Brands in the news this week included German retailer Kik (financing compensation for victims of a 2012 factory fire in Pakistan), Patagonia, M&S, Primark and H&M (among brands rated by new website BuyBetter), Boohoo and Missguided (in a Financial Times article on labour exploitation in British factories), Burberry, Gap, Nike and others (signing up for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular initiative), Vaude (scoring top marks in FWF’s brand performance check), and Nike (which released its FY16/17 sustainability report).
Reports released during the week include:
- Better Buying Index Report, Spring 2018 (from Better Buying, ranking purchasing practices of 65 brands using data submitted anonymously online)
- ‘We Pick Cotton Out of Fear’: Systematic Forced Labor and the Accountability Gap in Uzbekistan (by the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights)
- The Sustainable Fashion Blueprint 2018 (from Cambridge University Judge Business School)
- Changing value chains on the global markets for used textiles (by Mistra Future Fashion)
- “Eco-conspicuous versus eco-conscious consumption: co-creating a new definition of luxury and fashion” (an academic article published in February, but the basis of an article last week about crazes in ethical consumption)
In general news reports, there is a new Dutch campaign to influence consumers on fashion consciousness, vegan leather made from coconut water and biodegradable stilettos, animal cruelty allegations (mohair, feathers and cat fur waistcoats), roundups of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit (here, here, here and the most extensive here), a US YouTuber who unboxed a pair of trainers with a slavery twist (part of a Thomson Reuters Foundation project on slavery), the European Commissioner for Competition’s comments on sustainable fashion, and a poem on video with the opening lines, “If the girl who made your skirt’s not paid/you cannot say it’s beautiful.”
News aplenty from the supply chain this week: Bangladesh (wage demands, wage rises and the living wage were all in the local press, along with the government amending labour laws, more conciliatory industrial relations, and a report the Accord’s extension had run into trouble); Cambodia (protests over arrears, severance pay evasion, and a sacked union rep); Ethiopia (union fight for higher wages); Myanmar (striking workers); and Pakistan (a fire and a call for factories to set up day care centres).
On the manufacturing front, there was news about the expulsion of two suppliers from viscose maker Sateri’s supply chain, Li & Fung’s push for sustainability, Mango Material’s methane-derived biopolyester, Archroma’s partnership with House of Denim, and a leader in biotech dyes securing $3 million to ramp up development.
Quotes of the week:
- “[B]uyer’s ratings do NOT depend on the length of the relationship with a factory. Why? Because of the tendency for buyers to drop factories for a slightly better price elsewhere.” Leslie Johnson, executive director of C&A Foundation, on a new report rating 65 leading brands’ and retailers’ purchasing practices (22 May).
- “Now, I am not swimming in money like the royal family but buying a new frock for your brother's wedding (or brother-in-law’s) is the Right Thing to Do.” Melissa Singer in the Sydney Morning Herald on why Kate Middleton’s dress choice was a ‘poor choice’ (21 May). [Ed’s note: recyclers dominated comments.]
- “If transparency is a win-win for both consumer, corporation and the planet, then why is it not happening?” Vogue (17 May).
- “When I came to the UK and I discovered what was going on in Leicester, it was mind-blowing.” Anders Kristiansen, former chief executive of New Look on labour exploitation in Britain’s garment industry (17 May – subscription required).
- “Part of Leicester’s garment industry has become detached from UK employment law, “a country within a country”.” Financial Times, on workers paid as little as £3.50 an hour and asking why no one is being held responsible (17 May – subscription required).
- “It’s all your fault … You don’t win if you feel righteous.” Simon Collins of Fashion Culture Design at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit (17 May).
- “If six out of 10 garments end up in landfill, should we have made those six garments?” Paul Dillinger of Levi’s, at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit (17 May).
- “80% of [a] product’s impact is due to choices made at the design phase.” Paul Dillinger (again) (16 May).
- “An average Australian buys 27 kilograms of new textiles every year and then discards 23 kilograms into landfills.” Vogue Australia (14 May).
By Stephen Frost, CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
BRANDS & RETAILERS
Brands signing up to the 2018 Bangladesh Accord 16 May – 23 May: Brands signing up during the last week to the 2018 Accord include: Bearbottom Clothing, Intersport, Princess Gruppen, Tex Alliance (23 May). [Ed’s note: list gleaned from IndustriALL’s updated list of signatories here. The signatories of the 2018 Accord agree to continue a fire and building safety program in Bangladesh until midnight of May 31, 2021.]
Partnership hopes to develop – and drive adoption of – more sustainable nylon: “H&M and 11 other companies [including Vaude] have come together in an effort dubbed Project Effective, a collaboration meant to produce more sustainable fibers and plastics for commercial use – and to increase adoption of sustainable materials – by using renewable feedstocks and bio based technologies” (22 May).
First ever better buying purchasing practices index report released: Better Buying Purchasing Practices Index, Spring 2018: Purchasing Practices Performance in Apparel, Footwear, and Household Textile Supply Chains – by Better Buying – is the “first independent global index rat[ing] the purchasing practices of 65 leading brands and retailers … designed to support industry efforts to improve purchasing practices in supply chains globally” (21 May). [Ed’s note: brands ranked include Hanes, Levi’s, New Balance, PVH, VF, A&F, C&A, Gap, Inditex, Macy’s, Target, Tesco, and Walmart. Read the full report here.]
Zara and H&M “among the best” at ethical fashion? “Following backlash over the methods of its ethical fashion report, Baptist World Aid Australia has released a statement defending its processes. The statement focusses on criticism of the group’s grading of fast fashion companies such as Zara and H&M who received an A- and B+ respectively” (21 May). [Ed’s note: you can see Baptist World Aid Australia’s report here.]
$117 million South African mohair industry threatened by H&M, Inditex ban: “A ban on mohair by dozens of clothing retailers, including Hennes & Mauritz AB and Esprit Holdings, is threatening a 1.5 billion rand ($117 million) industry in South Africa, the world’s biggest producer of the fibre. Almost 70 clothing companies worldwide have announced they’ll stop using mohair [since PETA released a video exposing animal cruelty last month]” (21 May).
Families affected by 2012 Ali Enterprises fire finally receive life-long pensions: “As of yesterday, Saturday 19 May, survivors and families that lost loved ones at the Ali Enterprises fire of 2012 [in Pakistan] will receive pensions out of a fund financed by the factory’s main buyer, German retailer KiK” (20 May). [Ed’s note: see also here, here and here.]
Stella McCartney, Lily Cole And Amber Valletta on why sustainable fashion needs more voices: [Ed’s note: reporting from the Copenhagen Fashion Summit.] (19 May).
LVMH stores generate 70 percent of group’s greenhouse gas emissions: “The luxury behemoth points to its network of 4,370 stores as the group’s energy culprits” (18 May).
New website rates brands on ethics: BuyBetter, a UK-based website aiming to provide consumers with information to make informed choices about clothes, went live last week. Ratings are provided by Good On You (ethical fashion rating app) and cover animal, labour and environment. Brands currently rated include Patagonia, Marks & Spencer, River Island, Primark, Topshop, Topman and H&M (17 May).
Aviraté takes on ‘Garments without Guilt’: “Aviraté – an international fashion brand owned by Timex Garments (Pvt) Ltd - is making waves yet again for achieving the ‘Garments without Guilt’ certification- a first for a Sri Lankan Retail Brand” (17 May).
Dark factories: labour exploitation in Britain’s garment industry: “In parts of Leicester, workers are paid as little as £3.50 an hour. Why is no one being held responsible?” (17 May – subscription required). [Ed’s note: brands mentioned are New Look, Boohoo, Missguided, River Island, TK Maxx, and Asos. Also mentioned are ETI and Sedex.]
Call for Macy’s and Ann Taylor to intervene in Philippines strike: “PEZA guards and police tear down placards & harass picket line of workers of garments factory Dong Seung in Cavite ecozone. Workers call upon global apparel brands Macy’s and Ann Taylor to remediate violations of their supplier Dong Seung” (17 May). [Ed’s note: see here for background.]
Hugo Boss awards Parsons students in circular systems, strategy course with prizes: “Students at Parsons have been honing their sustainable fashion design and innovation skills with the help of Hugo Boss” (16 May).
Bestseller’s Only brand launches Black Forever Denim by Soorty: “[Bestseller brand Only is launching an] ecological denim utilizing new fashionable and sustainable solutions [in] collaboration with Lenzing Modal Black [and made in Pakistan by] Soorty” (16 May).
Patagonia CEO: Public lands stance having ‘positive effect on business’: “Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario has again spoken out in defense of her company’s campaign against the current administration’s attack on public lands, telling a popular podcast host the stance has had a “positive effect on business” and that Patagonia is poised to have its “best [sales] year ever”” (16 May).
Patagonia to scale-up recommerce effort: “Patagonia is about to enter the next stage of growth for its Worn Wear online store, where it sells its refurbished second-hand gear to keep consumers wearing stuff for longer, reduce consumption and lower the environmental footprint of the clothes we wear” (16 May).
More than 6000 people demand: Fashion companies take responsibility! “Five years after the factory collapse of Rana Plaza, Public Eye called on Swiss fashion companies in an open letter to join the Bangladesh Accord. 6189 people have signed the letter to Chicory, Coop, Mammoth, Manor, Migros and Zebra” (16 May – in German).
Industry leaders join forces to Make Fashion Circular: “Today [16 May] at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, some of the biggest names in fashion are joining forces to create a thriving industry based on the principles of a circular economy ... As core partners of Make Fashion Circular, Burberry, Gap Inc., H&M, HSBC, Nike, and Stella McCartney, will work with the [Ellen MacArthur] Foundation to radically redesign the fashion industry” (16 May). [Ed’s note: others involved (participants) include Dupont, Fung Group, Goretex, Hallotex, I:CO, Inditex, Kering, Lenzing, Nanushka, Primark, Solvay, Texaid, Tintex, VF and Radia Group.]
Vaude scores top marks at the Fair Wear Foundation: “In this year’s Fair Wear Foundation’s (FWF) Brand Performance Check (BPC), Vaude has achieved the best ratings of all member companies” (15 May – in German).
New Look reviews clothing prices amid ‘fat tax’ row: “New Look is reviewing its prices after an outcry that some larger-sized clothes were more expensive than those in smaller sizes” (15 May).
Nike releases Sustainable Business Report 16/17: [Ed’s note: with Nike’s FY16/17 Sustainable Business Report (Maximum Performance Minimum Impact) landing amidst a company-wide shakeup over alleged harassment, it is no surprise the media has picked up on the steps the company has outlined in the report to turn its workplace culture around (see here and here). Nike, on the other hand, is promoting content like its use of recycled polyester. See a PDF of the report at the headline link, or bits and pieces online here, including an interesting data visualisation of its supply chain footprint here.] (15 May).
San Francisco brand claims to have the world’s most eco-friendly jeans: “For the past 7 years, San Francisco-based fashion brand Amour Vert has been focused on manufacturing clothes in the Bay Area that are made from natural, eco-friendly materials. Now, in collaboration with LA-based denim label Agolde, they have released a collection of jeans that may well be the world´s most eco-friendly” (15 May).
Southern Tide launches capsule made from recycled materials: “Southern Tide has launched an exclusive seven-piece men's capsule made from recycled fishing nets and bottles found in the ocean, aiming to raise awareness about the company's goal of supporting marine conservation” (15 May).
P&G: ‘Long live fashion formula’ can quadruple life of clothes: “Procter & Gamble [says] Ariel and Lenor (the European sister brands of Tide and Downy [in the US] could extend the life of clothes by four times, keeping them looking new for longer” (15 May). [Ed’s note: see here also.]
Wrangler invests in soil health to improve supply chain: “Last month [Wrangler] published an evaluation of U.S. cotton producers’ journey toward sustainable soil, finding while 78% of farmers use conservation crop rotation, conservation tillage (33%) and cover crop practices (2%) have only been partially adopted” (14 May). [Ed’s note: see Wrangler’s evaluation here.]
Roadster by Myntra launches sustainable jeanswear collection: “The Roadster Life Co., the largest casual wear brand on Myntra [an Indian online fashion platform], has recently launched their first ever sustainable jeanswear collection with over 50 options to choose from – the largest collection of sustainable jean-wear launched” (14 May).
NEWS & REPORTS
Solidaridad & Sympany launch Dutch campaign to inspire fashion consciousness: “What you choose to buy, or not to buy, has a direct influence on someone’s life. To raise awareness of this fact, Solidaridad and social enterprise Sympany have launched a campaign in the Netherlands to inspire the public to become #modebewust (fashion conscious) … Solidaridad has launched a website” (22 May).
The ethics of wearing feathers: it’s not just live-plucking that’s a problem: ““[M]any shoppers are still unaware of the cruelty inherent in the down and feather industries.” PETA claims that “workers in China – the source of 80% of the world’s down – forcefully restrain geese and rip their feathers out as they struggle and scream” (21 May). [Ed’s note: article mentions the Responsible Down Standard, John Lewis, H&M, The North Face, Levi’s, Lululemon and others.]
Vegan leather created from coconut water: “Two entrepreneurs have partnered to develop a breakthrough new vegan leather-style product [dubbed Malai] using the cell wall of coconut water and banana fibre that would otherwise be discarded” (20 May). [Ed’s note: see more here.]
‘We pick cotton out of fear’: Systematic forced labor and the accountability gap in Uzbekistan: “The 96-page report, “‘We Pick Cotton Out of Fear’: Systematic Forced Labor and the Accountability Gap in Uzbekistan,” details how the government forced education and medical workers, other public sector employees, private sector workers, people receiving benefits, and some college and university students to pick cotton involuntarily.” (19 May). [Ed’s note: authored by Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights. See full report here.]
Blockchain technology — applications in fashion industry, part 1: “[I]nformation is presented through the app, which anyone who later interacts with the garment, can access through QR code or NFC-enabled label. This is the first proof that blockchain technology is the answer to achieve total transparency, as soon as bigger companies start incorporating this technology into their supply chain and collaborate on universal tagging system” (19 May).
New Tech platform makes sustainability ‘Common Objective’ for fashion companies: “A new digital platform aims to make sustainable business decisions easier for the fashion industry. By matching actors along the supply chain and providing data-driven, solutions-focused information, Common Objective (CO) hopes to improve the day-to-day practices of textiles and clothing companies around the world” (18 May).
Charity shop haul-ternative: “I went on a charity/thrift/op shop haul to fight back against fast fashion haul videos, as part of Fashion Revolution’s #Haulternative project!” (18 May – 7:11-minute video).
What should French fashion do with its unsold clothing? “A circular economy incentive to prohibit brands from discarding unsold clothing means luxury and high street retailers need to rethink their practices” (18 May).
Powerful fashion industry showing cracks: [Ed’s note: an interview with Daniëlle Bruggeman Professor of Fashion, ArtEZ University of the Arts, the Netherlands.] “Everyone knows and feels that the current fashion industry cannot go on like it is. Not only because we are depleting the planet’s resources and letting people far away pay the price for our craving for trends. But also because values like what it means to be human are being commercialised and exploited for financial gain” (17 May).
Copenhagen Fashion Summit stirs up more questions than answers: [Ed’s note: top takeaways for the two-day event were: companies should cooperate more; big companies need to make the first step; innovation and technology is here; scalable solutions are key; a universal language is required; clothes need to have multiple lives.] (18 May). See also, Textile industry searches for solutions to prevent it becoming planet's biggest polluter at Copenhagen Fashion Summit (17 May).
The cat fur waistcoats: “Waistcoats made from cat fur are being openly sold at street markets in China for as little as £25, shocking footage has revealed” (17 May).
Why we need to talk about transparency in fashion: [Ed’s note: an extensive roundup of who said what at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit by Vogue.] (17 May).
Changing value chains on the global markets for used textiles: “How would the value chain react to a doubling of collected used textile volumes in Sweden, and in Europe as a whole and what measures would be necessary to maintain economic viability? To answer this research question Swedish, other European, and international actors involved in collection, sorting and wholesale of used textiles were interviewed to get their perspectives on the matter” (16 May). [Ed’s note: from Mistra Fashion Future. See full report here.]
Prince Charles avoids wedding chatter to talk sustainable fashion: “When Prince Charles met British fashion designers, retailers and editors on Wednesday [16 May], he succeeded in steering conversation away from wedding dresses and on to clothes made from salvaged plastics and the prospects for reviving Scottish wool production” (16 May).
Copenhagen Fashion Summit: Perspectives on the supply chain with Spencer Fung: ““Transparency allows us to trace social problems,” [Spencer Fung of Hong Kong’s Li & Fung] said. “The sector employs hundreds of millions of people. Our business involves 5 million workers. We set up an application where each of them can make an observation of their daily life and what will be important to them in the future” (16 May).
These biodegradable stilettos should be the next big thing: ““We’ve basically been taking wood pulp and we've mixing it with a resin that’s made from the American sweetgum tree. We then created this new material from that, and then we put a steel rod down the middle for stability and for strength”” (16 May). [Ed’s note: an interview with vegan footwear designer Sydney Brown, who also works with fennel.]
‘Beautiful’ by Hollie McNish: [Ed’s note: a poem.] “If the girl who made your skirt’s not paid/you cannot say it’s beautiful…” (16 May – 0:30-minute video).
Giving everyone in Turkey’s garment industry a voice and a platform: “Turkey has had to absorb three million Syrian refugees. Many are working in the footwear and garment sector and are hugely vulnerable to exploitation. That needs to be acknowledged” (16 May). [Ed’s note: from the ETI blog.]
Sustainable Fashion Blueprint 2018: “The Sustainable Fashion Blueprint 2018 report was created to (1) briefly review the impact that the fashion industry has on the environment and society, and gauge consumers’ perception of the fashion industry, (2) highlight the varying definitions of sustainable fashion, (3) summarize the existing sustainable business initiatives and the positive and negative impact each can have on the environment and society, and (4) outline action items for businesses and consumers that want to change the impact they have on the environment and society” (15 May). [Ed’s note: from Cambridge University Judge Business School.]
Forced labour in Pakistan: “Forced labour persists in all forms in almost all spheres of life in Pakistan. It is a sort of orderly suppression, in which the powerful develop vicious circles and the weak turn into imprisoned toilers, deprived of all fundamental human rights” (15 May).
Secrecy is never in fashion: “Voluntarism [with regard to supply chain transparency] has its limits. The EU Parliament recognized this in 2017 and called for binding due diligence obligations, but to date, no such proposal from the European Commission has followed. Individual countries should take the initiative [and] introduce legislation to ensure that apparel companies doing business there follow some basic degree of transparency and also conduct rigorous human rights checks” (15 May).
ILO, IHKIB to work together in Turkey to provide decent work for Syrian refugees: “The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Istanbul Apparel Exporters’ Association (IHKIB) are working together under a cooperation protocol to create decent work for Syrians and host communities in the apparel industry, and support an enabling environment for economic growth” (15 May).
Vegan fashion – the latest craze in ethical consumption? “[An] investigation on consumers’ willingness to pay a premium price for sustainable fashion goods has become crucial for fashion brands: is it because they understand the ecological value of sustainable products, or is it just a new way of flamboyancy and status seeking behaviour?” (15 May). [Ed’s note: the article points to a book attempting to answer this question – Models for Sustainable Framework in Luxury Fashion (see here). See also an academic article by the authors tackling this same issue here.]
U.S. YouTube star unveils trainers with a modern slavery twist: “Known for unveiling the latest sneakers from Adidas and Nike on his YouTube channel, American vlogger Jacques Slade has unboxed a pair of trainers with a twist - they highlight modern slavery” (15 May). [Ed’s note: the video is part of the ‘Unboxing the real price of sneakers’ campaign by Thomson Reuters Foundation. See the video here.]
Redress Design Award 2018 finalists unveiled: “11 finalists have been announced for the Redress Design Award 2018. Each representing their respective regions, the designers embody a growing movement to bring textile waste back into fashion and take the circular economy mainstream” (15 May).
European Commissioner for Competition says ‘fashion is changing’: “[Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit:] “Because you can feel, in this room, that fashion is changing. The lone voices that have urged the industry to be more sustainable are coming together in harmony here. Encouraged by consumers who want to be told what price others have paid for the clothes that they wear”” (15 May).
“Eco-conspicuous versus eco-conscious consumption: co-creating a new definition of luxury and fashion”: “Are consumers ready to pay a lot to be simple because they understand the value of sustainable products or is it just another means of flamboyancy?” (22 Feb). [Ed’s note: an academic article.]
CONFERENCES & SEMINARS
[New listings or updated information marked with *]
* 25 May, Shanghai: ACTAsia’s Fur Free and Sustainable Fashion Gala: “Fur-free fashion designers and retailers from across the world join forces with their Chinese colleagues.”
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.”
* 30 May, webinar: Goals, Gains & Gambling on the Status Quo: “Join [Sourcing Journal] for a discussion about how Gildan and VF Corporation have approached some of the common challenges facing the industry in [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.”
4 – 7 June, Vancouver: Sustainable Brands ‘18: Redesigning the Good Life: “Join the world’s leading experts … and learn how to redesign your product and service offerings for a changing vision of The Good Life.”
* 12 June, London: FashMash Pioneers: Sustainability applied to fast fashion with H&M: “[A] deep dive on what exactly this means with Anna Gedda, head of sustainability at [H&M].”
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.”
* 12 – 13 June, Amsterdam: Unleash Opportunity, by Amfori: “[A]n award-winning and internationally-recognised conference. Bringing together 400+ participants the conference stands at the largest platform dedicated to sustainable trade.”
* 12 – 15 June, Florence, Italy: 303 Tuscans Ethical Fashion: A conference about ethical fashion during Pitti Uomo 94.
* 15 June, London: Bioresponsive E-Textiles and 3D Printing in Fashion: “A group exhibition of Bioresponsive E-Textiles and 3D Printing in Fashion.”
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.”
21 June, Zeist, the Netherlands: Workshop ‘Due Diligence in your purchasing practices’: “How do companies improve their purchasing practices? In a short session Modint and Solidaridad will help companies further in how to embed due diligence in your purchasing practices.”
* 21 June, London: Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2108 Summit: “This year, we ask; How do we reinvent the systems of today so that they are fit for tomorrow?”
27 June, London: Sustainable Supply Chains 2018: “Aligning procurement & supplier engagement practices with sustainability strategy.”
* 16 August, London: Bare Fashion, London’s first vegan fashion show: “[W]ill feature autumn clothing lines from vegan, sustainable and ethical brands from the UK and beyond”
22 – 24 October, Milan: 2018 Textile Sustainability Conference: United in Action Accelerating Sustainability in Textiles & Fashion: Textile Exchange’s 2018 Textile Sustainability Conference.
31 October – 01 November, London: ‘What’s Going On? A Discourse on Fashion, Design and Sustainability’: “The Global Fashion Conference is a bi-annual international conference, which aims to contribute to a multidisciplinary approach to fashion studies and brings together academia and industry, promoting a more sustainable model of development.”
* 13 – 14 November, Los Angeles: Remode: The premier event for disruptive and sustainable fashion: “[H]ear from fashion’s leading innovators, gain access to a collaborative network of relevant people and resources, and leave with an actionable plan for innovation and growth.”
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Bangladesh Alliance factories completing upgrades 16 May to 23 May: Yunusco (BD), Nalin Tex, Univogue Garments Co., Adury Knit Composite, Thermax Yarn Dyeing, Givensee Garments, Farmin Apparels, Farmin Fashion Design, Adury Apparels, Pacific Jeans, Next Collections, Desh Garments (23 May). [Ed’s note: this list is gleaned from the Bangladesh Alliance Twitter feed.]
Compensation may increase in Bangladesh labour law: “The government and representatives of factory owners and workers have reached a consensus on raising compensation for workplace death and injury in the labour law … Meeting sources, however, declined to make the proposed amount public” (20 May).
Living wage in RMG sector: Some conceptual issues: “The estimation of living wage for Bangladesh, as per the Asia Floor Wage in terms of the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), was Tk 25,687 in 2013, Tk 29,422 in 2015, and Tk 37,661 [US$450.35] in 2017” (19 May).
Apparel workers demand pending wages, festival allowance by Ramadan 20: “Apparel workers on Friday [18 May] demanded speedy action over awarding a wage board for them as they alleged dillydally in the wage board process” (19 May).
Are machines taking over the jobs of female garment workers? ““I know of at least four sweater factories that laid off workers in the last few months because they got (electronic) jacquard machines to do the knitting,” says Abu Shama Aminul Islam, the organising secretary of labour rights organisation Bangladesh Garments Sramik Samhati. “Each of these machines do the work of eight labourers. One factory got rid of 50 of its workers, for example”” (18 May).
Govt sets Tk 5,710 as minimum wage for cotton textile workers: “The government has set Tk 5,710 [US$67.32] as gross monthly minimum pay for the cotton textile sector workers increasing it from Tk 3,302 which was set in 2011” (18 May).
Accord’s extension runs into trouble: “The Accord’s bid to prolong its stay in Bangladesh became uncertain after the High Court yesterday [16 May] extended its restraining order on the government from extending the inspection agency's tenure by three more months” (17 May).
Building better industrial relations through conciliation: “30 Department of Labour officials have been trained and coached on the techniques and approaches of conciliation by ILO’s International Training Centre (ITC). They will now apply these newly learnt skills to settle labour disputes and contribute to improved industrial relations” (16 May).
RMG labour rights bodies demand Tk 16,000 as minimum wage: “Labour rights bodies of the readymade garment sector have demanded fixing Tk 16,000 as minimum wage and ensuring yearly increment of 10 per cent for RMG workers before June” (16 May).
Improve labour situation to attain SDG goals: “Experts at a dialogue on Tuesday [15 May] said that the government would have to improve the labour standard and implement labour laws to attain the sustainable development goals by 2030 as well as to get the GSP Plus benefit in the European market after the Bangladesh’s graduation from the least developed country to a middle income one” (16 May).
Labour law amendment key to GSP Plus: economist: “Bangladesh would have to raise its labour law to international standards and implement it properly to obtain the GSP plus status following its graduation from the least developed country category, said Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)” (16 May).
Govt to allow inspection of DIFE in EPZs: “The government has decided to bring factories in the country’s Export Processing Zones within the purview of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments under the labour law” (16 May).
Bangladesh needs to improve labour standard: CPD: “Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) on Tuesday [15 May] suggested that Bangladesh should improve its labour standard in line with ILO conventions to avail of GSP-plus facilities in the European Union (EU) market to face the post-LDC graduation challenges” (15 May).
Five garments receive financial support for remediation: “Five garment factories have received financial support worth Tk 40 million [US$472,634] for remediation purpose from Accord. The fund was provided under the EU based apparel brand’s ‘Inactive Factory Remediation Fund’, according to a statement” (15 May). [Ed’s note: see press release from the Accord here.]
Trade unions to protect workers’ right, not for creating anarchy: Minister: “Trade union is not meant to carry out subversive activities instead it is to protect the rights of workers, Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan said today [13 May]” (13 May).
Dark factories: labour exploitation in Britain’s garment industry: “Part of Leicester’s garment industry has become detached from UK employment law, “a country within a country”, as one factory owner puts it, where “£5 an hour is considered the top wage”, even though that is illegal” (17 May – subscription required to read article).
Factory workers to march to ministry after salaries unpaid: “Aggrieved workers of First Gawon Apparel (Cambodia) plan to march to the offices of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MLVT) again on Tuesday, seeking a solution from the ministry in a salary dispute that has dragged on for more than five months” (22 May).
NSSF will sue union president: “The National Social Security Fund on Saturday said that a formal complaint will be filed against Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, over criticism of the fund’s mishandling of fainting factory workers” (21 May).
GMAC says new labour policy could hurt business: “The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia yesterday issued a statement asking for the Labour Ministry to reconsider its intent to amend article 89 concerning worker protection and severance pay” (18 May).
Workers protest over sacked rep: “Nearly 1,000 workers at the Cheng Shi Xin Manufacturing company in Takeo province’s Bati district yesterday [17 May] staged a walkout after their representative, who was organising a union, was fired” (18 May).
No solution at Gawon meet after no-show: “The second meeting between First Gawon Apparel (Cambodia) and 70 aggrieved workers failed to find a resolution on Thursday [17 May] after the factory owner sent only a representative” (18 May).
Garment workers resume protests: “Hundreds of garment workers formerly employed at the Dai Young factory … protested yesterday after their bankrupt employer tried to force them to thumbprint a document recognising the bankruptcy in a bid to evade paying owed severance” (17 May).
Union group fears for future of EU trade deal: “The Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) on Wednesday [16 May] issued a statement expressing its concern that the upcoming election will impact garment workers, and that if the political climate isn’t improved they could face dire consequences in the form of sanctions or boycotts” (17 May).
Labour reviewing short-term contracts: “The Ministry of Labour is reviewing the laws governing short-term contracts with a view to improve terms and conditions and reduce worker exploitation” (15 May).
Garment protest continues: “Workers at a South Korean-owned garment factory [Dai Young (Cambodia)] are continuing to protest for their March salary after the company abruptly shut down operations last month” (16 May).
Ethiopian unions pitch for minimum wage in garment sector: “Garment and textile workers are organizing to improve their pay. They are amongst the least paid in the country, often earning less than $1.00 per day” (17 May).
Fighting for rights of India’s women garment workers: ““I spent 12 years of my life working and living in this factory. And yet I'm still not on the payroll of this factory. Nor am I identified as a worker”” (15 May).
Garment workers win back transport facility: “The Garment and Fashion Workers Union … was able to put pressure on the Celebrity Fashions Ltd management, that manufactures for well known international brands and of the Indian Terrain, to acknowledge its mistake in withdrawing bus facility to 6 young women workers from a village more than 100 km from the Madras Export Processing Zone SEZ, where the factory is located” (15 May).
Vasan urges govt. to help powerloom workers: “With powerloom workers engaged in agitations since April 30, Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) leader G.K. Vasan on Sunday urged the [Tamil Nadu] State government to take steps to protect their livelihood” (14 May).
Middle East & North Africa
Textile unions continue to progress in organizing and bargaining: “IndustrtiALL Global Union‘s textile and garment affiliates from MENA region’s main producer countries Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco reported tangible progress in organizing and collective bargaining at a meeting at Tunisian capital, Tunis, on 3-4 May 2018. With renewed determination, affiliates developed further plans for important actions in the textile and garment supply chain” (18 May).
Striking workers don’t need to come back: Korean wig factory: “South Korean wig factory Macdo said it will provide paid leave to all striking workers because it had subcontracted out its orders to other factories during the ongoing labour dispute” (21 May).
Minimum wage hike only a first step, labor activists say: “As Myanmar’s new daily minimum wage of 4,800 kyats (USD3.50) takes effect, labor-rights advocates are emphasizing that further steps are needed, including monitoring to ensure that workers are actually being paid the full amount, and that their basic needs are being met” (16 May).
‘Large factories, other workplaces should set up day care centres’: “Speakers at a meeting of Shura Hamdard’s Karachi chapter has urged the government to make it mandatory for the workplaces and factories having 250 or more employees to establish “Day Care Centres for Children” for women employees” (15 May).
Goods burnt in Lahore factory fire: “Goods worth millions of rupees were reduced to ashes when a fire broke out in a garment factory in North Cantt area [in Lahore] on Sunday [13 May]” (14 May).
Partnership hopes to develop – and drive adoption of – more sustainable nylon: “[C]ompanies [including Aquafil, Genomatica, Carvico, and Balsan] have come together in an effort dubbed Project Effective, a collaboration meant to produce more sustainable fibers and plastics for commercial use – and to increase adoption of sustainable materials – by using renewable feedstocks and bio based technologies” (22 May).
Birla Cellulose, ISKO and Lenzing Group join the ZDHC: “[T]he ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme welcomes two leading fibre producers and a major denim manufacturer to its group of Contributors” (22 May).
How Ahmedabad-based Arvind Ltd is solving the water crisis in India, one pair of jeans at a time: “Listed denim fabric giant Arvind Ltd is creating sustainable, ‘green jeans’ in order to reduce use of water and other resources, thus elevating the water crisis in India” (21 May).
CanopyStyle audit expels Sateri suppliers: “[T]wo of [Shanghai-based Sateri’s] suppliers have been removed from its supply chain, as it appears they have been sourcing wood pulp (needed to make viscose which is based on cellulose) from potentially endangered or ancient forests” (21 May). [Ed’s note: Sateri notes on its website: “We scrutinise our suppliers to verify they meet the standards set out in our Sustainability Policy and Pulp Sourcing Policy.”]
Metsä Group expands with new plant and innovation arm: “Finnish forest industry products company, the Metsä Group, has announced steps towards expanding its portfolio of wood based products and plans to build a demonstration plant for the production of textile fibres made from pulp” (21 May).
Bangladeshi denim embraces green route: ““Five years back, we were using 60 litres of water to make a single piece of denim garment," says Mostafiz Uddin, founder and CEO of Bangladesh Denim Expo, and managing director of Bangladesh Denim Expert Ltd. With the installation of modern equipment, the need has now dropped to 14-25 litres apiece” (20 May). [Ed’s note: article also mentions Jeanologia, Pacific Jeans, Orta, and Landes Global.]
How this startup went from producing a synthetic spider silk to partnering with fashion icons: “[Bolt Thread’s] mission and materials have garnered attention from the fashion industry and landed it partnerships with brands such as Patagonia, Best Made and Stella McCartney” (19 May).
Apjet to show dry plasma process for fabrics at Techtextil: “Apjet’s patented dry plasma process removes water from the finishing process and significantly reduces the energy and chemicals needed to achieve a durable, high performance” (18 May).
Li & Fung Group CEO Spencer Fung pushes for sustainability in fashion: “"Our vision is to create the supply chain of the future to help our customers navigate the digital economy and to improve the lives of a billion people in the supply chain. Through speed, innovation and digitalisation we are enabling a digital supply chain that allows for end-to-end visibility and data” (18 May).
Textile & dyeing projects unwelcome because of environmental risks: “Local authorities [in Vietnam] have become ‘reluctant’ to license textile and dyeing projects because of the concern about pollution. While they compete fiercely with each other to attract investment projects to their localities, they tend to ignore textile and dyeing projects” (17 May).
Life’s a gas with methane-derived biopolyester: “Set before the backdrop of ever-growing concern regarding microfibre pollution and its potential impact on the world’s oceans, Mango Materials is hoping to provide the textile industry with an alternative to traditional polyester through its fully-biodegradable PHA fibre” (17 May).
Archroma partners up with the House of Denim Foundation: “Archroma, the global colour and specialty chemicals company, has entered into a partnership with the House of Denim Foundation” (17 May). [Ed’s note: House of Denim is non-profit organization that initiates collaborative projects to help make the global denim industry more responsible and sustainable.]
Gore Fabrics Joins Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s “Make Fashion Circular” Initiative: “Gore Fabrics is joining forces with some 20 global brands in a commitment to develop new pathways for the textile industry informed by the principles of a circular economy” (16 May).
Steps to cut carbon footprint must for water security: “Textile industry processes alone consume 69 percent of the industrial water used in Pakistan. This industry discharges 2280 million cubic meters of waste water annually. What is more disturbing is that only one percent of this water is treated” (16 May).
New website to list ‘dubious’ foreign garment buyers: “The Tirupur Exporters and Manufacturers Association (TEAMA) is all set to launch a website in the next few days to highlight the names of ‘dubious’ foreign garment buyers and buying agents who had defaulted payments for orders placed with Tirupur knitwear cluster” (16 May).
PILI, leader in the production of biotech dyes, obtains $3 million in funding to accelerate the development of its first products: “This funding allows [PILI] to strengthen its technological lead and fermentation processes to produce high-performance biobased dyes and pigments and thereby reduce the environmental impact of chemistry, particularly used in textile” (16 May).
EFI unveils hybrid inkjet and greener textile pigments: “Electronics For Imaging [has developed] pigment ink technology [which] gives users a faster, environmentally friendly production process with inline polymerisation that requires less water, less energy and less processing time, with no washing or steaming needed” (15 May). [Ed’s note: for direct-to-textile production.]
Bandi river’s water unfit for agricultural and domestic purpose, says NGT monitoring committee: “A monitoring committee, appointed by the principal bench of National Green Tribunal, in its report has stated that industrial pollutants from textile units in Pali [in Rajasthan] being discharged into Bandi river have magnified the level of pollution and made the water unfit for agricultural and domestic use” (14 May).
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.