THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Cotton On (fair supply chain wages), Esprit (workers’ rights with IndustriALL), Faryl Robin Footwear (nursery in a Chinese factory), G-Star Raw (LA Study Hall on sustainable denim), Ivy Park (Beyoncé and #MeToo vs low supply chain wages), Primark (Pride hypocrisy?), Rent the Runway (new loan to expand), Stella McCartney (low supply chain wages), Tchibo (recycling) and more.

In general news:

  • Will people rent clothes?
  • Disability in supply chains
  • Elle’s September issue on sustainability
  • LA considers fur ban (and yet another debate over real vs faux fur)
  • Investors seeking gender bias for opportunities in Indonesian fashion
  • Some uncomfortable truths about the fleece vest (US corporate uniform for men, apparently)

Reports released this week:

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: more proposals for the minimum wage; the government promises to rewrite labour law under ILO pressure; and how going green would be help RMG exports
  • Cambodia: workers protest unpaid wages after boss commits suicide
  • China: workers block road in protest over wage arrears at shoe factory
  • India: fire in knitwear factory
  • Jordan: garment stakeholders join forces to work on compliance
  • Myanmar: workers fired for not signing employment contract they say is disadvantageous; and comment on factory closures

Manufacturers in this issue include: Alta Gracia (changes hands), Bader Leather, Wolverine Leathers, Kuo Yuen Tannery, and AI Topper (join Leather Naturally), Spinnova (spinning any cellulose), Unifi (CEO lauds sustainability push), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “The world is moving towards green industrialization. To keep up, we should also start taking green initiatives in the apparel industry to attract these global brands and retailers.” From Developing Capacity Building Framework for Green Industry in RMG Sector in Bangladesh, by the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (03 Aug).
  • “[Fashion Nova’s] clothes made for social media: meant to be worn once, maybe twice, photographed, and discarded. To keep up with that metabolism, the shop offers an obscene number of new styles – around 1,000 a week.” Allison P. Davis (02 Aug).
  • “What’s happening right now is just a fashion cycle. In fact, I call it the hypocrite cycle. It’s easy for brands to cut [fur] out when it makes up less than 0.1 per cent of their turnover.” Thomas Salomon, of the Yves Salomon fur company (01 Aug).
  • “[If Finland’s] annual harvest of wood was turned into fabric instead of paper and furniture, it could fully replace the world’s cotton production. Adele Peters (01 Aug).
  • “The image of leather is at stake.” Leather International (26 Jul).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Primark Pride T-shirt highlights supply chain hypocrisy? “High street fashion retailer Primark has found itself engulfed in a debate regarding supply chain ethics after selling Pride t-shirts aimed at promoting LGBTI rights, despite the fact these garments were printed in nations where legislation does not support this sentiment” (06 Aug).

IndustriALL and Esprit commit to working together to improve workers’ rights: “IndustriALL Global Union has signed a global framework agreement with multinational fashion brand, Esprit, committing to respect, protect and champion the human rights of workers in its supply chain” (06 Aug).

G-Star, MIT, Standing Rock and Amber Valletta are going to Study Hall Los Angeles: “Addressing the elephant in the room of “how can we effect real change?” will be Frouke Bruinsma, Corporate Responsibility Director of G-Star Raw” (05 Aug).

This female shoe force opened a daycare center for her Chinese factory workers’ kids: “Faryl Robin Morse [of Faryl Robin Footwear] is paying it forward – and has financed and opened a daycare location for factory workers in China this summer in a joint effort with one of her manufacturing partners, Dongguan Maynalisa Footwear Co.” (03 Aug).

Ivy Park is a feminist brand but the production is anti-poor women: “Netizens have recently unearthed articles that Beyoncé’s activewear brand Ivy Park is reportedly made by underpaid workers” (02 Aug).

That’s not very ethical, Stella!Stella McCartney’s new clothing range is made in an Indonesian factory by workers paid just 98p an hour [£188/month] even though she campaigns for fair wages” (03 Aug). [Ed’s note: Asia Floor Wage Alliance says living wage should be £312 per month.]

Cotton On moves toward living wages: “The Cotton On Group has become a member of Action Collaboration Transformation (ACT) as of May 2018, and looks to transition to offering a living wage to its employees moving forward” (03 Aug).

Brands warn against early closure of Bangladesh Accord: “More than 180 European brands which signed the 2018 Transition Accord have warned that if the Bangladesh government goes for a premature shut down of the Accord leaving workers in unsafe working conditions, the brands might reconsider sourcing decisions” (03 Aug).

Tchibo launches six-week campaign: “From 13 August to the end of September, Tchibo is offering various collections made from recycled materials. The sustainable product highlights include environmentally friendly sports and women’s fashion” (02 Aug).

Germany’s ‘Partnership for Sustainable Textile’ unravelling: “Too much bureaucracy, too many regulations: Three years after its creation, the ‘Partnership for Sustainable Textiles’ is losing members. But Germany's Development Ministry still stands by the alliance's ambitious aims” (03 Aug). [Ed’s note: related – Retailers abandon sweatshop safety scheme: “An alliance of retailers formed in 2014 with the aim of tackling the problem is crumbling fast. In 2016, there were nearly 200 members; now it is 130.” The article mentions Kaufhof, Karstadt, Breuninger, Wöhrl, Ludwig Beck, Ernsting’s Family, Peek & Cloppenburg, Kik, INKOTA, and Zalando (02 Aug).]

Rent the Runway bet on the death of clothing ownership — and now it’s doubling down: “To the tune of a $200 million loan to invest in its subscription rental business” (02 Aug).

Delta gives old uniforms a new life: “Delta Air Lines is sending more than 158 tonnes of its old, retired uniforms to upcycling firm Looptworks to be repurposed for future use” (02 Aug).

NEWS & REPORTS

Could rental fashion help us become more sustainable? “[A study by Westfield] showed that rental retail will be part of shopping in the future, with nearly half (46 per cent) saying they’d use rental shopping because of the choice, the ease of adapting to changing trends and, most importantly, because it provides a more sustainable approach to fashion” (06 Aug). [Ed’s note: from Harper’s Bazaar UK and includes three polls asking readers about rental fashion – stats available.]

Addressing disability in supply chains: “Matthew Rycroft, the Permanent Secretary at the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) reflects on how business can help tackle discrimination. In particular, he looks at tackling the discrimination faced by people with disabilities. It’s why DFID is supporting our latest guidance on disability inclusion in the global supply chain, which relates to ETI’s Base Code Clause 7; that no discrimination is practiced” (06 Aug).

Operation Warm provides sustainable winter coats to children in need: “Since 2002, Operation Warm and its partners have donated more than two million brand new winter coats directly to children in need, and this year it is offering a new green twist: coats made with recycled PET #1 plastic bottles” (03 Aug).

Elle’s Anne-Marie Curtis explains the significance of the September issue: “I first noticed a shift at the shows a few seasons ago. After years of influencers and editors working new, social-media-friendly looks every day in the hopes of being photographed for the street-style parade, it began to feel a bit wrong” (02 Aug).

GRI, UNGC release ‘Practical Guide’ for companies to report their impact on the SDGs: “The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) have released … Integrating the SDGs Into Corporate Reporting: A Practical Guide, [which] helps companies of all sizes to prioritize SDG targets to act and report on, set related business objectives, and measure and report on progress” (02 Aug).

Los Angeles City Council considers a ban on fur sales: “Retailers are prohibited from selling fur in the California cities of West Hollywood, Berkeley and San Francisco. Los Angeles may be next” (02 Aug).

Is artificial intelligence the future of sustainable fashion? “A collaboration between China-based retailing giant, Fung Group, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the technology included machines being automated with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) to have the ability to control everything from sewing, cutting and mixing chemicals, but most importantly to also communicate with each other” (02 Aug).

Why furrier Yves Salomon dismisses the anti-fur movement that is sweeping fashion: “Thomas Salomon, of the Yves Salomon fur company, says using fur in fashion is the same as using crocodile, leather and shearling. As he takes the brand in a fashion-forward direction, he says rivals that go fur-free are publicity seekers” (01 Aug). [Ed’s note: see response here: Faux fur is the right fashion choice: just ask Gucci or Versace (05 Aug).]

Gender bias creates gender-lens investment opportunities in ethical fashion in Indonesia: “Patamar Capital and Kinara Indonesia are surfacing and investing in companies solving a range of workers’ rights and environmental challenges in Indonesia’s high-flying fashion industry” (01 Aug). [Ed’s note: the duo have backed Astungkara, Minikinizz, Kostoom, and HeyStartic.]

Some uncomfortable facts about the fleece vest: “The Wall Street Journal has declared the fleece vest to be the new male corporate uniform of America [but] this background info about the new corporate fashion favorite might rub you the wrong way” (26 Jul).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

What should be the minimum wage for RMG? “The answers are not simple. In Bangladesh, the last revision of the minimum wage (from Tk3,000 in 2010 to Tk5,300, or almost $65 – came into effect from January 1, 2014) was associated with a 37% increase. In 2018, how much should the workers expect?” (06 Aug).

Rights groups oppose CPD proposal to set RMG workers minimum wage at Tk 9,228: “Centre for Policy Dialogue on Sunday [05 Aug] proposed Tk 9,228 as minimum monthly wages for readymade garment workers and Tk 10,028 for the workers having child … Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed executive director of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies said that the wage proposal was contradictory with the findings. “CPD finds total family cost to be Tk 22,435 but proposes wage at Tk 10,028”” (06 Aug).

The evolution and impact of AmaderKotha: [Ed’s note: an article about the Alliance worker helpline by one of the people involved in developing it.] (05 Aug).

Govt to rewrite labour law amid ILO pressure: “The draft of the amended labour law as per recommendations of the International Labour Conference (ILC) is expected to be passed in the September session of the parliament” (05 Aug).

Going green would help increase RMG export earnings, study: “A feasibility study found a lack of awareness towards environmental sustainability and funds are the major constraints towards building green RMG factories” (03 Aug). [Ed’s note: “Developing Capacity Building Framework for Green Industry in RMG Sector in Bangladesh” was conducted by Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).]

Cambodia

Workers rally over unpaid wages: “About 200 garment workers in Phnom Penh started to rally outside their factory [Julee Apparel] on Wednesday [01 Aug] over unpaid wages in the wake of their employer being found dead in an apparent suicide” (06 Aug).

WRC urges push back on shrinking FOA rights: “Cambodia’s clampdown in recent years on independent civil society advocates, media outlets, and the country’s key opposition political party (which has been documented by Human Rights Watch among others), coupled with damaging changes to Cambodia’s labor law in 2016, has significantly restricted Cambodian garment workers’ ability to exercise their associational rights, including at factories producing collegiate apparel. No Cambodian garment worker, including those producing university logo apparel, can freely exercise associational rights in this context” (02 Aug). [Ed’s note: letter by Scott Nova, executive director, Worker Rights Consortium about the release of Moeun Tola in July. References VF.]

China

Workers block road to protest wage arrears owed by shoe factory: “Workers block road to protest wage arrears owed by shoe factory in Putian, Fujian” (02 Aug).

India

Fire erupts in Shivpuri factory: “A garment factory [BD Gaba Knitwears] up in flames in Shivpuri on Thursday [02 Aug] … there was no safety arrangement inside the factory” (04 Aug).

Jordan

Stakeholders join forces for effective partnerships in garment sector: “President of the Textile, Garment and Clothes Union Fathalla Emrani on Thursday called on key stakeholders in the industry to “formulate effective partnerships that further ensure that all standards of compliance are met”, stressing that “better working conditions increase profit at garment factories”” (04 Aug).

Forum in Jordan for job creation, sustainable growth, women empowerment: “Discussions at a high-level meeting on Jordan’s garment industry have centered on quality job creation, sustainable and inclusive growth and the need for greater representation for women in leadership positions in the workforce” (03 Aug).

Myanmar

Garment workers fired for not signing employment contract: “Ninety-seven garment workers in [Panda Textile and Garments factory] were sacked by their employers for refusing to sign a government contract, which they deemed as disadvantageous to the employees, a union leader said Sunday [05 Aug]” (06 Aug).

DICA clarifies rumours about 14 garment factory closures: “Out of 14 factories rumoured to have been closed down, only seven were running under the permission of Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) while two of them actually closed shop” (01 Aug).

Textile workers reject contract: “About 150 workers at Panda Textile and Garment factory in Hlaing Tharyar township, Yangon Region, held a protest after management threatened not to rehire them if they do not sign an employment contract” (01 Aug).

MANUFACTURERS

Sustainability at focus at Yarn Expo Autumn Edition: “Sustainable sources of specialty yarns, fancy yarns and chemical fibres will be the focus at this year’s Autumn Edition of Yarn Expo during October 15–17 … More and more buyers these days are looking to source competitively-priced environmentally-friendly products” (05 Aug).

Unifi CEO says company’s sustainable fibres ‘very successful’ on call with investors: Kevin Hall, chairman and CEO of Unifi, has told analysts on a conference call “the launch during the quarter of a new Unifi positioning focusing on developing innovative and sustainable performance fibres was “very successful”” (02 Aug).

Alta Gracia, only ‘living wage’ apparel manufacturer in the developing world, acquired by seasoned team: “Alta Gracia, a certified Living Wage apparel company, is excited to announce its recent acquisition by Atlanta-based investment group AG Triada, along with lead investor TripleStone Partners” (01 Aug).

NITRA launches incubation centre promoting innovation: “NITRA, India’s premier textile research association has launched Focus Incubation Centre (FIC), a step towards innovation. Further, NITRA in association with Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI) is also planning to come out with a competition to identify bright and innovative ideas, and help such ideas be converted into commercial utility” (01 Aug).

Spinnova wants your next T-shirt to be made from wood: Spinnova has found a way to spin any cellulose – wood, potato peels, even old T-shirts – into new, strong fiber” (01 Aug).

Bader Leather, Wolverine Leathers, Kuo Yuen Tannery, and AI Topper join Leather Naturally: “In the last month, four more leading tanneries and a university have joined Leather Naturally. The image of leather is at stake and the industry is realising how important it is to unite with all value chain members, including national and regional leather organisations. Leather Naturally is pleased to take its role to globally promote leather” (26 Jul).

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.”

* 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.”

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.)

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 Gerd AltmannCCO)

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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