THIS ISSUE

Brands in the news this issue include: H&M (improving wage management systems in factories), PVH, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, JC Penney, the Children’s Place, and H&M (sourcing in Ethiopia, where wages can be as low as $1/day), Salvatore Ferragamo (eco-friendly shoe), Wolford (C2C leggings and pullovers), Triarchy Denim (closing down to rethink sustainability), Eileen Fisher (recycling), Makia (ditching disposable e-commerce packaging), and Gap (improving factory management in Vietnam).

Reports released:

In general news: ZDHC expands to cellulosic fibre production and announces a new portal to improve wastewater quality, momentum builds in NYC to ban fur sales, more questions raised about pride collections, a call for brands to step up and keep women safe in factories, Romania’s garment industry battling in the face of Brexit, and research into converting feathers into fibre.

In the supply chain: Bangladesh workers’ calls for tripling the minimum wage gains internal and external support (despite all parties failing to submit wage proposals to the wage board on Sunday), another transport accident in Cambodia as the PM pressures garment workers to vote for him, and an initiative in Jordan for migrant workers.

In manufacturing: Metalbottoni continues to roll out more sustainable buttons and accessories, while Isko pushes for even green jeans.

Quotes of the week:

  • “[Los Angeles city officials] wouldn’t grant permits to build [water treatment facilities on site] because less water consumption would mean lower water bills.” Adam Taubenfligel, at Triarchy Denim, on why LA factories and laundries in Triarchy’s supply chain weren’t conserving water (06 Jul).
  • “The situation [in Bangladesh] hasn’t changed much since the collapse of Rana Plaza in Dhaka, in April 2013, which killed 1,127 people. Conditions are still unacceptable and antiquated in general, despite the efforts from big western trade names and the International Labour Organisation.” Jean-François Limantour, General Representative of the French Union of the Fashion and Apparel Industries and the European Association of the Apparel Industry (05 Jul).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

New wage management systems improve work environment: “H&M group helps suppliers around the world to implement improved wage management systems in textile factories. This leads to better work environment as well as fairer wages – and in turn more motivated employees, which many employers within the textile industry realize is key to business success” (09 Jul). [Ed’s note: press release from H&M, focusing on the company’s work with Ekpen Tekstil in Turkey.]

Ethiopia touts good conditions in factories for brands like H&M and Calvin Klein, but workers scrape by on $1 a day: “The Hawassa Industrial Park in Ethiopia is the new face of the garment industry’s makeover. It has attracted PVH, one of the largest apparel companies in the world, whose brands include Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, along with JC Penney, the Children’s Place, and H&M, among others” (08 Jul).

Ferragamo’s new eco-friendly shoe: “Based on the shoe the house first created for American singer and Wizard of Oz actress Judy Garland in 1932, this latest incarnation is still a hand-finished platform, but the suede has been replaced with organic crochet work (certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard), dyed with natural colours, and lined in leather that was finished using the Layertech technology, with zero water consumption and carbon dioxide-emission” (08 Jul).

For healthy soil, Wrangler’s sustainability practices go beyond just jeans: “Healthy soil is at the center of all cotton-based products, so Wrangler went back to the drawing board to help its supply chain of U.S. growers produce sustainable cotton” (06 Jul). [Ed’s note: the report cited is called “From Burden to Benefit, and you can download it here.]

Wolford launches collection using responsible materials: “Wolford, a leading brand for luxurious legwear, exclusive lingerie, and high-quality bodywear, will offer a sneak peek into the launch of Wolford’s Aurora collection of leggings and pullovers that are Cradle to Cradle gold certified, at Interfilière Paris, which takes place from 7-9 July” (06 Jul).

Why Triarchy Denim shuttered to make a more sustainable comeback: “In a retail age that favors low costs, low risk and fast fashion, few denim companies—or any type of company—would ever dream of stepping back from the marketplace to unplug, regroup and attempt a comeback as a sustainable alternative. But that’s exactly what the sibling team behind Triarchy Denim did” (06 Jul).

Eileen Fisher helps make the eco-fashion dream of circularity come true: “Eileen Fisher’s Tiny Factory, located in Irvington, New York, is worth taking a close look at. Inside, an elaborate system of organizing, sorting, cataloguing and storing old clothing makes possible the construction of the new pieces that comprise the brand’s upcycled Resewn collection. Though the facility is called the “Tiny Factory,” the scale of the endeavor – which involves thousands of garments a year – feels anything but small” (06 Jul).

Packaging circularity from start to Finnish: “Finnish apparel firm Makia has become the latest brand to ditch typical disposable e-commerce packaging and move to a reusable alternative made possible through a newly-established partnership with RePack” (05 Jul).

Patagonia fans are ‘part of the mission’ to leave the planet better than they found it: ““You get so much more than just a jacket. You get that lifestyle mentality”” (05 Jul).

Gap Inc. and suppliers talk partnership, sustainability, with Better Work Vietnam: “Vietnam’s garment manufacturers have made significant progress towards sustainability in the last decade, but more help is needed to help them both understand the policy context and adapt their operations for the future, according to businesses attending a recent joint Better Work-Gap Workshop in Ho Chi Minh City” (28 Jun).

NEWS & REPORTS

ZDHC expands its Roadmap to Zero Programme to man-made cellulosic fibre production: “With the inclusion of the area of raw material production into its Roadmap to Zero Programme, ZDHC continues to establish itself as the holistic approach to sustainable chemical management in the textile and apparel industry value chain” (09 Jul).

Momentum builds for a ban on NYC fur sales: “Manhattan’s fur district has steadily declined. Where 450 fur factories once operated, now just a handful do – evidence that society’s desire for a product that depends on the slaughter and suffering of 50 million animals a year has waned. It’s been six years since an essay about the district’s demise was headlined “Last of the Furriers.” That is nothing to lament” (06 Jul).

2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment: Status Report 2018: Details the year one status on targets set by the 94 signatories to the Global Fashion Agenda’s 2020 commitment: “The aim of this report is to provide an overview of how far companies have come since signing the 2020 Commitment but also to share experiences on working with circularity in the fashion industry” (06 Jul). [Ed’s note: 94 signatories, 206 targets set; 17/94 signatories – named in the report – did not submit targets (thus did not meet minimum requirement for year one).]

ZDHC releases public disclosure portal to improve global wastewater quality: “ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme [has announced the release of its] Public Disclosure Portal. This online tool helps the industry in particular brands and facilities to identify gaps and drive performance in meeting the requirements of the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines” (06 Jul).

Solving fashion’s sustainability problem: Creating a circular business model: [Ed’s note: a short report from Drapers, which references the following organisations: Adidas, Asos, H&M, Levi’s, John Lewis, Kering, Lindex, Nike, Patagonia, Renewcell, Zara, ReGain, Vigga, Nudie Jeans, Primark, Inditex, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Simply Be, Bolt Threads, Mango Materials, and more.] (05 Jul – requires provision of personal data to download report).

Five years after Rana Plaza disaster, trade officials review sustainability compact results: “During a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on 25 June, the EU and other officials urged Bangladesh to make further improvements, while welcoming the progress made to date. The discussion took place during the fourth high-level follow-up meeting of the Sustainability Compact, which is now an annual event” (05 Jul).

Your next shirt could be made from fruit and vegetable scraps: “It's a good time, in other words, to be a sustainable fashion startup, especially if you offer an innovative new technology that solves multiple problems at once. This is precisely what Circular Systems is doing. The new materials science company was recently awarded a $350,000 grant in the form of a Global Change Award by the H&M Foundation for its work in transforming food waste fibers into usable fabrics” (05 Jul).

We can’t stop fast fashion making pride collections – but we must ask for better: “But when I look at who is making these collections, it gives me pause. Sometimes, it makes me actually really angry. Because it can be hard to thread the needle of how, beyond this easy sloganeering and a nominal donation to an LGBTQ+ charity, these collections are actively supporting us. From intention to manufacturing methods to sizing, many fall conspicuously short” (05 Jul).

Plastic ban blues: “A week after it was imposed, Maharashtra has eased the ban on plastic after hectic lobbying by global brands and the plastic industry. Among those who were talking to the government were fashion brands. The ban had been proposed against the use of single-use plastic, which is relied on heavily for the packaging of products. Among the companies which met government officials were Amazon and H&M” (05 Jul).

Clothing brands need to step up and keep women safe in their factories: “As in the apparel industry, for example, where women make up much of the global workforce. Apparel companies should do more to create work spaces free of violence and harassment, including sexual harassment. This is not just for the benefit of their own employees, but also for the customers and clients walking into their stores; the models who are the face of their clothes; and the workers producing their clothes and shoes in factories around the world” (05 Jul).

My fashion life: Carry Somers, co-founder of Fashion Revolution: “Carry Somers co-founded sustainable fashion campaign group Fashion Revolution following the Rana Plaza disaster. She talks to Drapers about the history of the project and its goals” (04 Jul).

International workers’ rights organisation slams Sonam Kapoor’s husband’s company for assault and abuse of its workers: “The report [by the Worker Rights Consortium] goes ahead to state that Shahi Exports is India’s largest garment exporter and is owned by the Ahuja family, whose elder son Anand Ahuja recently married Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor. Shahi Exports’ Unit 8 factory alone, reportedly has over 3000 workers. The company allegedly earns over 850 million USD in annual revenues” (02 Jul).

Brexit blues for Romania’s embattled garment industry: “Romanian factories making clothes for British fashion brands were already struggling with dwindling profit margins, high worker turnover and competition from Asia. Then came Brexit” (02 Jul).

34 photos documenting working conditions in Bangladesh’s leather industry: Until 17 July, an exhibition by Bangladeshi photographer GMB Akash will run in Xàbia showing ‘leather tanneries of Bangladesh and the inhuman conditions in which workers toil’ (27 Jun – in Spanish).

Feathers to fibers project earns environmental trust grant: “Yiqi Yang’s ongoing research into converting poultry feathers and waste garments into commercially viable textiles has received grant support from the Nebraska Environmental Trust” (25 Jun).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Parties seek more time to finalise proposals: “Both factory owners and workers’ representatives to the readymade garment sector minimum wage board on Sunday failed to submit their wage proposals in the second meeting of the board and sought more time to finalise the proposals” (09 Jul).

RMG workers’ rep to propose Tk 16,000 as minimum wage: “Workers’ representative to the readymade garment sector wage board is likely to submit a proposal today at the second meeting of the board recommending Tk 16,000 as minimum wage for the workers and to lower the job grades of workers to five from existing seven”(07 Jul).

Full support for Bangladeshi garment workers’ demands on minimum wage: “Ahead of the long overdue meeting of the national Minimum Wage Board, set to take place on Sunday, 8 July, Clean Clothes Campaign expresses solidarity with workers in Bangladesh and full support for their demands” (06 Jul).

Support for workers’ demand for a minimum wage increase: “The Ethical Collective on Labelling [Collectif Ethique sur l’etiquette] gives full support to the demand of garment workers in Bangladesh for an increase [to Tk 16,000/month] in the minimum wage” (06 Jul – in French).

Cambodia

Garment workers injured in accident: “More than 20 garment workers in Kampong Speu province were hospitalised yesterday after the truck carrying them to work overturned as its driver made a dangerous manoeuvrer in Korng Pisey district” (06 Jul).

Garment workers pressured to vote in looming Cambodia elections: “With Cambodia's national elections fast approaching, garment workers who had largely backed the opposition in the last poll say they are being coerced to vote and face hostility if they abstain, as the ruling party tries to paint the ballot as democratic” (05 Jul).

India

Invest more in female garment workers: “The government and factory owners should spend more to upgrade workers' skills, stop workplace sexual harassment and provide more healthcare facilities to female workers for the garment sector to well and truly thrive, speakers said yesterday [08 Jul]” (09 Jul).

Jordan

Initiative launched to protect rights of migrant workers in Jordan: “The Arab Migrant Resources Centre (MRC) on Friday [06 Jul] launched a project aimed at supporting and empowering a total of 230,000 migrant workers from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Indonesia based in Jordan” (09 Jul).

MANUFACTURERS

Metalbottoni launches no impact accessories to expand sustainable vision: Metalbottoni, an Italian company with more than 50 years of experience in manufacturing accessories and trimmings, has released a range of products conforming to a corporate sustainability protocol with significant environmental and social value, including leather upcycling and chemical-free finishing processes (09 Jul – press release).

Denim giant Isko’s quest for greener jeans: “The world’s largest denim supplier, Turkish manufacturer Isko, is prioritising sustainability” (05 Jul).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                          

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

* 17 July, London: FuturePlanet Presents - Sustainable Fashion: Panel discussion featuring Orsola de Castro (Fashion Revolution), Safia Minney (Po-Zu), and others.

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

* 23 & 24 July (ET) webinar: How to set science-based targets: “The UN Global Compact Academy together with the Science-Based Targets initiative, are hosting two sessions to cover the same set of topics, but with a different set of expert contributors.”

23 – 25 July, NYC: Texworld: Covering a wide range of topics in the global textile industry.

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.”

06 – 08 November, NYC: A New Blueprint for Business: “[An] increasingly complex environment requires a new blueprint for business, with resilient strategies, effective governance models, and new management approaches.” BSR’s annual conference.

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 Julie MaceyCCO)

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

Comment