THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: C&A (launch of sustainable jeans), H&M, Kik, Primark, Aldi, Gerry Weber, Olymp (companies in the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles), Louis Vuitton (alleged tax evasion in Greece), Nike (gender discrimination and hostile workplace lawsuit), Patagonia, The North Face, Osprey, Marmot, Outdoor Research, Columbia, Keen, PrAna, MSR, NEMO, Cotopaxi, and REI (outdoor gear and apparel companies doing good for the environment), and more.

In general news:

  • Helsinki Fashion Week pledges to ban leather
  • A fashion fur future (and is the debate on fur coming to an end?)
  • Three ways to make ethical fashion less more expensive and appealing
  • Good on You ethical fashion app will increase brands rated five-fold

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: another call for a wage increase; and a new report claiming worker attrition due to excessive work in RMG is 90%
  • Cambodia: new minimum wage floated; worker protest blocks road; and workers docked for taking days off to vote in recent election to be paid
  • China: is the worker’s movement changing?
  • Pakistan: civil society organisations decry chief justice comment on trade unions
  • Turkey: union election in factory producing for H&M and Zara
  • South Africa: footwear workers back at work after 5-week strike

Manufacturers in this issue include: Chevron Phillips Chemical (new VP of sustainability), Invista and Unifi (building sustainability into business models), Waste2Wear (2 trillion bottles recycled into textiles), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “Fur production is … environmentally toxic [but a] piece of faux fur … has about the same impact on the environment as the plush on a stuffed teddy bear.” PJ Smith, senior manager of fashion policy for the Humane Society of the United States in a BOF op-ed (11 Aug).
  • “17 per cent of [Bangladeshi garment] workers … sleep on floor [despite] the country [being] the second garment exporter in the global market.” Shah Atiul Islam, president of the Trade Union Federation (11 Aug).
  • “Harsh as it may sound, the customer doesn’t want to know the difficulties of production. It rests on the entrepreneurs to figure out ways of reducing the costs of production without a corresponding reduction in the quality of the products.” Nnaemeka Ugochukwu, on how to make ethical fashion more appealing (10 Aug).
  • “We always hear that “fashion is the 2nd most polluting industry in the world”. But it actually ties with the livestock industry as the 5th most polluting industry in the world.” Good on You (09 Aug).
  • “Around 60 per cent of the brands listed on Good On You are rated ‘Not Good Enough’ or ‘We Avoid’, our two lowest ratings.” Gordon Renouf, founder, Good on You (09 Aug).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Louis Vuitton named as Greek financial police take on widespread tax evasion: “Last week, dozens of tax inspectors fanned across Mykonos to identify instances of tax violations, and Louis Vuitton was one of the most prominent names on the list of alleged offenders” (13 Aug).

Nike slapped with gender discrimination, hostile workplace lawsuit: “Nike’s marketing as a company that believes in female empowerment could not be further from the reality, according to a new lawsuit” (10 Aug).

C&A launches sustainable jeans: “This month, fashion chain C&A is introducing a durable jeans line with the Cradle to Cradle Gold certificate. This guarantees a sustainable production process, in which all raw materials are reused [for 29 euros]” (03 Aug – in Dutch).

NEWS & REPORTS

Garment companies publish sustainability goals: “[German] fashion companies have joined forces in a voluntary alliance [Partnership for Sustainable Textiles] and must now disclose measures for more sustainable supply chains. Critics complain about the slow pace and demand stricter laws” (13 Aug – in German). [Ed’s note: article mentions H&M, Kik, Primark, Aldi, Gerry Weber, Olymp, and INKOTA.]

Helsinki Fashion Week pledges to ban leather: “Labels taking part in the Helsinki Fashion Week will no longer be allowed to use leather in their collection” (13 Aug).

The UN and Finland’s xEdu Launch the UNTIL-XEDU Learning Accelerator: “The United Nations Technology Innovation Labs (UNTIL) and xEdu, a Finnish-based edtech accelerator [have started a] lab in Malaysia [focusing] on ethical fashion and textiles using blockchain and 3D printing solutions” (12 Aug).

Fashion’s fur-free future: “Today’s consumers want to align their values with their wardrobes like never before and fashion companies are taking notice, argues PJ Smith [senior manager of fashion policy for the Humane Society of the United States]” (11 Aug).

Outdoor gear, apparel, and the environment: “I hear a lot about Patagonia doing the right thing by the environment, but what about the rest of the outdoor gear and apparel industry?” (11 Aug). [Ed’s note: mentioned are The North Face, Osprey, Marmot, Outdoor Research, Columbia, Keen, PrAna, MSR, NEMO, Cotopaxi, SAC, and REI.]

Reversing supply chain’s race to the bottom: “With greater supply chain transparency and visibility, labor risks are more easily mitigated. Suppliers are extensions of a company’s supply chain, and a failure to acknowledge downstream working conditions could (and often does) cause serious damage to brands” (10 Aug).

3 ways to make ethical fashion products less expensive (and more attractive to consumers): Includes “Ditch artisanal production” and “Produce in developing nations” (10 Aug).

Apparel Impact Institute appoints Lewis Perkins as president: “The Apparel Impact Institute (AII), a collaboration of brands, manufacturers and industry stakeholders that have come together to select, fund, and scale high-impact projects that dramatically and measurably improve the sustainability outcomes of the apparel and footwear industry, today announced Lewis Perkins as its inaugural president” (10 Aug).

Global Fashion Exchange: “If people are smiling, the world is going to shift”: An interview with Global Fashion Exchange co-founder Patrick Duffy. Summery here (10 Aug).

Plan to raise brands rated from 2,000 to 10,000 in 12 months: Interview with Gordon Renouf, founder of Good on You, the ethical ratings app (09 Aug).

Fashion victims: inside the clothing industry’s emotive fur debate: “The use of fur in clothing is a controversial topic, inciting fervour on both sides of the argument. As more of Europe's fashion houses decide to go fur-free, Barclay Ballard explores whether the debate is finally drawing to a close” (07 Aug).

A twist on recycling: retailers rebuying their merchandise for resale: “There’s a new trend in product recycling being pioneered by companies like Ikea, The North Face and Patagonia, which are buying back their used products for resale to consumers” (07 Aug).

The time is now for recycled cotton—and here’s why: ” As the industry advances toward greater sustainability and more recycled options for textiles and apparel, the Global Fashion Agenda has been on board to help facilitate the positive shift” (03 Aug).

Collaboration for Sustainable Development of Viscose (CV) roadmap: The Chinese Collaboration for Sustainable Development of Viscose (CV) has issued a report (30 Jul).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Nine in 10 RMG workers quit jobs because of huge work load: report: “Almost nine in every 10 workers in readymade garment sector quit their job within years after joining it as they cannot endure the excessive work they have to do in the sector in Bangladesh, says a report unveiled at National Press Club in the capital on Friday” (11 Aug).

Pay Eid festival allowance by Aug 16, partial wage by Aug 19: “Factory owners including the owners of readymade garment units were on Thursday asked to pay Eid-ul-Azha festival allowance to their workers by August 16 and to ensure partial payment of wages for the current month by August 19” (10 Aug).

Combined call to Bangladeshi government for wage increase: “Fair Wear Foundation and the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile wrote a combined letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh. In the letter, the two organisations encouraged the Bangladeshi government to take action to increase wages to a living wage standard” (09 Aug).

Cambodia

New minimum wage floated: “The Workers’ Democratic Union (WDU) is planning to propose between $200 and $250 as the minimum wage for workers in the garment and footwear industry and is seeking the support of other unions to negotiate with the government. Currently, a worker earns $165 per month” (13 Aug).

Docked election wages to be paid: “Nearly 1,500 protesting factory workers [at Sheng Yao factory] on Friday agreed to resume work following an agreement by the company to settle unpaid wages docked after they took three days off to vote in the national election last month” (13 Aug).

Workers block road in protest: “Around 170 workers held a protest on Wednesday [08 Aug] by blocking the road and grabbing equipment from their factory [TY]” (10 Aug).

China

(The Workers’ Movement in China 2015-2017): A new report from CLB: [Ed’s note: an important read for any company with retail outlets in China, because one of the trends noted worker protests spreading from factories (in the Pearl River and Yangtze River deltas) to sectors across the whole country, including retail. By China Labour Bulletin in Hong Kong.] (13 Aug – in Chinese, but with English summary).

Police in China’s Guangdong shut down garment factory of Liu Xiaobo supporter: “Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have shut down a factory after its owner joined in memorial events for late Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died while serving a jail term for subversion in 2017” (10 Aug).

Jordan

Better Work Jordan hosts forum on garment sector's future: “The tenth Multi-Stakeholders Forum, hosted by Better Work Jordan on August 2 in capital Amman, brought together ambassadors and representatives from government ministries, development organizations, unions and private institutions to deliberate on the latest research findings and policy developments on labour issues in Jordan’s garment industry” (11 Aug).

Pakistan

Civil society, labour leaders decry CJP’s statement against trade unions: “Various civil society, trade unions and labour supporting organizations of Pakistan have urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Mian Saqib Nisar to take back his statement regarding the trade unions during a hearing, in which he had reportedly said that had he got powers and trade unions were not part of the Constitution, he would have banned trade unions because they have destroyed the institutions” (10 Aug).

Turkey

Union election in Turkish factory producing for H&M and Zara: The election was at Akar Tekstil in Izmar, for union representatives at Deriteks Sendikasi [Leather and Textile Workers’ Union] within a Global Framework Agreement brokered by IndustriALL Global Union (10 Aug).

165 rescued from flooded factory in northern Turkey: “A total of 165 workers were rescued from a flood that hit a textile factory in Turkey’s Black Sea region, local officials said on Wednesday [08 Aug]” (09 Aug).

South Africa

Footwear manufacturing workers back at work after 5-week strike: “Employees in the footwear manufacturing sector are back at work after a nearly five-week-long strike. The industrial action was suspended this week. It led to a near complete shutdown of the sector” (10 Aug).

MANUFACTURERS

A new way to cut water use in textile industry: “Researchers in India have come up with a eco-friendly process for manufacturing yarns” (12 Aug).

Sustainable Textile School 2018: Change is at the gates: “The 2018 edition of the Sustainable Textile School is ready to welcome guests and participants from all over the world. More than 200 experts from all fields of the textile industry, from science and engineering, startups, associations and various ambassadors for a circular textile chain will gather in Chemnitz, Germany, from September 10-12, 2018” (10 Aug).

Keeping up with sustainability demand: “Two examples of fiber manufacturers that are aggressively building sustainability into their business models are Invista and Unifi” (09 Aug).

Chevron Phillips Chemical names James Becker vice president polymers and sustainability: “Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC (Chevron Phillips Chemical) announced today that James (Jim) Becker, currently Vice President, Polymers, will assume an additional role to shape the company’s sustainability strategy” (09 Aug).

Waste2Wear turns 2 million plastic bottles into clothing: “Textile company Waste2Wear will launch an autumn and winter collection at the end of this year, together with six major fashion brands. The clothing will be made entirely from recycled materials from the oceans and rubbish dumps” (07 Aug – in Dutch).

BPPL launches Sri Lanka’s first ever polyester yarn production facility: “BPPL Holdings PLC (BPPL), among the top brush makers in Asia, recently inaugurated the country’s first ever state-of-the-art polyester yarn plant. The facility is another milestone for BPPL, spearheaded by wholly owned subsidiary Eco-Spindles (Pvt) Ltd, towards bringing forth the advantages of innovative sustainability where yarn is produced exclusively from recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate” (29 Jul).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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.

* 10 – 12 September, Chemnitz, Germany: Sustainable Textile School: “Formation of a marketplace for innovation and further education with a focus on sustainability in the textile industry.”

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 Jeon Sang-OCCO)

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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