes in radical transparency: “Linda Greer, Senior Scientist at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) joins Mike Schragger online from her office in Washington, D.C. to share her experiences working to improve the apparel sector, her initial ideas for creating a climate roadmap for apparel and her conviction that transparency as it is practiced today is not effective enough” (31 Oct – 50:42-minute podcast).

‘Cultural change’ needed to address fashion sustainability: “Reducing the environmental impact of fast fashion relies on the “emotional longevity” of garments to consumers, the first evidence hearing of the Sustainability of the Fashion Industry inquiry has found” (30 Oct). [Ed’s note: see also Fast fashion hurts workers and the environment, British lawmakers told: “Britain should pressurize fashion brands to design clothes that pollute less and are easier to recycle to reduce fast fashion’s environmental impact, experts told lawmakers” (31 Oct).]

First Insight research reveals disconnect between retailers and consumers on pricing: “Research released today at the WWD Apparel and Retail CEO Summit by technology solution provider First Insight Inc. reveals that there’s a “significant disconnect between senior retail executives and consumers” regarding low prices. Authors of the report said, as a result, retailers are underestimating the importance of in-store discounts and pricing strategies” (30 Oct).

How to actually verify that your clothes are Fair Trade: “Sustainability is having a moment. With Everlane’s recent promise to eliminate all virgin plastic within its walls by 2021 and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex herself, choosing to wear sustainable clothing designers while on tour in Australia, conscious consumerism is everywhere. But as people start paying attention to fashion's effect on the planet, Fair Trade USA is making sure ethical purchasing doesn’t stop at going green” (30 Oct). [Ed’s note: article mentions Patagonia, Athleta, West Elm, Madewell and J.Crew.]

‘Wash your clothes less and get out the sewing kit’, urges Women’s Institute: “The Women’s Institute is urging members to wash their clothes less frequently and to revive the ‘make do and mend’ approach to damaged garments in the battle to reduce plastic pollution” (30 Oct).

How fashion brands can assist sustainable development: “According to the UN Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, sustainable development means “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Put another way, sustainable development is about the balance between the short- and long-term demand and supply of resources” (30 Oct).

We rate Meghan Markle’s ethical fashion choices: Ethical fashion app Good On You rates the newly-minted Royal morphing rapidly into sustainably style icon. Brands included are Reformation, Stella McCartney, Outland Denim, Rothy’s, and Veja (29 Oct). [Ed’s note: see also The Meghan effect: can her ethical and sustainable fashion choices change lives? “The duchess pulls on a pair of skinny jeans … and up to 30 women rescued from human trafficking will be hired as seamstresses [by Outland Denim]” (31 Oct).]

Time to end modern slavery in supply chains: “This week, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, a group of MPs within the Canadian government, took a step in the right direction. A new report, entitled A Call to Action: Ending the Use of All Forms of Child Labour in Supply Chains, outlines bold recommendations to eradicate child and forced labour in supply chains. The Canadian government now has an opportunity to develop a model Modern Slavery Act, legislative action that could protect the young and marginalized, and push trade into the service of people” (28 Oct).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Bangladesh Alliance factories completing upgrades 30 Oct to 02 NovCitadel Apparels, Odyssey Dresses, and Onus Design (02 Nov). [Ed’s note: this list is based on the Bangladesh Alliance Twitter feed.]

RMG wage board finalises new wage ignoring all objections: “The minimum wage board, formed to review the wages for the readymade garment workers, has finalised its proposal setting Tk 8,000 as minimum wage for the workers ignoring all the objections and recommendations submitted by the trade union federations and factory owners” (31 Oct).

Cambodia

Health officials asked to curb discrimination: “Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered the Health Ministry to monitor hospitals providing free medical check-ups and treatments to garment workers” (01 Nov).

Kenya

Kenyan union takes Hela Intimates to court over workers’ rights violations: “Pregnant workers fired for requesting maternity leave, and those joining unions facing dismissal: these workers’ and human rights violations have led to Hela Intimates being dragged to the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nairobi. Hela Intimates, which makes undergarments, sleep and casual wear, has factories in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mexico, and Sri Lanka, supplies global brands in Europe and the US including Victoria Secrets and PVH, which owns Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and a number of other brands. In Kenya it employs over 2,500 workers at its factory in the Athi River Export Processing Zone in Nairobi” (01 Nov).

Myanmar

Chinese-owned garment factory agrees to rehire sacked workers: “The management of the Chinese-owned Fu Yuen garment factory in Yangon on Tuesday agreed to rehire 30 workers after mediation of its labour dispute by Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein” (31 Oct). [Ed’s note: see also Myanmar garment workers to end strike after government mediates labor dispute (31 Oct).]

Withdrawal of EU perks may eliminate 400,000 jobs: officials: “If the European Union removes Myanmar’s trade benefits under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), garment factories could close and almost 400,000 garment workers be thrown out of work, business and labour leaders warned” (31 Oct).

Cardinal Bo against the ‘economic injustice’ of EU sanctions: ““Experience shows that this type of measure only harms the poorest sections of the population,” the prelate said. Sanctions could devastate some of key sectors of Myanmar’s economy, already facing great uncertainty. Experts estimate that at least 400,000 jobs could be lost in the garment sector” (31 Oct).

EU delegates encounter broad show of opposition to ending trade preferences: “A visiting EU delegation has encountered vocal opposition to the possible withdrawal of trade preferences in numerous meetings with a wide range of government officials, union leaders, businesspeople and garment workers as it starts its mission to examine human rights and labor conditions in Myanmar” (31 Oct).

MANUFACTURERS

Nanollose makes first garment from tree-free rayon: “[Nanollose] recently created a test garment using the latest 3D sweater-knit technology. This marks the first time a piece of clothing has been made using our Tree-Free rayon fibre, and is a drastic departure from clothing made from traditional rayon fibre that comes from environmentally challenging wood pulp processing” (31 Oct).

Nanollose signs policy with Canopy: “[Nanollose] has recently been recognised as a next generation solution provider by Canopy, a global leader in forest conservation. Canopy works to protect the world’s forests, species and climate by collaborating with business leaders, scientists and decision-makers to help create sustainable supply chains and foster innovative solutions to environmental challenges” (31 Oct).

Italy’s Orange Fiber is making sustainable vegan silk out of citrus fruit: “Orange Fiber makes sustainable citrus-fruit based silk from the by-products of the juice industry, saving “hundreds of thousands of tons” of scraps that would likely end up in a landfill. The company claims to make the “world’s first sustainable citrus fabric” and envisions its product being used to make luxury fashion” (30 Oct).

5 main hazardous chemicals in clothing from China named: “The Consumer Product Safety Commission (BCP) has published a list of the main chemicals used in the manufacturing of low-cost clothing, mainly from China” (29 Oct). [Ed’s note: the chemicals are: lead, NFE (nonylphenol ethoxylates and nonylphenols), phthalates, PFC (perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals), and formaldehyde.]

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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.”

* 12 November, Los Angeles: Media masterclass on sustainability in fashion: Global Fashion Agenda will host a media masterclass.

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 Chang SuCCO)

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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