THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Everlane (‘clean silk’) Superdry (Indian sweatshops), Uniqlo (new sustainability commitment), Walmart (‘zero waste’), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • How Chinese workers are using online tools to organise
  • Sri Lanka and Bangladesh working together on eco-friendly jute
  • NSCPA in Africa charges mohair farmers
  • A response to the anti-fur movement
  • Instagram’s ‘outfit of the day’ bad for fashion

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: minimum wage debate; the cost of living for factory workers; and the failure of factories to Eid-ul-Azha allowances
  • Cambodia: talks begin next month on next year’s minimum wage
  • India: garment workers sickened by contaminated water

Manufacturers in this issue include: Hyosung (green options for denim), Vlisco (in talks to locate in a Nigerian industrial park), and more.

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Flashback: Investigation found slum-dwellers making Superdry clothes for 28p an hour: [Ed’s note: This is a conservative site reminding its base Julian Dunkerton (the Superdry co-founder who is putting £1m pounds into a campaign for another vote on whether Britain should remain in the EU) paid workers in India 28p/hour to sew clothes. Shades of media coverage about brand Ivanka and overseas conditions – a political story more than a sweatshop one, and suggests the rise of tit-for-tat exposés for political purposes.] (19 Aug).

Uniqlo Sustainability Statement “Unlocking the Power of Clothing” (Stores and Communities): “With a focus on products, the supply chain, employees, and stores and communities, we will continue our initiatives through our clothing business to change the world for the better and become a sustainable brand for the future” (19 Aug – 0:55-minute video).

Everlane is launching ‘clean silk’ in a move toward greater sustainability: Everlane launches ‘clean silk’, partnering with a LEED-certified factory (Nanchong Fashion Foundation Manufacturing Ltd. in China, which is developing its own organic silk farm), and Bluesign-certified dyehouse (17 Aug).

Walmart aims for ‘zero waste’ to landfills by 2025: ““We aim not only to lower our own emissions, but to galvanize collective action across the retail supply chain to bend the curve on emissions—removing a gigaton through initiatives in energy, waste, agriculture, packaging, natural capital and product design”” (15 Aug).

NEWS & REPORTS

The proliferation of online organising tools used by China’s workers: “In this second English-language extract from CLB’s report on the workers’ movement in China (中国工人运动观察报告2015-2017), published last week, we show how China’s workers have become increasingly sophisticated and adept at using social media tools to enhance collective action” (20 Aug).

Water, the new oil: “There are also a few examples of big brands working to improve and safeguard their water usage. Levi's, in partnership with one of its Chinese suppliers, recently made 100,000 pairs of jeans using 100 percent recycled water. As a result, Levi´s claimed to have saved 12 ml of water, the equivalent of almost five Olympic-size swimming pools” (18 Aug). [Ed’s note: article is about water in Bangladesh.]

Sri Lanka design school and Bangladesh plan eco-friendly jute apparel: “Sri Lanka and Bangladesh apparel makers are in high-level discussions to deepen collaboration around innovation with plans for jute based eco-friendly apparel in partnership with a design school in the island taking a creative role, a diplomat said” (18 Aug).

NSPCA charges four mohair farmers after video of alleged goat abuse: “The National Council of SPCA (NSPCA) has confirmed it laid charges against four mohair farmers in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape following a video exposing alleged abuse. The video was made by animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)” (17 Aug).

Kombucha couture: Valley designer looks to grow her own clothing: “Inside the lounge is a makeshift lab where dozens of plastic containers, some open and others closed, hold a blend of teas, sugar, water and bacteria that are fermenting into a slippery, rubbery fiber mat. A mat that, once dried, will become someone’s coat, jacket or dress” (17 Aug).

Op-Ed – Fur: A reality check: “Not only is real fur continuing to make a strong showing on the catwalks, but it is also sustainable, argue Mark Oaten and Nancy Daigneault [in BOF]” (17 Aug). [Ed’s note: a response to an op-ed PJ Smith of the Humane Society of the United States on 11 Aug in BOF.]

This ethical fashion comparison site might change how you shop forever: “Frustrated with the lack of information around ethical fashion brands? Or the fact that you have to scour the internet with a list of your favourite brands and then delve into their credentials? You’re not the only ones. Compare Ethics reckons they’ve got the answer” (16 Aug).

Apps for sustainable clothes shopping: [T]there are now a number of apps that take the work out of shopping ethically, discovering great secondhand clothes and even finding out where to recycle old clothes and textiles” (16 Aug).

Why Instagram’s ‘outfit of the day’ hashtag is bad for fashion – and bad for the soul: “Almost one in 10 Britons say they buy clothes online just to post an image on social media, before sending them back immediately for a refund; among those aged 35 to 44, this rises to nearly one in five” (15 Aug).

Confessions of a Former Fast Fashion Executive: “I have been an executive for large fashion companies most of my career. I held senior management positions in buying and production in Footwear and Accessories for multi-chain retailers. It was not clear to me at the time, but truth be told, I played a part in the explosion of fast fashion and mass consumerism, as we know it today” (15 Aug).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Minimum wage movement: young apparel workers: “In November 2017, a minimum wage board was initiated to review the existing pay structure and increase the wage for apparel workers. Since then, young apparel workers took to street to ensure that a meaningful dialogue among workers, factory owners and government, so the board could negotiate a living wage, not a poverty wage” (18 Aug).

CPD studies living cost of Bangladesh RMG workers: “The living cost of readymade garment (RMG) workers in Bangladesh marked a 17 per cent annual rise from Tk 10,353 in 2013 to Tk 19,267 in 2018, according to think tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)” (18 Aug).

Many factories fail to pay festival allowances to workers in time: “A good number of factory owners across the country have failed to keep their promises of paying festival allowances to their workers in time ahead of Eid-ul-Azha, one of the biggest religious festivals of Muslims, scheduled to be celebrated on August 22” (17 Aug).

Cambodia

New minimum wage talks set to begin next month: “he Cambodian government has announced it would hold a new round of minimum wage talks for garment workers starting in September” (16 Aug).

India

Workers of garment factory fall sick: “Garment workers employed in [Wonder Blues] fell ill on Thursday [16 Aug], reportedly after consuming contaminated water in the premises. … “The company employs 1,500 people. At least 500 employees are suffering from infection”” (16 Aug).

MANUFACTURERS

The high-tech future of fashion manufacturing: “You may not realize it, but almost every piece of clothing you own was made, in some part, by a person. Clothing manufacturing still lags years behind industries like cars and electronics, but new technologies like lasers and 3D knitting could radically transform how garment factories operate around the world. On today’s episode, Quartz fashion reporter Marc Bain explores how the notoriously low-tech apparel industry is now on the cusp of a new era of customizable, mass-produced fashion” (17 Aug – 7:56-minute video). [Ed’s note: Levi’s, Zozo and Uniqlo mentioned.]

Vlisco, Obaseki heighten talks to locate factory in Benin Industrial Park: “The Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that fruitful negotiations are ongoing to attract Vlisco, one of West Africa’s largest textile companies to set up at Benin Industrial Park (BIP), as the state plans to reposition the state as a textile hub in the country” (16 Aug).

Hyosung to bring high-performance and sustainable technologies to Munich fabric start: “Through its creora eco-soft fiber, Hyosung will bring greener options to denim manufacturing, as it will reduce the strain on valuable energy resources during the finishing process” (16 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 MikeCCO)

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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