THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: C&A (C2C jeans), E.L.V. Denim, Ullac, and Blackhorse Lane Ateliers (3 sustainable denim brands), Gap (job program for disadvantaged youth), Ivy Park (Beyoncé back in the news over Sri Lanka), Outerknown (surfing champion gives back), Patagonia Inc., Eileen Fisher Inc., and H&M (buying back old stuff), Reebok (plant-based shoe), Vaude (upcycling and sustainability report), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • 50% of people are delusional about how much they own versus what they wear
  • Shoppers buying clothes for Instagram pics, then returning them
  • GoBlu’s Ariel Kraten featured on New England radio show
  • Period-proof underwear a trend in sustainable fashion

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: 522 RMG units at risk over wage unrest before Eid-ul-Azha; government sets up control room to avoid unrest
  • China: several analyses of labour movement and attracting/retaining workers; protest at textile company
  • India: workers hospitalised after drinking water at apparel manufacturer; trade unions meet minister to discuss wages in textile mills
  • Jordan/Lebanon: Bangladesh takes up issue of female expat workers’ conditions

Manufacturers in this issue include: Aquafil (interview with CEO Giulio Bonazzi about Econyl), DuPont (Q&A over Sorona), General Recycled (recycling flame resistant garments), Prosperity Textiles (sustainable denim), VT Garment (fair trade), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “Foreign retailers’ confidence in us is coming back.” Mohammed Nasir, vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), commenting on a 20% rise in garment exports for July YOY (15 Aug).
  • “For us, sustainability is now table stakes. We’re not ever going to bring out a new material that doesn’t, for example, have a better life cycle analysis (LCA) and a responsible end-of-life story.” Mike Saltzberg, Global Business Director for Biomaterials at DuPont Industrial Biosciences (15 Aug).
  • “Company leaders believed, based on internal surveys, that although its customers desired (or would in the future desire) more sustainable products, many did not have the means or desire to pay extra.” David Graham Hyatt & Andrew Spicer on Walmart’s attempts to be sustainable and affordable (14 Aug).
  • “Sustainability is not a goal but a principle to follow.” Giulio Bonazzi, CEO of Aquafil (makers of Econyl yarn) (13 Aug).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

C&A presents world’s most sustainable jeans: “C&A is the world's first retailer to offer jeans that are completely Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM at the Gold level. Designed in partnership with Fashion for Good, a global platform that aims to make all fashion good, the jeans were made with completely sustainable materials and were produced in compliance with the high Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Gold level” (16 Aug).

Patagonia, IKEA among companies wanting to buy back old stuff: “The local Salvation Army thrift store isn’t the only place offering new life to used clothing and furniture: Patagonia Inc., Eileen Fisher Inc., H&M, and IKEA are among the global brands experimenting with repair or buy-back programs to extend their products’ lives” (16 Aug).

Gap expands its job program for disadvantaged youth to 53 cities worldwide: “Gap Inc has announced plans to expand “This Way Ahead”, an on-the-job training program aimed at 16 to 24 year-olds from low-income households. The company aims to extend the program from 15 to 53 cities in the US, Canada, Japan and UK, until the end of the year” (16 Aug).

Fashion industry treats everything as disposable – even the women making the garments: “The controversy surrounding Beyoncé’s fashion label, Ivy Park, is back in the news, trending globally in social media. After the story flared in 2016 that Sri Lankan women, responsible for cutting and sewing Beyoncé’s Ivy Park garments, were poorly paid and horribly treated, it has quieted in the mainstream news cycle. (15 Aug).

Reebok launches plant-based Cotton + Corn sneaker: “Sportswear brand Reebok has revealed the first product from its sustainability initiative Cotton + Corn – a pair of trainers with a bioplastic sole” (15 Aug).

Kelly Slater and Outerknown ride the wave of eco-fashion: “The environment, specifically the ocean, has given a lot to champion pro surfer Kelly Slater. So he co-created Outerknown to give back to nature” (15 Aug).

3 sustainable denim brands getting the green light: E.L.V. Denim, Ullac, and Blackhorse Lane Ateliers (14 Aug).

Walmart tried to make sustainability affordable. here’s what happened: “We spent five years studying the program – speaking with Walmart’s sustainability leaders, its suppliers and others who have a stake in the company’s activities such as environmental groups and farmers. Our findings highlight both the promises and perils of what one Walmart executive optimistically termed the “democratization of sustainability”” (14 Aug).

Protect children and mothers in the fashion industry! “We demand that [H&M, Cecil, Zalando, Primark and C&A] ensure that all children are properly looked after by female workers of their suppliers in India” (14 Aug). [Ed’s note: an online petition by Femnet in Germany.]

Vaude starts upcycling community: “Because throwing away would be a waste, German outdoor outfitter Vaude recently launched its Upcycling Community: a marketplace that facilitates the exchange between creatives and “resource producers” who want to jointly develop new recycling options for raw materials” (13 Aug).

9 companies you didn't know use recycled water bottles in their products: Adidas, Girlfriend Collective, Patagonia, Nike, Aday, Rothy’s, Andi, Vivobarefoot, and Allbirds (13 Aug).

Vaude publishes its 2017 Sustainability Report: “Our vision: “We are consistently pursuing our green path – eco-friendly and fair.” Antje von Dewitz – CEO Vaude” (01 Aug).

NEWS & REPORTS

Call Me Priya: film sparks debate about India textile industry abuses: “A film about a young textile worker in southern India is sparking debate in rural communities at the heart of an industry that campaigners say is plagued by exploitation and abuse” (16 Aug).

People do not wear at least 50 percent of their wardrobes, says study: “A study with 18,000 heads of households in 20 countries, conducted by relocation and removals company Movinga, revealed that the majority of consumers around the world are highly delusional about how much they own versus how much they actually wear” (16 Aug). [Ed’s note: the article contains table breaking down nations by delusion ranking. Russians and French have the lowest levels of delusion.]

Fashion for Good launches toolkit on how to develop Cradle to Cradle denim: “Fashion for Good, the global initiative to make the fashion industry more innovative and sustainable, is launching the world’s first toolkit on the product development of Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified denim and materials. The guide includes lessons learned by fast fashion brand C&A while developing its C2C denim in collaboration with Fashion for Good” (16 Aug).

Shoppers are buying clothes just for the Instagram pic, and then returning them: “According to a survey commissioned by the credit card company Barclaycard, nearly one in 10 UK shoppers (9%) admit to buying clothing only to take a photo on social media. After the “outfit of the day” makes it online, they return it back to the store” (14 Aug).

Period-proof underwear: a growing trend in sustainable fashion: [Ed’s note: an in-depth look three brands of period-proof underwear: Thinx and Dear Kate, from the United States; and ModiBodi, from Australia.] (14 Aug).

The faces of fashion’s sustainable future:” It’s difficult to have a conversation about sustainable fashion without mentioning Frances Corner. The long-time activist has led the charge when it comes to making the industry more environmentally friendly. And she's starting from the ground up, teaching students at the London College of Fashion how to create clothing and build a business that operates within its boundaries” (13 Aug).

Worker Rights Consortium Report: Findings, recommendations, and status, KT Embroidery (Bangladesh): “This report concerns the resolution of labor rights violations at KT Embroidery, a factory in Savar, Bangladesh. The factory embroidered collegiate licensed hats, which were supplied to Zephyr Graf-X Headwear (“Zephyr”). While the factory was not disclosed by Zephyr, the Worker Rights Consortium (“WRC”) confirmed that this production was subcontracted to KT Embroidery by Zephyr’s supplier, Han Apparels” (06 Aug).

Ariel Kraten – GoBlu: Ariel Kraten talks about GoBlu: a sustainability accelerator for the apparel and textile industry, working with fashion brands, sewing factories, and dye houses on sustainability (26 Jun – 1:47-minute video).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Six digital centres opened for RMG workers: “Six digital centres have been established to ensure easy, fast and low-cost access to public and private services for RMG workers in Gazipur” (16 Aug).

Over 500 industrial units at risk of unrest over wages, find Industrial police: “Over 500 industrial units across the country are vulnerable to labour unrest over payment of wages and festival allowances to workers before Eid-ul-Azha, according to the industrial police sources” (13 Aug).

Govt sets up control room to avoid RMG labour unrest: “The government has set up a temporary control room in the city to avoid any possible labour unrest in the apparel sector, officials said. The control room has been established at the Dhaka district office of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) at Purana Paltan” (07 Aug).

China

Attracting younger workers: the challenges facing manufacturers in China: “Robin Zhang of ETI member, Matrix APA, has been researching worker retention rates in China – particularly the difficulty in attracting a younger demographic of worker. In this long read, he analyses the challenges facing local manufacturers and shares his thoughts about some of the actions Chinese suppliers can take to tackle what is a growing problem” (16 Aug).

An overview of workers’ collective protests in China: “[China Labour Bulletin] examine[s] the fundamental issues in labour relations that gave rise so many collective protests in just three years” (15 Aug).

Workers protest wage arrears owed by textile company: “Workers protest wage arrears owed by textile company in Xiangshui, Jiangsu” (15 Aug).

China’s labour movement in transition: “For China’s workers, the first five years of Xi Jinping’s rule (2013–2018) were characterised by slower economic growth, the decline of traditional industries such as manufacturing and mining, a rapid growth in service industries, and the increasing use of flexible or precarious labour” (13 Aug). [Ed’s note: long analysis, worth reading to understand changes underway.]

India

More than 100 workers hospitalised after drinking factory water: More than 100 workers at Wonder Blues garment factory were hospitalised after drinking water provided by the company. Several were treated as out patients and sent home. More than 600 fell ill. “Wonder Blues produces for international brands, Pepe Jeans, Benetton, Gap, LP” and others (16 Aug).

Trade unions meet Textile Minister on NTC workers’ wage revision: “Trade union representatives from Coimbatore have met Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani and sought her intervention to finalise wages for workers of National Textile Corporation (NTC) mills in Tamil Nadu” (11 Aug).

Jordan/Lebanon

Bangladesh takes up workers’ problems with Jordan, Lebanon: “Expatriates welfare and overseas employment ministry takes up the problems of the Bangladeshi female workers with the concerned authorities of Jordan and Lebanon, senior officials said” (13 Aug).

MANUFACTURERS

Q&A: DuPont Sorona and the evolution, and revolution, of biomaterials: “Over his more than 30 years in the business, Mike Saltzberg has seen firsthand how sustainability has grown to be of equal consideration with technical performance and cost in the development of new biomaterials” (15 Aug).

European textile groups slam REACH review: “The European REACH regulation is having the exact opposite impact of what it was originally designed to do, with the potential impacts of hazardous textile chemicals on both human health and the environment likely to be exacerbated by sourcing more from Asia, according to the recent findings of several leading European textile industry bodies” (14 Aug).

FR recycling program: “A Vancouver-based company, General Recycled, has saved 100,000 flame-resistant (FR) garments from ending up in the landfill. The company recycles FR aramid fabrics, known under brand names such as Nomex, Kevlar and Kermel” (14 Aug).

VT Garment moves up the value chain as world-class fair-trade designer, manufacturer: “Sportswear and outerwear designer and manufacturer VT Garment takes pride in something bigger than its award-winning quality and craftsmanship. It is one of the biggest factories worldwide with the Fair Trade certification and Fair Labor Association membership – advocating better wages and working conditions, local sustainability, environmental protection and overall fair trade” (14 Aug). [Ed’s note: produces for Patagonia, Jack Wolfskin, Montbell, and Adidas.]

Econyl’s success story: fashion from marine litter: An interview on German retailer Tchibo’s blog with Giulio Bonazzi, the CEO of Aquafil (makers of Econyl yarn) (13 Aug – in German).

The Sustainability Series: Prosperity Textiles and manufacturing sustainable denim: “For the next instalment in our Sustainability Series, we take a look at Prosperity Textiles, and their new innovations around sustainable denim production. One of the largest denim mills in China, Prosperity has been taking measures to ensure the sustainability of its products” (08 Aug).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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 Clker-Free-Vector-ImagesCCO)

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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