THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Adidas, Lululemon, Gap, Primark, Inditex, PVH, H&M, VF, Nike, and Hugo Boss (benchmarked by KnowTheChain on forced labour in supply chains), Bestseller (joins forces with Fashion for Good), C&A (requesting refugee and transgender job applicants in Brazil), Chanel (on banning exotic skins; and why it’s wrong to do so), Fast Retailing (publishes supplier lists), Lacoste (bans mohair), KappAhl, H&M, and Peak Performance (supporting the UN’s Fashion Industry Charter on Climate Action), LVMH (reducing CO2 emissions), Tchibo (joins ZDHC), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • From me to we: The rise of the purpose-led brand

  • Millennials are over it: out with fast fashion and in with fair trade

  • Saving stitches: Alibaba’s clothing revolution

  • Supply chains give us the opportunity to measure and fight violence against women

  • California set to become the first fur-free state

  • Stella McCartney says eco is largely a marketing ploy in fashion

  • Parley for the Oceans founder Cyrill Gutsch believes fashion can lead the way to a healthier planet

  • New research pushing the limits for ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ fashion

In the supply chain:                                                                    

  • Bangladesh: The Accord gets a 4-day reprieve (to 10 Dec); government relaxes EPZ labour law; drug use among garment workers

  • China: Police detain rights lawyer linked to labor movement in China’s Guangdong

  • Pakistan: The survivors of Ali Enterprises ask for justice in Italy

  • Uzbekistan: two farmers arrested for defaulting on cotton loans

Manufacturers in this issue include: Coats (invests in sustainable thread dyeing system), Jeanologia and Omera Solar (join PaCT II in Bangladesh), PG Denim (100% made in Italy denim), Tyton BioSciences (receives fashion positive plus award for C2C), Vidalia Denim (announces strategic alliance with Lubrizol for sustainably-produced denim), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “There are times when a woman deserves to be beaten.” Factory manager in India, quoted by BSR (05 Dec).

  • “It definitely took us by surprise.” Christina Sewell, PETA’s manager of fashion campaigns, on Chanel’s decision to stop using exotic skins (04 Dec).

  • “If you want to have a serious impact on poverty in the world, the fashion world is an extraordinary place to start.” Barrett Ward, founder of Able (04 Dec).

  • “Ninety percent of the environmental issues that are mentioned in the fashion industry are based around marketing ... They’re not heartfelt. They’re not really genuine.” Stella McCartney (03 Dec).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Why Chanel’s exotic skins ban is wrong: “Luxury fashion brands save species. Fact. But the recent announcement by Chanel that it will no longer use reptile skins, will not save species. In our opinion, as leaders within the world’s largest and oldest conservation organisation, the decision may be well-meaning, but it is wrong. It will adversely affect the conservation of wild animals and the livelihoods of the people who live with and depend on that wildlife” (06 Dec). [Ed’s note: the four authors are all members of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) specialist groups.]

C&A stirs up controversy for wanting refugee and transgender job applicants in Brazil: “Fast fashion retailer C&A is prioritizing transgender and refugee applicants in its hunt for seasonal staff for the holidays in Brazil … But not everyone was happy with the news in a country that just elected a far-right politician best known for his homophobic remarks as president” (06 Dec).

Fashion for Good and Bestseller join forces: “Today Fashion for Good and Bestseller, [an] international fashion company with more than 20 brands in its portfolio, announce their partnership. This exemplifies their mutual commitment for industry-wide collaboration, in order to bring game-changing circular innovation to supply chains” (06 Dec).

Lacoste bans mohair: “After hearing from PETA France that goats are violently mutilated and killed for mohair, Lacoste agreed to stop using the cruelly obtained fiber, stating that the company is “very concerned with animal welfare”” (05 Dec).

Chanel is showing the first signs of evolving into a more flexible, millennial-oriented company: “Luxury brands are not known for being the most responsive to change and Chanel is the textbook case of a big, slow, stubborn luxury brand. So it was a surprise when Chanel announced on Monday that it would discontinue or severely limit the use of exotic skins and fur in the production of its clothes, a stance that even more progressive and modern brands like Louis Vuitton have not taken” (04 Dec).

LVMH shows commitment to reducing environmental impact: “Through [LVMH’s] internal Carbon Fund it has sponsored 112 projects to reduce CO2 emissions across 28 of its brands including Sephora, Guerlain and Christian Dior … According to the group, over the last 12 months it has successfully eliminated nearly 2,500 metric tonnes of carbon-dioxide emissions” (04 Dec).

Swedish fashion firms support STICA for sustainability: “Swedish fashion firms that include KappAhl, H&M, and Peak Performance, are supporting the UN’s Fashion Industry Charter on Climate Action. With the initiative Swedish Textile Initiative for Climate Action (STICA), the firms will help to reduce their climate impact by at least 30 per cent by 2030, in line with the Fashion Industry Charter on Climate Action” (04 Dec).

Tchibo joins ZDHC: Tchibo has announced it has joined ZDHC, and together with the other ZDHC members will be working towards responsible chemicals management and more sustainability and transparency (04 Dec – in German).

2018 Apparel & Footwear Benchmark Findings Report: “In this follow-up to its 2016 benchmark, KnowTheChain assessed 43 of the largest global apparel and footwear companies on their efforts [to eradicate forced labour], finding that: the average score overall remains low, at 37 out of 100 … Adidas (92/100) remains the top-scoring company in the benchmark, while Lululemon (89/100) overtook Gap Inc. (75/100) to secure second place” (04 Dec). [Ed’s note: the top ten are: Adidas, Lululemon, Gap, Primark, Inditex, PVH, H&M, VF, Nike, and Hugo Boss.]

Chanel is banning exotic skins: here’s why: “[Chanel] announced Monday that it would stop manufacturing products made from snakes, crocodiles, lizards and more, citing difficulty obtaining responsibly sourced skins. What does this mean for its bottom line, and for the industry at large?” (04 Dec).

How Organic Basics developed sustainable, self-washing underwear: “Organic Basics are a clothing brand founded in 2015 with a mission to create ‘sustainable and better made basics’. Mads Fibiger Rasmussen, Co-Founder of Organic Basics, tells the Standard: “We started out Organic Basics because we were sick of buying, wearing and throwing away underwear after a few months of wear” (03 Dec).

Fast Retailing publishes supplier list for Uniqlo and Gu: Fast Retailing has published three lists: core sewing factories for Uniqlo and Gu, and core fabric mills for Uniqlo (30 Nov).

NEWS & REPORTS

Unlocking Responsible Luxury: The Manifesto: A new report – or manifesto – from the Sustainable Luxury Academy at Politecnico di Milano School of Management, in Milan, Italy, which aims to build a profound knowledge bridge to overcome the mismatches surrounding practical and theoretical languages when it comes to sustainability in the luxury market.

“Today’s fashion industry is characterised by complex critical problems and difficult trade-offs. Undoubtedly, up until now, implementing sustainability in fashion supply networks has been chaotic due to multiple economic and socio -political events such as rising labour costs, supply network complexity, market instability, volatile commodity prices, geographical dispersion and economic crisis. However, what is clear is that today’s linear business models must change. The global fashion industry needs new definitions that include ideas of transparency, circularity, accountability and inclusivity. It is pivotal to acknowledge that our personal, managerial and academic choices can deliver a material contribution to maximise societal good and minimize environmental harm. Therefore, it is imperative to unlock responsible fashion by embedding sustainability principles into design, production and supply chain operations” (05 Dec).

From me to we: The rise of the purpose-led brand: Accenture Strategy’s most recent global survey of nearly 30,000 consumers in 35 countries found that 62 percent of customers want companies to take a stand on current and broadly relevant issues such as sustainability, transparency and fair employment practices” (05 Dec). [Ed’s note: see full report here.]

Millennials are over it: out with fast fashion and in with fair trade: “It comes as no surprise that Millennials have become one of the most influential forces behind consumerism today. And while everyone is looking to find the best deal and save as much money as possible, Millennials are willing to spend more when it comes to sustainability” (05 Dec).

Saving stitches: Alibaba’s clothing revolution: “Not content with dominating the shopping scene, China’s tech giants want to change manufacturing. But could Alibaba end up with too much power?” (05 Dec). [Ed’s note: interesting for what it suggests for the future of purchasing practices.]

Until Western brands take a stand, the lives of Bangladeshi garment workers are at risk: “With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, and the holiday shopping season in full swing, spare a moment as you browse for purchases to consider the situation in Bangladesh. As you may know, or will discover if you check the tags on your clothing, much of the apparel sold in the United States is made in Bangladesh; fast fashion brands are particularly fond of sourcing from the country, as it’s incredibly cheap to produce there, and fully 82 percent of the Bangladeshi economy is dedicated to garment production (and affiliated labor)” (05 Dec).

Supply chains give us the opportunity to measure and fight violence against women: “In many countries at the heart of supply chains (such as India), unequal power relations between men and women facilitate and excuse violence and sexual abuse against women. Yet while this may be common knowledge, it is not always easy to demonstrate – and it is certainly not easy to tackle at a societal level” (05 Dec).

ILO Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers – Results and Methodology: “This report maps the current state of labour migration and the key characteristics of migrant workers in the world today” (05 Dec).

Able, living wages + the importance of publishing them: “In episode 143, Kestrel welcomes Barrett Ward, the founder + CEO of ABLE, to the show. A lifestyle brand, ABLE is focused on ending generational poverty through providing economic opportunity for women” (04 Dec – 35:14-minute podcast).

Colombiatex 2019 invites the textiles and apparel industry to connect knowledge and enhance the senses: “Colombiatex 2019, opens the business calendar of the textile sector in Latin America from Jan. 22 to 24, in Medellin-Colombia. With the concept “Connect Knowledge” – “Conecta Saberes,” companies from the United States, Europe, Canada and South America are invited to find the common point between sciences, disciplines and professions that make up the fashion system” (04 Dec).

California set to become the first fur-free state: “California has moved one step closer to banning the sale and manufacture of new fur products throughout its state. Assembly Member Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) introduced the ‘State Fur Ban, AB 44’ on Monday - a bill that would make the Golden State the first to implement such a measure” (04 Dec).

UK faces tough task to ensure govt supply chains are slave-free – experts: “Britain's pledge to tackle modern slavery in government supply chains could be hindered by the number of companies flouting its anti-slavery law and operating "below the radar" when delivering goods and services to public bodies, activists said on Tuesday” (04 Dec).

Stella McCartney says eco is largely a marketing ploy in fashion: “Stella McCartney has hit out at the fashion industry in an interview saying that urgent issues are being ignored and that much of the talk around eco-friendliness is part of companies’ marketing approach rather than being genuine” (03 Dec).

Parley for the Oceans founder Cyrill Gutsch believes fashion can lead the way to a healthier planet: “In the face of dismal climate change headlines and a string of natural disasters, it’s easy to feel a little helpless. If you work in the fashion industry, it’s even easier. Fashion tends to be pretty woke—creatives aren’t exactly shy about voicing their political views, and it’s assumed that most of us are tree huggers these days – but who needs fashion when millions of tons of plastic are floating around the ocean?” (29 Nov).

New research pushing the limits for ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ fashion: “After two years of research Mistra Future Fashion is honoured to present, in collaboration with Centre for Circular Design at University of the Arts London and Filippa K, an exhibition pushing the limits of ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ fashion. Started in 2016, the industry-embedded project Circular Design Speeds takes a unique systemic approach, showcasing what could be accomplished using existing value chains as well as what the future of sustainable fashion holds” (23 Nov).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

4 days’ extension to Accord: “The Supreme Court today extended the tenure of Accord, a European agency for factory inspection and remediation, till December 10” (06 Dec).

Trade unions across the globe show support for Bangladesh Accord: “More than 200 trade union leaders from all corners of the world showed unanimous support for the Bangladesh Accord at IndustriALL Global Union’s Executive Committee meeting in Mexico on 29 and 30 November” (05 Dec).

Govt relaxes EPZ labour law: “The government has relaxed the labour law for the export processing zones to ensure better rights of the workers employed in the special industrial parks. The EPZ workers will now enjoy the freedom of association to realise their demands, according to the new amendments to the Bangladesh EPZ Labour Act approved by the cabinet yesterday” (04 Dec). [Ed’s note: see stories here and here.]

The work is by no means complete, yet Dhaka wants to get rid of textile supervision: The Bangladesh Accord oversees safety in textile factories for Western companies. But now the government says it has to go (03 Dec – in Dutch).

The textiles industry is booming in Bangladesh – and drugs are a part of it: “This article chronicles the experience of a drug-addicted garment industry worker—a situation that is on the rise in Bangladesh as the Accord is in danger—and the inspectors that are part of it are no longer being allowed in factories. “Drug addiction has reached alarming levels,” says Mekhala Sarkar, a professor at the National Institute of Mental Health in Dhaka. But manufacturers like western brands are looking away” (29 Nov – in German).

China

Police detain rights lawyer linked to labor movement in China’s Guangdong: “Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have detained a lawyer who had been representing former workers and labor activists linked to a unionization campaign at the Jasic Technology factory, a supporters group said on Friday” (30 Nov). [Ed’s note: I know this is not directly related to fashion, but the broader dynamic at play in this case should be of interest to any company sourcing from China.]

Cambodia

Unionists face five years in jail over 2013 strikes: “Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday began the trial of union president Ath Thorn and his deputy Ek Sopheakkdey over strikes for better working conditions and wages for workers back in 2013 … at Chinese-owned SL Garment Factory” (05 Dec).

Cambodia sees improvements in working conditions of garment industry: “Cambodia has seen remarkable improvements in labor standards in the garment and footwear industry, said an International Labor Organization (ILO) report released on Tuesday. Assessed on 464 factories, the report found that the overall number of violations on 21 critical issues fell from 811 in 2014 to 631 [Ed’s note: should be 531] this year, the ILO’s Better Factories Cambodia Program said in a press release” (04 Dec). [Ed’s note: the report referenced here is Better Factories Cambodia Transparency Database Report, 11th Cycle, published in September 2018. You can see the full report here.]

Pakistan

The survivors of Ali Enterprises ask for justice in Italy: “260 workers died in the 2016 fire. The company produced for the German brand Kik. The Italian firm RINA had certified the safety of the factory a few weeks before” (03 Dec – in Italian).

UK

Modern Slavery Act: TISCreport’s live UK Transparency map shows slavery hotspots as awareness of exploitation rises: “TISCreport’s live UK transparency Map now shows slavery and labour exploitation hotspots across the UK using real information derived from the Modern Slavery Helpline. This is overlaid on the cities, counties, districts and boroughs supplier compliance data” (29 Nov). [Ed’s note: see site here.]

Uzbekistan

Tashkent region: two farmers arrested for defaulting on cotton loans: “Two farmers from the village of Uzbekistan in the Akkurgan district of the Tashkent region, 39-year-old Sherali Toshiboev and 54-year-old Erkin Maripov, were arrested for not repaying loans for cotton. Erkin Maripov was released on November 24 after his family repaid part of the loan. Sherali Toshiboev remains in custody” (05 Dec).

MANUFACTURERS

Clean textile campaign gains momentum in Bangladesh: “The second edition of the Partnership for Clean Textile (PaCT II) has concluded its first year with seven organisations joining the campaign along with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) … Five textile brands, namely VF Corp, Puma, Levi Strauss & Co, Tesco and Gap Inc and two technology providers Jeanologia and Omera Solar have joined the campaign” (06 Dec).

While China lags on sustainable viscose, Australia unveils tree-free alternative: “A new report, Dirty Fashion: Spotlight on China, by the Changing Markets Foundation found a new sustainability initiative from Chinese viscose producers short on ambition and not able to meet NGO requirements on responsible viscose, which have been endorsed by leading fashion brands … Meanwhile, an alternative to environmentally destructive viscose has emerged: Australian biomaterial technology company Nanollose has created the world’s first wearable garment using the company’s eco-friendly Tree-Free Rayon fiber, Nullarbor, sourced from coconut waste” (05 Dec). [Ed’s note: see my video summary and context of the Changing Market Foundation report here.]

PG Denim launches 100% made in Italy: Paolo Gnutti’s has worked with Berto and Eurotessile to develop a sustainable and integrated supply chain 100% made in Italy, and with a raw materials selection that does not extend beyond European borders  (05 Dec).

Dyeing units pollute Cauvery with effluents, TNPCB blamed: “Untreated effluents from illegal dyeing units flowing into two canals originating from Avathipalayam and Sillankadu villages near Pallipalayam here is a common sight. These canals merge with the Cauvery at Ramakrishna Nagar, polluting the river, which a majority of people in the area depend on for potable water” (05 Dec).

Vidalia Mills announces strategic alliance with Lubrizol for sustainably-produced denim featuring x4zol-j stretch fibers: “New North American textile maker Vidalia Denim, a division of Vidalia Mills Co., announced it has entered into a strategic relationship with The Lubrizol Corp. as a preferred supplier of stretch fibers in its denim fabrics. Both companies will work closely to maximize the performance and eco-friendly attributes of Lubrizol’s X4zol-J elastomeric fiber in Vidalia’s production of denim fabrics” (04 Dec).

Coats Group investing US$5mln in “disruptive technology” that could revolutionise the thread industry: “Twine has developed a proprietary digital thread dyeing system, allowing thread to be produced on demand at any colour and length … “which will improve our industry and its sustainability”” (04 Dec).

Tyton Biosciences receives fashion positive plus award towards assessment of products for cradle to cradle certification: “Tyton BioSciences LLC, a world leader in mixed-textile recycling technology, has been chosen by Fashion Positive PLUS to receive an award to support assessment of the company’s products towards Gold level Cradle to Cradle certification” (03 Dec).

Li & Fung imparts technical training to Indian exporters to boost efficiency: “Li & Fung Limited, renowned global trading house, is supporting its Indian vendors through technical training and effective production system like Lean Manufacturing concept. Recently such programs were executed at Delhi-NCR based leading export houses. Technical experts from Li & Fung India’s Bangalore office and Hong Kong, trained production team members, supervisors and operators of the apparel manufacturing units” (03 Dec).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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 January, Frankfurt: Fashionsustain:  Puts the spotlight on materials and processes, innovations, circularity concepts and industry industrial applications (with a focus on water).

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.

* 22 – 24 January, Medellin, Columbia: Colombiatex 2019: includes highlighting the best practices of 25 companies that are committed to this subject with innovation, social and environmental responsibility.

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.”

29 January – 07 February, Various locations in India/Pakistan: 1 Day Leather Processing Course: “Do you source from India or Pakistan? Get your supply chain trained in leather processing.”

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.”

* 02 May, Dhaka: Bangladesh Fashionology Summit: Transparency through technology, technology for decent work and environment, future skills development.

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.

Comment