THIS WEEK

Beginning today, we’re adding two new sections to the newsletter (THIS WEEK, and CONFERENCES & SEMINARS) and an EMAIL THE EDITOR button.

THIS WEEK: An editorial overview of the week, highlighting important items or trends.

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS: Sustainability events upcoming in the next two months.

EMAIL THE EDITOR: (for subscribers to the newsletter only) For press releases, notification of conferences or seminars not listed, or any feedback. You could even write to just say hello.

The dominant story of the week (18 – 25 April) was the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse in Dhaka, not only for “five years on” stories (of which there were many), but also Fashion Revolution Week, which kicked off with the release of Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index 2018 (rating 150 brands), and the Fashion Revolution Manifesto (both of which received widespread media coverage). It’s easy to miss other factory stories in a week where Bangladesh featured so heavily, but in India Delhi saw its sixth apparel/footwear factory fire of the year. This week also saw the announcement of the world’s first master’s degree in circular fashion entrepreneurship, and a Q&A marathon by Fair Wear Foundation with member brands to answer stakeholder questions (videos available online). In New Zealand, the Sustainable Fashion Forum was videoed and is also now online for viewing. Burberry and Freudenberg both announced new initiatives to drive new materials research, while Fashion Positive and H&M Foundation released an Emerging Material Innovators Report. Fur continues to be a divisive issue, as do the sustainable shopping habits of Millennials (if they care, why don’t they shop accordingly?) Finally, FLEX is asking for people in companies buying from Bangladesh or the UK to take a survey of views on the effectiveness of the UK Modern Slavery Act.

This is our longest newsletter ever, so there’s a lot more to see. Happy reading. And don’t forget the “Email the Editor” button.

From the Editor: Stephen Frost, CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Brands signing up to the 2018 Bangladesh Accord 18 Apr – 25 Apr: Brands signing up during the last week to the 2018 Accord include: Alma Mater WearEllos Group, ETP, Fat Face, Gekås Ullared, Heinrich Obermeyer, Knights Apparel, Paprika Cassis, Sainsbury’s, Woolworths Australia (25 Apr). [Ed’s note: list gleaned from IndustriALL’s updates list of signatories here.]

FWF posts videos of Facebook Q&A marathon with member brands: Fair Wear Foundation has posted videos of a Q&A marathon on Facebook between member brands and stakeholders (held on 24 Apr). Scroll down on FWF’s Facebook page (link in headline) to see videos of the following brands answering questions: Jack Wolfskin, Hessnatur, Manroof, Sandqvist, Armedangels, King Louie, Bel&Bo, Suit Supply, Nudie Jeans, Anna van Toor, Vaude, Kings of Indigo, Fond Of, KJUS, Deuter, Expresso Fashion & Claudia Sträter. Each video is around 20 minutes long, consisting of brand introductions and answers to questions posted by viewers. (25 Apr).

Filippa K tell you who made it: “Did you know that [Filippa K] always share[s] information regarding where our clothes are made? Simply press the section ‘Who made it?’ on the garment product page” (24 Apr).

Tchibo expands rental service for children’s clothing: “After three months of offering a rental service for baby clothes, high demand for the service is leading Tchibo to expand the programme” (24 Apr – in German).

Citizens of Humanity homes in on water and energy conservation: “Citizens of Humanity zeros in on water and energy conservation and technologies that enable swift manufacturing processes” (24 Apr).

Kowtow’s design and production team talk sustainability in-store: [Ed’s note: Kowtow’s design and production team dropped by one of the outlets in Wellington, New Zealand, to answer questions on ethics and sustainability.] (24 Apr).

ASKET’s full traceability Oxford shirt: Swedish brand ASKET introduced ‘full traceability’ label, breaking down all components and tracing them back to origin. See more on the label here (23 Apr – 1:00-minute video).

Primark and Asos are becoming more transparent about who makes their clothes: “Asos, Wrangler and Primark are among the major fashion brands that are becoming more transparent about their supply chains, according to a report published today [Monday 23 April] to mark Fashion Revolution Week” (23 Apr). [Ed’s note: see the full report here, and story immediately below.]

Fashion Revolution publishes Manifesto: As part of the kickoff of Fashion Revolution week, with ten goals for the industry, including dignified work, fair and equal pay, freedom to negotiate, respect for culture and creativity, safeguards for the environment, transparency, reuse/recycling, and a new definition of success that looks beyond solely profits (23 Apr).

Fashion Revolution publishes its Fashion Transparency Index 2018: Covering 150 brands, this year’s report’s biggest movers were The North Face (+22%), Timberland (+22%), Wrangler (+22%), C&A (+19%), and Asos (+18%). Only 10 brands scored more than 51% (no brand scored more than 61%): Adidas (58), Reebok (58), Puma (56), H&M (55), Esprit (54), Banana Republic (54), Gap (54), Old Navy (54), C&A (53), and Marks & Spencer (51). Twelve brands scored zero. Download the Index here. (23 Apr).

Fashion Transparency Index 2018 faults luxury brands: “Brands such as Dior, Chanel, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana do not disclose any information about their suppliers despite growing pressure” (23 Apr). [Ed’s note: Download the Index here.]

What really goes into a fashion ranking & how brands game the system: “How does a brand like H&M, which has been very notoriously plagued with both environmental abuses and human rights issues within its supply chain, or adidas, which as recently as recently as a year ago was in the midst of a sweatshop scandal in connection with its Yeezy Boosts, routinely outrank brands like Dior or Chanel on lists such as this [Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index 2018], you ask? Well, there is a rather simple explanation” (23 Apr).

Australian clothing brands won’t commit to garment workers safety: “Among the businesses that did not sign the last [Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh] and are yet to sign the 2018 accord are the Just Group, which includes Just Jeans and Peter Alexander, and Fast Future, incorporating Valley Girl and Temt. Others that have signed neither agreement included Best and Less, Myer, and Country Road. Noni-B, Workwear Group and Licensing Essentials signed last year’s [A]ccord but were yet to agree to this year” (23 Apr).

Bangladesh Accord protests held at Abercrombie & Fitch stores: “With the firm having still to commit to the newest incarnation of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, Abercrombie & Fitch stores across the United States have been the subject of protests from workers’ rights campaigners” (23 Apr – subscription required to read full article).

Abercrombie & Fitch highlights improved working conditions in Bangladesh after protests: “Abercrombie & Fitch claims that the fire, electrical and structural audits of its vendors’ facilities in Bangladesh have achieved a progress rate of 95 percent but activists still want the company to sign the renewal accord” (23 Apr).

Jaba Garmindo workers appeal to Uniqlo CEO in letters to take action on severance debt: “Some seventy ex-workers of an Indonesian garment factory, Jaba Garmindo, which until its illegal closure three years ago was supplying Japanese fashion giant Uniqlo, have made a personal plea to Tadashi Yanai – Uniqlo’s billionaire owner – calling on him to intervene directly to ensure they finally receive their unpaid wages and severance” (22 Apr).

How Eileen Fisher is building a fashion brand that will last for generations: “Through a circular design model, Eileen Fisher has rethought the way we buy, consume, reuse, and eventually discard our clothes to create a better future for our planet” (22 Apr).

Asia’s first Fairtrade denim brand makes India debut: “After a few years in the denim business, brothers Akshat and Aditya Chaudhary decided it was time to take their passion and commitment for sustainability to the next level. Aizome, said to be Asia’s first fairtrade denim brand, is the manifestation of their philosophy and will be launched online next month” (20 Apr).

To Kering, luxury means trashing fashion’s death wish: ““For [Marie-Claire Daveu, Kering’s chief sustainability officer], the most important thing is the fact that at every level inside the company, people are really convinced that sustainability is a necessity, not just an option. It’s a cultural change”” (20 Apr). 

Trelise Cooper claims F rating in ethical fashion report was unfair: ““Tearfund [NZ] demanded an arbitrary, limited timeframe for a very intense and detailed report that we simply could not meet,” a spokesperson said in a statement … In response to these comments, Tearfund CEO Ian McInnes [said] ““We give companies just over four months to complete the survey”” (19 Apr).

Reformation pledges to divert 75,000 pieces of clothing from landfill: “Reformation has announced plans to divert 75,000 articles of clothing from landfills in 2018, tripling its goal from last year” (19 Apr).

The RealReal and Stella McCartney raise awareness of the circular economy: “The RealReal … and its partner Stella McCartney today [19 Apr] announced a new Earth Day campaign to bring greater awareness to the circular economy for luxury fashion” (19 Apr).

The best French brands you haven't heard of yet: [Ed’s note: from Glamour magazine. It’s interesting to note that so many of the brands mentioned have incorporated sustainable practices – e.g., Rive Droite (recycled cotton, fair wages in Morocco), Veja (organic, fair trade, recycled), Sessùn (plant-based dyes), Maison Château Rouge (supporting small business in Africa).]  (19 Apr).

H&M says 500m textiles worker are now represented by democratically elected representatives: “We [H&M] want to strengthen the textile workers’ position at their workplace. One important step towards this goal is to ensure they are all represented by democratically elected representatives who can speak and negotiate on their behalf. This is now in place at all the first-tier factories we are sourcing from in Bangladesh” (19 Apr).

Tchibo calls for ambitious CO2 limits for trucks: Tchibo has written an open letter to the EU Commission calling for binding sales targets for zero-emission trucks (19 Apr – in German).

Sharon Baurley named chair of Burberry Material Futures Research Group: “Burberry Foundation has announced that Professor Sharon Baurley will be chair of its new Burberry Material Futures Research Group, a research hub focused on advancing the fashion industry” (19 Apr).

Guess joins Better Cotton Initiative: “[Guess will] partner with The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), an organization that works with cotton farmers, helping them to use water efficiently and care for the environment, as well as promote higher standards of work, during cotton production” (18 Apr).

Startup Kloters introduces T-shirt that cleans air: “Italian startup Kloters have come up with a zero-impact t-shirt that is capable of [cleaning the air] (18 Apr).

Timberland Wardrobe Values survey uncovers consumer eco-fashion behaviors: “Timberland surveyed 1,000 men and women in the U.S. to understand the importance of the environmental impact of their style choices. The motivations behind men’s and women’s behaviors varied, but overall two-out-of-three (67%) consumers report they care at least a little about eco-conscious fashion, with more than half (55%) of consumers saying at least some of their current wardrobe is eco-conscious” (18 Apr).

‘Tis the season to shop sustainable fashion: here are 5 places to get it: [Ed’s note: from Marie Claire, South Africa.] Woolworths, G-Star RAW, Country Road, Witchery, and H&M (18 Apr).

Why we can only trust ethical fashion lists so far: [Ed’s note: a response to the release last week of 5th Annual Baptist World Aid Australia Ethical Fashion Report (see FSWIR 16).] “[T]he report has some serious flaws, in particular the way it gives cheap, high-volume ‘fast-fashion’ brands [such as Cotton On, Zara and H&M] more credit than they deserve” (18 Apr).

C&A to launch global sustainability campaign: C&A has announced a new global sustainability campaign under the name #VistaAMudança (literally ‘view the change’), which invites customers to actively participate in the process of making the fashion industry more sustainable. See #VistaAMudança on Twitter here, and a video launch here (17 Apr – in Portuguese, from Brazil).

Tom Cridland launches the half century jeans: “[B]uilt from a special hybrid of materials including Japanese selvedge denim, sourced from Okayama, and ultra durable Spectra fibres, which are 15x stronger than cable steel” (17 Apr).

Girlfriend Collective launches line from manufacturing waste: “This month, Girlfriend Collective launched a line of tops made from waste produced by cotton manufacturing” (17 Apr).

NEWS & REPORTS

Futerra Fashion Revolutionaries – Leslie Johnston of C&A Foundation: “If we succeed in our collective efforts to create a more transparent and accountable fashion industry, by 2030, we (as consumers) will have the information we need to make informed choices” (24 Apr).

The deadliest garment industry disaster in history, five years later: [Ed’s note: an interview with Mark Anner, director of the PennState Centre for Global Workers’ Rights, and author of Binding Power: The Sourcing Squeeze, Workers’ Rights, and Building Safety in Bangladesh Since Rana Plaza, published in March 2018.] “I see two dynamics in particular, what I call the “price squeeze” and the “lead-time squeeze,” and that starts at the top of supply chains. First is the price squeeze. If you came and made a shirt for a three-dollar price point last season, there's going to be pressure for you to do it at $2.95 this season” (24 Apr).

Rana plaza, five years on: safety of workers hangs in balance in Bangladesh: “Progress is less obvious for workers in at least 2,000 factories that do not supply major western brands, and are inspected either by the Bangladesh government, or not at all. Union activity across the sector remains stifled. And, analysts ask, how sustainable are the improvements? What happens when the Accord and Alliance end?” (24 Apr).

Rana Plaza five years on – safety is greater but not guaranteed:” Conditions improve but activists and manufacturers say government must regulate” (24 Apr).

“Millions of women work in fashion’s supply chain and are overlooked in conversations about feminism”: “[Can] the feminisation of workers can be seen as a positive step towards female emancipation in Bangladesh, when 83 per cent of workers are sewing-machine operators and 10 per cent are helpers, both the lowest-paid jobs in the industry[?]” (24 Apr).

Teachers: Cotton is the most painful issue for us: “On April 21, the issue of forced labor among teaching professionals was discussed live on Uzbekistan’s main television channel. Speakers discussed a conference which took place on April 17, during which Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov severely chastised ministers of education and public health for forcing doctors and teachers to pick cotton…” (24 Apr).

Creating a #FashionRevolution: How to campaign for change: “To learn more about campaigning for change, the True Fashion Collective gathered more than 100 fashion enthusiasts at Fashion for Good last week to ask industry experts: “How can I campaign for change?” (24 Apr). [Ed’s note: article notes advice given.]

Is fast fashion a class issue? “Are ethically produced clothes a privilege for the wealthy? Should people with limited disposable income really be expected to pay more for clothes just to avoid buying cheap stuff that’s bad for the planet? And after all of these questions, are we left with one unavoidable one: Is fast fashion a class issue?” (23 Apr).

Is transparency a blunt knife or a surgeon’s scalpel? [Ed’s note: author is a programme manager (supply chain innovation & transformation) at C&A Foundation.] “While it is good to see transparency move from dirty word to mainstream, the term 'transparency' is increasingly being diluted” (23 Apr).

Want a fairer fashion industry? This is what you can do: [Ed’s note: from Greenpeace.] “Transparency is key if we want to demand change. We need to ask brands to come clean about wages, workplace safety, environmental policy, the use of polyester and textile recycling; and demand for high quality, durable clothes from brands instead of cheap throw-away fashion” (23 Apr).

How two entrepreneurs became unexpected activists and started a fashion revolution: [Ed’s note: A Forbes magazine interview with Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro, founders of Fashion Revolution.] (23 Apr).

Ethical clothing leaves Belgium cold: “Multinationals who make clothes through cheap labor do not have to fear sanctions in Belgium. “Our country is evading its responsibility”” (23 Apr – in Dutch).

Bangladesh still popular for low-cost apparel: “At the same time, Bangladesh’s reputation has also improved due to inspection and remediation of the garment factories by the Accord and Alliance. However, buyers do not want to pay higher prices, although the cost of production will go up further with wage hike, port congestion and higher transportation cost” (23 Apr).

Fashion Revolution Week 2018: Five years on from Rana Plaza collapse, what has changed? “[Fashion Revolution’s Carry Somers says] “[t]he industry is starting to change. More brands are being open about where their clothes are made. More manufacturers are making their factories safe. More producers are being seen and heard”” (23 Apr).

5 years on from the Rana Plaza collapse, how much has actually changed? “Consumers may be more critical and brands more conscious, but a genuine long-term change means continual engagement” (23 Apr). [Ed’s note: from Vogue.]

Fashion Revolution Week: why you need to know about it: “Today marks the start of the Fashion Revolution week, a global campaign calling for more transparency in all fashion supply chains” (23 Apr).

Fashion giants fail to escape long shadow of Rana Plaza disaster: “History is littered with deals not worth the paper they are written on, but the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety has by most accounts been transformative” (23 Apr).

Five years after rana plaza disaster, are Asia’s sweatshops a thing of the past? “[Christie Miedema of Clean Clothes Campaign says] “[T]he garment industry hasn’t changed. What we are seeing is that if there is no binding commitment, no legal enforcement, a lot of what is being said is hot air. The only progress is building safety, but the price squeeze is hurting more. Mostly, it’s words and nice promises, but no action”” (22 Apr).

Does price make luxury: “Throughout this conversation, we explore questions around the new era of investing in sustainability, the true costs associated with the fashion supply chain, and whether price makes luxury” (22 Apr – 41:09-minute podcast).

True fashion talks: how to campaign for change: “To learn more about campaigning for change, the True Fashion Collective gathered more than 100 fashion enthusiasts at Fashion for Good last week to ask industry experts: “How can I campaign for change?”” (22 Apr).

When will the people making our clothes receive a fair, living wage? “Announced today [12 Apr], the Fairtrade Foundation is calling on more fashion brands to set a deadline for when they will finally deliver a living wage throughout their supply chains” (21 Apr).

The real cost of cheap shirts: “Factory workers in Bangladesh toil for low wages and under precarious conditions to make clothing worn worldwide” (21 Apr). [Ed’s note: NYT op-ed.]

How to tell if a child made your clothes: “To put it into perspective, there are more international organizations that work to end child labor across the globe than there are institutions that teach designers, both up-and-coming and established, how to produce clothes ethically and sustainably” (21 Apr).

Millennials say they care about sustainability. So, why don't they shop this way? “The gap between millennials’ stated interest in sustainability and their actual purchasing patterns is not due to lack of conviction but product availability and lack of clear marketing” (21 Apr).

Can online retail solve its packaging problem? “If you order a T-shirt or hoodie from an online store called Toad & Co, the checkout screen now has an extra button that says “reuse.” Choose it, and your order will arrive in a reusable package” (20 Apr).

Do fashion and sustainability go together at all, Kirsten Brodde? [Ed’s note: interview with Greenpeace textiles expert and co-founder of the Detox My Fashion campaign.] “Primark stands for cheap packaging instead of being well dressed. The dynamic of using clothing for only a short period and then throwing it away was certainly set off by chains such as H&M or Zara, but Primark has perfected wear-and-discard fashion” (20 Apr).

FLEX business survey on corporate accountability: “FLEX [Focus on Labour Exploitation] has launched a survey for company representatives in the garment industry to share their views on the effectiveness of the UK Modern Slavery Act and other actions needed to prevent modern slavery in their supply chains. If you work for a company that buys from Bangladesh or the UK, we want to hear from you. The anonymous survey is available here” (19 Apr).

Fake fur or real fur: How to be an ethical shopper: “The fur industry has reached a turning point with major designers like Versace dropping the material from their lines. But is fake fur just as bad?” (19 Apr).

Indonesian garment workers appeal CEO Uniqlo in letters to take action on severance debt: “Seventy ex-workers of an Indonesian garment factory, which until its illegal closure three years ago was supplying Japanese fashion giant Uniqlo, have made a personal plea to Tadashi Yanai – Uniqlo’s billionaire owner – calling on him to intervene directly to ensure they finally receive their unpaid wages and severance” (19 Apr).

Marie Claire hosts first sustainability forum: “[Editor in chief] Anne Fulenwider gathered a panel of fashion and beauty sustainability experts for Marie Claire's first forum on the subject” (19 Apr).

Fashion Positive and H&M Foundation present: Emerging Material Innovators Report, April 2018: “The innovations featured in [Emerging Material Innovators Report, April 2018] were evaluated and selected by Fashion Positive and H&M Foundation based on [various] criteria [includes 12 innovators, selected from 40+ submissions]” (19 Apr).

Better working conditions in Bangladesh: [Ed’s note: article from GIZ.] “Five years after the Rana Plaza disaster, more than 1,000 businesses have improved their working conditions” (19 Apr – in German).

Uzbek Minister of Public Education: “Forced labor was considered patriotic”: “The Minister of Public Education, Ulugbek Inoyatov, admitted that he lacked the political will to put an end to the forced involvement of teachers in work [such as cotton picking] that was not part of their duties” (19 Apr).

Unravelling the Thread: The Story of Fairtrade Cotton: “This 12-minute film explores where cotton comes from and some of the difficulties faced along the supply chain. This film helps young people understand the impacts of fast fashion and highlights the difference consumers can make to people’s lives through their buying choices” (18 Apr – 12:03-minute video).

The wrong Cinderella dress: “Orsola de Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution explains how fast fashion, like Cinderella’s dress isn’t for keeps … it makes it look like clothes can pop out of nowhere, at the expense of nobody and nothing” (18 Apr).

New Zealand Sustainable Fashion Forum: The Sustainable Fashion Forum, hosted by Victoria Development Society for Fashion Revolution Week in Wellington, New Zealand on 18 April. Includes presentations by some of New Zealand’s most influential women in sustainable fashion and textile waste (18 Apr – 1:21:57-hour video).

Chinese government cartoon portrays ‘foreign NGOs’ as national security concern: “As part of the third annual “National Security Education Day” on April 15, several Chinese government institutions released a cartoon warning citizens to be on alert for attempts at foreign political infiltration” (18 Apr). [Ed’s note: includes English translation of cartoon.]

Corporate Accountability Lab releases intellectual property licenses allowing authors to sue buyers if creations used in unethical supply chains: “These licenses ensure that your creations are only used in supply chains that comply with basic human rights and environmental norms...This license creates economic incentives that discourage the use of unethical supply chains in the first place” (18 Apr).

Stella McCartney: ‘Only 1% of clothing is recycled. What are we doing?’: “The designer’s ethical stance made her a style outsider – but now the industry is finally catching up. Ahead of a new V&A show, she talks about reclaiming her name, the joy of nature and the trouble with fast fashion” (18 Apr).

Five years after Rana Plaza, the need for the Bangladesh Accord persists: “A few days before the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1,134 workers, global trade unions and labour rights organizations are calling on all brands sourcing from Bangladesh to take responsibility for workers making their products by signing the renewed Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety” (18 Apr). [Ed’s note: from IndustriALL.]

The beginners guide to how blockchain could change the ethical fashion game: “Two significant applications for blockchain technology have emerged when it comes to ethical fashion. The first has to do with supply chain transparency, and the second has to do with creating economic systems that keep money concentrated in ethical fashion ecosystems” (18 Apr).

‘You can’t do business on a dead planet’: [Ed’s note: An interview with Ryan Gellert of Patagonia.] ““The environmental interest is paramount, but in this world we can achieve a greater impact with our operations than if Patagonia were not there”” (17 Apr – in Dutch).

The world’s first master’s degree in circular fashion entrepreneurship: “[The Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI), Circle Economy and Fashion for Good have announced] a Master’s programme aimed to inspire and equip fashion entrepreneurs with the skills to build purpose-driven fashion businesses with a societal, cultural or environmental mission at their core” (16 Apr).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

23 – 28 April, London: FREE Ethical Pop-Up Shop & Sample Sale for Fashion Revolution Week: “From niche to norm: Ethical fashion and footwear take centre-stage during Fashion Revolution Week in this week-long community hub and pop-up boutique curated by Po-Zu.”

23 – 29 April, Fashion Revolution Week: “During Fashion Revolution Week, we will be publishing our ‘Manifesto for a Fashion Revolution’ with our clear demands for a better fashion industry of the future.”

* 26 April, Los Angeles, “Made in LA” panel discussion: “[L]ocal brands will discuss their thoughts and experiences about manufacturing, fashion, and sustainability in Los Angeles.”

* 26 April, Oslo, Lead or let die: sustainability transformed: A multi-stakeholder arena for sustainable supply chains hosted by Ethical Trading Initiative – Norway.

26 April, London: Eco Sewing Party: “Offset Warehouse and Fabrications are thrilled to announce our Eco Sewing Party to coincide with Fashion Revolution Week.

26 April, London: Sarabande Studios discuss ‘slow-motion practises: “Katie Roberts-Wood and John Alexander Skelton of Sarabande Studios as they discuss their ‘slow-fashion’ practises - brands that work as an antithesis to the mass-production of the fashion industry.”

* 27 April, London: How Fashion can Change the World? “Join the conversation of amazing panellists who are defining this question through their work.”

28 April, London: Ethical Brands for Fashion Revolution: “A showcase of the U’s leading independent ethical fashion brands.”

28 April, global release of Complicit: “Complicit, an award winning film that is an excellent resource for discussions/seminars/training sessions on labour exploitation and related health risks in China, is being released globally on 28 April, to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day.”

* 01 May, Webinar: Regenerative Agriculture in the Textile Supply Chain: “Regenerative agriculture holds the promise of minimizing the damage caused by agricultural production of cotton, wool, and other natural fibers.” [Ed’s note: speakers from Wrangler, The North Face, Textile Exchange (host), and Pure Strategies.]

02 May, Webinar: The Future of Sustainability: living in nonlinear times: “Join Sally Uren, CEO of leading international sustainability non-profit, Forum for the Future, as she reveals our take on the future of sustainability and explains how you can understand the implications for your business.”

* 03 May, Amsterdam: Meet the startups from Fashion for Good-Plug and Play Accelerator programme Batch 3: “[H]ear firsthand from a selection of the startups currently taking part in our accelerator programme, working on disrupting the fashion industry with sustainable innovation.”

04 May, New York: Fashiondex, LIM College Partner on Sustainability Conference: “The summit will focus on how to deploy ethical operations and instil change within the fashion industry.”

* 04 May, Austin, Texas: The Future is Circular: A Sustainable Fashion Symposium: “[A]n evening of talks from fashion innovators who are leading the way in transforming fashion into a more circular, sustainable industry.”

04 – 06 May, Ahmedabad, India: Farm to Fashion: “The ‘Farm to Fashion’ Global Summit is an initiative to provide a platform for the entire textile value chain to deliberate and develop a vision for Textile Industry for the year 2035 with key focus on issues faced by Cotton Farmers, Women Empowerment, Youth employment opportunities and position Indian Textile Industry as pioneer in Environment friendly industry practices.”

* 08 May, Webinar: Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold Denim: “Adriana Galijasevic, Denim & Sustainability Expert for G-Star and Artistic MillinersFaiza Jamil, Corporate Responsibility & Communications Manager will share firsthand insights into creating the denim which is made from 100% organic cotton, grown without any synthetic fertilizers or toxic pesticides, and produced using the cleanest indigo-dyeing process to-date.”

10 – 11 May, Izmir, Turkey: Regional Organic Cotton Round Table: “Textile Exchange’s Organic Cotton Round Table (OCRT) has evolved to become THE shared space for the organic cotton community to gather and collaborate.”

* 13 – 15 May, Copenhagen: Youth Fashion Summit 2018: “In connection with Copenhagen Fashion Summit, 112 students from Asia, North and South America, Europe and Australia … will gather.”

* 14 May, Copenhagen: Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2018 Masterclass: “[D]ive deeper into the Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2018 report’s underlying data and to engage in an interactive discussion with the authors.”

* 14 May, Copenhagen: Educators Summit: “[To] establish a platform for sharing experiences and ideas as well as to discuss good practices in teaching topics related to fashion and sustainability.”

* 15 – 16 May, Copenhagen: Copenhagen Fashion Summit: Full program has been released: transparency, closed loop, purchasing practices, new textiles, sustainability in China, robots, etc.

15 – 16 May, Copenhagen: Innovation Forum at Copenhagen Fashion Summit: “Innovation Forum will present a curated trade and exhibition area enabling participating fashion brands to meet with +50 solution providers covering the entire supply chain – from innovative fabrics to green packaging solutions, and from new disruptive ideas to tried and tested large-scale solutions.”

17 May, Geneva: UN Working Group convenes open multi-stakeholder consultation on corporate human rights due diligence in practice: Corporate human rights due diligence – identifying and leveraging emerging practice. Open multi-stakeholder consultation.

* 22 May, Vancouver: Planet Textiles 2018: Discover the future, understand the trends, meet the new leaders, connect, and explore the ecosystem. See update speaker list here.

22 – 24 May, São Paulo, Brazil: 2018 Global Sustainability Standards Conference: “The Global Sustainability Standards Conference is the leading annual global event for those who support the uptake of credible sustainability standards and certification.”

* 29 May, Coimbatore: GOTS India Seminar 2018: GOTS India Seminar 2018 will provide a platform for focused and challenging discussions under the theme “Sustainability as Key to Business Efficiency. It shall equip delegates with best practices and know how relating to the biggest opportunities – and challenges – help transforming their supply chains to achieve efficiency through sustainability.”

31 May – 1 June, Arnhem, the Netherlands: The Fashion Colloquium: Searching for the new luxury: “The Fashion Colloquium: Searching for the New Luxury will explore new definitions of ‘luxury’ against the backdrop of urgent environmental and social issues.”

1 June – 22 July, Arnhem, the Netherlands: State of Fashion: Searching for the New Luxury: “7 weeks of exhibition and events in Arnhem, searching for the new luxury.”             

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Bangladesh Alliance factories completing upgrades 18 Apr to 25 AprRose Sweaters, Independent Apparels, Simba Fashion (25 Apr). [Ed’s note: this list is gleaned from the Bangladesh Alliance Twitter feed.]

BGMEA: Bangladesh a “model of workplace safety”: ““The world has witnessed how the ready-made garment industry of Bangladesh has addressed challenges and become a model of workplace safety,” [Siddiqur Rahman, BGMEA president] said while speaking at a press conference organised by the BGMEA” (April 18).

Bangladeshi garment factories are the best in the world: “Nowadays, we can hear the appreciation from the multinational brands that the factories of Bangladesh are the best in the world” (24 Apr).

About 50pc survivors still unemployed: “Slow pace of [the Rana Plaza] trial creates a society of immunity” (24 Apr).

Rana Plaza trials stuck in stay: “The trial proceedings of the two cases filed over the Rana Plaza building collapse in Savar in April 2013 were stuck for the last two years as the accused filed criminal appeals with higher courts challenging the indictment orders” (24 Apr).

Promises made mostly not implemented: “Initiatives were taken for partial implementation of some of the commitments by the government of Bangladesh, apparel factory owners as well as the overseas brands and the buyers. But initiative was lacking for the implementation of important commitments like payment of compensations to the families of the workers who get killed in factory accidents and the rehabilitation of the injured survivors” (24 Apr).

RMG Factories since rana plaza disaster: Workplace safety improved a lot: “Safety in RMG factories has improved substantially. While 84.1 percent remediation is a significant achievement, there is a lot of work that remains to be done to correct the unfinished safety hazards” (24 Apr).

Certified safety or reckless reports? “What not so many people know is that two factories in [Rana Plaza] went through the auditing process of the Business Social Compliance Initiative before the collapse, without drawing any attention to possible workplace safety risks” (24 Apr).

How women labour leaders are changing the landscape in RMG: [Ed’s note: author is a capacity building consultant with the C&A Foundation.] “In Bangladesh, the rate of unionisation in the ready-made garment sector is very low – less than 10 percent of the factories are unionised. While success stories like Sharifun’s are still rare, more and more women workers are stepping forward to take on leadership responsibilities in their factories” (24 Apr).

5 yrs on, families of many Rana Plaza tragedy victims get nothing: “Although five years have elapsed since the tragedy, families of many Rana Plaza tragedy victims were yet to get any compensation from the authorities concerned while many remain still traumatised” (23 Apr).

Five years on from Rana Plaza: ‘Increase national capacity instead of foreign dependency’: “Trade union leaders and workers rights groups called to make the RMG safety progress a sustainable one by increasing national capacity instead of foreign dependency” (23 Apr).

Two temporary bodies to ease Accord, Alliance departure: “Two new bodies will act as transitional safety supervisors in the garment sector after the expiry of the tenure of Accord and Alliance” (22 Apr).

Rana Plaza victims remembered at Savar: “Relatives, labour rights leaders and activists on Friday remembered the victims of 2013 Rana Plaza collapse at a photo exhibition organised in front of the collapsed building” (21 Apr).

All talk and no action? [Ed’s note: critical piece om Rana Plaza outcome from a Dhaka newspaper.] “Much remains to be improved in terms of compensation, justice, safety and worker rights until we can proudly claim that we have learnt lessons from Rana Plaza. The reluctance and procrastination in develop[ing] the country’s largest sector, employing over four million people, cannot, in the long run, bring benefits to its workers or to Bangladesh at large” (20 Apr).

First National Compliance Carnival held in Dhaka: The event included panel discussions on the role of compliance in the garment industry’s goal of $50 billion in exports by 2021, and expectations and reality when it comes to environmental compliance (20 Apr).

Aminul murder: ‘Who is so powerful that they killed Aminul – yet are still untouchable?’ “Even after a Tangail court sentenced a man to death in absentia over the murder of [garment] labour rights activist Aminul Islam, the mystery surrounding his death remains unresolved” (19 Apr).

Accord Quarterly Aggregate Report released: “The remediation progress rate across all currently covered 1,600+ Accord factories is 84%. 142 factories completed all safety remediation from initial inspections” (18 Apr).

10 RMG factories to get safety practice award: “The Ministry of Labour and Employment will give 10 readymade garment (RMG) factories 'Peshagato Sastha and safety Uttam Charcha Purasskar' (Occupational Health and Safety Best Practice Award) on the occasion of National Occupational Safety and Health Day to be observed on April 28” (17 Apr). [Ed’s note: factories listed in article.]

RMG workers block city street demanding arrears: “Workers [at the Gold Star Design Ltd.] factory blocked a portion of Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue in Farmgate area for half an hour on Monday, demanding their arrears, said police” (16 Apr).

Mim Akter, Dress and Dismatic Workers Union: A video produced by the Worker Rights Consortium of Mim Akter, general secretary, Worker’s Union Dress and Dismatic, talking about workplace related issues and the Accord’s role in helping develop solution (13 Apr – 5:15-minute video).

Cambodia

Workers protest closed factory: “About 100 workers from the seemingly abandoned First Gawon Apparel garment factory marched to Phnom Penh’s Meanchey District Hall on Monday [23 Apr] afternoon seeking resolution to a dispute that has dragged on for nearly a year” (24 Apr).

PM warns unions ahead of poll: “In a closed-door meeting with garment industry union leaders on Sunday [22 Apr], Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered his audience to ensure that factory workers don’t organise political protests or associate with the remnants of the now-dissolved opposition party” (23 Apr).

Garment workers stake out Korean-owned factory during holidays, plan protests: “Workers at troubled garment factory Gawon Apparel and sister company First Gawon Apparel are planning large protests this week after the end of Khmer New Year holidays” (18 Apr).

China

Workers hold protest demanding payment of social insurance owed by garment company in Guangzhou: See more information here and here. The company in question is 广州志健服装有限公司 [Guangzhou Zhijian Garment Co., Ltd.] (16 Apr).

Commonwealth countries

UK to provide £5.5 million to tackle modern slavery in Commonwealth countries: Malawi and Sri Lanka are among recipients of a £5.5 million aid package to strengthen law enforcement responses to crackdown on modern slavery in industries including garments (19 Apr).

India

Delhi’s factory fires swallow more workers: “In the sixth such incident this year, and fourth this month, two workers died in a fire at a jeans manufacturing unit in Shahdara” (24 Apr).

In Narol, the lives of migrant garment workers hang by a thread: ““If you know how to stitch cloth then you will easily find work in a garment factory, but surviving here is not easy, as they squeeze you like they squeeze the clothes,” says Lakkuben, a garment worker” (23 Apr).

Rescued from slavery, Indian workers unite to stop bonded labour: “[Thomson Reuters Foundation reports] Indians rescued from slavery are coming together to free others from bonded labour in brick kilns, rice mills and [garment] factories throughout the southern state of Tamil Nadu” (19 Apr).

Two godowns gutted in major blaze in Mumbai: “Two garments godowns were today gutted in a major fire in suburban Kurla in Mumbai, a Fire official said. No casualty is reported” (17 Apr).

Myanmar

Wages first, productivity later? “The January 2 decision by the National Committee for Designating Minimum Wage to increase the minimum wage has left many dissatisfied, particularly within the garment sector” (17 Apr).

Pakistan

Women-friendly labour laws, their proper implementation demanded: “[M]any rights which were enshrined in the labour laws for working women, yet the non-implementation of these laws has become a major hurdle in giving full rights to women” (18 Apr).

All Pakistan Workers Confederation demands govt for 50% increase in wages, pensions: “The All Pakistan Workers Confederation (APWC) has demanded of the federal and provincial government to check rising price hike of essential commodities and freeze their prices” (18 Apr).

Philippines

Duterte seeks list of firms into labor-only contracting: “In a memorandum dated April 17, Duterte ordered the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to conduct an inventory of companies practicing labor-only contracting” (21 Apr).

MANUFACTURERS

American & Efird released 2017-2018 corporate sustainability report: “Highlighting areas of safety, environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility in its annual report, A&E spotlights its continued progress and improvements in global water recycling and reuse, Zero-Waste-to-Landfill efforts, and reduction in carbon footprint among others” (22 Apr).

UNDP project to reduce textile emissions in Vietnam: “The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Vietnam Chemicals Agency, ministry of industry and trade recently held the inception workshop of a project called the ‘Application of Green Chemistry in Viet Nam to support green growth and reduction in the use and release of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and hazardous chemicals’”(22 Apr).

These divers made your fiber: “375 tons of fishing nets recovered by the Healthy Seas initiative [were transformed into nylon] thanks to a pioneering regeneration process invented by the Italian company Aquafil that allows producing nylon yarn for textiles starting from waste instead of crude oil” (20 Apr).

Freudenberg hosts fashion sustainability competition: “Freudenberg Performance Materials Apparel is hosting a competition for fashion and design colleges in Europe, under the motto ‘Fashioning Sustainability’” (20 Apr).

The future of fashion: Colorifix: “Colorifix aims to create a low-water, pollution-free method of dyeing. Their solution relies on modifying microorganisms using Synthetic Biology such that they can produce, deposit and fix dyes to the fabric” (18 Apr – 4:10-minutes video).

Shared vision for a sustainable fashion future: [Ed’s note: an interview with Giulio Bonazzi, President of Aquafil, a producer of nylon yarn, which joined forces with H&M for the Conscious Exclusive collection.] “Collaboration between brands and ingredient manufacturers is key: when we work together, it creates more sustainable options for consumers and a cleaner future” (18 Apr).

ZDHC announces Control Union and NSF as newest ZDHC Accepted Certification Standards: “[T]he ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme welcomes Control Union and NSF as its newest Accepted Certification Standards as Indicators of ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (ZDHC MRSL) Conformance” (18 Apr).

Game-changer for the global PET fibres market: “Corpus Christi Polymers is in the process of making a US$1.1 billion acquisition that will soon see over a million annual tons of new PET fibre being produced in Texas” (17 Apr).

Proprietary dyeing and finishing processes that result in no wastewater: “[O]ne of Pakistan’s leading denim manufacturers, Artistic Fabric and Garment Industries (AFGI), has developed proprietary dyeing and finishing processes that result in no wastewater” (17 Apr).

Lenzing urges denim industry to reject ‘greenwash’: “Speaking at Kingpins Transformers, Lenzing’s director of global business development, Tricia Carey spoke of a worrying rise of ‘greenwash’ in textile and denim industry communications and urged those in attendance to be more active in holding brands to account for their choices” (17 Apr – subscription required to read full article).

Archroma and Montega Italy to enhance standards of Pakistan’s garment industry: “Archroma is collaborating with chemical solutions company Montega S.r.l., Italy to support Pakistan’s fast-growing garment and apparel industry, particularly the denim segment [including] environmental sustainability, especially toward the reduction of water usage and the emission of greenhouse gases during textile finishing processes” (17 Apr).

 (Photo hassan9CCO)

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.

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