Brands in this issue include: Eileen Fisher (new repurposing concept store), Frank and Oak (sustainable denim line), Inditex (#4 at changing the world), Levi’s (looking back and worker well-being), Miss Selfridge (lowly rated by Good On You), Nike (viral racist video), Reformation (sustainable underwear), Vivobarefoot (plant-based shoes), and more.

In general news:

  • 20% of UK business find wage abuses in supply chains
  • Aussies put brakes on fast fashion
  • Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) showing growth

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: BGMEA says most factories paid Eid bonus on time; minimum livelihood needs calculated for RMG workers
  • China: are the Jasic Technology protests and arrests a turning point in China’s labour movement?
  • India: lack of data hindering efforts to protect migrant women
  • Myanmar: ILO dissatisfied with Myanmar’s weak implementation of labour laws
  • South Africa: footwear strike officially ended
  • Thailand: migrant workers deported for volunteering on education project

Manufacturers in this issue include: Solvay (drought impacting polyamide production) and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “If G-Star Raw and C&A can make Cradle to Cradle clothing at prices comparable to their other offerings, why can’t any of the denim houses in LA do so as well?” Susanna Schick, on Study Hall LA in LA’s Ace Hotel this Sunday (20 Aug).

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


Nike closes South African stores after racist video goes viral: “Nike temporarily closed South African stores after the husband of an employee was caught in a racism row over a video he posted while on vacation” (22 Aug). [Ed’s note: video can be seen here. More here.]

Reformation launches sustainable underwear: “The limited-edition line-up of two bras and one bralette and two styles of briefs – thongs and boy shorts – are in line with the brand’s commitment to circular fashion. Each piece in the $12-$45 priced collection is made from Lenzing Tencel, recycled lace and eco mesh” (22 Aug).

Inditex ranked #4 on Fortune’s Change the World list 2018: “Mindful of consumers’ growing desire to know their clothes were made under safe working conditions, Inditex, the retailer and parent of fast fashion chain Zara, has steadily shifted production to suppliers with stronger safety records” (21 Aug).

A New Eileen Fisher retail concept grows in Brooklyn: “New retail concept has a DIY element as consumers learn to repurpose old garments” (21 Aug).

Frank and Oak launches new denim collection: “Montreal-based retailer Frank And Oak has reinvented its denim line to include more sustainable pieces and new styles for both men and women” (21 Aug).

Levi Strauss looks back at its worker well-being initiative: “In 2011, Levi Strauss & Co. launched its Worker Well-being initiative with the goal of improving the lives of those who make our products around the world. To meet the specific needs of workers, we partnered with our vendors and their employees to develop programs and partnerships that give individuals the support and resources they need to be happy and healthy. Since its inception, the program has reached more than 150,000 workers – and it continues to grow” (21 Aug).

Vivobarefoot announces shoes made of plants: “Clarks family-founded British start-up Vivobarefoot has announced it will be adding plant-shoes to its sustainable footwear offering, as part of its strategy to become 90 percent sustainable by 2020” (21 Aug).

5 new denim brands that are diversifying the market – and changing the game: “In the past few seasons, a smattering of independent denim brands have risen up to the occasion, providing solutions to long-standing problems in the market—like limited sizing or concerns about the environmental impact of jean production” (20 Aug). [Ed’s note: Outland Denim, Loup, Good American, Mott & Bow, ‏and Warp + Weft.]

Dutch female founder challenges the leather industry with her growing brand: “Working with tanneries in India, Paulien Wesselink has turned a longstanding interest in global development into an eco-friendly leather bag brand that embraces the trade-not-aid philosophy. She started as a recent college graduate with just €15,000 in her coffers and has now grown O My Bag to a recognized brand across Europe” (20 Aug).

How ethical Is Miss Selfridge? [Ed’s note: rating by Good On You app: Not good enough 2/5.] (19 Aug).


A fifth of UK businesses have found wage abuses in their supply chain: “Research from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) has revealed that 21% of UK supply chain managers have seen wage violations in their supply chains over the last two years. When asked about the types of wage violations they have seen: 14% have seen evidence of staff being paid late; 10% have seen staff not being paid the minimum wage within the country the supplier is based; 3% have seen both” (22 Aug).

The Australians putting the brakes on fast fashion, fearing for environment: “Shocked by the speed at which Australians buy and throw away cheap garments, [Sarah Freeman] is trying to harness an ancient concept – libraries – to persuade shoppers to rent instead of purchase clothes” (22 Aug).

Labour standards shouldn’t be supply chains’ weakest link: “As a company owner, the reputational and financial risk from your supply chain will always be present - but do you know the extent of the risk?” (21 Aug). [Ed’s note: the author is director for Responsible Investment, at HSBC Global Asset Management.]

All signs on growth at cotton made in Africa: “As the world’s largest standard for sustainable cotton from Africa, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) now certifies around 40% of the cotton produced by smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Demand from the textile industry for CmiA cotton is up on the previous year by around 79%. And the trend is set to continue in 2018. Additional companies now on board with Cotton made in Africa include Tendam Global Fashion Retail from Spain, Vlisco from Holland and Gudrun Sjöden from Sweden” (21 Aug).

Developing a circular narrative: the case of relooping fashion: “It is often said that transitioning towards a circular economy requires a number of changes in the way businesses operate. For example, the linear supply chain will need to be re-organised into a circular ecosystem, which decouples growth from the use of virgin raw materials and resources. What do these changes mean in terms of communications and marketing?” (21 Aug).



BGMEA: Near 100% of RMG factory owners have paid Eid bonuses: “Almost every Readymade Garment (RMG) factory owner has fallen in line with a government directive and paid staff bonuses for Eid-ul-Azha, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said yesterday” (20 Aug).

RMG workers: Minimum livelihood needs: “The average monthly expenditure of sample RMG workers has been found to be Tk. 22435, where food costs are Tk. 8,125 and non-food costs Tk. 11,142 (Table 1). The ratio of food and non-food expenses is 36:64 now, which was 50:50 in 2013” (20 Aug)” [Ed’s note: article contains useful data in tables.]


Jasic Tech worker detentions in Shenzhen: [Ed’s note: although the student protests over sackings at Jasic Technology, and now arrests [23/24 Aug], are not directly related to the apparel/textile sector, the potential ramifications may well be important. Whether we’re witnessing a historical moment in China’s labour movement or not remains to be seen, but for the time being I would recommend any company sourcing from China to keep an eye on it. The single best source online for up-to-date information (in English) is SACOM’s Twitter feed.]


‘Lack of data hinders efforts to ensure safety of migrant women’: “Unavailability of statistics about labourers from other states is a major hindrance in ensuring their safety and welfare” (22 Aug).


ILO says Myanmar’s implementation of labour laws weak: “ILO said Myanmar has been weak in implementing the Labour Organization Law, the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law and the Special Economic Zone Law” (17 Aug).

South Africa

Footwear industry strike comes to end after a month: “Members of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) have ended their more than a month-long national footwear industry strike over wage increases. (22 Aug).


Migrant workers in Thailand arrested for volunteering: “Two female migrant workers from Myanmar were arrested in Thailand, fined and await deportation for volunteering their time to teach children of migrant workers at a Buddhist monastery, an action the Thailand-based Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) is calling “illegitimate and unjustified”” (23 Aug). [Ed’s note: This story is worth watching for the signal it may send to similar programs providing education services to migrant workers' children in Thailand.]


Solvay expects low Rhine water levels to affect its polyamides operations: Solvay expects its polyamide activities to be temporarily impacted by the severe drop in water levels along the Rhine river following the persistent heat and drought in Central Europe” (21 Aug).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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.

* 06 September, Hong Kong (livestreamed): Redress Design Award 2018 Grand Final Show: Redress will be live-streaming the Grand Final Show or the Redress Design Award 2018 on its Facebook page at 6.30 p.m.

* 06 – 07 September, Hong Kong: Fashion Summit (HK) 2018: Asia’s sustainable fashion event.

* 10 September, San Francisco: The Future of Design Workshop: A workshop teaching the SAC’s Higg Production Tools to apparel and footwear designers.

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.”

* 01 – 02 October, Toronto: Wear Conference: “WEAR [provides a] forum to share examples of both local and global leadership, best practices and innovative solutions with the North American apparel and textile industry.”

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 Jorge GuillenCCO)

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.