There were several interesting initiatives during last week related to transparency: i) the launch of a searchable dataset of who owns and controls 26,237 companies in Cambodia (including garment factories), which will almost certainly be used extensively by journalists and activists interested in workplace conditions in the country; ii) the release of a report by Transparency International Bangladesh, which reviews governance in the Bangladesh garment sector and identifies some of the key challenges; and iii), a new report on a pilot project with 76 companies (including fashion brands/retailers) called the Work Disclosure Initiative on the relationship between corporate disclosure and workplace improvements.
Other new reports this week include: i) a new report on wages in Bangladesh by the FLA, claiming workers are earning poverty-level wages, along with a ‘wage ladder’, which represents real wages paid to workers in 18 factories; ii) a report titled Employment Injury Insurance in Bangladesh: Bridging the Gap by Clean Clothes Campaign (which accompanied a letter to 25 companies calling on them to show leadership by calling for the implementation of a minimum wage in Bangladesh); and iii) a report called Breaking the Silence: The FWF Violence and Harassment Prevention Programme by Fair Wear Foundation.
On the legal side, the French government is proposing new regulations to prohibit apparel brands and retailers from discarding or incinerating unsold items (they would need to donate them instead), while the EU has approved CMR restrictions in clothing, textiles and footwear, as well as agreeing upon nanomaterial changes to REACH annexes.
The real vs faux fur debate refuses to go away, with yet more articles this week, all of which are substantial; an 8-pager from WWD (along with a follow up eviscerating retailers who stay silent on the issue), and a long pros and cons piece from Fashionista). In related news, mohair looks like it’s going the same way as fur, with a PETA investigation and video of animal cruelty prompting four fashion brands to ban it.
Other than fur, another theme I’ve noticed starting to gain more traction is the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, with a story this week linking them to the fashion industry (this time from Sweden), and both Hugo Boss and Lindex outlining SDGs to which they can make a contribution in sustainably reports released during the week.
Bangladesh continues to account for the majority of supply chain stories, ranging from a new survey showing 2017 witnessed the highest number of strikes in the garment sector and that wages arrears caused most of them, to protests and strikes over wages, news that female garment workers are often harassed, and a fire in a garment factory (along with two fires in India and two in Pakistan). In Myanmar, the government released garment worker health and safety guidelines, while in Vietnam the government designated May as the month for work safety
Finally, in manufacturing, Aquafil won an award from PETA for Econyl, Tyton BioSciences announced it is using bacteria to recycle blends of clothing material, and 25 Chinese firms announced they will collaborate on chemical stewardship.
All this and much, much more in the newsletter this week.
From the Editor: Stephen Frost, CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
BRANDS & RETAILERS
WDI launch find disconnect between disclosure of workforce policies and workforce practices: A new report from ShareAction (a UK charity promoting responsible investment practices) outlining findings from its pilot project with 76 companies as part of its Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI - a new strategic approach to recognising decent work and improving workers’ rights and wages) has found “there was a disconnect between disclosure of workforce policies and workforce practices” and “there was particular room for improvement on supply chain disclosure.” Among the companies involved in the pilot are Associated British Foods (Primark), Burberry, H&M, Inditex, and Sainsbury’s (01 May).
Don’t ask, just sell: “Disruption be dammed. When it comes to addressing difficult questions, some retailers just remain silent” (01 May). [Ed’s note: this is a follow up to an article from last week in WWD – see “The fur debate” below – taking retailers to task for staying silent on fur. 12/22 retailers proffered no comment when asked by WWD about fur. They are named: Galeries Lafayette, Harrods, Isetan Mitsukoshi, Lane Crawford Joyce Group, Le Bon Marche/24 Sevres, Moda Operandi, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Printemps, La Rinascente, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Takashimaya. “This is leadership?” asks WWD.]
Fast fashion goes green with mushrooms, lumber scraps, and algae: “Inditex and H&M are developing textiles to reduce the environmental cost of throwaway clothes” (01 May).
H&M, Zara and others ban mohair products after animal cruelty investigation: “Some of the world’s largest clothing chains, including Zara, H&M, Gap and Topshop, have vowed to discontinue selling mohair apparel following allegations of animal cruelty at a dozen goat farms in South Africa” (01 May). [Ed’s note: this follows a PETA investigation, which you can see here.]
UK retailers voice support for Egyptian cotton accreditation: “John Lewis, Dunelm Group endorse Cotton Egypt Association DNA testing” (30 Apr).
Executive compensation at Penney’s, Abercrombie: JCPenney CEO Marvin R. Ellison: up 15.4 per cent to $10.8 million. Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Fran Horowitz up from $4.8 million in 2016 to $10.3 (on the back of her promotion to CEO) (30 Apr).
Campaign launch: Turn around, H&M! “Clean Clothes Campaign is dedicating this year’s International Labour Day to the hundreds of thousands of workers who produce garments for H&M. They are waiting for the brand to stop turning its back on the commitment that living wages would become a reality by 2018” (30 Apr). [Ed’s note: see campaign page here.]
Country Road partners with Lenzing for Australia’s first Tencel jeans: “Country Road’s … Sateen Jean is now made from Tencel Lyocell using Refibra technology by Lenzing. [F]abrication [is by] by Spanish mill Tejidos Royo” (30 Apr).
Hugo Boss publishes its Sustainability Report 2017: “The Sustainability Report contains the non-financial report required by CSR-RUG (CSR Directive Implementation Act [a CSR directive in German law]) for the first time in 2017. … In defining its sustainability strategy, Hugo Boss also follows recognized frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The Company has identified five SDGs to which it makes a particular contribution” (30 Apr). [Ed’s note: see an article on the report here.]
I:CO and Right-on launch jean reuse project at over 90 stores in Japan: I:CO and Japanese jeans brand Right-on have started a jeans re-use project at over 90 target stores in Japan. Customers bringing back a pair of jeans to the stores will get vouchers worth 1,000 Japanese yen (30 Apr – in Japanese).
Ten years of dialogue in Tchibo’s WE program factories – or why audits are only a small part of the solution: Ten years after the introduction of Tchibo’s WE (Worldwide Enhancement of Social Quality) programme, the company says there is significant progress in bringing management and employees together for dialogue, ultimately leading to improved working conditions in factories (30 Apr – in German).
ASOS made in Kenya: Weekly video by Africa Fashion Guide, which covers Asos and their ‘made in Kenya’ collection (29 Apr – video, segment starts at 1:35 minutes). [Ed’s note: very positive commentary.]
The designer staging his own industrial revolution: “With Community Clothing, Patrick Grant is trying to change how clothes are made—from the factories to the pay to the clothes themselves” (27 Apr).
Anna Skodbo of Phannatiq speaks: “[Phannatiq has] a completely transparent supply chain. No part of our manufacturing process is hidden from our customer, which allows them to know exactly where their clothing is coming from and who made it. We work closely with suppliers and factories to ensure each garment can be traced. In fact, under every product description on our website is a button which our customer can click on to see an overview of the whole manufacturing and sourcing process” (27 Apr).
From a special needs school to an empowering sustainable fashion brand: “When Ubuntu Made first came to Maai Mahiu, we found a community of children with special needs and their mothers being mistreated and secluded” (27 Apr).
PETA Vegan Fitness Awards 2018: Brands recognised include: Sweaty Betty, Helly Hansen, Adidas by Stella McCartney, Bazaar de Luxe, Sundried, and Asos (27 Apr).
Lindex 2017 sustainability report: “Working for a Sustainable Future: Lindex is focussing on four areas: circular economy (by 2020 all designers, buyers and production teams will be trained in circularity); gender equality, climate change, and water. The company has chosen 7 of the 17 SDGs to which it can contribute (providing examples), and 55% of its garments are made from sustainable materials (100% of denim is Better Denim) (27 Apr).
Tommy Hilfiger launches social innovation challenge: “Tommy Hilfiger [has launched the] TOMMY HILFIGER Social Innovation Challenge, a global initiative that aims to support entrepreneurial start-up and scale-up stage businesses that are developing solutions that have a positive social impact on the fashion value chain. Winners will receive a year-long mentorship with Tommy Hilfiger’s internal experts globally, in addition to winning a grant of up to €100,000 as well as a place on the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Program (ISEP)” (26 Apr).
The deadly fashion industry: Will Levi’s take action or keep its head in the sand? “Does Levi Strauss & Co. have blood on its hands? That’s the question behind Stand.earth’s new report released this week [25 Apr]. “Too Deadly To Wear: Levi’s Pollution, the Booming Fashion Industry, and its Role in Deaths from Air Pollution and Climate Change” uncovers the fashion industry’s – and specifically Levi’s — outsized role in the deadly impacts of climate change and air pollution across the globe” (26 Apr). [Ed’s note: see report here. Stand.earth led a protest on 26 April at a Levi’s store in Times Square, New York. See photos here.]
Body-painted ‘snake’ protests Prada’s exotic skins sales in Milan: “With her nearly naked body covered by little more than painted-on scales, a “snake” slithered onto a plinth outside a Prada store in Milan on Thursday – the day before the company’s annual shareholder meeting – to protest the brand’s sales of bags, wallets, shoes, and other items made of exotic skins” (26 Apr). [Ed’s note: PETA protest.]
Ripso Kickstarter offers handcraft design for existing clothes: “1. Browse embroidery, prints, patches, or even tailoring and repairs, and purchase an enhancement that you'd like for your own clothes; 2. Receive a pre-labeled package from Ripso, place your clothes inside and ship to your Ripso Designer; 3. Your Designer works their magic and returns your updated item back to you. Voila!” (26 Apr).
Style meets sustainability in MELA’s certified sneakers: “MELA says its new trainers are the world’s first shoes to be certified as both Fairtrade Cotton Standard and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)” (26 Apr).
Triarchy wins H&M Sustainability Award in Canada: “Triarchy, an eco-conscious denim brand from Vancouver, won two awards: the fashion impact award and the inaugural H&M Sustainability Award, which comes with a cash prize of $10,000” (25 Apr).
Minimise wastage at source: “[Designer] Divya Sheth forayed into textiles and fashion wanting to establish a zero-waste label that scores on the sustainability front. She’s worked with weaver pockets across the country and her new collection uses Pedana kalamkari from Andhra Pradesh that employs natural dyes” (25 Apr).
Fast Retailing joins Canopy to slow deforestation: “Canopy is thrilled to announce that Japan-based, global apparel group, Fast Retailing, has committed to eliminating its use of ancient and endangered forests as well as advancing conservation solutions” (25 Apr).
Esprit first to sign Dutch-German sustainability agreement: “Esprit, which has around 50 stores in the Netherlands, has become the first fashion brand to become a signatory of the joint initiative between the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textiles (AGT)” (25 Apr – subscription required to read full article).
Brands sourcing from Bangladesh urged to support workers’ minimum wage demands: “We [Clean Clothes Campaign] sent [a letter urging] brand[s] to show leadership on the way toward living wages for garment workers [to]: H&M, Gap, Walmart, Tesco, Inditex, C&A, VF, Levi’s, Marks & Spencer, Primark, Next, Takko, Aldi, Lidl, American Eagle, Hugo Boss, Esprit, El Corte Ingles, Sainsbury’s, HBC, A&F, Kik, Carrefour, Li & Fung, and Benetton” (25 Apr).
SACTWU Condemns the Appropriation of maXhosa’s Designs By Zara: “The [South African] Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) is dismayed that – as reported in media today – international brand Zara appears to have appropriated the designs of South African homegrown talent, the inspiring local designer Laduma Ngxokolo and his brand maXhosa” (24 Apr). [Ed’s note: for pictures, see here.]
Quebec-based sustainable fashion line launches new concept shop: “Gaia & Dubos, is gearing up to open its first storefront [which] will act as a one-stop destination to shop, to clean and to repair your clothes” (24 Apr).
Veja Project - the two founders provide their story of Veja transparency on new website: “Environmentally friendly sneakers, made with raw materials sourced from organic farming and ecological agriculture, without chemicals or polluting processes” (March 18).
NEWS & REPORTS
Breaking the Silence: A new report on factory violence and harassment prevention: “Fair Wear Foundation [has released] its report ‘Breaking the Silence: The FWF Violence and Harassment Prevention Programme’ (01 May). [Ed’s note: download the report here.]
The Essential Eight: edie launches supply chain sustainability handbook: “edie’s new handbook features practical advice on engaging with suppliers across areas like modern slavery, natural capital and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” (01 May). [Ed’s note: you can download The Supply Chain Sustainability Handbook here for free. Includes a Primark case study.]
Creating a common standard for the fashion supply chain: “Without a common set of standards across the entire industry, it’ll be impossible to provide true, consistent traceability across the fashion supply chain” (01 May).
Textile microfibre projects assess influence of recycling and coloration: “The European Outdoor Group has initiated a new project to compare the impacts of recycled and virgin polyester and nylon on synthetic textile microfibre pollution; as well as a separate project that aims to understand how textile coloration could also affect textile microfibre release” (01 May – subscription required to read full article).
Denim days: “[I]t is important for us designers to consider every decision in our design processes. We should ensure that we choose sturdy, durable fabrics that have a satisfying feel, are comfortable to wear and age beautifully. The way we construct our garments should ensure proper fit, cut and style, with longevity and timelessness in mind” (01 May – free subscription required to read full article).
Fashion for rent: New economy takes root: “The idea of an endless closet is growing more important as Rent the Runway and its followers give users a post-ownership view on dressing” (01 May).
Does your feminist t-shirt empower the women who made it? “When I met with the President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association in November, he told me that sexual harassment doesn’t exist in garment factories in Bangladesh, whereas statistics show around 60% of Bangladeshi garment workers have suffered from sexual harassment” (30 Apr).
An interview with Leslie Johnston, C&A Foundation: “I am driven by the urgency to address the deep injustices – to people and planet – that we find throughout the global apparel industry. I believe there is a way – with better design, circular thinking, and a relentless prioritisation of human dignity – that we, collectively, can correct this” (30 Apr).
How to reply to a customer asking #whomademyclothes – clearly & convincingly: i) reply fast; ii) say where the item of clothing was made; iii) if you mention a code of conduct, explain how you enforce it; and so on (30 Apr).
Designer Karen Walker says she’ll visit clothing factories, unlike ethical report team: “Kiwi fashion designer Karen Walker is calling out the charities behind an ethical clothing report, claiming staff don't even leave their desks when deciding which clothing firms to hang out to dry. Walker’s brand was one of 18 New Zealand companies graded in a global ethical clothing report released by Tearfund New Zealand and Baptist World Aid Australia earlier this month” (29 Apr).
Is the growth of resale really linked to sustainability? “Is this dramatic spike [in resale] due to an increased interest in mindful shopping, with shoppers keen to actively cut down on consumption via second-hand acquisitions? Or are consumers just hungry for discounted designer products?” (28 Apr).
If you wear clothes, this letter is for you: “Awareness is one thing, but it's time for dare-ness. … Do you think it’s good that we buy, simply because it does not cost much, and that we only use 30% of our clothing? There is plenty, too much, but it is my emotional poverty that makes me cold, despite all the clothing” (27 Apr – in Dutch).
CottonConnect on apparel supply chains: “CottonConnect CEO Alison Ward on how collaboration is positively impacting apparel supply chains” (27 Apr – 11:20-minute podcast). [Ed’s note: Interview starts at 11:52 minutes.]
UNRIC highlights the fashion industry and sustainable development: “Use the clothes you have in your wardrobe”: “Few industries are so closely linked to Agenda 2030 [the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals] and the global goals of sustainable development as the fashion industry” (27 Apr – in Swedish).
One chart shows the pressure from the global supply chain that imperils garment workers: [Ed’s note: the chart in question shows the price of cotton trousers exported to the US from Bangladesh fell from around $62.50 per dozen in 2012 to around $54.50 per dozen in 2016.] (26 Apr).
EU member states back CMR restrictions in clothing, textiles: “EU member states have approved a European Commission proposal to restrict the use of carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic (CMR) substances in clothing, textiles and footwear” (26 Apr).
EU-Bangladesh summit reaffirms commitment to human rights standards in garment sector: “On 24 April 2018 in Dhaka, the European Union and Bangladesh held their biennial meeting of the Sub group on Good Governance and Human Rights in the framework of the EU-Bangladesh Cooperation Agreement (CA). Both sides reaffirmed the commitment to strengthen cooperation in the field of human rights on the basis of shared principles and internationally recognized human rights standards” (26 Apr).
Orange Coast College launches an apparel sustainability program: “The future of the fashion job market is green, said Lauren Becker, the fashion department coordinator at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif.” (26 Apr).
How the UN’s Ethical Fashion Initiative provides sustainable work, not charity, for communities: ““When we started the Ethical Fashion Initiative in the slum of Korogocho in Nairobi [in 2007] we clarified that this was not about charity,” said [Simone] Cipriani. “Charity is important; it is one of the most noble activities that humans can do, and it’s good, for example, when you want to build a hospital or a school and there are no other means, but [this program is] totally different. We are engaging with communities to provide sustainable work as an alternative to the informal sector”” (26 Apr).
The fur debate: [Ed’s note: an eight-page feature in WWD, including sections on “What designers say” and “What retailers don’t”. Many readers will have read most arguments, but of interest was the number of retailers who declined to comment on fur when contacted, including Lane Crawford Joyce Group, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Harrods (“I’m afraid we don’t comment on fur”) and Galleries Lafayette. See follow up above, 01 May.] (26 Apr).
The fur sustainability debate: Is real or faux better for the planet? [Ed’s note: long article from Fashionista magazine.] “With more and more designers ditching the real stuff, it's the question on everyone's mind” (26 Apr).
Bangladesh isn’t fashion’s only dirty secret: “Meanwhile, recent reports that Forever 21 manufacturers were working for sweatshop-like wages in Los Angeles went under-reported [Ed’s note: we reported it]. Arguably it didn’t fit the usual narrative of worker exploitation, which is usually focussed on less-developed countries” (26 Apr).
Jill Tucker talks transparency: “Over 100 brands have now disclosed their factory lists and several important transparency reports have been issued, such as Human Rights Watch’s Follow the Thread report and Fashion Revolution’s 2017 Fashion Transparency Index” (26 Apr). [Jill Tucker is Head of Supply Chain Innovation & Transformation at C&A Foundation.]
Is cotton ethical? You may be surprised! “The bottom line is that cotton is only really sustainable if it is organic or Fairtrade. There are currently more than 55,000 cotton farmers organized into more than 22 Fairtrade producer organizations in Africa and Asia. Research released last year demonstrated that the social and environmental footprint of cotton from these farmers is five times lower than conventionally-produced cotton” (26 Apr).
Meet Candle Ray: Winner Redress Design Award 2017: “Aside from providing products that are sustainable we also need to educate consumers about sustainable fashion. We should let them know that they can create positive environmental impact through making better choices when buying” (26 Apr).
Futerra Fashion Revolutionaries – Oya Barlas Bingul of Lenzing: [Ed’s note: Oya Barlas Bingul is the Business Development Manager for UK & Benelux at Lenzing Group.] “Leading great projects with successful, well-known brands which are all taking serious steps to improve their environmental footprints” (26 Apr).
EU Member states agree nanomaterial changes to REACH annexes: “Nanomaterial-specific information requirements would become part of the legal text for REACH for the first time under proposed changes just agreed by EU member states” (26 Apr).
The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom, or does it? “Something is rotting away in the court of fashion and luxury and we need to stem the disease; to stop the endless feeding frenzy of production that we are trapped in 12 seasons a year” (25 Apr).
In The Closet: Claire Hart from Tearfund NZ: “The Ethical Fashion Guide 2018 [Ed’s note: see FSWIR Week 16] was released last week with over 5000 copies downloaded in New Zealand. This week on ‘In The Closet’ we chat to Claire Hart, Tearfund’s Ethical Fashion Guide producer, about the recent findings, their research methodology and how the brands grade. Also get an insight on what’s in store for next year” (25 Apr – 15:01-minute video).
France proposes law to tackle unsold clothing problem: “As part of France’s new Circular Economy Roadmap, the French government has proposed new regulations that would prohibit apparel brands and retailers from discarding or incinerating unsold items, and instead, require them to donate unsold textiles and clothing to recycling organisations or charities for re-use” (25 Apr – subscription required to read full article).
Garment workers’ labour rights in a digital era: “Could a digital training app be one of the solutions? In a case study conducted by Tina Sendlhofer and Clara My Lernborg factory workers from two different garments factories in China, together with Scandinavian enterprises and buyers, were interviewed in order to assess present stage and scope out future solutions” (25 Apr). [Ed’s note: this article is a summary of an academic paper, “Labour rights training 2.0: The digitalisation of knowledge for workers in global supply chains’, which can be found in full here.]
Two garment factory disasters a century apart show how globalization has sapped labor’s power: “The Triangle [Shirtwaist] fire [in NYC, 1911] led not only to health and safety reforms, but also spurred on the burgeoning US labor movement, presenting a stark window into the chronic labor abuses that garment workers suffered, including poverty wages, excessively long hours, and child labor. It remains unclear whether long-lasting labor reform will happen in Bangladesh [after Rana Plaza], but unless circumstances in the country change dramatically, it seems unlikely to” (25 Apr).
Meet Britain’s rising sustainable fashion star, Maddie Williams: “The way I work is highly craft-and-labour-intensive (and ethically made by well paid staff – Ed.) – so customers would need to respect or even be drawn to that – and be willing to pay a price that fairly reflects the time and effort that has gone in to the garments” (25 Apr).
Database of Cambodian company ownership details released by NGOs: [Ed’s note: Global Witness and Open Corporates have launched a dataset of who owns and controls 26,237 companies in Cambodia. A search for Cambodian garment companies listed in back issues of FSWIR showed addresses and directors’/officers’ names, with links to other companies in which they have interests.] (25 Apr).
Good Governance in [the Bangladesh] RMG Sector: Progress and Challenges: “[Transparency International Bangladesh] conducted a research (October 2013) to identify governance challenges responsible for such accidents and compliance deficits in the RMG sector. The study revealed some governance challenges that include lack of coordination among relevant stakeholders, negligence of duties of duty bearers, political influence, collusive nature of corruption in this sector” (25 Apr). [Ed’s note: you can download a 10-pp. executive summary here (PDF).]
Employment Injury Insurance in Bangladesh: Bridging the Gap: [Ed’s note: new report from the Clean Clothes Campaign.] “Despite being the second largest exporter of clothing, and the location of some of the worst recent factory disasters, Bangladesh is one of only a handful of countries that entirely fails to provide for a national employment injury scheme for workers who are injured in private workplaces” (24 Apr).
Two minutes of a textile worker's life: “A new video provides insight into the reality of a textile worker through the mobile screen. Here are the true stories behind the video” (24 Apr – in Norwegian/English). [Ed’s note: video is a fictional representation of a garment worker’s day in Dhaka as told via images and chat.]
Aditi Mayer, ADIMA + revolution washing: ““I think the way we look at sustainable fashion now - it's been a response. So, sustainable fashion exists because the industry is inherently broken, and we could argue that fast fashion has profited off the normalization of exploitation”” (24 Apr – 35:42-minute podcast).
The right to fair and safe work: “Five years after Rana Plaza: how Germany is championing better social and environmental standards in the textile industry worldwide” (24 Apr). [Ed’s note: article looks at the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles.]
More recycling can’t fix the fundamental flaws with fast fashion: “The global fashion industry’s circularity focus is on reusing and recirculating clothing, not a retooling of the industry. And while recycling is important, it misses the mark when it comes to meaningfully reducing emissions” (24 Apr).
Global goals for a more sustainable textile industry: “As #FashionRevolution demonstrates, we need better global goals for a more sustainable fashion industry. And the United Nations agrees – recently, they hosted a #GlobalGoals event, organised by Hecho por Nosotros and moderated by Lilian Liu from Global Compact, to discuss the future of the sustainable textile industry” (24 Apr).
Why aren’t more millennials shopping sustainably? Look at the price tag: “While millennials very well may be extremely taken with the idea of shopping sustainably, price remains the road block for many, and until brands either find ways to make eco-friendly wares more affordable (potentially by way of direct-to-consumer models, such as Everlane) until millennials have more discretionary income or until a larger cultural shift away from senseless consumption happens, price will be the foremost concern for most consumers” (24 Apr).
Futerra Fashion Revolutionaries – Alden Wicker of EcoCult: “In 2030, polyester and acrylic will no longer be used as fabrics, having been banned because of microfibers and replaced by textile equivalents that either biodegrade or can be infinitely recycled when we’re done with them” (23 Apr).
“Health and safety in garment workers’ lives: Setting a new research agenda”: “Amidst new global initiatives to promote garment workers’ health and safety following a spate of deadly factory disasters across the Global South, this critical review calls for an expanded research agenda that looks beyond the workplace to examine the complex politics, spatialities, and temporalities of garment workers’ health and wellbeing” (Jan, 18). [Ed’s note: an academic article.]
CONFERENCES & SEMINARS
[New listings or updated information marked with *]
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 Milliners’ Faiza 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 – 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.”
* 12 – 13 June, New York: How business can tackle modern slavery and forced labor: “This conference is designed to inform business delegates how to comply with emerging legislation and mitigate supply chain risk to tackle slavery throughout supply chains and operations.”
* 15 June, New York: FashionistaCon NYC: How to Make it In Fashion (2018): A day-long conference tackling topics such as racial inclusivity and how to make your fashion line more sustainable.
* 19 – 20 June, London: How business can measure the impact - and ROI - of corporate sustainability: “Tools, techniques and strategies for understanding, measuring and communicating impact.”
* 27 June, London: Sustainable Supply Chains 2018: “Aligning procurement & supplier engagement practices with sustainability strategy.”
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Bangladesh Alliance factories completing upgrades 25 Apr to 02 May: Creative Collection Ltd., Need Text CTG Ltd., International Trading Services Ltd. (02 May). [Ed’s note: this list is gleaned from the Bangladesh Alliance Twitter feed.]
Garment workers protest for wages in Savar on May Day: “[O]ver 650 workers of one Abbas Apparels Ltd came down on the Dhaka-Aricha highway and demonstrated peacefully [demanding arrears] for hours before police took them away upon assurance” (01 May).
Garment sector saw highest industrial disputes in 2017: “About half of the industrial disputes that took place last year were in the garment sector, according to the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS). A total of 181 industrial disputes took place in 2017, 91 of which were in the garment sector” (01 May).
Wage arrears trigger majority labour unrest in 2017: Survey: “The majority of labour unrest that took place in 2017 was over the payment of wages arrears with highest number of such incidents in the apparel sector, according to a new survey” (01 May).
Post Rana Plaza: Are workers being allowed to organise? “From 2013 to October 2017, 474 trade unions were formed out of 5,000 factories in the sector. According to BGMEA, a total of 604 trade unions are operational, including 130 unions which were formed before the Rana Plaza tragedy. Even though these are numbers provided by the Labour Office of the government, we already know of 135 unions that have shut down for various reasons. They include unions in carton box factories, embroidery factories, accessories factories and textile mills. Only 35-40 trade unions have been successful in negotiating better terms with the owners – these are the only ones operational in the RMG sector” (30 Apr).
Fire at city garment factory: “The fire broke out at Asiana Garments located on the 5th floor of a 12-storey building around 1:45pm [in Dhaka]” (30 Apr).
Bangladeshi RMG workers do excessive overtime, earn little: “Bangladeshi readymade garment workers earn poverty-level wages and they continue to work excessively long hours for little money while both the government and the industry fail to protect their interests, according to a study of Fair Labor Association, a US-based workers’ rights organisation” (30 Apr). [Ed’s note: see FLA report here.]
Superiors, trade union leaders often abuse female workers: study: “At workplaces and unions female workers are often sexually harassed by their superiors as well as by trade union leaders, revealed a recent study of Bangladesh Shrama Institute, known as BASHI, released Sunday” (30 Apr).
Labour rights activists urge women leadership initiatives: “[A] press conference was organized by Bangladesh Labour Institute (Bashi) to disseminate findings of the first part of a research titled “Trade unions and the major barriers women face while working in labour organizations”” (29 Apr).
Workers of 8 Khulna jute mills go on half-day strike: “The workers of eight state-owned jute mills in Khulna division enforced a half day strike to press home their 11-point demands. … Major demands of the workers include payment of due wages, implementation of wage commission and job regularisation” (29 Apr).
Savar garment factory workers protest for due salaries: “Agitated workers of a readymade garment factory demonstrated in front of [Abbas Apparel Garments] on Thursday morning [26 Apr] demanding due salaries” (26 Apr).
RMG workers’ database not ready even after 5yrs: “The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association is yet to complete the central biometric database of garment workers five years after taking up the initiative. Primarily, the non-cooperation of the factory owners is to blame for the delay, said BGMEA insiders” (26 Apr).
Five years from Rana Plaza: EU Commission needs to fulfill its promises: “It is high time the European Commission stops dragging its feet and present a legislative proposal to ensure the corporate respect for human rights and to establish binding human rights for European companies, writes Heidi Hautala” (26 Apr). [Ed’s note: Heidi Hautala (Finland), is Vice President of the European Parliament for the Greens/EFA political group.]
No justice yet due to lack of political will: TIB: “Transparency International Bangladesh on Thursday [26 Apr] said that justice had yet to be done in industrial accidents, including Rana Plaza building collapse, because of lack of political will and scope to influence judicial system” (26 Apr). [Ed’s note: see the original TIB report here.]
After Rana Plaza: much done, a lot still remains, the rest just flounder: “[Transparency International Bangladesh, in] a research report titled “Good Governance in RMG Sector: Progress and Challenges counts 102 [good governance] initiatives – of which 40 were implemented completely, 42 are still in progress, and 20 are stagnant or in slow progress” (26 Apr). [Ed’s note: see the original TIB report here.]
Too often, workers speak loudest from the grave: “More than 1,000 Bangladeshi apparel factories are not covered by these stepped-up safety measures because the brands that use those factories have not signed on to the accord's ambitious effort. (25 Apr).
Why won’t we learn from the survivors of the Rana Plaza disaster? ““The labor law in this country is pro-owner, not pro-worker,” [Mahmudul Hassan Hridoy] said. When oversight reverts to local governance, he said, “all will return to how it was when Rana Plaza happened” (24 Apr).
Bangladesh factories still unsafe five years after collapse: “Rights groups say thousands of factories in Bangladesh are still unsafe, five years after its worst industrial disaster” (24 Apr – 3:01-miute video from Al Jazeera).
Bangladeshi garment workers routinely paid less than a living wage: “A report released [24 Apr] by the Fair Labor Association demonstrates that garment workers in Bangladesh are earning poverty-level wages, often while relying upon excessive hours of overtime to lift their earnings toward a living wage” (23 Apr). [Ed’s note: the report, Toward Fair Compensation in Bangladesh: Insights on Closing the Wage Gap, can be found here (PDF). See also a companion piece here (PDF) titled Bangladesh Wage Ladder, which represents real wages paid to workers in 18 factories.]
EU to review Cambodia’s EBA status: “The European Union has announced a “dedicated” mission to Cambodia to monitor its Generalised Scheme of Preferences, the agreement under which Cambodian goods reach the crucial European market tariff-free” (01 May).
Cambodia’s imaginary enemies: “When it comes to garment workers’ rights, Prime Minister Hun Sen has made lots of promises to workers about wages and benefits. But other critical reforms needed to improve the lives of workers are nowhere on the horizon. Laws impeding workers’ freedom of association, such as the Law on Trade Unions and the Law on Associations and NGOs are still on the books” (30 Apr).
Labour Ministry seeks to drop charges against activist Moeun Tola: “The Ministry of Labour released a letter on Friday asking the court to drop charges against labour activist Moeun Tola, who is accused of misappropriating funds raised for slain political activist Kem Ley’s funeral” (27 Apr).
Workers appeal back pay ruling: “Ninety-eight garment workers fighting a legal battle for wages owed to them after their employer [Co-Seek Garment Co, Ltd.] fled the country appealed a judge’s decision to award the vast majority of proceeds from an auction of the company’s equipment to the factory’s landlord on Wednesday” (27 Apr).
Massive May Day rally planned for capital: “Several confederations, unions and associations will celebrate International Labour Day next week and plan to have more than 2,000 participants” (25 Apr).
Exploitation of Bengaluru’s women workers in manufacturing shows perils of ‘selective’ development: ““The men who are in charge of these women exploit them by asking them to ‘cooperate’. For example, ‘if you cooperate, we will give you less production and raise your salary’ or ‘I will give you overtime pay’. They ask for phone numbers too”” (01 May).
Huge fire in Mathura cotton factory: “A huge fire at a cotton factory in Mathura district today gutted properties worth crores and fire-fighters were still struggling to control the blaze after nine hours. … the cause of the fire appears to be a short-circuit in the electrical wiring” (30 Apr).
Fire in Santacruz garment shop kills one: “A fire broke that broke out in a garment shop at Santacruz [Mumbai] on Thursday early morning [26 Apr], left one person dead and another injured” (27 Apr).
Forced to resign, PF not paid, Bengaluru garment factory workers fight for their rights: The workers also allege that the factory used to pay their salaries late and women workers were sexually harassed by managers (26 Apr).
Jordan needs ‘better application’ of occupational safety, health standards at workplace: “Jordan is in a dire need of promoting the application of occupational safety and health standards set forth in the national legislation and international standards, a position paper by the Jordan Labour Watch (JLW) said” (29 Apr).
Garment worker health and safety guidelines launched: “The Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population has launched guidelines to ensure the safety and health of workers in the garment industry in a bid to improve the conditions and welfare of the country’s workforce” (30 Apr).
Textile mill fire brought under control after daylong battle: “A fire which broke out at a cloth factory in Federal B Industrial Area [in Karachi] on Thursday night [26 Apr] raged through Friday until it was brought under control in the afternoon” (28 Apr).
Shoe factory reduced to ashes: “[M]erchandise and equipment were reduced to ashes after a fire broke out in a shoe factory due to short circuit at Basti Charagh Shah … due to short circuit” (22 Apr).
Month for work safety to be launched in May: “According to statistics released by the MoLISA, 8,956 occupational accidents occurred in Vietnam last year, affecting 9,173 people, of which 928 died. A report from the Health Environment Management Agency showed that nearly 300,000 people contacting harmful factors at work engaged in medical examinations for occupational diseases. Of the total, more than 38,000 received positive test results” (19 Apr).
Dyeing with foam cuts water use in denim: “In July this year, Spanish denim mill Tejidos Royo will be the first textile operation worldwide to take delivery of new, large-scale indigo yarn dyeing equipment that uses foam to dye indigo cotton yarns” (01 May – subscription required to read full article).
Water risk infiltrates Australia’s agriculture portfolios: “Tim Lee, a partner of the food and agribusiness advisory division at PwC, says water volatility and accessibility to required volumes are posing risks not only to producers, but to supply chains of food, beverage and apparel companies reliant on raw materials” (30 Apr).
The robotic 3D knitting machine helping keep Australian fashion design onshore and sustainable: “Shima Seiki’s technology turns the cones of yarn into the almost-finished product in around 40 minutes, with next to zero wastage” (29 Apr).
ILO: Improve workplace safety for the next generation: “A total of 10 apparel companies received the OSH Good Practice Awards at the event for maintaining high safety and health standards at their factories. These are Wisdom Attires, Fakir Fashion, Knit Concern, Hop Lun Apparels, Square Fashion, Snowtex Outwear, Ecotext, Tarasima Apparels, Viyellatex, and AKH Eco Apparels” (28 Apr).
Science, bacteria and recycled clothes at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research: “Simply put, if a clothing line does not sell in stores, it ends up in a landfill or being burned. So what Tyton [BioSciences] aims to do is recycle the blends of clothing materials, such as the cotton and polyester in a T-shirt, and reuse them” (27 Apr).
Aquafil wins PETA Vegan Innovation Award for Econyl: “Developed in Italy using 100 per cent regenerated yarn from waste materials such as fishing nets and old carpets, ECONYL has been used in items from socks to swimsuits and by an impressive host of brands, including Adidas and Finisterre” (27 Apr).
Responsible chemistry for successful fashion design: Garmon Chemicals, recently acquired by Kemin Industries, has released a new Stretch Care collection, an eco-sustainable, GreenScreen certified product that significantly optimises the production process and enhance the quality of stretch fabrics (26 Apr – press release).
Metalbottoni accelerates towards a 100% sustainable denim: Metalbottoni has developed a new product range for denim, including sustainable and eco-friendly leather accessories made of eco-leather, a line of new tags made of recycled leather made from processing shavings, and brass, bronze and other finishings made with no chemical agents (100% mechanically produced), and water consumption close to zero (26 Apr – press release).
25 Chinese firms announce collaboration on chemical stewardship: “25 leading enterprises from the Chinese textile industry, textile auxiliary industry and textile dyestuff industry, including Ruyi, Transfar and Lonsen co-announced the Joint Statement for Chemicals Stewardship 2020, impressed the whole world by airing the strongest voice for China’s Green Manufacturing in Shanghai on April 11, 2018” (25 Apr).
This German company is making vegan leather shoes using mushrooms and recycled plastic bottles: “Munich-based sneaker brand, nat-2, has teamed up with Zvnder, a company that makes mushroom leather-based accessories, to create sneakers made with plant-based mushroom leather and recycled plastic water bottles” (25 Apr).
Spider silk company Kraig Biocraft establish subsidiary in Vietnam: “Kraig Biocraft Laboratories Inc., an Ann Arbor developer of genetically engineered spider silk-based fiber technologies, today [25 Apr] announced it has received an investment registration certificate for the establishment of its new Vietnamese subsidiary, Prodigy Textiles Co. Ltd.” (25 Apr).
Mills put performance and sustainability first at Kingpins Amsterdam: “Market demand for sustainability and performance-driven products is leading fabric, fiber and dyeing innovations into new and exciting directions” (25 Apr). [Ed’s note: mentions Artistic Milliners, Atlantic Mills, Calik Denim, Invista, Orta Anadolu, Denim Expert, Tejidos Royo, Canatiba, Artistic Fabric & Garment Industries (AFGI), Berto, and Global Denim.]
TAL Group’s $350-million project in Vietnam refused over environmental risks? “Despite its eagerness to develop a $350-million textile and garment dyeing project in the northern province of Vinh Phuc, Hong Kong-backed TAL Group may fail to get the investment certificate due to the provincial authorities’ concerns about environmental pollution” (25 Apr).
Water saved with every weave: “Arvind Ltd has made water conservation central to its production agenda” (24 Apr).
Tejidos Royo launches the first waterless yarn dyed indigo: “Spanish textile manufacturer Tejidos Royo is set to reform the indigo dying process, as the producer unveils its new waterless indigo dying technology – Dry Indigo” (20 Apr).
Jeanologia deepens their commitment to a sustainable transformation of the textile industry until its total detoxification: At the recent Kingpins Amsterdam, Jeanologia showed their latest developments based on the 5 zeros: zero waste, zero manual scraping, zero potassium permanganate, zero pumice stone and zero bleach (16 Apr – press release).
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.