THIS ISSUE

Brands in the news this issue include: H&M (losing millennials in Singapore and Malaysia, and an employee protest in NYC), Asos (training designers in circular design), Gucci (banning angora), PVH (signing up to three global circular fashion initiatives), and Clarks (CEO resigning over business ethics).

Reports released:

In general news, Australia took a step closer to a modern slavery law, the Clean Clothes Campaign voiced doubts over Germany’s new ‘Green Button’ seal, a new website for sourcing sustainable cotton was launched, and yet another article on the demise of animal leather.

In the supply chain, Bangladesh extended RMG factory remediation and called for a price hike of apparel products, another crash involving garment workers injured 13 in Cambodia, Guangdong raised minimum wages for the first time in three years, and an Indian manufacturer at the centre of a critical NGO report signed an MOU with a local trade union to improve conditions.

In manufacturing, an Indian organisation has stepped up the fight to prevent companies from selling fake khadi (which should be handwoven).

Quotes of the week:

  • “The whole mentality that we should buy more because it’s cheap just didn’t seem right any more.” Singaporean Melissa Chi, on why she rarely wears fast-fashion items any more (28 Jun).
  • “A survey by fire and emergency services of Surat Municipal Corporation [in India] revealed that out of 145 textile units, none had made adequate provisions for fire safety.” Results of inspections carried out in the wake of a fire earlier this month (27 Jun).
  • “Tireless efforts by animal rights groups, as well as journalists, are exposing the true cost of these cruel and environmentally unsustainable products.” Ethical lifestyle consultant and blogger Lara Balsam on the future of leather (22 Jun).

By Stephen Frost, CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Burberry speaks at BCI Global Cotton conference in Brussels: “As part of our commitment to driving positive change through all Burberry products, we are aiming to source 100% of our cotton through the Better Cotton Initiative by 2022” (28 Jun).

Why fast-fashion brands like H&M are losing millennial customers in Malaysia and Singapore: “Today, however, [Singaporean Melissa] Chi rarely wears fast-fashion items, H&M or otherwise. Since she became a convert to sustainable living two years ago, she has learned just how damaging the fast-fashion industry is for the environment” (28 Jun).

7 ethical streetwear brands for the woke hypebeast: “Street-appropriate clothes for people who care about garment laborers and the planet [CHNGE, Noah, Homie, Catching A Fish In Norway, Heron Preston, Back Beat Rags, and Christopher Raeburn] (27 Jun).

H&M workers protest unfair hours, stagnant wages at its NYC Herald Square flagship store: “About 100 H&M employees demonstrated outside its Herald Square flagship store Wednesday seeking guaranteed hours for part-timers, a 50-cent-an-hour raise for staffers who’ve been with the fast-fashion retailer for more than three years, and more time between shifts for workers who both close and open stores” (27 Jun). [Ed’s note: see more pics of protest on Twitter here. See H&M’s response here: “At the moment, we are renegotiating our contract with UFCW local 1102 in order to best meet those needs.”]

ASOS partners with Centre for Sustainable Fashion for pilot circular design course: “Last year, ASOS pledged to deliver the training as part of its 2020 Circular Fashion Commitments, which were signed at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in conjunction with Global Fashion Agenda. The bespoke course created by CSF will engage ASOS designers in pioneering circular design techniques and best-practice, meaning products can be designed in a way that considers their whole lifecycle” (27 Jun).

Gucci bans angora wool after PETA US appeal: “After being contacted by PETA US, Gucci – which went fur-free in 2017 after more than 20 years of PETA US protests – has banned angora wool. The move comes after a PETA exposé revealed that live rabbits’ fur is ripped out on angora farms as the animals scream in pain” (27 Jun).

PVH accelerating adoption of circularity to reduce waste in apparel industry: “[PVH has] announced its global participation in three important initiatives focused on accelerating the transition to a sustainable fashion industry based on circular economy principles … the Global Fashion Agenda, Fashion for Good and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Make Fashion Circular Initiative” (26 Jun). [Ed’s note: see also story here from Fashion For Good.]

Clarks boss resigns following investigation: “The boss of Clarks has resigned following an investigation into complaints that he acted contrary to the shoe-maker’s business ethics” (25 Jun).

NEWS & REPORTS

GRI Standards update: Leading reporting practice in occupational health and safety management, and water stewardship: “The new Standard aligns with key international instruments from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and with ISO 45001. And, in accordance with due process, the update was carried out by a diverse group of stakeholders that brought a combination of knowledge and experience in occupational health and safety. Chaired by Dr. Sharron O’Neil, from the University of New South Wales, Australia, the Project Working Group included representatives from businesses, labor, civil society, mediating institutions and investors. Examples included Heineken, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), ILO, the US Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the Canadian Labor Congress, and the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability (CSHS), among many others. Read the full list of members here” (28 Jun).

Modern slavery bill in Australia welcomed, but no penalties for breaching act: “Bill requires about 3,000 companies to publish annual statements on measures taken to address modern slavery.” See also: Is Australia's anti-slavery bill tough enough? from Thomson Reuters Foundation (28 Jun). [Ed’s note: text etc. available here.]

Reducing workplace verbal abuse in Bangladesh factories: Two new research papers from Tufts University Labor Lab indicates light-touch worker engagement can be effectively used to increase factory manager interest and willingness to act on a range of issues related to working conditions (28 Jun).

German minister says ‘Green Button’ certification for textiles will be introduced soon: Development Minister Gerd Müller plans to introduce the ‘Green Button [Grüner Knopf]’ seal, or certification, for textiles. However, Kampagne für Saubere Kleidung (the Clean Clothes Campaign in Germany) warns of the danger of dilution because it is still unclear upon what standards the seal is based (28 Jun – in German).

Unethical fast fashion: if we don’t buy it, they won’t make it, it’s that simple: “An argument here may be that fashion businesses are responsible for creating the culture of disposable fashion and overconsumption. In my opinion, the customers already had these buying habits, the fashion companies only heightened them” (27 Jun).

The future of recycled cotton denim leans on innovation: “Everything old is new again, at least where the denim industry is concerned. Mills are churning out fabrics made from castoff clothing and brands and retailers are relishing these so-called “recycled” jeans as they move from niche to norm” (27 Jun). [Ed’s note: article mentions Kilim, Orta, Candiani, Lenzing, Tavex, the Arcadia Group, Asos, Gap, Nudie Jeans, Mud Jeans, Lindex, and H&M.]

CottonUP: A practical guide to sourcing more sustainable cotton: [Ed’s note: a new website from Forum for the Future.] “Is your business looking to source more sustainable cotton? Whether you’re a senior manager on a mission or a buyer with targets to hit, CottonUP is here to help. This interactive guide answers three big questions about sustainable cotton: why it’s important, what you need to know and do, and how to get started” (27 Jun).

Global initiatives failing to stop labour abuses in India, activists say: “[Thomson Reuters Foundation reports] international efforts to make it easier for garment workers in India to speak out against sexual harassment, dangerous working conditions and abuses are failing, campaigners said on Tuesday” (27 Jun). [Ed’s note: based on a report arguing ETI and SAI grievance mechanism are failing, see here, to which ETI has responded, here.]

ZDHC publishes Wastewater Treatment Technologies Document for the apparel, textile and footwear industry: “[T]he ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme [has released] the ZDHC Wastewater Treatment Technologies document that can be used as guidance to improve the quality of wastewater discharge in the apparel, textile and footwear industry” (27 Jun).

Loved clothes last, thanks to artificial intelligence: “Save Your Wardrobe (SYW) co-founder, Hasna Kourda, an Economics graduate and fashion professional says, ‘Studies suggest that we wear only 20% of our wardrobe. We want to rally people around the idea that it is high time for a change around fashion consumption and the tech we are using and digitising wardrobes are the enablers to achieve our mission’” (27 Jun).

Sustainable fashion pioneer Christina Dean is running out of patience: “Christina Dean is running out of patience. And rightly so. The founder of Redress, a Hong Kong-based NGO that strives to change the way we consume clothes, has seen the destruction caused by the fashion industry first-hand—namely indescribable amounts of waste” (26 Jun).

How fast fashion can slow its destructive pace: “Brands need to address chemicals, use of textiles waste and synthetic fabrics that don’t break down and unfair working environments in the clothing industry head-on” (26 Jun).

Uzbek Farmer: I would be glad to refuse to grow cocoons: “Uzbekistan, a leading producer of silk cocoons, relies on forced labor for their production, which violates the rights of farmers and public-sector workers and exploits the vulnerability of the rural poor” (26 Jun).

Sustainability standards driving impact for women in global supply chains: “During a recent session at the Global Sustainability Standards Conference in São Paulo [ISEAL] discussed several entry points for sustainability standards and MSIs to further invest in progress on gender” (25 Jun). [Ed’s note: ISEAL is launching a Gender Working Group for sustainability standards in partnership with BSR’s HERproject with support from the C&A Foundation.]

Weaving success through organic cotton: “Organic cotton is that emerging narrative, which can bring sustainable and regenerative practices into cotton farming. This means moving it away from the current predominantly monocultural and intensive input approach, which strips the soil of its fertility, and is financially burdensome for the farmers. And India is leading the way for that change” (25 Jun). [Ed’s note: authored by the Head of Sustainable Raw Materials, C&A Foundation.]

Ten ways to make fashion greener: [Ed’s note: from The Guardian, and includes more natural colours, laws about washing machines, wool becoming luxury, 3D printing and clothes renting.] (24 Jun).

Big brands: the missing voice in the fight to end gender-based violence at work: “Despite research by the ILO and others showing patterns of gender-based violence across global value chains and sectors including garment, hospitality, domestic work, and others, only a handful of corporate voices have spoken out in support of a convention – most recently from Gap and H&M” (22 Jun).

The future of leather is plant-based: “While recent triumphs in anti-fur initiatives have raised the spirits of animal lovers around the globe, many are waking up to the ethical and animal welfare issues of the leather industry” (22 Jun). [Ed’s note: article covers pineapple, wood, cork, kapok, and mushroom, and mentions Modern Meadow, Ananas Anam, Allbirds, Vans, Chanel, Louboutin, Bourgeois Boheme, Po-Zu, Flocus Pro, Bolt Threads, and Mycoworks.]

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Bangladesh extends RMG factory remediation deadline to Dec: “The Bangladesh Government last week extended the deadline for completing remediation works in the readymade garment (RMG) factories, which are being inspected under the joint initiative of the government and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), from April 30 to December this year after almost all the factories missed the deadline” (27 Jun).

Bangladesh calls for price hike of apparel products: “Bangladesh on Monday called for increasing prices of its apparel products considering huge investment made by apparel manufacturers that helped improved safety measures and working environment” (25 Jun).

Cambodia

Garment workers injured in crash: “At least 13 people were injured Monday evening [25 Jun] after a drunk driver smashed his car into a truck transporting garment workers along National Road 2 in Takeo province’s Bati district” (27 Jun).

China

Guangdong increases minimum wage for first time in three years: “The monthly minimum wage in the provincial capital Guangzhou will increase by about ten percent from the 1,895 yuan to 2,100 yuan, bringing it more in line with Shenzhen (2,200 yuan) … monthly minimum wage rate in second-tier cities like Dongguan, Foshan and Zhuhai will increase from 1,510 yuan to 1,720” (24 Jun).

India

‘No textile unit has adequate fire safety equipment’: “A survey by fire and emergency services of Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) at Pandesara GIDC revealed that out of 145 textile units, none had made adequate provisions for fire safety” (27 Jun).

Workers of Maddur’s Shahi Exports complain of harassment, walk out of factory in protest: “Around 2,000 workers of a unit of Shahi Exports at Maddur in Mandya district, walked out of the factory to protest against the management on June 23, 2018. The protest that was staged demanding minimum wages, brought out the level of harassment that the women working in the factory face” (26 Jun).

Indian manufacturer at centre of WRC investigation signs MOU with garment union: [Ed’s note: last week, a report by the Worker Rights Consortium alleged a ‘campaign of vicious repression’ against workers in a factory operated by Shahi Exports. This week (on 25 Jun), Shahi and the Karnataka Garment Workers Union (KOOGU) signed a memorandum of understanding (which you can see in full here) addressing the issues, stating management does not oppose collective bargaining, condemns violent acts by officers of the factory in question (Unit 8), recognises workers’ right to unionise, unfairly dismissed workers to be reinstated, management and KOOGU) to hold monthly meetings on working conditions. See also this update from WRC, a letter on 26 Jun outlining steps Columbia and other brands must now take – including termination of managers responsible for violence, reinstatement and compensation, and so on.] (25 Jun).

MANUFACTURERS

Is spider silk the performance fabric of the future? “This is the Bay Area headquarters of Bolt Threads, the fast-growing materials innovation company best known for making a synthetic spider silk, called Microsilk; it’s a fabric that’s been called “stronger than steel and more tear-resistant than Kevlar.” It’s spider silk, sans the spider” (26 Jun).

KVIC asks 200 entities not to use ‘handwoven’ without approval: “The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has asked around 200 entities not to use terms like ‘handwoven, handspun and woven’ in handlooms without its prior permission. It is expanding its fight to protect the khadi trademark. It has also asked licensee companies to pledge a minimum guaranteed amount every month from the sale of such products” (26 Jun).

Archroma to show denim solutions at DenimsandJeans Vietnam: “Archroma, a leader in colour and specialty chemicals, will present its innovative and sustainable denim solutions for manufacturers and brands at DenimsandJeans Vietnam 2018 from Wednesday” (26 Jun).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

3 – 5 July, Berlin: Ethical Fashion Show Berlin: “The Ethical Fashion Show Berlin stands for urban zeitgeist, sustainable lifestyle and fashion.”

3 – 5 July, Berlin: Greenshowroom: “Like no other fashion event in Europe, the Greenshowroom stands for elegant designs and sustainable high-grade materials.”

18 – 19 July, London: The London Textile Fair: With a new section completely dedicated to sustainable fabrics.

24 July, New York City: Footwear Sourcing and Innovation Summit: Includes themes such as innovation in sustainable materials and production.

25 -26 July, London: Jacket Required: Spotlighting the growing emphasis and importance placed on sustainability; see, for example, the sustainable brands showing (Fjällräven, Re:Sustain, Tretorn, Sandqvist, Ohmme, et. al.).

28 July, New York City: Fashion for Freedom: Free The Slaves teams up with Fashion Revolution USA to fight for a slavery-free fashion industry

28 – 30 July, Hofheim-Wallau, Germany: Innatex (Sustainable Textiles): “Innatex stresses the importance not only of ecological factors in the supply chain, but also social aspects.”

01 August, São Paulo, Brazil: SAC & ZDHC Manufacturer Forum: The first such forum in Brazil.

12 – 14 August, Las Vegas: Sourcing at Magic: “The show will mainly emphasise on helping the fashion industry reduce its impact on the environment with new design opportunities that meet market demand for sustainable fabric and fibres.”

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.”

05 September, Hong Kong: Manufacturer Forum: The first SAC & ZDHC Manufacturer Forum in Hong Kong.

* 10 – 11 October, London: 13th Responsible Supply Chain Summit Europe: “focus on the emerging technologies, innovations and collaborations critical to sustainable, cost-effective supply chain strategies.”

22 – 24 October, Milan: 2018 Textile Sustainability Conference: United by Action: Accelerating Sustainability in Textiles & Fashion: Textile Exchange’s 2018 Textile Sustainability Conference. (See agenda update here.)

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.”

13 – 14 November, San Diego: 2nd Responsible Busin4ess Summit West: “It is imperative to advance ethical leadership in today's age of digital disruption. Failure to do so will result in loss of customer trust, shareholder value and ultimately, profits.” Hosted by Ethical Corporation.

(Photo by Silvia & FrankCCO)

Disclaimer: The Fashion Sustainability Week in Review (FSWIR) is a twice-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 International or any individual associated with the company.

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