THIS ISSUE

Brands in the news this issue include: Asda (combatting microfibres), Burberry (burning clothes), Decathlon (more sustainable polyester), Deckers (diversity and women’s leadership), H&M (NYC council taking an interest in union negotiations), Target (CR report) and Zara (recycling program in China).

Reports released:

In general news:

  • UK could ban fur over mislabelled faux fur
  • Japanese waste-management company says it regularly destroys fashion inventory
  • Clean Clothes Campaign condemns Bangladesh minimum wage proposal
  • Leslie Johnston from C&A Foundation calls for change to ‘almost everything in fashion’

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: Alliance says it will leave in December as industry is called ‘one of the safest’ for workers
  • Cambodia: another mass fainting (shoe factory) and a return to work at You Li International after a week-long strike
  • ·China: workers strike in dyeing mill
  • India: trade union says progress made at Shahi Exports

Quotes of the week:

  • “Abattoirs for leather in Nigeria, fields for cotton in Egypt and sheep for wool in India. Some of those countries have some of the highest poverty rates in the world. This is not a coincidence. These countries were chosen precisely because of these reasons, so as to reduce production costs for the fashion businesses.” Nnaemeka Ugochukwu (21 Jul).
  • “My job, with many other people, was to toss every single piece in boxes from hundreds of racks so they can send it to burn the unsold collections. It was killing me inside because, as a vegan, seeing all that leather and fur went to waste and these animals had to die for nothing. I couldn’t stay there any longer, their business practices threw me off the roof.” Anonymous former Burberry retail employee on the company incinerating £28 million of stock (20 Jul).
  • “[W]age stagnancy in the Bangladeshi RMG industry does not reflect wider economic trends, but is artificially induced by a state-industry nexus that knows full well that it has yet to have anything more to offer than the world's cheapest labour.” Shehzad M Arifeen (20 Jul).
  • “To change the industry, we not only want it to be less bad, using less water and energy, counting less accidents – we want it to get better.” Leslie Johnston, executive director, C&A Foundation (18 Jul).
  • “[E]missions in the supply chain [are] on average around four times greater than those from a company’s direct operations – and rising to up to seven times greater for retailers and consumer-facing companies.” (09 Jul).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Burberry burning £28m of stock is awful, yes, but fashion has never been ethical: “The entire fashion industry is built on a single premise – creating a false need so that we purchase more. True “need” never comes into this thought process. We certainly don’t “need” any more £1,000 Burberry coats or bags” (21 Jul).

Decathlon to significantly reduce its polyester impact: “Global sporting goods retailer Decathlon has pledged to significantly reduce its polyester impact, with all textile products sold in France due to be made from 100% polyester by the end of 2021” (20 Jul).

No one in fashion is surprised Burberry burnt £28 million of stock: “Last week, Burberry’s annual report revealed £28.6 million ($38 million) worth of stock was sent to be incinerated last year. The news has left investors and consumers outraged but comes as little surprise to those in the fashion industry” (20 Jul).

Zara China to start recycled garments program: [Zara] is set to pilot test its at-home pick up service for recycled garments in China this September” (20 Jul).

NYC council members make unannounced visit to H&M offices on union contract negotiations: “Three New York City Council members hand-delivered a letter to H&M’s New York office, demanding the company return to the negotiating table for the betterment of 1,500 unionized H&M employees” (19 Jul).

Asda to combat microplastics in clothing: “Asda and its clothing brand George have joined the European Outdoor Group’s Microfibre Consortium to understand and reduce the impact of microfibres in clothing, which can find their way into the ocean and eventually poison the food chain” (19 Jul).

Hoka One One, Sanuk and Teva support workplace diversity through partnership with Camber Outdoors: “Hoka One One, Sanuk and Teva, three divisions of Deckers Brands, announced on Thursday that they have entered into a partnership with Camber Outdoors, an organization dedicated to promoting corporate diversity and women’s leadership within the outdoor sector” (19 Jul).

Future at Heart: Redefining Target’s corporate responsibility strategy: “[Target has released its] 2018 Corporate Responsibility report [which focuses on] four pillars … Empower Teams, Serve Guests, Foster Communities and Design Tomorrow” (18 Jul). [Ed’s note: read full report here.]

NEWS & REPORTS

Mislabelled fake fur could lead to total ban: “Ministers should consider an all-out ban on fur because consumers have been tricked into buying animal fur labelled as fake, a cross-party group of MPs says today” (22 Jul).

I’m starting to think that fashion may never be sustainable. Here’s why…: “In my opinion, in the journey to sustainability, the first miles are the most critical. This is because, by the time the garment gets to the buyer in Europe, he or she cannot do much to make the production sustainable or even find out if it was made by slave labour in an overcrowded sweatshop in Bangladesh. This perhaps is precisely why fashion may never be sustainable” (21 Jul).

Billion garments discarded as workers toil in sweatshops: “A mountain of corrugated boxes filled with knitwear, hoodies, skirts and other garments from popular brands among leading retailing websites is stored at a warehouse of Osaka-based inventory clearance agent Shoichi. … According to Shoichi officials, 300,000 to 400,000 garments are usually kept at the storehouse” (21 Jul).

As a genetic revolution collapses, Vidarbha’s cotton farmers dread coming season: ““The primary basis for introducing Bt cotton was to reduce pesticide use and protect crop from bollworm attacks, thereby increasing yields. But, both have not happened,” said Kavitha Kuruganti, former member of a central government task force on organic and non-chemical farming. “On the other hand, insecticide use has risen, cotton diversity has been wiped out and there is a monopoly of one proprietary technology”” (21 Jul).

Seeing through transparency: Making corporate accountability work for workers: “This report examines transparency in supply chains legislation and draws on case studies from the UK and Bangladesh. It asks how governments can make transparency in supply chains legislation effective, but also how we can move beyond transparency towards worker-centred corporate accountability to prevent human trafficking for labour exploitation” (20 Jul). [Ed’s note: download full report here.]

Your everything guide to a sustainable closet: [Ed’s note: a list of companies, fabrics, certifications and more from Marie Claire.] (20 Jul).

UK fur trade recommended for public consultation following PETA’s #FurFreeBritain campaign: “Today, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee called for government action to tackle fur sales in the UK” (20 Jul). [Ed’s note: from PETA.]

Clean Clothes Campaign condemns employers’ minimum wage proposal for workers in Bangladesh and urges brands to take action: “The Bangladesh garment industry employers’ association has shown utmost disregard for workers’ wellbeing and for their lives outside of garment factories. On Monday, 16 July, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) submitted a proposal to the relevant public authority for the workers’ minimum wage to be set at 6,360 taka (about 75 USD). Not only does this amount not meet any living wage standard for Bangladesh – it does not even remedy employers’ disregard for the legally required increases over the past five years” (20 Jul).

2018 Fashion Industry Benchmarking Study: “Overall, U.S. fashion companies are making more commitments to sustainability and social responsibility: 85 percent of respondents plan to allocate more resources for sustainability and social compliance in the next two years … 100 percent of respondents map their supply chains” (20 Jul).

Future fashion – designed by Amazon. Woven by Google. Nearly there: [Ed’s note: article provides a long list of fibre, fabric, textile/garment and design innovation. Companies listed include Bolt Threads, AMSilk, Modern Meadow, Kraig Biocraft, AligKnit, Provenance, Mango Materials, Orange Fiber, Qmilk, Polartec, ColorFabb, Stellini, Recreus, Milliken, Kanuk, Bam, Nanotex, Dupont, Loomia, Jacquard by Google, Danit Peleg, Ministry of Supply, Sculpteo, Denim Unspun, Labeledby, Electroloom, Softwear Automation, Sewbo, Grabit, Maker’s Row, Sewport, Tukatech, SGTi, Taas Inc., Avametric, Nettelo, Amazon Lab 126, Stitch Fix and Google Project Muse.] (20 Jul).

Disrupting Luxury: Creating Resilient Businesses in Times of Rapid Change: “This report from BSR’s Responsible Luxury Initiative offers a roadmap toward a resilient luxury sector and highlights three opportunities for luxury companies to invest in future success” (19 Jul).

We need to change almost everything about fashion: [Ed’s note: a TEDx talk by Leslie Johnston, executive director C&A Foundation.] (18 Jul – 16:41-minute video).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

BD RMG industry now ‘one of the safest’ for workers: ““The ready-made garment (RMG) industry of Bangladesh has transformed over the last five years. It has now become one of the safest for workers in the world,” said Sean Cady, vice president, global supply chain and responsible sourcing of VF Corporation” (23 Jul).

Alliance Helpline broadens scope with independent management: “The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety has announced that its 24-hour, first-of-its-kind worker helpline will transition from part of their operations to an external and independent initiative which has the capacity to expand its services beyond Alliance factories” (23 Jul). [Ed’s note: see Alliance press release here.]

Alliance for garment workers’ safety leaving Bangladesh by December: “The Alliance for Workers Safety is winding up its operations in Bangladesh by December, the executive director of the North American apparel companies group says” (22 Jul).

Skilled workforce is RMG's future: “It is well-known that the minimum wage of Bangladesh’s garment workers is one of the lowest in the world, but what is less well-known and discussed far less often, is that the productivity of the sector is also the lowest among apparel producing nation” (21 Jul).

The second time as farce: “One cannot help but admire the (dis)ingenuity with which the BGMEA have claimed credit for ‘urging’ the state to set up a new wage board, while at the same time continuing to place the blame on ‘worker agitation,’ painting a picture of an uncontrolled mass of irrational children throwing a collective tantrum, unable to comprehend ‘reality’ and the so-called ‘logic of the market’ (one and the same thing in the minds of many), as opposed to a collectivity of human beings demanding fair pay for their labour and struggling to live lives with a semblance of human dignity” (29 Jul).

Cambodia

Mass fainting in Kampong Cham: “More than 200 factory workers fainted at [the Carlington] shoe factory in Kampong Cham’s Cheung Prey district after an electrical malfunction” (23 Jul).

You Li employees return to factory floors: “More than 1,000 You Li International Factory workers in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet city yesterday reached an agreement with their employer, bringing an end to their week-long strike” (20 Jul).

China

Dye mill workers strike over low wages: Workers in a dyeing mill in Jingjiang, Jiangsu, have gone on strike over low wages (18 Jul).

India

Progress made at Shahi Exports, says union: “[The Karnataka Garment Workers Union (KOOGU KGWU says] “It’s important to highlight the progress made since the signing of the MOU, KOOGU and Shahi are now engaged in mutually beneficial regular meetings to address issues” (21 Jul).

MANUFACTURERS

[No news this issue.]

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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.”

24 August, Shenzhen: Social & Environmental Compliance Seminar: Stay up-to-date with changes in Chinese environmental and OHS laws relevant to supply chains.

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 IlonaCCO)

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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