BRANDS AND RETAILERS
Brands signing up to the 2018 Bangladesh Accord 28 Feb – 07 Mar: Brands signing up this week to the 2018 Accord include: Arcadia Group (Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Topman, Miss Selfridge), Bonmarché (07 Mar). [Ed’s note: list gleaned from the Bangladesh AccordTwitter feed. Full list of signatories here.]
Outdoor Industry Association launches new sustainability section on website: “[The] Outdoor Industry Association website now features quick access to sustainable supply chain resources” (05 Mar). [Ed’s note: follow links here and here to see the resources available.]
Ethical fashion is order of the day for Stella McCartney in Paris: “The invitation for Stella McCartney’s fashion show in Paris came in a glossy pouch with “I am 100% compostable (and so are you!)” printed on it. Inside was a freebie with purpose: a pair of yellow socks made from 85% upcycled yarn using no water, chemicals, dyes or pesticides” (05 Mar).
Fenix, Hugo Boss, Volcom receive FLA accreditation: “The Fair Labor Association (FLA) … recently announced that German luxury clothier Hugo Boss, Swedish outdoor gear brand Fenix, and US sports brand Volcom have received accreditation for their social compliance programs” (04 Mar).
How fashion brands are tackling modern slavery in Mauritius: “Mauritius and Bangladesh are negotiating an agreement that could put an end to bonded labour once and for all” (02 Mar). [Ed’s note: article by Cindy Berman, head of Modern Slavery Strategy at the Ethical Trading Initiative. It mentions Asos, Whistles, and Princes.]
Is biodegradable clothing the future of fashion? “Philadelphia-based brand Aqua Vida sells workout wear that’s 100 per cent recyclable, and will take under three years to decompose in an anaerobic landfill or compost heap” (01 Mar).
Roy Robson fires union members in Turkey: Global trade union IndustriALL reports “German clothing company Roy Robson has fired eleven union members from its factory in Izmir, Turkey.” (01 Mar). [Ed’s note: see email campaign here.]
Wolverine facing more than 90 lawsuits stemming from waste dumping practices: [Merrell, Saucony parent Wolverine] is up against a batch of more than 90 lawsuits related to its waste management practices” (28 Feb).
How Heron Preston is bringing sustainable practices to the streetwear industry: “When streetwear designer Heron Preston recognized an opportunity to work with Eileen Fisher on the brand’s sustainability initiatives, he took it” (28 Feb).
Luxury brands look for environmentally friendly biotextiles: “Livestock production will be unsustainable by 2050, and will severely curtail both the consumption of meat and the use of leather in luxury items” (28 Feb). [Ed’s note: mentions Modern Meadow, QMilk, Infinited Fiber, Stella McCartney, Chanel, Salvatore Ferragamo, Maison Margiela, and Max Mara.]
H&M’s new line uses nylon waste rescued from oceans and landfills: [The collection results from] a partnership between [H&M] and Aquafil” (28 Feb).
NGO assesses brands on sustainability: CERES has released a new report – TURNING POINT: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability – which assesses “how more than 600 of the largest publicly traded companies in the United States are positioned to address critical sustainability issues such as climate change, water pollution and scarcity and human rights abuses.” The report includes scorecards on the following footwear and apparel brands: Foot Locker, Gap Inc., HanesBrands, L Brands, Lululemon Athletica, Michael Kors, Nike, PVH, Ralph Lauren, Ross, Tapestry, TJX Companies, Under Armour, Urban Outfitters, and VF Corp. It also scores three retailers: Nordstrom, Target and Walmart (28 Feb).
Brand responses to Labour Without Liberty report about female migrant workers in India: The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has posted responses by brands named as sourcing from Indian factories in which a report last month, Labour Without Liberty - Female Migrant Workers in Bangalore's Garment Industry, said female migrant workers are subjected to conditions of modern slavery. See responses from PVH, Marks & Spencer, Columbia, Decathlon, Gap, H&M, and C&A. Levi’s, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Benetton did not respond (various dates, 16 – 27 Feb).
Cruelty-free fashion brand releases vegan James Dean ‘leather’ jacket: “Vegan fashion brand HoodLamb has launched its very own James Dean-inspired jacket’ (27 Feb).
HuffPost UK’s sustainable denim shopping guide: Patagonia, M&S, Hiut Denim, Re/Done, and The New Denim Project (27 Feb). [Ed’s note: Everlane is mentioned but does not ship to the UK.]
20 British brands fail to sign up to safety regulations to prevent gross labour abuses: “20 British companies, including Debenhams, Marks and Spencer, Next, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, are among those that have not [signed the 2018 Accord in Bangladesh]” (27 Feb).
Guess joins retailers committing to fabrics that protect forests, locals: [Thomson Reuters Foundation reports] Guess is adopting a policy to trace the sources of its wood-based fabrics … to rid their supply chains of products from endangered forests” (27 Feb).
Finisterre become the first European surf brand to be B-Corp certified: “Finisterre have become the first European surf brand to be B-Corp certified” (21 Feb).
REPORTS, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS
Designing for sustainability: pros and cons of natural and man-made fibres: Coming up, Mon 12 March 2018: a masterclass to learn about the pros and cons of natural and manmade fibres from a sustainable angle, in West London (Mar).
ETI worker engagement project makes great strides: “Huasheng Garments has begun to implement an entirely new way of working in its factory. With the support of ETI (Ethical trading initiative) and ILO (International Labour Organization), the firm has rolled out an initiative which sees workers able to play a key role in business decisions” (06 Mar – subscription required to read full article).
We must keep pressure on brands to protect garment workers: “Over 200 brands signed the 2013 Accord, but only 110 have so far signed up for 2018. While some brands have simply stopped manufacturing in Bangladesh, there is still a gap” (06 Mar). [Ed’s note: numerous brands mentioned with comments from Primark and Sainsbury’s.]
Digital labour inspection system launched in Bangladesh: “The Bangladeshi labour inspectorate has launched the digitalised Labour Inspection Management Application (LIMA) system” (06 Mar – subscription required to read full article). [Ed’s note: see LIMA here.]
A glimpse into Berlin’s eco fashion scene: [Ed’s note: the article is a solid roundup of the third annual Ethical Fashion Show Berlin, but included the following contra comment.] “Melissa Drier, a fashion journalist who has been covering the fashion industry in Berlin for over 30 years [said,] “Green fashion is clothes, not fashion,” she said. “It doesn’t have the sophistication, so I’m unwilling to buy it. We are not seeing contemporary shapes. The level of drab is too high. I don’t want it” (05 Mar).
GOTS gathers industry for US Roundtable: “The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) has hosted a Roundtable event which saw brands, manufacturers, trade associations and organic cotton farmers gather to provide feedback on the challenges and opportunities which currently face the industry” (05 Mar – subscription required to read full article).
Women in India are putting a face to your clothes, Is it sustainable fashion's answer? “Melanie DiSalvo, who runs a clothing company called virtue + vice [is interviewing] all levels of her clothing supply chain from the women who weave to the women who print fabrics, dye and cut and sew, and asks them to answer “what would you say to the people who wear the clothes you make?”” (04 Mar).
“Stories Made in Equality”: “Made in Equality shows garment workers and industry stakeholders in a light in which they have never been seen in before” (04 Mar - video). [Ed’s note: 3:04 minute video on a project to give voice to garment workers in Bangladesh.]
Why Scotland leads the way in Fairtrade school uniforms: “Scottish parents are leading a Fairtrade revolution by choosing ethical school uniforms” (04 Mar).
Forced labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields: [Ed’s note: Human Rights Watch has posted a video of a discussion between Andrew Stroehlein and Steve Swerdlow (an HRW central Asia researcher). For comments related to cotton, go to 19:30 minutes. Here’s one quote (pertaining to the numbers of public sector workers, such as teachers, doctors and nurses, picking cotton): “If you try to go to a clinic in October, let’s say, in Uzbekistan [for a] toothache, the chances are you’ll see a sign that says, “We’re in the cotton fields, come back in two months”] (03 Mar - video).
Blockchain for good: The human rights supply chain: “Mac McGary, President of Alliances at Sweetbridge, looks at how blockchain can improve supply chain transparency and product traceability, thus reducing worker vulnerability and promoting human rights” (02 Mar).
FabScrap founder discusses New York City textile recycling: “FabScrap aims to mitigate the issue of textile waste by streamlining material recycling processes for New York-based businesses” (02 Mar).
Time for regenerative fiber: “Regenerative fiber is a movement to return the entire system of clothing, from agriculture to product and back again, to within 250 miles of where one lives” (02 Mar).
China is turning Ethiopia into a giant fast-fashion factory: “The project is Beijing’s big experiment in outsourcing, and a $10 billion shot in the arm for the African nation – if there isn’t a civil war first” (02 Mar). [Ed’s note: from Bloomberg, mentions Indochine International, Warners, Walmart, Guess, Levi’s, H&M, Hela-Indochine, KGG Garment, Children’s Place, PVH, and Huajian. China Labour Bulletin calls it “China export[ing] low-cost factories and exploitative labour practices to Ethiopia”.]
Using Global Framework Agreements (GFAs) for organizing: IndustriALL Global Union has uploaded a video requesting apparel and textile brands to sign GFAs (02 Mar – 4:14 minute video).
Denim ‘fur’ is latest sustainable fashion trend: “Fashion designer Tiziano Guardini has teamed up with ISKO Creative Room to co-create the material, which has been made using certified organic cotton and pre-consumer recycled cotton” (02 Mar).
The big issue of microfibers in AB 2379: “Last month, state Assembly member Richard Bloom introduced Assembly Bill 2379 to the California State Legislature. The bill would require manufacturers of clothing that comprises more than 50 percent polyester to include a label recommending consumers bypass the washing machine and handwash these items instead” (01 Mar). [Ed’s note: in dept look at the bill from California Apparel News.]
Second hand clothes and Africa: Thomas Ahlmann, from FairWertung (a German network of non-profit organizations that collect used clothing) has contributed an article to the Tchibo blog, arguing donated clothing should not be sent to Africa due to impact on local industries and local businesses (01 Mar – in German).
Meet Amanda Borgfors Mészàrosm finalist Redress Design Award 2017: “I believe that the big companies within the fashion industry have a role to play, as they have a great impact on society and also impact what trends the smaller brands pick up” (01 Mar).
Not another ethical fashion brand, please: “Starting an ethical fashion brand is not as glamorous as it appears on Instagram” (01 Mar). [Ed’s note: from the Eco Warrior Princess blog. A similarly themed article also appeared in the German online magazine Fair Fashion, titled ‘Sustainability sucks – no new fair fashion labels please!’, which went a step further by arguing, “Why? Who needs that? Why shower the world with even more things, which then only end up in the garbage?”]
ETI tips on motivating workplace cooperation in China: “Huasheng Garments Co Ltd., a factory in China’s Zheji[a]ng Province, has a fresh look, thanks to jointly implemented ILO and ETI SCORE Training” (01 Mar). [Ed’s note: Huasheng was feature in FSWIR, Week 8.]
New report from BSR on private-sector collaboration for sustainable development: A new report from BSR, Private-Sector Collaboration for Sustainable Development, makes the case for collaboration between companies. H&M and Levi’s both quoted on the landing page (28 Feb).
Three new reports on sustainable fashion shopping from Cotton Inc.: Cotton Incorporated has released three new “Insights” reports: Sustainability Concerned Consumers, Sustainable Clothing, and When Does Sustainability Matter. Interesting findings: i) sustainable purchases by category (Food 77%, clothing 61%, footwear 52%); ii) % putting time and effort into finding sustainable clothing (China 81%, US 44%) (28 Feb). [Ed’s note: see also, In apparel, it’s fast fashion versus sustainability, from Cotton Inc.]
Sustainability a keyword for luxury in 2018: “[A report by Positive Luxury says] sustainability will become even more important and will feed into the emotions trend, while also widening out to cover more than just the environment” (28 Feb).
Activists protest ‘brutal’ fur trade outside Hong Kong’s fur fair: “Animal rights activists protested on Saturday [25 Feb] outside an international fur fair in Hong Kong, calling on the city to end the “brutal” fur trade” (28 Feb).
Digital technology as a driver of sustainable innovation: “The emergence of new digital tools and technologies for the apparel and footwear industry provides designers, brands, manufacturers and retailers with exciting sustainable innovation opportunities, which cover the entire product lifecycle from design and development, manufacturing, sales and consumer use to the product’s end-of-life” (28 Feb). [Ed’s note: long article by Anne Prahl, an independent design professional with extensive experience in the sports and fashion industry.]
ETI: Everything a business needs to know about social dialogue and sound industrial relations: [Ed’s note: The article focuses on the ‘Global Deal’, initiated by the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven together with the ILO and OECD. As an aside, H&M is the only fashion brand signed up.] (27 Feb).
Can a circular economy save us from ourselves? “The world is on track to have more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. But all is not lost if we embrace a “circular economy,” says the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Andrew Morlet” (27 Feb).
FWF partners with ASN bank on living wage implementation: “[Fair Wear Foundation] will cooperate with [Dutch bank] ASN in defining the role investors can play in promoting progress towards living wages and in developing a set of tools investors can use to better assess the performance of clothing brands” (27 Feb).
PETA protests leather during Paris Fashion Week: PETA activists wore “placards in the shape of tombstones [saying], ‘To dress without animal skin never killed anyone’ and ‘Leather is Dead’” (27 Feb).
Vogue Australia appoints sustainability editor-at-large: “Clare Press will assume the role of sustainability editor-at-large, taking charge of ensuring Vogue Australia maintains an environmental focus” (27 Feb).
Results from training on organic cotton yields in Ethiopia: “[Training funded by TRAID and supported by Pesticide Action Network UK has seen farmers achieve “yields over 100% higher than untrained farmers in the same area and the price obtained per kilo of cotton has increased by 77%” (27 Feb).
Sedex Awards 2018 shortlist: Two organisations in the supply chain have been shortlisted in the Sedex Awards 2018 in the Best New Programme Implemented category. They are Classic Fashion (in Jordan) and Jinnat Knitwear Ltd. (in Bangladesh) (07 Mar).
How to turn old milk into new clothes: “A resourceful entrepreneur processes dairy waste into textiles that are particularly kind to the skin” (02 Mar – in German). [Ed’s note: about QMilk.]
Indonesia aims to banish toxic waste from lifeline river: “Among the [Citarum] river’s worst polluters are dozens of textile factories in Majalaya that dump chemical waste” (02 Mar).
Bangladesh leads the way in green factories: “At least 67 garment factories have received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC)” (02 Mar). [Ed’s note: on 01 Mar, 13 Bangladeshi LEED Platinum green garment factories received the “LEED Green Factory Award”. Scroll to end of article to see names.]
Sustainable polymers popularize across textile markets: “DuPont Industrial Biosciences’s Sorona polymer is becoming a popular choice for companies pivoting toward greener alternatives” (28 Feb).
Xeros expands near-waterless commercial laundry system to South Africa: “Xeros, the innovator in sustainable cleaning technologies, [has] announced that its near-waterless laundry system is now available in South Africa” (28 Feb).
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Myanmar Government sets new daily minimum wage at K4800: “The National Committee for the Minimum Wage on Monday set [Myanmar’s] daily minimum wage at K4800 (US$3.60) or K600 per hour for an eight-hour day despite objections from both labour and employers” (06 Mar). [Ed’s note: this is a 33.3 per cent increase.]
More Cambodian workers seek lost wages: “Nearly 50 workers from the Co-Seek Garment factory in [Cambodia] came out to petition Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet for intervention after their employer escaped in 2016 without paying them” (06 Mar).
Bangladesh garment workers asking for more than tripling of minimum wage: “In addition to a new minimum wage [rising from US$68 to US$192 the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC)] is demanding [streamlined job grades, promotion criteria, 10 per cent annual payment increases, and restricting apprentice training periods to three months]” (05 Mar).
Union involved in China handbag factory strike: “Major strike and worker negotiations on now in Panyu, Guangdong at Guangzhou Panyu Simone Handbag Co Ltd; union gets involved and company promises not to retaliate against worker reps after weeks of worker actions” (05 Mar). [Ed’s note: see more here in Chinese – an open letter from worker-elected representatives containing 12 changes in the workplace, from pension funds to sick leave pay to living wage during off-season production times. Simone Handbag is a Korean company.]
Spinning mill catches fire in Bangladesh: “A fire broke out at [Kader Synthetic Fibers Factory] in Gazipur city early Monday” (05 Mar).
Workers in Vietnam receive owed wages after lawsuit: “[Workers from Sang Hun Limited Company] received cash worth nearly VNĐ4.9 billion (US$213,000) in total, including more than VNĐ1.8 billion ($78,200) in wages and over VNĐ3 billion ($130,400) in social, health and unemployment debts” (05 Mar).
‘Make workers at your factory your partners’: ““No entrepreneur has made the [Bangladesh] garment industry globally competitive through their management and entrepreneurship skills. It is your workers who have made you globally competitive in the garment industry because of their low wage” (04 Mar). [Ed’s note: from a talk by Professor Rehman Sobhan speaks in Dhaka.]
Women’s participation in Bangladesh apparel workforce declines: “[A new survey from Bangladesh], titled “Ongoing Upgradation in RMG Enterprise: Preliminary Results from a Survey” … [says the ration of female workers in the sector is on the decline, down from 64% in 2015 to 60.6%]” (03 Mar).
Garment units in Mumbai gutted in fire: “Several garment and chemical manufacturing units were gutted in a fire in suburban Andheri [on Saturday night]” (03 Mar).
Working group created to study fainting in Cambodian factories: “The Labour Ministry has created a technical working group to study and investigate what causes fainting in an attempt to reduce episodes of fainting at factories nationwide” (02 Mar).
BGMEA urges intellectuals to speak carefully about wages: “Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Md Siddiqur Rahman on Thursday [last week] urged intellectuals and civil society members to speak carefully about the minimum wage of readymade garments sector workers” (02 Mar).
Employers who flee to face court cases or arrest in Cambodia: “The Labour Ministry [last week] said it would be taking strong action in cooperation with court and police officials against garment factory owners who flee without paying workers their dues” (02 Mar).
Indian Government to ensure firms do not convert employees into contract workers: “The Union government is planning to take measures to ensure companies do not convert their full-time workers into contract employees by misusing the proposed fixed-term contract framework” (28 Feb).
Unpaid workers in Cambodia to get cash advance: “[T]he government was prepared to pay $4.6 million to 4,100 workers [from eight factories] whose bosses ran away, meaning each worker would get about $1,100” (01 Mar). [Ed’s note: see also, Analysis: The government has announced plans to cover workers’ severance, but is it the best solution to factory disputes? (28 Feb).]
Indian government orders judicial probe into mill fire: “The Maharashtra government has announced a judicial probe into the Kamala Mills fire, the alleged violation of Floor Space Index (FSI) rules, and the misuse of land by textile mills owners in the city” (28 Feb). [Ed’s note: see also, Kamala Mills fire: Shortcomings in your fire safety audits: ““We have seen the results of your audit. There are shortcomings and that is why incidents like these are happening,” the [Bombay High C]ourt said” (01 Mar).]
Vietnam government finds jobs for 2,000 workers after factory boss flees: “The move was made after nearly 2,000 labourers from the South Korean textile company KL Texwell Vina in … returned to work … following the company’s announcement but found out that the company still closed” (28 Feb).
8,000 Vietnamese firms owe social insurance fees: “More than 8,000 enterprises nationwide currently owe social insurance premiums totalling some VNĐ2 trillion (US$87 million)” (28 Feb).
Wages in Vietnam increased by 9.3 percent in 2017: “The average monthly salary increased by 9.3 percent in 2017, according to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs [up to US$ 290]” (26 Feb).
Woman burned to death in Indian mill: “A 36-year-old woman was charred to death and another injured in a fire mishap at Anantalakshmi Textiles Mill [last week]” (27 Feb).
Bangladesh DoE fines two apparel factories for pollution: “The Department of Environment (DoE) has fined two readymade garment (RMG) factories in Chittagong … M/s Global Garments Ltd. and M/s Men’s Fashion Ltd.” (26 Feb).
Fire in Indian textile unit: “A fire broke out at a textile mill run by the National Textile Corporation (NTC) [in Bhopal] early on Sunday [25 Feb], but no injury or casualty was reported” (25 Feb). [Ed’s note: the fire was severe, taking 40-50 tenders seven to ten hours to douse flames. Fire extinguishers were reportedly non-functional at the fire’s outset. See more here, here and here.]
Substandard electronic devices cause 36 per cent of fires in Bangladesh factories: “Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense annual reports say that it responded to at least 70,221 fire incidents in the last four years since 2014 in which 676 people were killed, 3,031 injured” (24 Feb).
Workers protest unpaid medical insurance owed by Chinese garment factory: Workers protest unpaid medical insurance owed by garment factory in Jiujiang, Jiangxi. The factory in question is 荣达制衣 [Rongda Clothing Factory] (24 Feb).
Disclaimer: The Fashion Sustainability Week in Review (FSWIR) is a 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 or any individual associated with the company.