THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Able (supply chain wage transparency), Adidas (gender pay gap), Arno (supply chain transparency), Canada Goose (attacked over coyote fur), Cheap Monday (rated on ethics), HanesBrands (one of 30 most admired companies), Levi’s (lasers for denim), Manchester United (low wage kit), Real Madrid (recycled plastic kit), Stella McCartney (still queen of sustainability?), Walmart (CSR report) and more.

In general news:

  • Why fashion brands shouldn’t exclusively label themselves as ‘ethical’
  • The failure of the ‘Jordan Compact’ to help Syrian refugee women
  • Certification ≠ enforcement: a critique of voluntary CSR certification schemes
  • Plastic coat hangers as bad as plastic bags, straws and bottles

Reports released this week:

  • 2018 Global Responsibility Report, by Walmart

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: factory protests block road; Dutch development organisation prioritises healthcare in factories
  • Cambodia: PM steps in to solve unpaid wages to factory workers after boss commits suicide; another garment worker dies in road accident
  • India: why are women workers killing themselves?; a move to strengthen garment union power
  • Malaysia: Union calls for foreign worker ratio system
  • Myanmar: another factory closes leaving workers unpaid
  • Pakistan: disgruntled textile worker takes colleagues hostage over unpaid wages
  • South Africa: shoe sector strike suspended (for now)

Manufacturers in this issue include: Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (concerns over restrictions for textiles and leather articles in EU), Garmon Chemicals (sustainable chemicals), Unmade (raised $4m), Thai Acrylic Fibre (eco-friendly success story), Velener Textil (wins natural fibre award), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “The goal of ethical fashion is not to create a different genre or species of fashion. It is not to cater to a distinct set of eco-people. Rather, it is to serve as a replacement, to become the new fashion, the new choice of consumers around the world.” Nnaemeka Ugochukwu (09 Aug).
  • Everlane researched denim production for years before launching its jeans category in fall 2017, after finding a jeans factory in Vietnam that recycles 98 percent of its water.” BOF (08 Aug).
  • “[T]he major stumbling block towards transparency and sustainability has never been the absence of the technology, system or means to take responsibility for acts or omissions. … The crucial stumbling block I see is the continued absence of a desire or will to submit to, implement and enforce such standards.” Nnaemeka Ugochukwu (07 Aug).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Walmart reports progress on renewable energy goal, reducing waste and enhancing the environmental sustainability of key commodities: Walmart has released its 2018 Global Responsibility Report (09 Aug). [Ed’s note: see full report here.]

Ireland Basinger-Baldwin confronts Canada Goose executives: Ireland Basinger-Baldwin confronts Canada Goose executives at shareholder meeting over coyote fur use (09 Aug). [Ed’s note: see also here.]

Why this clothing company is making its factory wages public: “Able, a brand that makes clothing, bags, shoes, and jewelry, wants to convince the industry to make the numbers they pay their workers public. The company, a social enterprise designed to help women end intergenerational poverty, is starting with its own data, and publishing the lowest wages paid to workers at its Nashville factory” (08 Aug).

Is Stella McCartney the queen of sustainability? “In 2001, Stella McCartney launched her eponymous contemporary label. Her shtick? Sustainability. Sounds cool, but is it working? Ask her” (08 Aug).

The future of luxury fashion? Getting to know your shoemaker: “Arno’s founders are taking transparency to a new level. Not only do their customers know where their shoes were made, they can see a picture of the shoemaker who crafted it by hand” (08 Aug).

These are the sustainable denim brands making jeans clean: [Ed’s note: article references Olderbrother, Bleu de Cocagne, Reformation, G-Star RAW, Future of Apparel, Atelier & Repairs, Saitex, Artistic Milliners, and DyStar.] (08 Aug).

Levi’s bets on lasers: “The world's oldest denim brand is rolling out a new technology that could have longterm implications for the business” (08 Aug). [Ed’s note: article also mentions G-Star Raw and Everlane.]

Real Madrid’s new kit is made from recycled plastic: “Real Madrid has announced their new third kit – which the team will wear in Tuesday’s (August 7) match against AS Roma – will be made from upcycled plastic waste” (07 Aug).

Adidas teams up with Lean In to help close gender pay gap: “On average, Black women are paid 38% less than white men. To raise awareness of this pay gap and its negative effect on Black women and families, we’ve partnered with LeanIn.org to launch #38PercentCounts, the second of three public awareness efforts this year rooted in the idea that equal pay matters” (07 Aug).

HanesBrands recognized as one of most-admired companies in Central America and the Caribbean: “To identify and select the 30 most-admired companies, Forbes conducted a survey with stakeholders, students and consumers in seven countries. The survey evaluated company attributes, including brand value; reputation; quality of products and services; environmental commitment; innovation; corporate image; female inclusion; local and global presence; and social responsibility” (07 Aug).

Manchester United’s shirt of shame: Football’s richest club is charging fans £110 for this season’s top while the workers who make them are paid just 64p per hour: “The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the shirts are made in Cambodian factories by women paid just £31 a week, or 64p an hour. The figure is significantly below the country's living wage called for by local campaigners” (04 Aug). [Ed’s note: the Daily Mail had a similar article about Stella McCartney the day prior to this one; see here.]

5 companies tackling plastic pollution as they race to make their products more sustainable: [Ed’s note: the companies are Adidas, Ecoalf, H&M, Stella McCartney, and G-Star RAW.] (05 Aug).

How ethical is Cheap Monday? [Ed’s note: rating of H&M’s Cheap Monday by Good on You app; “It’s a start 0 3/5”.] (03 Aug).

NEWS & REPORTS

Why are our clothes so bad for the environment? One word: microfibers (09 Aug). [Ed’s note: Part I of a three-part series.]

Why fashion brands shouldn’t exclusively label themselves as “ethical”: “[I]s the “ethically-made” label alienating consumers? And must we label them as ethical clothing?” (09 Aug).

Designers can use Sustainable Apparel Coalition's materials tool to assess environmental impact: “The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) today [09 Aug] announced an update to the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI), a tool that enables the apparel, footwear, and textile industry to assess the environmental impact of materials used in global manufacturing” (09 Aug).

A compact for Syrian refugee women? “When the “Jordan Compact” was inked between European governments and Jordan in 2016, it was presented as a transformative experiment in employing and empowering Syrian refugees. Two years later, the Compact has failed to help Syrians and address the realities of working refugee women” (08 Aug). [Ed’s note: article references Jerash Garments.]

Certification ≠ enforcement: “Corporate social responsibility initiatives are rightly criticized because, among other reasons, they promote codes of conduct that inevitably fail to effect change on the farm or factory floor. While voluntary certification initiatives may have been successful in articulating higher standards and shifting expectations, they too have consistently failed to secure the commitments necessary to implement meaningful and sustainable change” (07 Aug).

Research from Braiform highlights potential damage of clothes hangers to the environment: “Research from Braiform, the world's largest re-user and recycler of garment hangers, has shown that clothes hangers can have just as detrimental an impact on the environment as plastic bags, straws and bottles” (07 Aug).

What Is Fast Fashion? [Ed’s note: longish article from Good on You app, which ends with a rating of the biggest fast fashion companies, including Zara, H&M, Uniqlo, Gap, Primark, Zaful, and Fashion Nova.] “Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing, that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed” (07 Aug).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Making healthcare a priority in Bangladesh's RMG sector: “SNV Netherlands Development Organization is implementing three projects in the garment industry all working towards the improved health and well-being of garment workers through the provision of universal access to health and sexual and reproductive health care services” (07 Aug).

Factory workers block Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway: “[F]actory workers on Saturday morning [04 Aug] blocked the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway in Sreepur upazila of Gazipur district, demanding safe workplace” (04 Aug). [Ed’s note: article names the factory as “S Q Celcious factory”, but probably means SQ Celsius, part of the SQ Group.]

Cambodia

PM weighs in on missing wages: “Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday [08 Aug] ordered the Labour Ministry to find a solution for Julee Apparels factory workers after their South Korean employer committed suicide in the capital, leaving them short of wages” (09 Aug).

Ministry pledges funds to unpaid workers: “The Ministry of Labour has pledged to allocate a special fund to assist garment workers [at Julee Apparel Factory] who were deprived of their wages following the closure of their factory at Phnom Penh’s Por Senchey district amid the death of its owner” (08 Aug).

No pay docked over election time off: “The National Trade Union Confederation said yesterday that factory workers who took time off to vote in the national election have not filed any disputes against employers regarding pay being docked for days off” (07 Aug).

Workers demand factory’s assets: “Labour Ministry officials yesterday met with protesting Julee Apparel workers in Phnom Penh’s Por Senchey district, where the workers are rallying over unpaid wages after their employer died by suicide” (07 Aug).

Garment worker killed in road accident: “One garment worker died and two others were seriously injured in a traffic accident yesterday [02 Aug] in Kampong Cham’s Cherng Prey district” (03 Aug).

India

Why are young women workers killing themselves in India? “Now, to add to the workplace sexual harassment, the rapes (106 a day - official data) and the female infanticide, we have something new in India. Young women workers in south India’s garment industry are killing themselves. Sometimes in the factory, or in the hostels attached to the factories. Twenty suspected suicides occurred in just three months, in the state of Tamil Nadu” (09 Aug). [Ed’s note: article from ETI.]

Indian garment workers move to strengthen union power: “About 25 women garment union leaders participated in the workshop on organizing and union building. The workshop witnessed enthusiastic participation of garment union leaders, where they developed plans to address various practical difficulties involved in union organising efforts at the factory level” (02 Aug).

Malaysia

“Introduce foreign worker ratio system”: “The government should introduce a ratio system that allows for the hiring of a maximum number of foreign workers in a company based on its total workforce” (06 Aug).

Myanmar

Myanmar Fu Fung garment factory owners run away without giving salaries: “Owners of Myanmar Fu Fung garment factory in Pakkoku industrial zone without giving notice of closure or stopping the factory, run away lacking paying salaries to [over 300] workers” (07 Aug).

Pakistan

Disgruntled labourer takes factory workers hostage to draw CJP, COAS attention: “A gun-wielding man has taken his fellow factory workers hostage over outstanding [wages] owed by the owners in Karachi” (07 Aug).

South Africa

National shoemakers’ strike suspended: “The national shoemakers' strike has been suspended and workers have returned to work. Members of the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) went on strike last month … Workers demanded a 7.5% salary increase and more family responsibly leave” (08 Aug).

MANUFACTURERS

DNFI Innovation in Natural Fibres Award 2018:Velener Textil GmbH, located in Velen, Germany, has won the Discover Natural Fibres Initiative (DNFI) Innovation in Natural Fibres Award for 2018” (09 Aug).

Unmade raises $4 million to bring its sustainable tech to the fashion industry: “The software company provides new manufacturing methods to fashion brands which allows them to only manufacture items that will be sold to consumers. Here’s how it works” (09 Aug).

EU trade group raises concerns over possible skin sensitiser restriction: “A proposal to restrict skin sensitisers and irritants in textiles and leather articles risks contradicting and overlapping with current regulation, says textiles trade group, the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry” (08 Aug).

Potential of Industry 4.0 drives new developments at Monforts: “Resource efficiency is being addressed via the latest technologies such as the company’s Eco Line for denim, based on two key technology advances – the Eco Applicator for minimum application of the selected finishing chemicals and the ThermoStretch” (07 Aug).

Chemical company navigates path toward sustainability for denim, textiles: “[Garmon Chemicals] said it will reach its sustainability goals through product development and certifications” (07 Aug). [Ed’s note: article also notes the company hosted a “Doctor Visit” with Alliance for Responsible Denim for six denim brands on best practices for sustainable manufacturing.]

Radianza: An eco-friendly success story for Thai Acrylic: “Thai Acrylic Fibre (TAF), a leading manufacturer of acrylic fibres and owner of the Birlacril brand, has launched a unique solution to the challenges of strict environmental laws imposed on the textile industry with its Radianza acrylic fibre” (06 Aug).

Polluting Hanoi textile factory slated for relocation: After complaints about Dong Xuan Textile Factory, an affiliate of Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex), Hanoi officials have slated the enterprise for relocation over environmental concerns (06 Aug).

Closing the circle on textiles: [Ed’s note: article references Re:newcell, Evrnu, Jiaren New Materials, and Worn Again.] (02 Aug).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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.”

* 28 August, Stockholm: STWI & ZDHC Showcase: “Scalability and Collaboration in water intensive industries to achieve SDGs: Examples from the textile sector.”

29 August, Berlin: Sustainable Fashion in the Digital Era: “Introducing the new report TRANSPARENT: Sustainable Fashion in the Digital Era.”

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.”

* 26 September, Amsterdam: Unpack Impact: “Four successful impact enterprises [circular fashion] will be unpacked.”

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.”

09 – 10 October, Maastricht, the Netherlands: 34th IAF World Fashion Convention: With a theme this year of “Building a Smart Future for Fashion”, the Convention will “will show many inspiring examples of a smarter apparel supply chain.” 

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.”

15 – 17 October, Shanghai: Yarn Expo Autumn: “Sustainable sources of specialty yarns, fancy yarns and chemical fibres will be the focus at this year’s Autumn Edition.”

18 – 19 October, Milan: 5th Bluesign Conference: “TraceAbility. NetworkAbility. TransformAbility. Stitching the blue way together … gathering of all the Bluesign system partners and broader sustainability community for an opportunity to exchange ideas.”

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.)

* 25 – 26 October, Lisbon: Sustainable Retail Summit: Hosted by the Consumer Goods Forum – “Topics on the agenda include plastic waste, migrant labour, consumer health, food waste and transparency.”

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.

15 November 2018, London: Leather & Sustainability in Retail Conference 2018: “Join BLC, ILM and leather industry professionals at this year’s half-day leather sustainability conference which covers sustainability and innovation around raw materials for leather, uses for waste materials within the leather value chain and circular economy. The conference will also be considering new materials coming to market and look at transparency and traceability of production within existing processes.”

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.”

24 January 2019, London: 8th Future Fabrics Expo: “Source from 5000+ fabrics, yarns, leathers, trims with a reduced environmental impact from over 150 mills and suppliers.”

(Photo Johannes PlenioCCO)

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