THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: C&A (finalist in social responsibility award), C&A, H&M, Tchibo, Inditex, PVH and Primark (working towards decent workplace conditions), Gildan (accusations of abuse in Haiti and Honduras), Nike (report says it could pay living wage; and initiatives to combat global warming), Nike, Under Armour, Dickies, Champion and Gildan (in article on harsh workplace conditions in Honduras), Primark (bringing Germany to brink of clothing collapse), Ross (accusations of unpaid overtime wages of LA factory workers), Under Armour (strip club ban), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • 5 Innovators Join Fashion for Good’s Scaling Programme

  • Maintaining lead-time challenge for thriving denim export, say Bangladesh businesses

  • The urgent need for sustainability in the fashion industry; Are your clothes killing the planet?; and Fashion’s naked truths

  • Study says factories paying workers digitally ‘provide better conditions’

  • Transparency is trending

  • Innovators redefining “sustainability”

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: Accord writes letter to signatory companies warning of ‘negative consequences’ if office is prematurely closed; calls for stronger factory inspection system

  • China: unpaid workers threaten to jump of building in protest

  • The Gulf: for last six years, almost 10 Indian workers per day have died

  • Mauritania: anti-slavery activists get results

  • Nepal: factories flouting labour law

Manufacturers in this issue include: Jeanologia (improving denim production), Lanka Leather Fashion (awarded CarbonNeutral status), Mestic (making fabric from cow manure), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “The buyers have now reduced the lead-time to 40 days for fast fashion and so Bangladeshi exporters need to stockpile a lot of denim fabrics in their warehouses to meet fast fashion.” Sayeed Ahmad Chowdhury, general manager (operations) of Square Denims Limited (08 Nov).

  • “Now, readers might think that [Bangladesh] RMG factories cannot be like the large blue-chip organisations of this world with their extensive people development programmes in place. My only answer to that is, why not? When it comes to looking after people, leading international blue-chip companies are the benchmark. These are what us, as RMG factory owners, need to be aspiring to.” Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Denim Expert Limited (08 Nov).

  • “1 kilogram of fabric generates an average of approximately 23 kilograms of greenhouse gases.” (06 Nov).

  • “Just think about it: next year, we’re going to pay out half a billion dollars to people.” Julie Wainwright, founder of the luxury resale company The RealReal (02 Nov).

Correction: In FSWIR 43.2, we stated Garmon’s sustainable OVD dyes reduced energy consumption by 40%. We have since been informed the correct figure is 35%. We apologise for the mistake.

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Ross subcontractors owe $800,000 to LA factory workers: The Garment Worker Center alleges “Ross [Stores Inc.] subcontractors owe $800,000 in unpaid overtime wages to Los Angeles factory workers because Ross fails to pay enough to pay legal wages to workers” (08 Nov).

C&A finalist in 2018 UK and Europe Employee Engagement Awards, Social Responsibility category: C&A has been recognized for leadership in employee engagement as a finalist in the 2018 UK and Europe Employee Engagement Awards, Social Responsibility category (08 Nov).

Gildan Activewear continues to violate workers' rights in Haiti and Honduras: “One year ago, Gildan’s supplier in Haiti unfairly dismissed union leaders and activists, including 13 members of IndustriALL affiliate GOSTTRA after a strike to demand an increased minimum wage. The fired workers have not been reinstated and have even been placed on a blacklist, meaning they are unable to feed their families and pay their rent” (07 Nov). [Ed’s note: from IndustriALL Global.]

Under Armour bans strip club expenses in #MeToo reckoning: “Under Armour Inc has barred employees from expensing strip club visits on their corporate cards as part of an attempt by the athletic brand to adjust to the #MeToo era” (06 Nov).

Nike could pay a decent living wage to their workers while remaining highly profitable: “[Recent] research has shown that Nike could have paid a decent living wage to its workers in 2001 and still remained highly profitable. The paper analyses the average wages reported by Nike in 2001 and in its financial statements, showing that the brand could have doubled or tripled the wages of workers while maintaining a high net income” (05 Nov). [Ed’s note: article cited is A note on Nike’s wages, labor exploitation and profits in the garment industry, which can be seen here.]

Primark & Co. bring Germany to the brink of the clothing collapse: “Fashion is getting cheaper and shorter-lived - and ends up in the garbage or containers faster. This overstretches even the collectors of second-hand textiles. And the industry? It accelerates sales to make room for the next collection” (05 Nov – in German). [Ed’s note: brands mentioned include Primark, H&M, Zara, Amazon and Zalando.]

The RealReal deal: how to make millions from your fashion cast-offs: “Julie Wainwright, founder of the luxury resale company, explains how second-hand stuff got sexy” (02 Nov).

The price of decency: “Millions of Asian women sew our clothing – often in miserable conditions. Twenty major companies have now come to the realisation that something has to change. Because of the women. And because of the business” (01 Nov – in German). [Ed’s note: article is about ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation), formed by 20 companies, including C&A, H&M, Tchibo, Inditex (Zara), PVH (Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein) and Primark.]

4 ways Nike sustainability initiatives are combating global warming: “Nike’s stakes make it the world’s largest manufacturer of athletic footwear, with annual global revenue of more than $20 billion. Moreover, for the last couple of years, Nike sustainability plans have been leading the way and indeed have been the trendsetter when it comes to eco-friendly fashion” (31 Oct).

NEWS & REPORTS

5 Innovators Join Fashion for Good’s Scaling Programme: “The latest innovators to join are: Ecovative, Natural Fiber Welding, The Renewal Workshop, SeaChange Technologies, Inc. and Yerdle Recommerce. They will now have the unique opportunity to connect with likeminded brands, investors and manufacturers capable of helping them fast-track the implementation and adoption of their daring innovations. The Scaling Programme provides support for a period of 18 months, with clear and jointly defined milestones on each company’s roadmap to scale” (08 Nov).

Maintaining lead-time challenge for thriving denim export: businesses: “Bangladesh is a lucrative destination for the international denim retailers and brands for competitive prices, but maintaining lead-time strictly is a challenge for the country as the buying pattern in the western world has changed, according to the industry people” (08 Nov).

Are your clothes killing the planet? “Fashion may look pretty on the runway and on Instagram feeds, but behind the scenes it wreaks havoc on the environment. That’s because the building blocks of modern clothing — polyester and similar synthetic textiles — are, basically, plastic fibers made from coal, petroleum, air and water” (08 Nov).

This is why you shouldn’t buy odour-free sportswear treated with silver: “This week Svenskt Vatten – The Swedish Water & Wastewater Association – released a report on the issue of silver in sportswear, and revealed some quite concerning facts. After analysing sportswear treated with silver, the report shows that up to 90% of the silver is washed away from the clothing item after just ten machine washes” (07 Nov). [Ed’s note: the report, Silver Leaching: A Report on Silver in Sportswear, can be read in full here.]

2018 Organic Cotton Market Report: “The 2018 OCMR shows global organic cotton production grew 10% over the prior year, with the largest volumes coming from India, China, Turkey and Kyrgyzstan. While organic still occupies less than 1% of global cotton production, many countries have growth in the double-digits” (07 Nov).

#Fashionmum: “The first time I became a ‘Fashion Mum’ I was at Estethica – the British Fashion Council Sustainable Fashion area at London Fashion Week – which I co-founded in 2006, and curated until 2014” (07 Nov). [Ed’s note: by Orsola de Castro.]

The urgent need for sustainability in the fashion industry: “The apparel industry has doubled from 2000 to 2014 and it has steadily continued its growth since, however technological advantages and eco-friendly solutions for its process have not yet been able to catch up!” (06 Nov). [Ed’s note: although published this week, the story related here is from September. See more here and here.]

Study says factories paying workers digitally ‘provide better conditions’: “In a first study of its kind, data from nearly 3,000 factories across 58 countries reveals that paying workers digitally correlates positively with better working conditions” (06 Nov).

Transparency is trending: “An increasing number of fashion brands and retailers are publishing a list of their suppliers. As of November 2018, we have counted 172 Brands across 68 companies/parent groups that are disclosing at least some of the facilities making their clothes” (06 Nov). [Ed’s note: scroll down to see full list of brands with links.]

These are the innovators who are redefining “sustainability”: “There’s a movement underway to fix the system. Here are some of the innovators who are changing the game” (06 Nov). [Ed’s note: includes Stacy Flynn, EVRNU; Cyrill Gutsch, Parley; Muhannad Malas, Environmental Defence; Kelly Drennan, Fashion Takes Action; Manu Kabahizi, Ulula; Jeff Denby, The Renewal Workshop; PJ Smith, Humane Society of the United States; and Nicole Rycroft, Canopy.]

Study shows DNA molecular tagging authenticates denim: “Results of a new study published in the September/October 2018 issue of the AATCC Review have confirmed that DNA molecular tagging is an effective tool to authenticate denim and maintains its integrity even after exposed to the rigours of bleaching and abrasion” (05 Nov).

Fashion’s naked truths: “Half of all clothes are thrown away within one year—many have never been worn. The industry's obsession with fast fashion comes with a steep environmental price tag” (01 Nov – 1:46-minute video). [Ed’s note: from The Economist.]

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Bangladesh Alliance factories completing upgrades 06 Nov to 09 NovOnus Garments, Whitex Garments, and Beximco Fashions (09 Nov). [Ed’s note: this list is based on the Bangladesh Alliance Twitter feed.]

Premature closure of Accord office likely to have ‘negative consequences’: [Ed’s note: the Bangladesh Accord has written a letter to signatory companies warning of ‘negative consequences’ if the office is prematurely closed. The letter includes a list of all factories affected by such actions.] “Dear Signatory Companies, The 2018 Transition Accord is currently faced with a restraining order issued by the Bangladesh High Court which, if not lifted, will force a premature closure of the Accord office in Bangladesh. Such closure would take effect on 1 December 2018. As Chief Safety Inspector of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, I am hereby informing you of the consequences of application of the Accord Escalation Protocol in case the efforts of many Accord signatories and stakeholders to get the restraining order lifted do not succeed” (08 Nov).

Why the RMG industry needs to invest in its workers: “The Bangladesh economy is growing at an extremely healthy rate. According to the latest figures form the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Bangladesh is expected to post a growth rate of 7.5 percent in 2018-19, and the ready-made garment industry will be a key engine driver behind that growth … One of the biggest challenges we face is development of the people” (08 Nov).

Factory inspection system needs strengthening: “The existing national and international mechanisms to monitor worker safety issues in the industrial sector is largely focused on apparel industries. Within the apparel sector, the scope of monitoring excludes factories that are not members either of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association or the Bangladesh Kintwear Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association. Industrial units that deal with dangerous chemical substances such as plastic or packaging factories also often remain outside the purview of the government’s inspection” (07 Nov).

Govt moves to inspect plastic, chemical, small RMG factories: “The [Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) under the labour ministry] has initiated a move to inspect the readymade garment factories which fall outside the purview of the ongoing national and international safety inspections and plastic and chemical factories in the country” (06 Nov). [Ed’s note: see also DIFE now to inspect left-out RMG units: “The government has finally taken a move to bring 650 more readymade garment factories under the safety assessment programme to ensure workplace safety in the entire sector, officials said” (06 Nov).]

Implementation of the Bangladesh compact: Technical status report: “It is also important to ensure that ... both Accord and Alliance remain active in Bangladesh until the RCC is ready to take full responsibility for factory compliance and remediation – which is not the case yet." (28 Sep).

China

Workers threaten to jump off building protesting wage arrears owed by garment factory in Changle, Fujian: (16 Nov).

The Gulf

Gulf of woes: About 10 Indian workers died every day in last 6 years: “The fact that Indian workers in the Gulf nations [Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates] work under extremely tough and sometime inhumane conditions is not new. But latest figures suggest that nearly 10 workers from India died every day in Gulf countries in the last six years” (06 Nov).

Honduras

The harsh realities of working in an overseas factory: “Photojournalist Emily Kinskey’s work highlights the lives of migrants and the living conditions of what she describes as “persecuted subcultures” around the globe. After taking note of the debates on trade and immigration that continue to dominate today’s political landscape, Kinskey traveled to Honduras to further examine the relationship between the US and Latin American maquila workers” (05 Nov). [Ed’s note: Brands mentioned: Nike, Under Armour, Dickies, Champion and Gildan.]

Mauritania

AFL-CIO and anti-slavery activists get results on Mauritania: “On Friday, in response to a petition originally filed by the AFL-CIO in 2017, the U.S. government gave Mauritania an ultimatum: It must make sufficient progress toward protecting internationally recognized workers' rights, including combating the scourge of hereditary slavery, or face the loss of trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Mauritania has until Jan. 1, 2019 to take action.” (05 Nov).

Nepal

Factories flouting labour law: “Factories based in Biratnagar have been found violating the labour law. The government had fixed minimum salary for workers in all sectors at Rs 13,450 per month, but none of the factories here have followed the rule” (03 Nov).

MANUFACTURERS

Jeanologia presents revolutionary eMark 5 software, increases productivity and simplifies how jeans are designed: Jeanologia recently presented their revolutionary eMark 5 software, which reduces time-to-laser mark by 15%, simplifying how to design and increasing productivity. Simplifying the process makes it more sustainable and efficient (07 Nov).

Lanka Leather Fashion: Leading the way in sustainable fashion: “Leading high-end leather garment manufacturer, Lanka Leather Fashion (LLF), was awarded CarbonNeutral status for a fourth consecutive year by the independent sustainability verification, validation, and assurance body – The Sustainable Future Group (SFG). (07 Nov).

“Green Deal” at Expoprotection Paris 2018: Collaboration between industrial partnership wear2wear and France’s recycling project FRIVEP: “French companies and government agencies will in future feed tons of used protective workwear back into the textile loop of European upcycling consortium wear2wear for value-retaining reutilisation of polyester fabric” (05 Nov).

Meet Mestic, the company that makes fabric out of cow poop: “While researching genetically modified goats that produce spider silk in their milk, which in turn can be used for bulletproof human skin grafts, [Jalilia Essaidi] developed a method to turn cow manure into cellulose fiber” (05 Nov).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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.

* 14 – 16 November, New Delhi: India and Sustainability Standards: “The theme of the 5th Annual Conference of CRB is ‘Collaboration a key to SDGs: Leveraging CSR & Voluntary Sustainability Standards”.”

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.”

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

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.”

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 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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