THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Forever 21 (under attack for wool use by PETA), H&M (hosts transparency hack), HebTroCo, McNair, Birdsong, and Finisterre (four brands suggesting British-made is back), Kaufhof (recalls chrome VI-contaminated lederhosen), Ksenia Schnaider, Boyish, CIE Denim, Warp+Weft, AndAgain, Re/Done, and Blanche (seven planet-friendly denim brands), Primark (new educations videos on garments), Supreme (ranked on ethical performance), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • IndustriALL gives evidence to UK parliamentary Select Committee

  • Fur Free Friday: celebs back call to end “cruel” suffering

  • How conscious is cashmere? The ethical options to wear this winter

  • Cheap or kind? Europeans say they want clothes with a conscience

  • Clear Cotton project against child labour launches in Brussels

  • Sweden elects recycled garment as 2018 Christmas gift

  • Sustainable fashion searches surged in 2018

  • Sowing seeds of hope in Fukushima

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: as expected, with the deadline for the Accord’s departure looming, the debate continues

  • India: four workers die in illegal factory fire

  • Myanmar: is the higher minimum wager bad news for workers?

  • Southeast Asia: soaring minimum wage growth  

Manufacturers in this issue include: Eclat Textile Co (new eco-friendly textiles), Tintex (water saving fabrics), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “Activism in key market countries could make the Bangladesh brand toxic to consumers in spite of the tremendous improvements that we have achieved in recent years.” Luis Gonzaga, Esprit’s head of global supply, in a letter to suppliers about how the closure of the Accord’s office in Dhaka will undermine the reputation of the Bangladesh textile industry (21 Nov).

  • “Brands tell us you can’t trust consumers because they say one thing but then behave differently.” Rachel Wilshaw, ethical trade manager at British charity Oxfam, on Fashion Revolution’s survey released this week on EU consumer attitudes to sustainability (21 Nov).

  • “Ten years ago, our supplier list was locked up in a safe. Five years later, we were the first global fashion retailer to list our suppliers on our website. Now we move again.” Anna Gedda, Head of Sustainability, H&M (19 Nov).

  • “The use of real fur has never been so close to virtual extinction within fashion.” Alexandra Mondalek (19 Nov).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

The future of fashion in one word: plastics: “For a man who works in fashion, Michael Preysman thinks an awful lot about the world's oceans. He thinks about the stuff that runs off and pollutes the coastlines, the plastics that slide down the drains and choke fish. When he founded Everlane, the minimalist clothing brand that promises ‘radical transparency,’ Preysman didn't just want to make cashmere sweaters and wide-leg pants that would constitute a certain kind of Silicon Valley uniform. He wanted, in some small part, to make clothes that wouldn't destroy the ocean” (21 Nov).

In The Closet: Imogene & Willie: “This week on In The Closet we talk about jeans. Our Creative Director, Bernadette Casey, was lead to Imogene and Willie; a premium denim brand, during her research paper & decided to give them a go! (21 Nov – 2:31-minute video).

Four brands that suggest British made fashion is back in business: “From a company making clothes from nylon ocean and landfill waste, to one whose makers come from women’s groups and charities, four brands that are breathing new life into British fashion manufacturing” (21 Nov). [Ed’s note: the brands are: HebTroCo, McNair, Birdsong, and Finisterre.]

Primark releases three educational videos: Primark has released three free curriculum-linked videos for teachers of students aged 11-14 on the environment, ethics and the clothing journey which explains how and where garments are made (21 Nov).

Kaufhof recalls lederhosen contaminated with chrome VI: “The Bavarian manufacturer Original Stockerpoint has recalled lederhosen contaminated with chrome VI, which is dangerous for the skin. The light brown men’s leather pants were sold nationwide through the retail chain Kaufhof, the company said on Tuesday in Lower Bavarian Moosthenning. There is a health risk” (20 Nov – in German).

7 sustainable denim brands you’ll want to shop: “The unfortunate truth behind your favorite pair of jeans? They’re absolutely terrible for our planet” (20 Nov). [Ed’s note: Brands mentioned are: Ksenia Schnaider, Boyish, CIE Denim, Warp+Weft, AndAgain, Re/Done, and Blanche.]

Is fast fashion actually becoming more sustainable? “After years of public scrutiny, it seems as if the fast fashion sector is finally beginning to shift its attention towards the issue of sustainability. No longer restricted to fashion company boardrooms, awareness surrounding sustainability has started to trickle down into the production line, as proved by a recent visit to the ‘Maroc in Mode - Maroc Sourcing’ fair” (20 Nov). [Ed’s note: brands mentioned include Pull&Bear and Zara (Inditex), H&M, C&A, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lacoste, Petit Bateau, Eminence and manufacturers Hallotex, Souvetmaille, Platform & Design, and Gillmann Group.]

H&M group hosts transparency hack in Los Angeles: “[H&M] decided to bring together the future generation, thought leaders and change makers with tech, sustainability and fashion expertise for a day full of ideation sessions with the aim of presenting scenario solutions for a transparent fashion future. We believe that if we collaborate across the industry and use new technologies such as blockchain and AI, we can push the fashion industry toward becoming fully transparent” (19 Nov).

How ethical is Supreme? “Not at all unfortunately. Supreme does not provide sufficient information about reducing its impact, which is why it rates ‘Very Poor’ on Environmental Impact, Labour Conditions and Animal Welfare” (19 Nov). [Ed’s note: rating by ethical fashion app Good On You.]

Forever 21 under fire after gruesome wool exposés: “The protesters will screen footage from two new PETA video exposés recorded on sheep farms in Australia, the world’s largest exporter of wool and a source of wool used by Forever 21” (19 Nov).

NEWS & REPORTS

IndustriALL gives evidence to UK parliamentary Select Committee: “IndustriALL Global Union’s assistant general secretary, Jenny Holdcroft, was in London last week to give evidence on the sustainability of the fashion industry at the UK’s largest-ever audience for a parliamentary Select Committee” (21 Nov).

Fur Free Friday: celebs back call to end “cruel” suffering: “Ahead of Fur Free Friday, an international day of action on 23 November, celebrities are speaking out against the “cruel” suffering of animals killed for the fur trade. They are also backing calls by Animal Defenders International (ADI) to consign this brutal industry to the past” (21 Nov).

How conscious is cashmere? The ethical options to wear this winter: “But before you march, shivering, into your favourite high-street store with the pursuit of affordable cashmere on your mind, it may be time to pause and flex your cerebral nerve. Certainly, in the final stages of a year in which images of oceans populated with more plastic than fish kickstarted a global conversation about plastic usage, and Asos banned fashion containing mohair and cashmere from its site, it may be time we gave the consumption of the world’s most precious wool the same consideration as we do our coffee cups” (21 Nov).

Jeanine Ballone Joins Fashion 4 Development to Champion Sustainability: “The former PVH executive is dedicated to sharing her knowledge of sustainable resources and searching for new innovations to make the fashion industry a greener place” (21 Nov).

There were no vegan fashion magazines, so this entrepreneur created one: “When Chere Di Boscio, founder and editor-in-chief of Eluxe Magazine, the world’s first-ever publication dedicated to sustainable luxury, launched her magazine in 2013, she was ahead of the curve. The magazine, which runs a quarterly print issue and provides daily online content, came years before the word “sustainable” was on the mainstream radar” (21 Nov).

Cheap or kind? Europeans say they want clothes with a conscience: “Shoppers in western Europe care how clothes are made and want to be kind to workers and the environment when they update their wardrobe, according to a survey released on Wednesday that shows public pressure on fashion to clean up its act [Consumer Survey Report, by Fashion Revolution – see elsewhere in this newsletter]. Yet, the shoppers faced no questions about the cost of their conscience, with manufacturers caught in a tug of war between the allure of throwaway fashion versus the expense of ethics. (21 Nov).

Investing in a new textile economy: “The textile industry has been on the forefront of technology since time immemorial, repeatedly revolutionising society. Spinning technology was the catalyst that sparked the industrial revolution, weaving punch card technology the computer age. A new textile economy is now emerging, able to capture lost value, save resources and significantly reduce environmental impacts” (20 Nov).

Can hemp be the textile of the future? “Cherished by ancient civilisations, hemp is a potential game-changer for the fashion industry” (20 Nov).

Clear Cotton project against child labour launches in Brussels: “Today sees the launch of the Clear Cotton project, which seeks to contribute to efforts to eradicate child labour and forced labour from the cotton, textile and garment sectors. It is co-funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Labour Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization. The launch date has been chosen to coincide with Universal Children’s Day” (20 Nov).

Consumer Survey Report: A baseline survey on EU consumer attitudes to sustainability and supply chain transparency in the fashion industry: “Fashion Revolution commissioned a survey of 5,000 people aged 16-75 in the five largest European markets, including Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain, to find out how supply chain transparency and sustainability impacts consumers’ purchasing decisions when shopping for clothing, accessories and shoes” (20 Nov).

Sweden elects recycled garment as 2018 Christmas gift: “Traditionally, Sweden elects its Christmas present of the year or “årets julklapp”: the trendiest gift you will be sure to find under the tree … this year it more sustainable because it is “recycled clothing” or second-hand” (20 Nov – in Swedish). [Ed’s note: see also Restricted environmental gain with recycled clothing: “This year’s Christmas gift is a recycled piece of clothing, but the environmental gain of buying a new garment of recycled material is limited. “This will save about 10 percent of climate impact, using recycled fibre,” says Sandra Roos, who studied textile environmental impact at Chalmers and RISE” (20 Nov – in Swedish).]

Sustainable fashion searches surged in 2018: “Lyst has reported a 47% increase in shoppers looking for items that have ethical and style credentials with terms such as “vegan leather” and “organic cotton” (20 Nov).

Forget luxury, cheap clothes mean big money in China: “There is a fortune to be made selling low-cost clothing in China. But cut-throat competition, ‘Taobao villages’ and local know-how give domestic players an edge over global names like H&M and Zara” (20 Nov).

Promote repair and reuse to increase fashion sustainability, MPs told: “Fashion designers and campaigners questioned at a select committee hearing have called on government to better support repair and reuse of clothing and provide more information for consumers on the environmental impacts of their fashion choices. The hearing formed part of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry” (19 Nov).

Sowing seeds of hope in Fukushima: “People in Fukushima continue to struggle with the fallout from the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear triple disaster. It has taken an especially heavy toll on farmers. But some are finding a way forward with a new crop [cotton]” (07 Nov).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Looming Accord closure a risk to Bangladesh sourcing: “A crash in slow motion—it’s the only way one can describe the looming economic fallout should Bangladesh refuse to extend the Accord on Fire and Building Safety. In just one week’s time the Bangladesh government may force this landmark agreement to stop operating out of Dhaka, a disaster for apparel workers’ safety in an industry scarred by tragedy” (22 Nov).

Bangladesh clothing factories face squeeze if safety push blocked: “A group [the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh] set up to improve safety in Bangladesh’s garment industry after the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 is warning global fashion firms that they will have to stop sourcing from some factories if the watchdog is forced to close next week” (21 Nov).

Strengthen local agency before Accord departs: “The Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC), the local factory inspection platform for the garment sector, should be strengthened soon so that the European agency Accord can hand over its operations for a smooth departure, said a top official of European foreign traders association Amfori yesterday” (21 Nov).

The debate on extending Accord-Alliance: “The ready-made garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh now stands at a crossroads. We will soon be waving goodbye to two organisations that have had a huge impact on the safety of factories in our garments industry—ushering it into a bright new era” (20 Nov). [Ed’s note: by Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Denim Expert Limited.]

Bangladesh must keep Accord on Fire and Building Safety: “IndustriALL Global Union strongly urges the government of Bangladesh to petition the High Court to lift a restraining order that seeks to expel the Accord from the country on 30 November” (19 Nov)

India

Four workers die in a blaze in yet another illegally-run factory in Delhi: “The series of factory fires this year point at open flouting of labour laws and a weak inspection regime in Delhi-NCR” (20 Nov). [Ed’s note: see more here and here.]

Myanmar

Higher minimum wage in Myanmar: bad news for workers? “This year the legal minimum wage in Myanmar was raised. In this article the actual effects and feared negative impacts of the new minimum wage are described. SOMO is calling on garment factories in Myanmar, and the international brands that source from them, to get their act together to help prevent and/or address these adverse effects as a matter of urgency” (12 Nov).

Southeast Asia

Myanmar, Cambodia lead ASEAN’s soaring minimum wage growth: “When it comes to rapidly increasing pay packets, workers in Myanmar and Cambodia are wearing the biggest grins. Out of all ten ASEAN countries, the low wage earners in these two relatively poor nations have experienced the fastest growth in their minimum wage” (22 Nov). [Ed’s note: article includes a nice chart: “ASEAN minimum wage since 2013”.]

MANUFACTURERS

Tintex shows water saving solutions at Performance Days: “Two of Tintex’s fabrics have made it into the Performance Forum Jury’s Pick Category that represents fabrics which are a valuable contribution to this season Performance Days focus topic Water – Our Responsibility. Tintex will reveal its range of innovative fabrics that inspire creativity at next week’s Performance Days that takes place from 28-29 November in Munich” (21 Nov).

Textile industry under pressure to detox fashion: “The 21st century has been good to the textile industry. Global clothing production doubled between 2000 and 2017 to surpass 100 billion items annually for the first time in 2014 – that’s equivalent to 14 new items for every person on the planet. Leading brands such as Zara, H&M, Nike and Adidas have expanded their supply chains to keep up with demand. China is the world’s largest producer and exporter of textiles and clothing, but while “Made in China” products are sold around the world, the pollution from their manufacture doesn’t leave the country. (20 Nov).

Eclat develops eco-friendly tech with ITRI: “Textile and garment manufacturer Eclat Textile Co (儒鴻) yesterday said it has developed a new technology with the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院) to produce eco-friendly textiles for functional sportswear to cater to customers’ needs” (20 Nov).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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 Johannes Plenio, 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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