Brands in the news this issue include: Target (for a synthetic ‘organic’ shirt), Belstaff (going fur-free), Inditex (using marine debris), Pink Boutique (for sugarcane packaging), Wrangler (for sustainability data in agricultural supply chains), and LVMH (for cutting ties with Bono’s Edun).
In general news, there were reports on whether expensive clothes are ethical, Project Effective (backed by a dozen companies on bio-based polymers), Chinese appetite for luxury leather, vegan wool (woocoa), and the US legalising hemp.
In the supply chain, the wage board meets next week in Bangladesh, more factory workers in Cambodia to get cash compensation, a new list of minimum wages released in China, and Lesotho unions demand a new minimum wage.
Quotes of the week:
“Few, if any, brands have truly cracked sustainability. There’s no formidable oversight body to help the public determine how sustainable a product actually is. So while it’s great that brands are talking about it, the term is largely meaningless, and is often more marketing than truth in advertising.” Christina Binkley, journalist (30 Jun).
"Sustainability in fashion has changed from a nice-to-have to a synonym for innovation and progress" Greenshowroom founder Magdalena Schaffrin (26 Jun).
By Stephen Frost, CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
BRANDS & RETAILERS
‘Organic’ shirt from Target made of polyester and rayon: “Target is currently removing a range of misleading t-shirts emblazoned with the words ‘100% Organic’ from some of its stores in the US, after it was discovered they were in fact made from a 50:50 polyester/rayon fibre blend” (02 Jul).
British brand Belstaff to go fur-free: “Luxury British brand Belstaff’s recently appointed CEO, Helen Wright, has pledged that the company will join the UK’s growing list of fur-free designers” (02 Jul).
Inditex to lead a project to convert marine waste into textile and household goods: Inditex believes it is possible to extract and reuse marine debris on a scale large enough to supply its entire Zara and Zara Home network of stores. Motivated by this conviction, the fashion chain is launching, together with the Port Authority of Vigo, ‘ML-Style’ (01 Jul – in Spanish).
Amazon, H&M pressing to Soften India’s plastic ban: “Multinational companies like Amazon Inc and H&M are lobbying to soften a ban against single-use plastic imposed by an Indian state last week, according to four sources familiar with the matter” (29 Jun).
Fashion brand starts using renewable mailing bags made from sugarcane: “Packaging manufacturer Duo UK has started providing sustainable mailing bags made from sugarcane for fast fashion retailer Pink Boutique. The bags are created from a sugarcane biopolymer known as GreenPE, which is renewable and carbon-negative” (28 Jun).
Wrangler report shows potential of sustainability data in agricultural supply chains: “Wrangler [has published a report] with farm-management software company, MyFarm … “From Burden to Benefit: Sustainability Data in the Agricultural Supply Chain” [which] shares best practices for protecting data privacy and leveraging data analysis to advance common goals shared by growers, brands, and other links in the supply chain. The paper draws on Wrangler’s experience in the cotton supply chain to share learnings relevant to other food and fiber industries, including how to build trust with growers, and how to align the business interests of different links in the supply chain” (28 Jun). [Ed’s note: see also Q&A interview here.]
Stylish faux fur for every compassionate fashionista’s closet: “[T]op fashion brands and companies around the world are using high-tech and innovative faux-fur materials that are better for both animals and the environment. Here are several fashion brands selling faux-fur in their collection: Unreal Fur, LaSeine&Moi, Jakke, FURious Fur, PAWJ, Shrimps, Donna Salyers’ Fabulous Furs, Helen Moore, Pelush, SpiritHoods, James&Co, Only Me, Charly Calder, and AdelaQueen” (28 Jun). [Ed’s note: article by PETA.]
Good On You’s top picks from Berlin Ethical Fashion Show: Bleed, Good Society, Lanius, Matt and Nat, Movinun, Mori Collective, and People Tree (28 Jun).
Twitter sides with PETA, re-uploads Canada Goose parody video: “Nearly a year after pulling PETA’s “Canada Goose Knitwear in Reverse (The Whole Story)” video—which parodies the company’s original tale that describes how its sweaters are made while conveniently leaving out that sheep are beaten and bloodied for wool—Twitter has restored it to its site after ruling that it doesn’t constitute copyright infringement” (28 Jun).
LVMH cuts ties with Bono’s ethical fashion brand Edun: “French luxury group LVMH is parting ways with the eco-friendly Edun label started by singer Bono and his wife Ali Hewson, transferring its minority stake back to the founders as the firm winds down its U.S. operations” (28 Jun).
NEWS & REPORTS
Just because your designer clothes are expensive, it doesn’t make them ethical: “Consumers tend to trust that an expensive product is better made, and that the people who made it are paid fairly, since the product is expensive. This is far from being the case. The luxury sector produces in the same countries, often in the same factory clusters as the high street, and supply chain workers’ wages are similar across the sectors” (02 Jul). [Ed’s note: article by Orsola de Castro.]
Ambitious alliance mobilizes value chain for bio-based polymers: “Project Effective, an integrated European stakeholder project, is being backed by at least a dozen companies that are seeking to change the formula. Its focus is to catalyze the development and proliferation of bio-based plastics that can be recycled over and over again [including Aquafil, Genomatica, Vaude and H&M] (02 Jul).
A fabric bank is trying to turn Brazilian fashion accountable and sustainable: “The Fabric Bank has been operating officially since January 2015; at the time, the founder of the initiative had a stock of 800 kg of fabric leftovers, accumulated over 25 years of work as a set and costume designer. It started as a trade between profession colleagues until she took an entrepreneurship course and figured out its potential as a social business. After 1 year of existence, the initiative already had 150 account holders among private individuals, fashion designers, autonomous seamstresses, small apparel companies, a textile manufacturer and even a foot-wear company” (30 Jun).
Is the Chinese luxury market’s appetite for leather sustainable? “China’s economic rise has helped drive an unprecedented boom in luxury leather goods. That’s leaving many fashion and accessories brands scrambling for either product to meet the seemingly insatiable demand–or for ethical alternatives to leather” (29 Jun).
What will it take to make vegan wool? “But what if you could make wool without using sheep at all? That’s what a group of Colombian students have done, devising a wool alternative made from hemp and coconut fibers treated with mushroom enzymes. Calling their product Woocoa, they hope it might make farming sheep for wool unnecessary” (29 Jun).
Is sustainable fashion the new normal? “In the recent years, an increasing number of brands have adopted more eco-friendly stances from eliminating toxic chemicals in the production process to using recycled materials to create apparel, footwear and accessories” (29 Jun). [Ed’s note: article mentions Allbirds, Adidas, Parley Ocean Plastic, The North Face, Stella McCartney, Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, Reformation, H&M, Asos, Nike, Under Armour, and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.]
Landmark study on CSR clauses in buyer-supplier contracts reveals insights on adoption of sustainable practices: “EcoVadis, the leader in business sustainability ratings for global supply chains, today announced the results of its study “Sustainability Clauses in Commercial Contracts: The Key to Corporate Responsibility”, finding that, while CSR clauses are widely used and have strong potential for improving supply chain sustainability performance, current practices need improvement to truly impact change” (29 Jun). [Ed’s note: download report here.]
US senate votes to legalize hemp after decades-long ban under marijuana prohibition: ““For the first time in 80 years, this bill legalizes hemp. We forget, but hemp was widely grown in the United States throughout the mid-1800s,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) said in a floor speech on Wednesday. “Americans used hemp in fabrics, wine, and paper. Our government treated industrial hemp like any other farm commodity until the early 20th century” (28 Jun).
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
RMG wage board holds 2nd meeting on July 8: “The minimum wage board, formed to review the wages for the readymade garment workers, is going to hold its second meeting on July 8 almost four months after holding its first meeting on March 14. … According to a source inside the board, the workers’ representative to the wage board will submit proposals of minimum wages in the second meeting and the amount of proposed minimum wage likely to be Tk 16,000” (01 Jul).
Workers to get cash compensation: “The Ministry of Labour on Friday [29 Jun] announced that more than 1,000 workers from three factories in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district [Kbal Koh Garment, Top World Garment and Pada Top World] can come to collect cash compensation at a district hall following the absconding of their employers” (02 Jul).
Minimum wage list: complete list of minimum wage rates (monthly and hourly) across the whole of China – as of 24 Jun 2018 (29 Jun).
Under Ahmedabad’s mounting garbage, it's the migrant worker who is crumbling: “Narol is one of the largest industrial clusters of Ahmedabad with over 5,000 garment, chemical processing, pharmaceutical and recycling factories. All these factories are run using cheap labour provided by a huge migrant workforce of more than 4.5 lakh from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and tribal districts of Gujarat. It is this invisible workforce that fuels Gujarat’s growth story, but faces the disproportionate burden of the abysmally high levels of air pollution and serious health hazards due to the Pirana landfill” (27 Jun).
Lesotho unions demand new minimum wages now: “[T]he minimum wages for the garment and textile sector are currently set at Lesotho Loti 1238 per month (US$89) which is not enough for workers to look after their families and pay for basics like rent, food and transport. Unions want the minimum wage in this sector to be US$144 and are also demanding that the minimums in all sectors be revised upwards towards a living wage of over US$200” (01 Jul).
Metalbottoni commits to all-round responsibility at Milano Unica: Metalbottoni, an Italian accessories producer for fashion, sportswear and beachwear, has announced a range of new projects focused on responsible innovation, from new eco-compatible finishing, to the projects dedicated to social commitment (e.g., a leather accessories line dedicated to labels and tags in leather and other recycled materials). All products will be shown at Milano Unica, 10 – 12 July (02 Jul – press release).
Five manufacturers join ZDHC: Albini Group, CIEL Textile, Nahar Group, Raymond UCO Denim, and Eurojersey (02 Jul).
TNPCB shuts textile unit citing untreated effluent discharge: “Citing alleged discharge of untreated industrial effluents beyond the permissible level, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has ordered closure of Madura Coats textile unit at Aladiyoor in Ambasamudram” (30 Jun).
Sun Chemical releases 2017 sustainability report: “Sun Chemical released its 2017 Corporate Sustainability Report which details the work the company is doing to increase its use of bio-derived raw materials in its products and shows positive progress on its eco-efficiency goals” (29 Jun).
Untreated water being released into Bandi river: “Amid the unabated pollution in Bandi river and Nehra dam by the effluent discharged by the textile industries in Pali district, the divisional commissioner of Jodhpur visited the affected areas in pursuance of the directions of the National Green Tribunal” (28 Jun).
Circular Systems hits boot camps to learn sustainability: “Circular Systems created a division called Agraloop, which transforms food-crop waste—including pineapple leaves, sugar-cane bark and oil-seed hemp—into a natural fiber product. It also created Orbital, which makes high-performance yarns out of recycled fibers, and Texloop Recyling, which recycles fabric” (28 Jun).
TTF to promote sustainability, innovation at Technotex: “The Taiwan Textile Federation (TTF) will promote sustainability, technological innovation and new functional textiles at Technotex India beginning Thursday in Mumbai. Targeting the growing Indian technical textile industry, expected to grow 20 per cent annually to touch $30 billion in 5 years, Technotex is a global platform to explore opportunities in India” (27 Jun).
Pou Chen achieves FLA certification: “The Fair Labor Association (FLA), a collaborative effort among brands, universities and civil society organizations to improve working conditions and protect workers’ rights [has announced] Pou Chen Group – a leading footwear manufacturer in Taiwan – ha[s] received accreditation for their social compliance programs” (27 Jun).
Fabrics made from coffee grounds and castor beans among bio-based innovations at the Outdoor Show: “Just some of the results included backpacks made from recycled fishing nets, T-Shirts made from ocean waste and recycled laminates made from PET bottles which are now a serious functional alternative to less eco-friendly membranes. The event is going to generate a number of features for us, but one brand in particular, Taiwanese textiles manufacturer, Singtex is doing some particularly interesting work in the bio-base space” (25 Jun).
Higg Index to boost Vietnam textiles: “The Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association, Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and TAL Group have decided to introduce the application of Higg Index in the textile and garment industry. (24 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.
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.