BRANDS AND RETAILERS

Brands signing up to the 2018 Bangladesh Accord 28 Mar – 04 Apr: Brands signing up during the last week to the 2018 Accord include: Marks & Spencer, Brands Fashion, Yongo Europe (04 Apr). [Ed’s note: list gleaned from IndustriALL’s updates list of signatories here.]

Britain’s top suppliers flout landmark anti-slavery law: “[Last week, Thomson Reuters Foundation reported] only 58 percent of the government’s 100 top suppliers last year met a British legal requirement to outline their actions to combat forced labour within their supply chains” (23 Mar). [Ed’s note: last week we listed apparel companies confirmed by the Modern Slavery Registry to have published a statement in compliance with minimum requirements set out in the UK Modern Slavery Act (see the list here). This week we have listed apparel retailers: Abercrombie & Fitch, Agent Provocateur, All Saints Retail, Amazon, Arcadia Group (Burton Menswear, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Topman, Topshop, Wallis), Arco, Asos, Baird Group, Beeswift, B&M European Value Retail, Bonmarché, Boohoo (boohooMAN, PrettyLittleThing, Nasty Gal), BVG Group, Cath Kidston, Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society, Christian Dior, Costco, Cotton On, Crew Clothing Company, Damartex, David’s Bridal, Debenhams, Equip Outdoor Technologies, Russums, Fast Retailing, FatFace, Footasylum, French Connection, Gant, Gap, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, H&M, House of Fraser, H. Young, Inditex, JD Sports Fashion, Jigsaw, Kurt Geiger, Kustom Kit, L Brands (Victoria’s Secret, Pink, La Senza, Henri Bendel), Lloyd Shoes, Louis Vuitton, Mackays Stores, MandM Direct, Marks & Spencer, Matalan, Misguided, Monsoon, Moss Bros, Mothercare, N Brown Group, New Look, Next, Nike, Nisbets, The Original Factory Shop, Paul Smith, Pavers, Primark, Prominent, River Island Clothing, Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd. (Muji), Sabre Retail Fashion (Mint Velvet), Schuh Group, Selfridges, Shoe Zone, Shop Direct, Sports Direct, Superdry, T.M. Lewin, Urban Outfitters, Vivienne Westwood, White Stuff, YOOX NET-A-PORTER, and Zalando.]

Target joins ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme: ““With Target, we join forces with a leading US retailer and are looking forward to their essential input and expertise from the retailing perspective”” (03 April).

SEC CEO compensation requirements allow comparisons: “The Securities and Exchange Commission … is requiring companies to lay out how much their CEOs make compared with the median compensation across its workforce. … Richard Hayne, chairman and chief executive officer of Urban Outfitters Inc., takes a token salary of just $1 a year, but even with relatively modest perks, managed to make 4.67 times the retailer’s median pay rate” (02 Apr).

HanesBrands earns ninth consecutive U.S. EPA Energy Star Partner of the Year Award for environmental excellence: “[Accomplishments include] lowering year-over-year energy use per pound of production by 6 percent, saving the company more than $4 million. Since 2007, the company has reduced energy intensity by nearly 21 percent and delivered a total cost avoidance of more than $200 million” (02 Apr).

Half Century Jeans’ 50-year guarantee: “Half Century Jeans says that, should there be anything that needs repairing or replacing over the course of the next 50 years in any pair of jeans, the company will fix it immediately and free of charge” (02 Apr).

Frank and Oak launches ‘Minimal’ collection, deepens environmental commitment: “Earlier this year, Frank and Oak Co-Founder Ethan Song stated his commitment to becoming a more sustainable brand by having the majority of their products made with eco-friendly methods” (31 Mar).

Vivobarefoot shoes help clean lakes because they’re made of polluting algae: China’s Lake Taihu has suffered from algae growth for many years, but now Vivobarefoot is using material made by a company called Bloom, which harvests algae from the lake, and in the process cleaning 57 gallons (216 litres) to source enough material for one pair of shoes, which is returned to the lake (30 Mar).

How Continental Clothing works towards living wages in India: “In 2016, Continental Clothing won the [Fair Wear Foundation] Best Practice Award with their clothing line labelled FAIR SHARE. The T-shirts and sweatshirts carry a price premium that is directly passed to the garment workers in India to raise their monthly wages” (30 Mar – 2:07-minute video). [Ed’s note: you can see an 8:40-minute version of the video here.]

Puma’s director of innovation on the new frontiers of biodesign: “[Puma] will showcase four experiments developed with MIT Design Lab [including ‘adaptive packaging’ programmed to decompose in a fixed time]” (29 Mar).

Annual Report of the NMC (H&M GFA): “The National Monitoring Committee (NMC) system is the implementation arm of the Global Framework Agreement (GFA) between H&M and IndustriALL” (29 Mar – 7:10-minute video).

Eileen Fisher creates fashion call to action with “Waste No More” installation in Milan: “Eileen Fisher has recently decided to unveil an art installation in Milan. During Salone del Mobile, the brand will show as "Waste No More" project to further bring awareness to arising problems in the fashion industry” (29 Mar).

Walmart urges China suppliers to cut CO2 by 50 million tons a year: “Walmart Inc launched a program on Thursday [29 Mar] to help its Chinese suppliers cut emissions of climate-warming greenhouse gas by 50 million tonnes by the end of the next decade” (29 Mar).

HanesBrands makes significant strides toward 2020 environmental goals: “HanesBrands … reports across-the-board improvements in energy, renewable energy and water use, carbon emissions and landfill diversion in 2017” (28 Mar).

Nationwide Day of Action against Abercrombie & Fitch: United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), and Workers United/SEIU are moblising supporters to lead a National Day of Action against Abercrombie & Fitch on 21 April in fresh Bangladesh Accord protest (28 Mar).

Fashion designer travelled to India to uncover what it’s really like to grow cotton: “Our oversimplification between ‘organic-good’ and ‘non-organic-bad’ cotton only scratches the surface says sustainable fashion designer, and Henri CEO, Henrietta Adams. Native crops could hold the key to a more eco-friendly way to produce fabric” (26 Mar).

REPORTS AND COMMENTARY

Coming up (conferences/seminars)

06 April, Wellington, New Zealand: 7x7 Ideas Forum – Environment: “In this 7x7 event we'll be showcasing a fantastic line-up of Environment related initiatives - 7 speakers, with 7 minutes, each speaker will deliver a concentrated mix of new ideas, success stories, and provocations.”

11 April, Amsterdam: Meet the startups from Fashion for Good-Plug and Play Accelerator programme Batch 3: “Your second chance to hear firsthand from some of the 15 startups currently taking part in our accelerator programme to work on disrupting the fashion industry with sustainable innovation!”

11 April, San Francisco: Made in Sri Lanka: Humanizing the Fashion Supply Chain: “CCA Fashion Design and Remake present “Made in Sri Lanka: Humanizing the Fashion Supply Chain”. Film premiere and panel discussion.”

19 April, Amsterdam: True Fashion Talk (show): ‘How to Campaign for Change’: “This edition, we cover the question of how to campaign for change.”

25 April, London: Next wave fashion tech: “In order to raise awareness about some of the challenges of fashion industry, as well as possible solutions, Women of Wearables are bringing together six female founders who will share their entrepreneurial stories and views on all things fashion tech, sustainability, smart textiles and everything in between!”

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.”

22 May, Vancouver: Planet Textiles 2018: Discover the future, understand the trends, meet the new leaders, connect, and explore the ecosystem.

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.”

Reports/Commentary

Resale is expected to be bigger than fast fashion within 10 years: “On Tuesday, leading resale site Thredup released its annual report covering the present and future of the resale market as a whole. It posits that the resale market will be worth $41 billion by 2022, and 49 percent of that will be apparel” (04 Apr).

This new Miami shop stocks only ethical brands: “On Antidote’s website, [founder Sophie] Zembra has broken her products into different ethical categories including “Made in USA,” “Eco-Friendly,” “Vegan,” “Artisanal,” and “Social”” (04 Apr).

Clothing and textile manufacturing's environmental impact and how to shop more ethically: “What goes into manufacturing the various textiles we wear and how do the environmental impacts of each compare?” (03 Apr).

Labour trafficking rises across Europe as laws fall short – watchdog: “[Thomson Reuters Foundation reports] labour trafficking is on the rise across Europe and has overtaken sexual exploitation as the predominant form of modern-day slavery in several countries including Britain, Belgium and Portugal, a leading European human rights body said on Tuesday” (03 Apr).

Rise of social activism poised to take financial toll at fashion firms: “The financial community’s relatively tepid reaction to some corporations' pervasive social issues could be headed for a change” (02 Apr).

India bans import of seal fur, skin: “[The] Directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT) has taken a landmark decision banning the import of skins of seals. This helps spare the lives of thousands of seals from slaughter by commercial sealing industries” (02 Apr).

World Bank offers $450m loan to improve power supply in Bangladesh: “The remaining loan amount of $110m will be used under the Sustainable Enterprise Project (SEP). This project is expected to help 20,000 micro enterprises to adopt environmentally-friendly practices. It will cover manufacturing and agribusiness sectors such as leather [and] mini textiles” (02 Apr).

How did we let modern slavery become part of our everyday lives? “Then there are the more specific areas of production, where big high-street retailers’ statements acknowledge that forced or trafficked labour, often of refugees, is a well-known and recurring issue: … Leicester garment manufacturing [and the] Turkish garment sector” (02 Apr).

In a disposable age, luxury is something old, worn, and beautiful: “Most of the jeans you’ll find in stores today weren’t worn in for decades before softening into their current form. They’re washed to lighten the shade and relax the fabric, which is now often made with synthetic stretch materials to be more comfortable (or less expensive), and comes pre-distressed with wear marks you no longer make yourself” (01 Apr).

Journalist disputes forced labour in Uzbekistan cotton fields has stopped: “Yelena Ulaeava, a veteran human rights activist … disputes that the use of forced labor in cotton fields has actually stopped” (01 Apr).

Animals rights groups scent blood as fashion labels go fur-free: “Is this the beginning of the end for fur? With more and more fashion houses going fur-free, San Francisco banning fur sales in the city and British MPs considering outlawing all imports of pelts after Brexit, the signs do not seem good for the industry” (31 Mar).

Panorama Berlin makes more space for green fashion: “Under the slogan "Connecting Communities", Panorama Berlin is planning to …  expand the range of the eco-fashion format "Xoom" for sustainable fashion” (30 Mar).

Low wages in clothing production need not be a given, and SA could lead this change: “The proposed zone [in South Africa] would focus on low-skill manufacturing, including clothing, by establishing employer-friendly labour market rules so that people could be employed at low wages and part-time” (30 Mar).

Why is nobody talking about the excessive amount of plastic packaging in the fashion and beauty industries? “Starbucks is spending £7 million developing a ‘fully recyclable and compostable’ cup, Just Eat will let you ‘opt out’ of single-use plastic packaging and Greenpeace’s petition for UK supermarkets to ‘ditch throwaway plastic packaging’ has nearly 400,000 signatories, yet where is the discussion about the fashion and beauty industry?” (30 Mar).

Meet Sarah Devina Susanto, finalist Redress Design Award 2017: “I never thought that someday I might go down the path of being a sustainable designer, but the Redress Design Award was a light bulb moment for me” (30 Mar).

The case for and against fur: The Council of Fashion Designers of America has published two op-ed pieces from the Humane Society of the United States (The death of fur) and the International Fur Federation (Natural fur: the responsible choice) (29 Mar).

What is the future of fur in fashion? “As more and more designers go anti-fur, will it become obsolete?” (29 Mar).

Promoting Better Work for women in Vietnam’s garment sector: “The Better Work programme helps improve working conditions in garment factories, while making the sector more competitive. (29 Mar).

Textile buying houses in Pakistan propose national compliance centre: “Foreign textile buying houses on Wednesday advised the government to set up a central compliance centre in Pakistan to improve manufacturers’ compliance with social standards – a key determinant to clothing imports from the country” (29 Mar).

Microfibre Detectives: “With microplastics in the marine environment now high on the agenda, [presenter Tom Heap] hears how these tiny invisible strands can be a major contributor to the scale of plastics in the oceans [and how we might solve the problem]” (28 Mar – 30-minute podcast from the BBC).

The plastics crisis is more urgent than you know. Recycling bottles won’t fix it: “A deposit scheme for bottles won’t make a scrap of difference. This stuff is in our food, our clothes – and in us” (28 Mar).

IWTO makes sustainability wool sector’s top priority: “Ahead of its annual conference, set to be held in May, the IWTO (International Wool Textile Organisation) has released its latest Wool Review which demonstrates a predominant theme of promoting the natural fibre’s environmental credentials” (28 Mar – subscription required to read full article).

Garment factories mapped for end-to-end traceability: “The team behind digital supply chain mapping platform Sourcemap has been busy. Their latest projects aim to bring a new level of transparency to two of the most notoriously difficult to track industries in the world: clothing and palm oil. For clothing, the company is starting with a door-to-door census of every garment factory in one of the world’s largest producing regions: Bangladesh” (28 Mar).

Worker safety alliance has ‘improved standards’ in Bangladesh garment industry: “Safety standards have improved at garment factories in Bangladesh and more than 300 of them are now “substantially” better five years after the Rana Plaza tragedy, the executive director of a worker’s safety group has revealed” (28 Mar). [Ed’s note: story is on comments made by James F Moriarty, executive director of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) earlier in April.]

The new Better Buying website is live. Results of first rating cycle coming soon! (28 Mar).

Young Asian activists campaign to stop supply chain slavery: “Young campaigners in Asia are taking to social media to urge their peers to think twice about purchasing products from T-shirts to phones, as part of a campaign to end modern slavery” (28 Mar).

Building brand advocates starts with verifiable attributes: ““Sustainability without traceability is just words,” [said MeiLin Wan, vice president, textile sales at Applied DNA Sciences]. “The magic happens when CEOs and their teams recognize that you don’t get to make your 2030 sustainability or corporate social responsibility goals without having a traceability program in place”” (28 Mar).

The 3 reasons several luxury brands are saying no to real fur: Technological advances in fabrications, consumer attitudes towards cruel animal fur practices, and company-wide sustainability plans (27 Mar).

How can international brands ensure that homeworkers are treated fairly? “Banning suppliers from using homeworkers is likely to lead to it being done clandestinely, thus further exploiting the workers” (27 Mar).

How long does it take to make clothes? “Knowing how many hours go into every shirt or pair of jeans should influence shoppers' opinion of the price tag” (26 Mar).

Handmade in Brazil: Project Entusiasta by the C&A Foundation and the Asta Network addresses human rights issues in the handmade economy in Brazil through an online platform” (20 Mar).

MANUFACTURERS

Kraig Biocraft Laboratories successfully produces recombinant spider silk cocoons from new line of hybrid silkworms: “Kraig Biocraft Laboratories … the leading developer of spider silk based fibers, today [03 Apr] announced that the Company has successfully produced the first recombinant spider silk cocoons from the new line of hybrid transgenic silkworms recently created at its Michigan production and research facility” (03 Apr).

Five manufacturers join the ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme: They are: FGL International SpA, LANXESS, Nicca Chemical Co., Ltd., S&D Chemicals, and Trueway Corp. (03 Apr).

Leather chemistry added to Bluesign Bluefinder: “Bluesign technologies has announced the extension of Bluesign Bluefinder to incorporate leather chemistry as the organisation says it aims to provide a ‘robust solution’ for the proactive management of chemicals in the leather and footwear industries. This criteria extension has been developed in co-operation with Stahl, the Dutch chemical firm which became a Bluesign partner in October 2017” (03 Apr – subscription required to read full article).

Lenzing presents Sustainability Report 2017: “The Lenzing Group has now published its 2017 Sustainability Report, following record figures for the past year. According to the Austrian fiber specialist, the report underscores the group's ambitions as one of the industry's sustainability leaders in wood-based cellulosic fibers to make an important contribution to greener economies across the textile and nonwovens industry value chain” (30 Mar). [Ed’s note: you can read the full report here – PDF.]

The future of denims is sustainable: “Arvind, one of India’s largest denim producers, plans to reduce its water footprint to make jeans from denim fabric by over 95%” (29 Mar).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

ASEAN

South Korean companies' treatment of workforce in ASEAN countries raising concerns: “After South Korean President Moon Jae-in declared that he would create a close trading and investment relationship with the countries of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) through his New Southern Policy, concerns are being raised about South Korean companies violating workers’ rights in ASEAN countries” (01 Apr).

Bangladesh

Bangladesh Alliance factories completing upgrades 28 Mar to 04 AprAzmat Fashion Ltd., Asmat Apparels Ltd., Z-3 Dresses Ltd., Paradise Washing Plant Ltd., Ha-Meem Design Ltd., Supreme Stitch Ltd. (04 Apr). [Ed’s note: this list is gleaned from the Bangladesh Alliance Twitter feed.]

Garment workers’ union demands release of its leaders: “The Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre at a rally on Monday demanded immediate release of its detained leaders, including its general secretary Joly Talukder” (03 Apr).

7 trade unionists land in jail: “A Dhaka court on Sunday sent seven people including six leaders of Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre (TUC) to jail in a case filed for allegedly attacking officials of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA)” (01 Apr).

CSR in RMG is a ‘straw in the wind’: “[T]he problem, however, was that CSR carried the underlying tone of philanthropy and that it at times turned out to be a convenient channel for marketing” (31 Mar).

3 hurt in Mirpur RMG factory fire: “At least three people were injured in a fire that broke out at a garment factory at East Kazipara in Dhaka’s Mirpur area [on 31 Mar]” (31 Mar).

Mother of Bangladesh disaster factory owner jailed: “A Bangladesh court has sentenced the mother of the owner of the notorious Rana Plaza factory complex, which collapsed killing more than 1,100 people, to six years in jail for graft, a prosecutor said Friday [Mar 30]” (30 Mar).

Appointment cards keep eluding garment workers: Govt findings: “Inspectors at the state-run Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment found roughly 83 per cent mills not affiliated with the industry associations issued appointment letters and identity cards with pictures to workers” (29 Mar).

Five years after tragedy, Bangladesh factories remain unsafe: “Five years after a factory collapse killed 1,100 workers in Bangladesh's worst industrial disaster, organizations representing Western brands say that authorities in the country aren't ready to go it alone to ensure safety standards are up to scratch” (29 Mar).

Fire at jute mill in Khulna guts warehouses: “[T]he fire originated at a warehouse where the mill stored yarn around 3:15pm and the fire spread to three more warehouses” (27 Mar).

Cambodia

The road to a better economic future: “[Raymond Robertson … a professor and holder of the Helen and Roy Ryu Chair in Economics and Government in the Department of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, says] I have been studying the progression of labour conditions and working conditions in the garment factories and how it has changed over time. One of the things that we have observed in the data is that there has been a significant improvement in the working conditions since the beginning of the Better Factories Cambodia programme” (03 Apr).

Forty workers faint in shoe factory: “34 workers fainted at the New ATT Shoe Making factory after a female worker had fainted, causing many others to fall unconscious” (02 Apr).

PM predicts at least $250 per month for garment workers in 2023: “Prime Minister Hun Sen announced yesterday that in 2023 garment and footwear industry workers can expect a minimum wage of at least $250 per month” (29 Mar).

Authorities call for increased surveillance of unions, NGOs: “Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Chuon Sovann [has] ordered authorities in Phnom Penh to tighten their grip on a broad cross-section of groups, including civil society organisations and communities with “opposition tendencies”, that attempt to cause “social instability” and “political turmoil”” (29 Mar).

Dismissed unionist mulling court: “A work at [Sun Hsu Co Ltd.] garment factory who accused her employer of firing her after she joined a union said she may take the case to court after negotiations faltered last week” (28 Mar).

China

Workers protest wage arrears owed by garment factory: Workers at a garment factory in Yutian, Hebei, have protested over unpaid salaries, calling on the government to administer justice (27 Mar).

India

Jute workers go on one-day strike: “The workers of Sri Krishna Jute Mill went on a day’s strike on Saturday demanding that the management pay the arrears of pending bonus and enhance the workers’ wages” (01 Apr).

Government sees 1 million new jobs on 12% pension incentive: ““We have further expanded the scope of the scheme. It has been decided that for apparel, garment and textile segments, the full 12 per cent of the employers’ pension contribution will also be borne by government,” Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar said” (29 Mar).

84 fatal accidents, 114 deaths in three years in textile units in Surat, Gujarat: “[A] yet-to-be-published study “Labour Conditions in Surat Textile Industry", supported by Bonn-based Südwind Institute for Economics and Ecumenism … has estimated that, in the last three years, 84 fatal accidents have been reported in registered textile processing units in Surat, in which 114 workers died” (26 Mar).

Collaborative training for Telangana women weavers: “As part of a programme called Disha, UNDP, Creative Bee and [the India Development Foundation] will help women weavers step up the quality of handlooms and form a cooperative” (27 Mar).

Pakistan

Disbursement of pension to families of Baldia fire victims begins: “Sindh Employees Social Security Institution (Sessi), working under the Sindh labour ministry on Thursday [22 Mar] initiated the process of disbursement of pension to the legal heirs of the victims of Baldia factory fire after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) a day earlier” (23 Mar).

Vietnam

Vietnamese labourers faced with challenge of Industry 4.0: “According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), for example, 86 per cent of workers in Vietnam’s textile and footwear industries are at great risk of losing their jobs under the influence of technological breakthroughs caused by Industry 4.0” (28 Mar).

Vietnamese women outnumbered by men in top management roles, says report: “30 percent of women say their pay is lower than their male colleagues, and nearly as many said they have fewer opportunities” (26 Mar).

Recruiters targeting ethnic minority children for factory work: ““[Recruiters] take advantage of the lack of legal knowledge of local people. They also draft simple labour contracts aiming at creating confidence with residents,” [said a spokesperson from the police]” (23 Mar).

 (Photo JAKO5DCCO)

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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