THIS ISSUE

Brands in the news this issue include: Adidas (committing to recycled plastics by 2024), Ecoalf (new collection from recycled waste), Burberry (destroying $38m in goods), Known Supply (workers’ signatures on labels), Y Closet (included in Chinese circular economy examples), and Feminist Apparel (a CEO with a questionable history with women).

Reports released:

In general news:

  • OCA kickstarts protocol development for GMO screening in cotton
  • NDRC in bid to double textile facilities in Clean by Design programme
  • Daily struggle of Pakistani women making footballs
  • MIT researchers identify new process for water-repellent textile coating
  • ANSES warns about allergens and irritants in clothing and footwear
  • Dress the world in wood, says UN

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh factory owners offer Tk 6,360 to workers; workers call for Tk 16,000
  • Rohingya refugees work in fear in Bangladesh garment factories
  • Nepalese unions call for minimum wage revision
  • Strike in South Africa shuts down clothing and textile factories

In manufacturing:

  • Chakr Innovation makes ink from diesel exhaust fumes
  • Kraig Biocraft subsidiary signs agreement with Vietnamese mulberry farmers for spider silk
  • Unifi partners with Pac-12
  • Lenzing invests more than €100 in sustainable technologies

Quotes of the week:

  • “The Bangladesh garment factory owners’ low wage proposal is offensive but so is the refusal by sourcing brands’ to play their part in increasing the industry’s abominable wages.” Laura Gutierrez, on garment factory owners proposing a 20 per cent increase in workers’ wages (17 Jul).
  • ‏“Bangladesh is now the most transparent & cleanest among the garment producing countries.” Mostafiz Uddin, Managing director of Denim Expert Ltd. (14 Jul).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Adidas vows to use only recycled plastics by 2024: “Sportswear brand plans to stop using virgin polyester for all shoes and clothing” (16 Jul).

Ecoalf unveils Shao sneakers made from algae and ocean plastic: “The new footwear collection from Spanish fashion brand Ecoalf is made from recycled waste found in oceans and rivers” (15 Jul).

Burberry investors question destruction of $38 million in goods: “It’s also a matter of environmental concern to some investors, with one asking during Burberry’s annual meeting this week why shareholders couldn’t be given the chance to buy the items” (13 Jul). [Ed’s note: Julie Zerbo of The Fashion Law notes: “In accordance with U.S. Customs, “If imported merchandise is ... destroyed under Customs supervision, 99% of the duties, taxes or fees paid by reason of importation may be recovered as drawback.””]

Why this clothing startup wants you to know thy T-shirt maker: “Look at the tags sewn in T-shirts made by the startup Known Supply and you’ll find something unexpected – a woman’s signature. Names like Lamunu Kevin, Paolo Perales, and Thangamani, a seamstress from South India” (10 Jul).

NEWS & REPORTS

OCA successfully kickstarts ISO International Workshop Agreement on ‘GMO screening in cotton and textiles’: “The ability to make credible claims about the presence of GM cotton in (organically certified) textiles and garment has long been a bone of contention for the sector. After initial conceptualization by GOTS, OCA [Organic Cotton Accelerator] decided to address the need for a globally accepted and objective method to serve the interest of industry and consumers, and strengthen the sector. Acknowledging the need for clarity, the ISO recently approved OCA’s proposal for an International Workshop Agreement (IWA) on a protocol for GMO screening in cotton and textiles. Want to represent your organization’s interests in the development process? … Stakeholders can express their interest to participate through the registration form as soon as possible but before 2 August 2018. Please use this link to register for the event (2 online meeting sessions and one face-to-face meeting in India)” (16 Jul).

Dress the world in wood, UN says in its ‘Forests for Fashion’ initiative: “The fashion industry is valued upward of 2.5 trillion dollars, and employs some 75 million people globally – so it makes good sense to shift textile production from fossil fuel-based synthetic fibers to renewable, biodegradable textiles, made from wood, according to a new United Nations initiative that aims to make forests literally more fashionable” (16 Jul).

UK consumers turn to natural fibres, blame manufacturers and brands for non-eco fashion: “[Cotton USA’s latest reports shows] Man-made fibres are falling out of fashion, as more UK consumers choose natural materials; 45% of Brits feel optimistic about their current financial situation, compared to 37% in 2014; and UK consumers believe manufacturers, followed by brands and themselves, are to blame for non-environmentally friendly fashion” (16 Jul).

Circular economy in China: six examples: [Ed’s note: one of the examples is Y Closet, a clothes subscription service.] (16 Jul).

Feminist in name only: How ‘feminist’ clothing companies are failing their workers: “If you want to buy from a ‘feminist’ brand, it’s important to do your research about how the company actually treats its workers. On Wednesday, staff at the Philadelphia-based company Feminist Apparel confronted their CEO Alan Javier Martofel when 2013 Facebook post surfaced that raised some serious questions about Martofel’s history with women” (14 Jul).

Chinese fashion retailers go the extra mile to help cut down on textile waste: “From Taobao online orders to fast-fashion shops, retailing in China is booming, but what happens to those jeans and jackets once they’re no longer trendy? We look at companies pushing recycling and environmental awareness” (13 Jul).

NRDC initiative migrates to Apparel Impact Institute: “In a bid to double the number of textile facilities completing its Clean by Design programme in 2018, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has started to transition program operations to the newly formed Apparel Impact Institute which launched back in October 2017” (13 Jul).

The daily struggle of Pakistani women who craft the world’s finest footballs: “Over 80% of the world’s high-quality hand-stitched footballs begin with the home-based work of female villagers in Pakistan’s Sialkot region. These women belong to one of the most vulnerable groups in the global economy. Working from home and poorly paid, they experience conditions familiar to those in precarious jobs in developing and developed countries alike” (13 Jul).

When Hong Kong textile mills were free to pollute Victoria Harbour and streams ran red, green, and yellow with run-off: “Textile mills provided employment for several generations of Hongkongers and made their proprietors rich, but the coloured effluent that spewed from dyeing works defiled city nullahs and inshore waters until production moved to China” (12 Jul).

Water-repellent textile coating promotes safer manufacturing practices: [Researchers at MIT have] identified an alternative process to render textiles water repellent, or hydrophobic. Through its research, the team introduced a new type of coating to replace the potentially harmful chemicals often used to manufacture water-repellent textiles” (12 Jul).

ANSES warns about allergens, irritants in clothing and footwear: “Tests have revealed the presence of 20 potential allergens and skin irritants in clothing and 50 in footwear, the French Agency for Food, Environment and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) has said. (12 Jul).

Why apparel brands should work together to build a sustainable future: “I recently spent time in Copenhagen for the Fashion Summit. There were a lot of statistics thrown around but there is one that I can’t get out of my head. 50 million tons of clothes are produced every year and 87 percent of them will end up incinerated or in a landfill” (12 Jul). [Ed’s note: author is Mark Walker, CEO of Outerknown.]

Does fashion activism actually work?Greenpeace launched its Detox campaign seven years ago. Here's how the industry has changed since then” (12 Jul). [Ed’s note: Read the full Greenpeace report here.]

Exhibitors at Berlin trade shows Premium and Seek keen on sustainable, ethical fashion: “Many of the exhibitors at the Berlin trade shows held from July 3 to 5 were clearly inspired by the green, ethical sentiment that is spreading throughout the fashion world. Though not yet unanimous, there seems to be a growing awareness in the industry of the urgent need to transform the traditional modes of doing business in textiles and fashion” (12 Jul).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Bangladesh Alliance factories completing upgrades 13 – 17 JulEsquire Accessories, Uni Garments, and Unibra Wear (17 Jul). [Ed’s note: this list is based on the Bangladesh Alliance Twitter feed.]

Bangladesh garment workers offered Tk 6,360 minimum wage, want Tk 16,000: “The owners of readymade garment factories have offered the workers Tk 6,360 [$76.24] as minimum monthly wage, which falls nearly 40 percent [sic] short of Tk 16,000 [$191.80] wage that a portion of workers are demanding” (16 Jul).

Owners propose 20pc hike in minimum wage for RMG workers: “Siddiqur Rahman, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said “We mainly considered the inflation rate in Bangladesh while proposing Tk 6,360 [$76.24] from the current minimum wage at Tk 5,300 [$63.53]”” (16 Jul).

Labour leaders want Tk 16,000 as minimum wage for RMG workers: “Labour leaders at a human chain in front of the National Press Club on Friday [13 Jul] urged the government to declare Tk 16,000 as the minimum monthly wage for garment workers without further delay” (14 Jul).

In Bangladesh’s factories, Rohingya refugees work in fear under the radar: “Fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh, members of the Rohingya group secretly work in the nation's apparel sector – but hide their true origins” (13 Jul).

Nepal

Trade unions call for revision in minimum wage: “The government on July 8 fixed the monthly wage of workers at Rs 13,450 [$124]. The trade unions have urged the government to increase the minimum wage to Rs 22,000 [$202], citing a situation would arise in which the workers working within the country would have to go for foreign employment owing to the low pay alone if the minimum remuneration was not raised” (12 Jul).

South Africa

Footwear workers’ strike set to enter second week: “Footwear workers protected by the National Union of Leather and Allied Workers are set to enter their second week of striking on Monday [16 Jul]. Workers are demanding a 9.25% wage increase, while employers are only offering a 6.25%” (16 Jul).

SACTWU vows members will continue strike until demands met: “Clothing and textile factories remain closed across the country as more than 10,000 workers wait for a new wage offer from employers. The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) says employers have not agreed to their demand of a 9.5 % wage increase. SACTWU secretary-general Andre Kriel says that 99% of its shoe factories have shut down” (14 Jul).

MANUFACTURERS

Worn Again accelerates polymer recycling technology: “Research institute Worn Again Technologies has confirmed that it has successfully reached its investment target of £5 million to facilitate the acceleration of its breakthrough polymer recycling technology” (16 Jul).

Lenzing to invest €100 million in sustainable technologies: “The Lenzing Group is … investing more than €100 million in sustainable manufacturing technologies and production facilities until 2022” (16 Jul).

These new textile dyeing methods could make fashion more sustainable: “Large and small suppliers vow to help a resource-intensive, cost-sensitive industry change with the times” (15 Jul). [Ed’s note: article mentions Intech Digital, Huntsman, Archroma, DyStar, ColorZen, REI, Levi Strauss, Stony Creek Colors, Colorifix, Pili, Epson, H&M, and Zara.]

Creating fashion with eco-friendly ink: “Chakr Innovation’s retrofitting emission control device captures about 90% of the PM 2.5 and PM 10 particles in diesel exhaust. “A litre of ink is made by capturing particles that would have polluted 700 million litres of air, the amount of air inhaled by a person for 24 years” (15 Jul).

Continuous developments denim latest Monfort eco line: “As the number one supplier of finishing ranges to the denim industry globally, the benefits of the latest Monfort Eco Line are already being enjoyed by several of the sector’s leading manufacturers in both Asia and South America” (14 Jul).

Traceable supply chain is key for Italian textile companies: “Raising the bar on sustainability should be the main goal of the Italian textile business is what emerged from the press conference opening the 27th edition of Milano Unica” (13 Jul).

Kraig Biocraft Laboratories subsidiary Prodigy Textiles signs agreements for mulberry production: “Kraig Biocraft Laboratories [has announced] its subsidiary, Prodigy Textiles, has signed three agreements with local farming cooperatives in Quang Nam province, Vietnam. Under these agreements the farmers will produce the mulberry necessary to support the Company’s recombinant spider silk production” (12 Jul).

Unifi partners with Pac-12 Conference in sustainability initiative: “Unifi Inc. formed its biggest athletic partnership to date by becoming a founding sustainability partner of the Pac-12 Conference” (12 Jul).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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.”

26 August, Los Angeles: Study Hall in collaboration with MIT Media Lab and G-Star Raw: “[T]hemes that will be explored, as part of this critically-acclaimed conference series, are: Circularity, Denim, & Human Rights.”

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

12 September, webinar: SDG Leadership Forum for Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production: “As part of our ongoing series of online dialogues, the SDG Leadership Forum for Goal 12 … offers an opportunity to explore how we can accelerate our transition to a circular economy” (co-hosted by C&A Foundation).

14 – 15 September, Lüneburg, Germany: C2C Congress 2018: Special track: Fashion and Textiles.

20 – 25 September, Milan: Fashion Film Festival Milano: For the 2018 edition a particular invite is extended to the representatives of Sustainable Fashion: A roundtable, a European preview and a new category, “Best Green Fashion Film.”

27 – 28 September, Raleigh, US: 2018 Footwear Materials and Innovation Summit: “[F]ocused on helping professionals better understand current and emerging materials and material developments at an in-depth technical level.”

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.

* 16 – 17 January 2019, Delhi: International Workshop Agreement for the screening of GMOs in cotton and textiles: “The IWA is about a protocol for GMO screening in cotton and textiles.”

(Photo Bess HamitiCCO)

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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