THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Boohoo (rated by Good On You; admits it can do more to tackle throwaway culture), C&A (leadership in preferred fibres), Dame (online eco-conscious fashion-lifestyle), Everything5pounds.com, Boohoo, 10 Store, Pretty Little Thing, and In The Style (rated on durability in the wash), R Collective (challenging conventional production), SkinTie (sustainable tie for social networking), Ternua (new PFC-free collection), Timberland (new commitment to green 500,000 square feet of urban space), Topshop (to boycott or not over Philip Green), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • First-ever map of ancient and endangered forests

  • What happens to your clothes when you recycle them?

  • Major companies urged to stop telling anti-slavery ‘fairytales’; and World needs workers’ rights ‘revolution’ to end modern slavery – experts

  • Change the way you do business to tackle labor abuses, big companies told

  • Podcast with Jackie Ruddock, Founder and CEO of The Social Outfit

  • Diane von Furstenberg receives International Rescue Committee Freedom Award

  • Why international brands want Cambodia to meet EU demands

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: BGMEA rejects DIFE plea to stop UD issuances; one ansar member killed and five injured in garment worker riots; EU, US and Canadian governments urge government to ensure continuation of Accord

  • Cambodia: SSEZ chief says removal of EU benefits will not harm Cambodia; 69 factories open/32 close in 2018

  • India: #MeToo leaves four workers without jobs

  • Indonesia: claims minimum wage provides less than required for a livelihood

  • Sri Lanka: risks EU trade concessions if back-slides on rights

  • Thailand: Burmese migrant women at risk in Thailand

Manufacturers in this issue include: Crystal International (releases sustainability report), Grasim (wins Golden Peacock Award for Sustainability), HeiQ (expands partnership with Patagonia), Huston Textile Co. (resurrecting selvage-denim production in US), Pactics Group Ltd (seeks to be boring), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “[R]emediating the factories consistent with the recommendations made by Accord and Alliance had cost them nearly $3 billion.” From the Dhaka Tribune, on the costs of compliance to Bangladesh apparel manufacturers (03 Nov).

  • “Only 15 percent of respondents said they immediately reflected increases in a country’s minimum wage in the prices they paid to local suppliers.” From an ILO survey of more than 100 big brands (03 Nov).

  • “CSR is a bankrupt model ... more interested in making a problem not look like a problem than solving problems.” Laura Germino at the ‘Fighting Modern Slavery: What works” Conference, Gilder Lehrman Centre, Yale University (02 Nov).

  • “The punishment should fit the crime, and since the crime hasn’t been perpetrated by his employees, I will wait for justice to be served not on the shop floor, but in court.” Laura Craik, on sexual harassment and racist abuse allegations against Philip Green, owner of Topshop and other brands (01 Nov).

  • “Why should we wait for buyers to push us to embrace sustainability or safe work practices? It took an alliance and accord (a collaboration of brands/retailers) for us to do the impressive remediation work that Bangladesh has achieved. Why not take the initiative from our own side and adopt innovations not because our buyers want us to, but because we want to, because it makes economic sense for us?” Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Denim Expert Limited (01 Nov).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

How ethical Is Boohoo? Rating by ethical fashion app Good On You. Overall rating: Not Good Enough (2/5) (05 Nov).

C&A honoured by Textile Exchange: “C&A has been honoured by Textile Exchange for leadership in preferred fibres and materials strategy, textile supply chain management, material consumption, and consumer engagement. It has been placed in the prestigious ‘Leaders Circle’ of the apparel industry by the 2018 Textile Exchange Preferred Fibre and Materials Benchmark Annual Insights Report” (05 Nov).

Timberland makes new commitment to green 500,000 square feet of urban space in US cities over next five years: “In 2016, Timberland made a public commitment to create or restore green spaces in five U.S. cities over five years, equivalent to or greater than the brand’s retail footprint in those cities. With the completion of three urban greening events this fall, Timberland has met its commitment two years ahead of schedule – greening a total of 130,000 square feet of space, far beyond its retail footprint in those cities” (05 Nov).

Proving waste’s worth: “Last year, a fashion brand was unveiled that aimed to challenge every aspect of conventional fashion production: from perceptions of waste textiles to the methods of cutting and making; from conceptual notions of design to the definition of resources. Located in Hong Kong, in the very heart of the world’s fashion production powerhouses, The R Collective, brainchild of Redress Founder, Christina Dean, is shaking fashion’s foundations to its core” (03 Nov).

10 Questions with Tony from Komodo: 30 years of eco-fashion: “Since 1988, Komodo has been a pioneer in ethical, eco-friendly and vegan style. How has the ethical fashion landscape changed since Komodo first started?” (02 Nov).

Boohoo admits it could do more to tackle fashion’s throwaway culture: “Online fashion site Boohoo has admitted it plays a role in the current throwaway clothing culture and that “there is more we can do” to keep clothes out of landfill” (02 Nov).

SkinTie creates sustainably-produced fashion that embraces tech: “The SmarTie works in conjunction with an app by sharing contact information on chip transmitters to make social networking easy in an eco-friendly fashion. Behind it, all is a San Francisco-based Fashion-Tech startup, SkinTie, and the SmarTie was created to inspire positive fashion trends, particularly gender inclusivity and eco-friendly production [sustainable collagen from fish scales]” (02 Nov).

Dame launches to blend chic fashion with a sustainable lifestyle: “[Three businesswomen] decided to collaborate on a sustainable, socially conscious brand of apparel that stands apart by creating an online eco-conscious fashion-lifestyle destination. Named Dame, the brand launched in Los Angeles on Nov. 1 with manufacturing based in downtown L.A.” (01 Nov).

Can we still shop at Topshop? “I won’t be boycotting Topshop, nor any of [Philip] Green’s Arcadia Group empire, which includes Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge and Wallis. This is because, ultimately, any financial hit is unlikely to make much of a dent in Green’s finances. It does, however, have the potential to dent the finances of the 24,000 people who work for him, many of whom are on low wages or work in poorer parts of the country where jobs are hard to find” (01 Nov).

Ternua reveals new PFC-free collection: “Spanish outdoor brand Ternua has removed PFCs from its textiles, marking it with the release of the new Autumn/Winter 2018-2019 collection, fulfilling the challenge it set out to achieve in 2009. “We are a small brand and every change takes a lot of effort. We have had to search, research and contact many suppliers to continue offering the same technology but in an environmentally-friendly way,” said Edu Uribesalgo, Ternua’s director of Innovation and Sustainability” (30 Oct).

NEWS & REPORTS

First-ever map of ancient and endangered forests brings conservation to the boardroom: “Leading forest conservation NGO and C&A Foundation partner, Canopy, launched the first-ever interactive map for identifying ancient and endangered forests, called ForestMapper. This revolutionary online tool is designed to support companies worldwide in making better sustainability decisions when purchasing paper, packaging, lumber and/or viscose fabrics” (05 Nov).

Traid off: what happens to your clothes when you recycle them: “With 300,000 tonnes of clothes going to landfill in the UK each year, it’s never been more important to recycle your clothes. Hannah Donald heads to a warehouse in West London to find out what happens beyond the clothing banks” (04 Nov). [Ed’s note: article focuses on TRAID, the UK clothes reuse charity behind the 23% campaign.]

Major companies urged to stop telling anti-slavery ‘fairytales’: “Major corporations who claim to be committed to tackling the threat of forced labor often tell “fairytales” that belie workplace exploitation and shirk responsibility for cleaning up their supply chains, academics and activists told a conference” (04 Nov).

World needs workers’ rights ‘revolution’ to end modern slavery – experts: “Governments regard modern slavery and trafficking mainly as a criminal matter rather than as a human rights and labor issue, yet have secured very few prosecutions for forced labor, several experts told an annual conference at U.S.-based Yale University” (03 Nov).

We put cheap £5 ‘disposable’ dresses from the high street through the wringer — but can they survive the whole season? “Fast-fashion brands have been blasted in Parliament this week for fuelling a “throwaway” culture in which 400,000 tons of clothing ends up in landfill every year. Sustainability campaigner Stella Claxton told MPs there is little incentive to recycle clothing when dresses are selling for as little as £5. But how many uses can you wring from a fiver frock? We put some through 16 washes at 30C – enough wears to see you through a whole season – to find out” (03 Nov). [Ed’s note: dresses tested (with durability ratings) are from Everything5pounds.com (4/5), Boohoo (3/5), 10 Store (5/5), Pretty Little Thing (1/5), and In The Style (4/5).]

EWP Podcast | Jackie Ruddock, Founder and CEO of The Social Outfit: “Jackie Ruddock … is the brilliantly-dressed changemaker, founder and CEO of The Social Outfit, a Sydney-based social enterprise and ethical fashion brand using fashion to make a difference in the lives of refugees and new migrants in Australia” (03 Nov – 39:28-minute podcast).

Change the way you do business to tackle labor abuses, big companies told: “Big companies too often offload responsibility for tackling labor abuses onto suppliers, while pushing them to cut corners and demanding a quick turnaround, experts said on Friday, calling for a re-think of global business practices” (03 Nov).

Businesses aren't attending WHO’s first-ever air pollution conference. Here's why they should: “No. 2. Transparency, tech, data will soon tie air pollution back to brands … These days, technology for sensing air pollution is more available to citizens, cities, and companies – and new innovations are coming to market almost daily. Open source data analytics is also democratizing insights” (02 Nov).

Diane von Furstenberg receives International Rescue Committee Freedom Award: “Diane von Furstenberg was recognized by the International Rescue Committee on Thursday evening with the organization’s Freedom Award at its annual gala, the Rescue Dinner. The designer visited refugees in June at the IRC’s offices in Alexandria, Greece, where she met IRC staff members and Syrian refugees, who were recovering from traumas experienced on their journeys while trying to reunite with their families in Northern Europe” (02 Nov).

Minister Kaag visits Zeeman about covenant: “Sigrid Kaag, [the Dutch Minister for] Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, visited the Zeeman head office to see how they are working on the Sustainable Clothing and Textile Covenant and how they have given sustainability a place in the organization” (01 Nov – in Dutch).

Why international brands want Cambodia to meet EU demands: “Western high-street brands such as Adidas, Nike, Puma and New Balance employ more than 700,000 people in Cambodia - but its EU trade relationship is under threat due to labour and human rights crackdown … Some twenty years ago, the Cambodian government staked out a leadership position on labour rights, agreeing to a first-of-its-kind trade pact that focused on the protection of workers' rights” (01 Nov).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

BGMEA rejects DIFE plea to stop UD issuance: “Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association on Sunday turned down the request of Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments to stop issuance of utility declaration for 131 member factories for non-compliance. After one and a half month of the request of DIFE, BGMEA informed that it would not be appropriate to stop issuance of UD before January 2019 as there were some export orders in the factories” (05 Nov).

Improving the lives of RMG workers: “[A] survey carried out by Bangladesh Garment Sramik Sanghati (BGSS) exposed that many of the workers have to take loans to survive, and most have to work an average of 60 extra hours a month in addition to routine daily duty” (03 Nov).

One Ansar member killed, 5 injured in Gazipur: “An Ansar member was killed and five others were injured in clashes with garment workers at Hatimara in Gazipur on Thursday following a rumour that a worker was killed by factory staff. To avoid any further untoward incident, management of at least 20 garment factories declared their units shut for the day. [Problems arose] following the death rumour that Mitali Fashions Ltd worker Mehedi Hasan was killed by the factory staff on allegation of theft…” (02 Nov). [Ed’s note: see also 1 killed in Gazipur as RMG workers clash over death rumour: “workers vandalized several factories and beat up Ansar members of Delta Spinning Mills, resulting in the death of one, while three people were injured also. The agitated workers also vandalized gates and windows of Jamuna Garments, Tusuka, and Keya Spinning factories” (01 Nov).]

Overcoming the herd mindset: “[W]hat seems to be happening instead is the herd mindset. The herd mindset is a term that describes how people will adopt certain behaviours based on emotions and influence from peers rather than on a logical basis. This mentality will hurt the Bangladesh fashion industry” (01 Nov). [Ed’s note: by Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Denim Expert Limited.]

EU, US and Canadian governments urge Bangladesh to take steps to ensure continuation of Accord: Full letter titled “Subject: Preparedness of the Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) and permission for Accord operations office to remain in Bangladesh until completion of the RCC transition …The purpose of this letter is to express our collective concern over the potential premature closure of Accord office operations in Bangladesh which will occur on 30 November 2018 in the absence of the lifting of the Bangladesh High Court Suo Moto order” (23 Oct).

Cambodia

‘Backup plan’ The world is huge, says SSEZ chief: “The possible removal of Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trade scheme with the EU will affect some companies, but the “world is huge”, says Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) president, Jack Chen” (02 Nov). [Ed’s note: Chen is also the vice-president of Hodo Group, a Wuxi-based company which has a garment factory in the SSEZ.]

Kingdom sees 69 factories open: “Cambodia’s garment industry saw 69 new factories open in the first nine months of this year. But 32 others closed during the period, said a Ministry of Industry and Handicraft report” (01 Nov).

India

#MeToo: The fight against sexual harassment has left four garment workers in Tamil Nadu without jobs: “The #MeToo movement in India is yet to reach the garment industry” (05 Nov). [Ed’s note: article focuses on Slam Clothing Private Limited.]

Indonesia

Minimum wages in Indonesia – no livelihood: “On the occasion of the general assembly of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles [Textilbündnis] on October 30, 2018 in Berlin, SÜDWIND today publishes two factsheets on the wage situation of workers in the textile industry in Indonesia: The country is one of the world’s top ten suppliers of clothing. But the workers work there to minimum wages, which are far away from living wages. At least 17 member-companies of the Textilbündnis are producing in Indonesia, among them Adidas, H&M and Lidl. SÜDWIND demands that these member companies finally show more commitment in the implementation of living wages”. (30 Oct – in German).

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka risks EU trade concessions if any back-sliding on rights: “The European Union will consider stripping Sri Lanka of its duty-free access if it backs off commitments on rights, the EU ambassador said, amid worries stoked by the president’s replacing of the elected premier by a wartime nationalist” (02 Nov). [Ed’s note: out of interest, Sri Lanka’s apparel exports were up 9.2% in September driven by the US.]

Thailand

Burmese migrant women at risk in Thailand: “There are seven ranks of minimum wages in Thailand ranging from between 308 baht and 330 baht (approximately $9 to $10). However, it is estimated that thousands are paid far less than the legal wage and often exploited at the hands of their employer by not being fairly compensated for working overtime or working conditions that put their safety at risk. Pressure from nonprofit organizations has mounted to ensure safe and fair working conditions. Notwithstanding, migrants are looked at as a security threat by Thai policymakers and as such, immigration raids on factories are common and immigration law is strictly enforced” (03 Nov).

MANUFACTURERS

Polluted and drained, rivers cause water crisis in Surakarta: “The city-owned water company of Surakarta (PDAM Surakarta) has struggled to provide clean water for the Central Java city for the past two weeks as rivers are dry and tainted with factory waste … “Water sources for Jurug and Jebres water plants are contaminated with textile waste in Samin River in Sukoharjo. Many factories dump their waste into the river. We have reported the issue to the mayor,” said [PDAM Surakarta spokesperson Bayu Tunggul]” (03 Nov).

Global Viscose Staple Fiber for Apparel Market Outlook 2018: “The global Viscose Staple Fiber for Apparel market research report provides the survey for the Viscose Staple Fiber for Apparel market taking into consideration various factors such as size, production, import data, forecast trends, sales, export data, supply, demand, CAGR, manufacture analysis, share, and current industry chain across the global Viscose Staple Fiber for Apparel market” (03 Nov).

The Cambodian textile factory that craves ‘normal’: “Boring is best when it comes to business – or so says Piet Holten, a Dutch entrepreneur who credits “normal” working conditions for helping to grow his textile factory [Pactics Group Ltd.] in Cambodia” (02 Nov).

Crystal International releases latest Sustainability Report 2018: Hong Kong-based apparel manufacturer Crystal International released its Sustainability Report 2018 with the theme “Quality for Sustainability”. Highlights include fresh water consumption/garment down 33%, energy consumption /garment down 26%, and recycled water usage up 54% (02 Nov).

HeiQ and Patagonia expand their partnership with HeiQ Fresh Tech: “The Swiss textile technology innovator HeiQ and sustainable outdoor clothing brand Patagonia expand their 2017 partnership to include HeiQ Fresh Tech odor control technology, with best-in-class performance” (01 Nov).

Grasim Industries Limited (Unit Harihar Polyfibers) wins Golden Peacock Award for Sustainability 2018: “Grasim Industries Limited (Unit Harihar Polyfibers), a flagship company of USD 44.3 billion Aditya Birla Group has been named as the Winner of the Prestigious ‘Golden Peacock Award for Sustainability 2018’ at the “18th Annual London Global Convention on Corporate Governance & Sustainability” and ‘Global Business Meet’ (29 Oct).

A movement is slowly rising to resurrect selvage-denim production in the US: “Inside an old airplane hangar at the former March Air Force Base just north of Sacramento, Calif., the Huston Textile Co. has six Draper shuttle looms from the 1960s … Kristine Vejar, whose natural-yarns-and-fabrics store in Oakland, Calif., is called A Verb for Keeping Warm. She buys fabric from Huston Textile because the environment’s health is very important to her. “It is precisely for these reasons why I am proud to support Huston Textile. They are a U.S.-based manufacturer that uses materials raised on U.S. farms” (25 Oct).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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 November, London: Meet the Fashion for Good-Plug and Play Innovators: “A selection of innovators currently taking part in the latest Accelerator Programme will be presenting what they are working on.”

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 Mockaroon, 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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