THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Chanel (suing The RealReal over counterfeit bags) Arket (H&M – blockchain trial), H&M, Ikea, Adidas, Gap, Nike, Levi’s, C&A, Decathlon, VF and Bestseller (sourcing more sustainable cotton), M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Burberry, Primark and Next (ranked in new report on UK Modern Slavery Act), Monki (H&M – 100% sustainable cotton); Osklen (repurposing the skins of pirarucu fish), Petit Pli (clothes that grow), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • Project reinforces organic cotton production in semi-arid region of Brazil

  • Updated ZDHC Academy platform

  • Redesigning the fashion industry

  • ReMode offers think tank on fashion, tech and sustainability

  • How sustainable is recycled polyester?

  • Sweatshops: Boycotts aren’t necessarily the answer

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: ILO hires Bureau Veritas to support RMG factory remediation works; more stories on the EU-Bangladesh impasse over the Accord

  • Cambodia: Workers protest ownership change

  • Turkmenistan: Cotton pickers struggle with low pay, poor crop in southern Turkmenistan

Manufacturers in this issue include: Embee Group (chemical free screen stripping), Metalbottoni (303 Tuscans Ethical Fashion award), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “[Chanel is] trying to stop the circular economy.” The RealReal, in response to Chanel suing the luxury resale site for allegedly selling counterfeit Chanel handbags (15 Nov).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

FTSE 100 & the UK Modern Slavery Act: From Disclosure to Action: “In 2015, the UK Government introduced the Modern Slavery Act (MSA), which requires certain companies publish an annual statement detailing what steps they have taken to tackle modern slavery, both in their operations and in their supply chains. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has tracked companies’ reporting every year since, and our findings show that the MSA has failed to deliver the transformational change many hoped for … Sadly, only a handful of leading companies have demonstrated a genuine effort in their reporting to identify vulnerable workers and mitigate modern slavery risks” (19 Nov). [Ed’s note: retailers and brands ranked include (with ranking # and % in brackets): M&S (1, 78%), Sainsbury’s (4, 61%), Tesco (6, 60%), Burberry (7 ,59%), Associated British Foods (Primark – 31, 38%), Next (37, 36%).]

Missguided’s boss airfreights clothes to keep up with the Instagram generation – now he’s fighting to become the king of fast fashion: “More than 2,000 new product lines are added a month with between 150 and 500 pieces each. “We are constantly testing to find the next winner,” [Nitin Passi] says.Rapid sellers are reordered immediately, arriving in as little as three weeks. The ‘close to the bone’ model aims to reduce unsold stock. “We’re not a business like Burberry which has to burn stock at the end of the season”” (17 Nov). [Ed’s note: Missguided is now a member of the ETI.]

H&M fashion brand uses VeChain to provide detail info of their products’ origin: “Fashion brand, H&M uses blockchain technology to provide detail info of their products, and their choice is VeChain. The Swedish fashion brand, H&M recently announced the use of blockchain to provide a detailed info of their product, specifically for their clothing line, Arket … the company confirmed the product used for the trial is a wool beanie from the Autumn 2018 collection” (17 Nov).

Petit Pli: Clothes that grow: “Concerned about the current state of the clothing industry, and frustrated by how quickly his two-year old nephew outgrew the garments he had bought for him, Ryan Mario Yasin set out to address the problem by using a background in aeronautical engineering to push innovation in children's wear for social and environmental benefit” (16 Nov – 4:38-minute video).

Chanel is suing The RealReal for allegedly selling counterfeit bags: “Chanel is not a fan of luxury resale sites. Several months after filing suit against What Goes Around Comes Around, the Paris-based design house has named The RealReal in a trademark infringement and counterfeiting lawsuit, accusing the popular resale site of “selling counterfeit Chanel handbags,” despite its claims that it “ensure[s] that every item on [its site] is 100% the real thing”” (15 Nov). [Ed’s note: a case with implications for the circular economy.]

BCI members lead on more sustainable cotton sourcing: “Committed BCI Retailer and Brand Members have significantly contributed to the dramatic growth of Better Cotton over the past eight years, helping to drive BCI towards its 2020 target of having Better Cotton account for 30% of global cotton production” (15 Nov). [Ed’s note: top ten companies on Better Cotton sourcing volumes are: H&M, Ikea, Adidas, Gap, Nike, Levi’s, C&A, Decathlon, VF and Bestseller.]

Oskar Metsavaht makes sustainable fashion garments from Amazonian fish skin: “Brazilian designer Oskar Metsavaht [founder of Osklen] has repurposed the skins from the pirarucu fish found in Amazonian rivers and lakes by transforming it into sustainable scaly garments and fashion accessories” (15 Nov).

Contributing to a more sustainable way of doing fashion: Q&A with Monki: “This year Monki (a brand of BCI Member Hennes & Mauritz Group) achieved its goal to sustainably source 100% of its cotton. The retailer’s longer-term goal is to source only recycled or other more sustainable materials by 2030” (13 Nov).

NEWS & REPORTS

Making supply chains work for women: why and how companies should drive gender equality in global supply chains: “Today, BSR is pleased to launch a new video that sets out why and how companies should work to drive gender equality in global supply chains. We invite you to take a moment to watch it below” (19 Nov).

Project reinforces organic cotton production in semi-arid region of Brazil: “Over the next two years, the new [C&A Foundation] Brazilian initiative, “Cotton in Organic Farming Consortium” will aid approximately 800 farming families by strengthening organic production in seven Brazil states” (19 Nov).

Updated ZDHC Academy platform delivers enhanced sustainable chemical management training experience: “The ZDHC Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of its new and improved ZDHC Academy, the go-to platform for certified sustainable chemical management training for the textile, apparel, footwear and leather industry” (19 Nov).

Redesigning the fashion industry: A video of a Disruptive Innovation Festival - DIF livestream asking, “How might we design a fashion system fit for the 21st century?” Speakers are Laura Balmond, Francois Souchet (from the Make Fashion Circular initiative from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (19 Nov – 38:04-minute video).

ReMode offers think tank on fashion, tech and sustainability: “The inaugural two-day conference posed questions around sustainability, financing young fashion brands, where tech is going and marketing in the digital age” (18 Nov).

The fashion system needs to transition to become a force for good: “The fashion industry reaches almost every person on the planet, and is one of the most polluting and in-transparent sectors in the world. The global system is stuck in a cycle of persistent problems. How do we move from small innovations to a fashion transition?” (18 Nov). [Ed’s note: summary of Buchel, S., Roorda, C., Schipper, K. & Loorbach, D.A. (2018), The transition to good fashion (DRIFT-report).]

Fashion Revolution written evidence to the ‘Sustainability of the fashion industry’ inquiry, U.K. Environmental Audit Committee: “We believe that the fashion industry in the United Kingdom, and globally, needs far-reaching systemic change in order to tackle poverty, economic inequality, gender inequality, climate change and environmental degradation. We believe this change needs to happen at three, different yet interrelated levels: government, industry and culture” (16 Nov).

African Fashion Fund, others launch new investment fund for Africa: “African Fashion Fund (AFF), in collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI), on November 13 launched the Impact Fund For Africa (IFFA) worth € 100 million in Paris, France” (16 Nov).

How sustainable is recycled polyester? “About 49 percent of the world’s clothing is made of polyester and Greenpeace forecasts this percentage to nearly double by 2030, since the athleisure trend has led a growing number of consumers to be interested in stretchier, more resistant garments. But polyester is not a sustainable textile option, as it is made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the most common type of plastic in the world” (15 Nov).

UB study describes presence of textile microfibers in south European marine floors: “A study led by researchers of the UB quantifies the presence of textile microfibers in south European marine floors, from the Cantabrian Sea to the Black Sea. The study has analysed the amount of these colored fibers, which vary between 3 to 8 mm but are extremely fine, with less than a 0.1 mm diameter, and which come mainly from home and industrial washing machines. The results show the dominance of cellulosic fibers over synthetic polymers, and highlight that several oceanographic processes pile and transport microfibers to marine hollows” (15 Nov).

Sweatshops: Boycotts aren’t necessarily the answer: “Working conditions in sweatshops have been a cause for controversy and rightly so. Workers are usually paid extremely low wages and work extremely long hours in hazardous conditions. It’s no myth that working in a sweatshop is not anybody’s preferred vocation. However, simply boycotting company’s in the apparel industry (the industry that makes the most use of them) is a massive oversimplification that reduces a complex problem that requires a multi-faceted solution to this seemingly simple problem with a seemingly simple solution. Here’s why” (15 Nov).

Future of Eco Fashion Week in Port Douglas uncertain: “Port Douglas is in grave danger of losing Eco Fashion Week after organisers today advised Newsport it was “undetermined” whether it would return and a “decision would be made before the end of the year”” (15 Nov).

Living wages: Eight steps to help companies make the leap of faith: “Following ETI’s 20th anniversary conference, Economic justice consultant Sabita Banerji reflects on the living wages discussion and eight steps to help companies make the leap of faith” (14 Nov).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Govt-set RMG helpline proves ineffective: “RMG sector telephone helpline, set up by the government to receive complaints from workers and others and resolve grievances relating to workplace safety or worker rights, has so far proved ineffective as most of the workers are not aware of the helpline in absence of any publicity for the service” (16 Nov).

ILO hires Bureau Veritas to support RMG factory remediation works: “International Labour Organisation has hired Bureau Veritas, an international testing, inspection and certification agency, to support the capacity of Remediation Coordination Cell of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments to expedite readymade garment factories’ remediation works” (16 Nov).

EU parliament adopts resolution on Accord extension: “The European Parliament on Wednesday passed a resolution urging the Bangladesh government to extend the tenure of the Transition Accord beyond November this year. It said significant work still remains unfinished on improving safety standards in the apparel sector” (15 Nov).

Joint motion for a resolution on the human rights situation in Bangladesh (2018/2927(RSP)): [Ed’s note: official text of the European Parliament resolution on the human rights situation in Bangladesh.] “Expresses serious concern at the annulment of the Transition Accord, which is due to take effect on 30 November 2018; notes that the RCC does not yet have the capacity to monitor and enforce health and safety requirements, with the serious implications for the safety and rights of factory workers that this entails; urges the Government of Bangladesh to immediately recognise and implement the Transition Accord and show greater readiness to take over all of the functions of the accord; calls on donors to support the Government of Bangladesh in order to make this possible; further calls on the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to continue their capacity-building work with the RCC” (14 Nov).

Cambodia

Workers protest ownership change: “More than 2,000 workers from Quantum Clothing (Cambodia) Ltd in Por Senchey district have been staging protests in the capital for nearly a week outside the factory following a change in ownership” (19 Nov).

China

Workers sit in to protest wage arrears owed by garment factory in Maanshan, Anhui: from China Labour Bulletin’s strike map (14 Nov).

India

#Metoo: functional complaint panels at workplaces still a far cry: “Echoing the same view, K. Padma of Progressive Organisation for Women, says, “Recently, an alleged rape of an employee in a garment factory in the city came to light. But, the case made no headway into investigation, neither by the company nor the police”” (19 Nov).

Alarming erosion of labour laws: “The ITUC has expressed alarm at a wholesale erosion of labour laws initiated by the Indian government, and pledged full support for a general strike in protest against the changes planned for 5 January. The global trade union body has also condemned the government’s exclusion of major national trade union organisation INTUC from key tripartite processes” (16 Nov).

How has the #MeToo movement affected the lives of Bengaluru working class women? “There are men wearing white shirts and panches, and a bunch of college-going boys and girls seated at the back. For a while it begins to seem like there are ‘too many’ men for a #MeToo meeting. And then the women start pouring in and the men sit forgotten like a big clock someone notices only once” (16 Nov).

Indonesia

21 companies to relocate factories from Karawang over high wages: “Twenty-one companies will relocate their factories from Karawang, West Java to other regions on account of next year's minimum wage increase, an official has said. “According to our records, between 2017 and 2018, 21 companies relocated their factories because they could not afford to pay wages,” said Karawang Manpower and Transmigration Agency head Ahmad Suroto” (14 Nov).

Nigeria

Nigerian governors reject $82 pay deal for workers: “Nigerian governors have rejected a deal to raise the minimum wage to 30 000 naira ($82) from 18 000 naira a month, a move that could trigger fresh labour unrest” (15 Nov).

Turkmenistan

Cotton pickers struggle with low pay, poor crop in southern Turkmenistan: “Harvesting by hand remains the norm in the cotton fields of Turkmenistan’s southern Mary region. Despite reports in the state-run media of the widespread use of cotton harvesters, observers for Alternative Turkmenistan News failed to find any evidence of the machines out in the fields. Instead, the observers estimate that some 5,600 public sector workers – teachers, doctors, cleaners and others – are forced to go cotton picking every day in the region” (15 Nov).

MANUFACTURERS

Metalbottoni received the 303 Tuscans Ethical Fashion award: “Since 1959 Metalbottoni has been interpreting accessories and finishings, offering never-ending style solutions that make every detail unique … “No impact” is the extraordinary sustainable technology developed by Metalbottoni, which is applied to processing methodologies in order to streamline consumptions, materials and processing cycles and to reduce the environmental impact” (19 Nov).

Why textile micro-factories will change the future of fashion: “Traditional textile manufacturing is changing, as never before, and after many years in development, multiple technologies are now available, offering the manufacturer a sustainable option to conventional production” (15 Nov).

Texworld USA to focus on sustainability at upcoming winter 2019 show: “Texworld USA, one of the largest textile sourcing shows on the East Coast, will come to the Javits Convention Center in New York for its winter show, focusing on sustainability. The Texworld USA Winter 2019 trade show is set to run from January 21 through January 23” (15 Nov).

Embee Group achieves new heights of success in Mexico: “Embee Group, a leading manufacturer of the complete range of textile rotary printing machinery systems, received good business leads in the recent textile machinery exhibition held in Mexico. The company promoted its new innovations like servo individual drive system in rotary screen printing machine, semi-automated Color Kitchen systems and LaserBird, a non-hazardous, chemical free screen stripping by laser technology” (15 Nov).

TUV Rheinland Bangladesh shines spotlight on sustainability at Chemical Management and Detox Awareness Training Program: “TUV Rheinland Bangladesh recently turned the spotlight on the importance of sustainable practices in the apparel and textiles industry, when it hosted a Chemical Management and Detox Awareness Training Program in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka” (14 Nov).

Research on new cotton finishing technologies moving ahead: “Professors Sergiy Minko and Suraj Sharma of the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors at UGA are exploiting nanotechnology to develop sustainable dyeing and finishing techniques for cotton textiles, including nanocellulose gels that can be used to dye cotton and blends” (07 Nov).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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 November, Milan: Responsible Luxury Summit: Speakers from Ecoalf, Timberland and Fashion Revolution, at Politécnico di Milano, School of Management.

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.”

* 21 – 23 January, New York City: Texworld USA: The winter show will focus on sustainability.

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.”

* 15 – 16 May, Copenhagen: Copenhagen Fashion Summit: “Join us this May when fashion’s most visionary and innovative minds gather to discuss the most critical issues facing our industry and planet.”

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.”

* 22 June, Barcelona: Plante Textiles 2019: “The 10th edition of Planet Textiles will be a seminal event on sustainability in the textile manufacturing sector and will see an unrivalled gathering of experts from the entire fashion value chain.”

(Photo image, 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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