THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Arc’teryx (video series on sustainability), Gap (Preferred Fibers Scorecard and Toolkit), Gucci, Mango, G-Star Raw, C&A, M&S (leaders on sustainability discussion), H&M (WWF partnership for kids; leader on sustainability discussion), Patagonia (called out by PETA over wool), Prada (responding to pressure over fur), PVH (award for work in Ethiopia), The North Face (carbon farm plan), Zara (leader on sustainability discussion), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • Investors warns against premature dissolution of Accord in Bangladesh

  • Profiles of Kalpona Akter in Business of Fashion and CNN

  • New designers fashioning the future

  • Australia’s CSIRO at work on next generation cotton

  • Why so little organic cotton?

  • Complaint filed against Italian auditor in Baldia fire case

  • The end of mulesing?

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: minimum wage raised to Tk 8,000 ($95.44; half of what workers demanded); Alliance hits 91% factory remediation

  • Cambodia: government proposes $177 minimum wage for 2019; workers protest fleeing boss for lost wages

  • China: wages arrears cases announced in public, shaming three footwear and garment factories

  • Myanmar: workers protest dismissals

  • Pakistan: 6th anniversary of the Baldia factory fire

  • Philippines: maternity win for workers

  • Vietnam: dozens hospitalised over toxic gas leak

Manufacturers in this issue include: Ecco Leather (water saving tanning), Parkdale Mills and Intrinsic Textiles (reducing synthetic microfibre pollution), Thai Acrylic Fibre (‘Nature Thanks Back’ campaign), Viyellatex Group (CEO rues going green), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “The government has done injustice to the workers by declaring the minimum wage. We reject this wage.” Joly Talukder, a leader of the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre in Bangladesh, commenting on the minimum wage increase to Tk 8,000 this week (13 Sep).

  • “Bangladesh is naturally green and the products we make here are also naturally green.” KM Rezaul Hasanat, CEO of Viyellatex Group in Bangladesh, ruing the day he wasted money by greening his factory (11 Sep).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

PETA Calls Out Patagonia for Secrecy Around New Wool Source: “After twice suspending wool purchases following PETA exposés of extreme cruelty to sheep – the last of which showed workers at a Patagonia-approved wool producer’s shearing operation violating the brand’s own publicly touted welfare standards – Patagonia has resumed operations but refuses to divulge its new sources of “responsible” wool, despite repeated appeals for transparency” (13 Sep).

These jackets are made from wool that fights climate change: “Two-thirds of the wool produced by a flock of sheep at Bare Ranch, a large ranch in Northern California, is now going to The North Face. The ranch was the first to adopt a so-called “carbon farm plan” to change its practices to help reverse its own emissions, sequestering more carbon in the soil than it produces” (12 Sep).

PVH Corp. receives 2018 U.S. Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence: “PVH is receiving the Sustainable Operations award as lead investor of a best-in-class apparel manufacturing facility in Hawassa, Ethiopia. The honor recognizes the company’s unwavering commitment to people, the environment and the communities where it operates. (12 Sep).

H&M partners with WWF for sustainable kids’ collection: “Ten percent of each sale will help fund the wildlife conservation organization’s endangered species program” (12 Sep).

Arc’teryx is setting the standard for manufacturing transparency: “Arc’teryx is responding to this shift in the business-consumer relationship by developing a five-part video series highlighting its inspiration, design, manufacturing, partnership and sustainability processes” (11 Sep).

Zara and H&M leading the discussions about sustainability, says Launchmetrics study: “Although the fast fashion model is considered to be the opposite of sustainable fashion, it turns out fast fashion giants Zara and H&M are the brands driving the conversation about sustainability in the apparel industry, according to a new study by data analytics platform Launchmetrics. Vegan luxury label Stella McCartney came third” (11 Sep). [Ed’s note: report lists top ten brands (including Gucci, Mango, G-Star Raw, C&A, M&S, as well as top 5 countries driving conversation about sustainability – US, Canada, UK, India, China & Australia.]

Adidas and French Connection drop mohair: [Ed’s note: from PETA.] (11 Sep).

Prada Group responds to animal rights activists’ efforts: “A few days after animal rights supporters targeted the Prada Group in an international campaign, the company has responded by highlighting its “gradual and concrete reduction” of fur products and played up its use of man-made fibers such as nylon” (11 Sep). [Ed’s note: see Global grassroots campaign urges Prada to stop using fur (06 Sep) for background.]

Introducing a new toolkit to help product teams design with sustainability in mind: “To help solve this challenge [of making responsible decisions in material use] and streamline the process, we’ve developed [the new Gap Inc. Preferred Fibers Scorecard and Toolkit] that will help our designers and merchants make more informed decisions at the very beginning of a product’s life by scoring each fiber across 10 different indicators” (10 Sep).

Waste not, want not: scraps-to-caps company Offcut turns its eye to tackling plastic: “Offcut is a New Zealand company that makes caps from textile scraps destined for landfill, while dabbling in other initiatives to tackle environmental issues, like planting a tree for every hat sold. But its co-CEOs are now turning their eyes to plastic following a recent sourcing trip to Bali, where they were alarmed at just how much of it was clogging up the oceans” (10 Sep).

Cotton for cattle: recycling organic waste into feed stock: “Gildan recycles almost all of the organic waste from its yarn spinning operations into bales or briquettes used as feedstock for local cattle.  The cotton waste gets recycled into nutritious food for cows.” (29 Aug).

NEWS & REPORTS

Threading the needle: Weaving the Sustainable Development Goals into the textile, retail, and apparel industry: “A culmination of industry interviews, non-government organization inputs, and desk research, the report highlights practical examples for companies in the sector and beyond, grappling with how to integrate the SDGs into their core business and global supply chain” (13 Sep). [Ed’s note: 73 pp. report by TextileExchange and KPMG. Companies cited include C&A, Gap Inc., Inditex, Kering S.A., Lenzing AG, Patagonia, PVH Corporation, Target Corporation, and VF Corporation.]

Citing lingering risks in Bangladesh garment factories, investors warn against premature dissolution of the Accord on Fire & Building Safety: “Today investors are releasing a statement endorsed by 153 investors representing US$2.8 trillion in assets, calling for the continuation of the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety (Accord) until it has completed its mandate and government agencies are able to assume the Accord’s responsibilities going forward” (13 Sep).

Fashion to die for: “Kalpona Akter is worried for her life. Her support for the Bangladeshi garment workers who produce more than $30 billion worth of fashion for Western retailers every year puts her at odds with powerful factory owners and the country’s ‘industrial police’” (13 Sep).

Embracing sustainability: “Can Bangladesh lead the fashion industry’s environmental revolution? … In partnership with NGOs like Bangladesh Partnership for Cleaner Textile (PaCT) and Solidaridad, clothing factories in Bangladesh have begun utilizing environmentally sustainable production practices. These ventures have helped save energy, water, and other precious natural resources” (12 Sep).

The designers fashioning the future: “A new generation of fashion design graduates are challenging the British fashion industry on issues of ethics and sustainability. Sarah Mower meets nine designers who want change and who want it now” (11 Sep).

Australian scientists at work on next generation cotton: “A team of scientists in Australia has begun work on cotton with many of the properties of synthetics, including being waterproof, stretchable and non-creasing. “We’re looking into the structure of cotton cell walls and harnessing the latest tools in synthetic biology to develop the next generation cotton fiber,” said Madeline Mitchell, a scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia's national science research agency” (11 Sep).

Why is there so little organic cotton grown? How much cotton is organic? 0.5%. An interesting interview with Crispin Argento and Bart Vollaard of the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) initiative (11 Sep – in German).

Complaint filed against Italian auditor for ignoring fatal flaws in garment factory: “More than 250 people died and dozens were injured in a fire at the Ali Enterprises textile factory in Karachi, Pakistan, on 11 September 2012. Only three weeks before, Italian auditor Rina Services S.p.A. certified the factory for abiding to international labour standards. Marking the six year anniversary of the disaster an international coalition of eight human rights, labour and consumer organizations file a complaint to the OECD National Contact Point (NCP) at the Ministry for Economic Development in Rome against RINA, the company that could have prevented hundreds of deaths by doing its work properly” (11 Sep).

New Zealand to ban mulesing as Australian option is commercialised: “Commercialisation of an effective alternative to the surgical mulesing of sheep next year and a New Zealand ban next month could accelerate the phasing out of the practice in Australia” (10 Sep).

Australian designer wins international Redress Award for sustainable fashion: “In Hong Kong last week, 11 finalists competed for the Redress Design Award showing their sustainable collections on the runway. The winner was Tess Whitfort, a 24-year-old from Melbourne who graduated last year with a bachelor degree in fashion design from Box Hill Institute. There were just five people in her class. The course has a strong focus on sustainability, she explains. “We were taught to think differently”” (10 Sep).

The future of fashion: Complex, diverse, and more vocal than ever: “Few readers will recognize the woman on the cover of Business of Fashion’s print edition this month. She’s not a model, she’s not a designer, she is not the leader of a luxury conglomerate. Kalpona Akter is a former child worker from Bangladesh” (10 Sep).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

TK 8,000 minimum wage for garment workers: [Ed’s note: in the second-most important story of the year, “the government has raised the minimum monthly wage for 4.4 million garment workers by around 51 percent to Tk 8,000 [$95.44] from the existing Tk 5,300 with effect from December.” The most important story will be how unions and workers respond to the increase.  Owners had previously lobbied for a wage of Tk 7,000 ($83.98), while workers had called for Tk 16,000 ($191.94). First responses have not been conducive to industrial peace:  “The owners have betrayed the workers by announcing the new wage and so has the government,” said Garment Workers leader Moshrefa Mishu. “We cannot accept it. This wage structure has been made in line with the factory owners’ proposal,” said Julhasnine Babu from Garments Sramik Sanghati. “The government has done injustice to the workers by declaring the minimum wage. We reject this wage,” said Joly Talukder, a leader of Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre. Now we wait and see.]

Alliance achieves factory safety milestone: 400 factories complete remediation: “The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (“Alliance”) announced today that 36 more Alliance-affiliated factories completed all material components outlined in their Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) since the month of July, bringing the total to 400. To date, 91 percent of factory remediation is complete across all Alliance factories” (09 Sep).

Cambodia

Government proposes $177 minimum wage: “The Labour Ministry yesterday proposed that garment workers receive $177.57 per month as their minimum wage for 2019 during a meeting with employers and unions” (13 Sep). [Ed’s note: current wage is $170. National Trade Union Coalition is calling for $211.94.]

PP garment workers continue wage protest: “About 200 garment workers at a factory located in the capital’s Steung Meanchey Commune, Meanchey district, have been protesting since Monday after the owner fled without paying their August wages” (12 Sep).

Deadlock over wage talks: “The first round of a tripartite meeting to negotiate a new minimum wage for garment and footwear workers ended in a deadlock on Monday” (11 Sep).

Minimum wage figure due Friday: “Meetings being held at the Labour Ministry to discuss an increase in minimum wage for garment workers in 2019 have yet to yield results, but a figure is expected on Friday, an official said yesterday” (11 Sep).

China

Anhui announces wages arrears cases: The Anhui Provincial People’s and Social Welfare Department has named companies punished for the non-payment of workers’ wages, including the following: Chaohu Yongtai Shoes (owed 60 workers 471,000 RMB, and resulting in several managers fined and jailed); Tianchang Detianya Clothing and Tianchang Detianya Garment Factory (owed 79 workers 719,000 RMB) (12 Sep – in Chinese).

Myanmar

Garment workers stage protest in downtown: “Some 50 garment workers staged a protest against the dismissal of 30 labour league members from Fu Yuen garment factory in Dagon Seikkan Industrial Zone, Yangon Region on September 9” (10 Sep). [Ed’s note: this is at least the second protest against Fa Yuen this month.]

Pakistan

The Baldia factory fire six years on: 11 September 2018 was the 6th anniversary of a fire at Ali Enterprises, a garment factory in Baldia, Pakistan. There were numerous stories, particularly in the local press (but globally as well). Here are a few: “Six years after Baldia factory fire, working conditions still not changed” (10 Sep); Baldia factory fire 6 years on: Small victories with a long fight ahead (11 Sep); and “15m workers lack occupational safety and health across country” (12 Sep).

Philippines

IndustriaALL visits the Philippines as unions celebrate maternity win: “An IndustriALL Global Union mission has visited affiliates in the Philippines as unions celebrate a maternity leave legal victory. The mission, lead by general secretary Valter Sanches, coincided with the passage of a bill on expanded maternity leave by the House of Representatives that will soon become law” (12 Sep).

Vietnam

Garment workers hospitalised after toxic gas leak: “Dozens of garment workers [at Trấn Yên KNF Garment Company] in the northern province of Yên Bái were taken to hospital after being exposed to toxic gas. The workers became ill after a large amount of oil was burnt due to an air compressor malfunction, pumping noxious fumes into the working area” (07 Sep).

MANUFACTURERS

Fashion for Good and ZDHC call for innovators: “Fashion for Good and ZDHC are looking for innovators at the forefront of safer chemistry. In this joint call for applications, companies run for selection into the 3-month Fashion for Good-Plug and Play Accelerator, as well as a chance to participate in the exclusive “Friends of ZDHC” event on 7th of December 2018 in Amsterdam” (13 Sep).

Ecco Leather revolutionises the industry with water saving tanning technology: “Besides saving huge amounts of water, the technology also considerably minimises the discharge of waste water and the use of chemicals. At its tannery in the Netherlands alone, Ecco Leather will eliminate 600 tons of sludge per year, translating into 40 truckloads of sludge deposited in landfills per year” (12 Sep).

Parkdale Mills, Intrinsic Textiles team up to reduce synthetic microfiber pollution and textile waste: “Parkdale Advanced Materials Inc., the innovative fibers and yarns division of Parkdale Inc., and Intrinsic Textiles Group LLC, have announced the formation of Intrinsic Advanced Materials, a joint venture to bring CiCLO Sustainable Textile Technology to market. CiCLO textile technology allows polyester and other synthetic materials to biodegrade like natural materials do in wastewater treatment plant sludge, sea water and landfill conditions” (11 Sep).

Leading Bangladashi textile mill regrets going green: “While talking at a meeting on green compliance at the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) in Dhaka, KM Rezaul Hasanat, CEO of Viyellatex Group said: “The cost of setting up a garment unit went up by a third in case of a green factory. We could have invested the extra money to employ a one-third more workers”” (11 Sep).

TAF unveils ‘Nature Thanks Back’ sustainability campaign: “Thai Acrylic Fibre (TAF) has unveiled new marketing campaign placing Radianza fibre as an eco-friendly product for the textile and apparel industry. The campaign called ‘Nature Thanks Back’ talks about how Radianza fibre helps conserving water and energy and reducing the negative impact on the environment by allowing minimum discharge of harmful chemicals” (10 Sep).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

19 September, San Bruno, California: Impact Sourcing – Economic Inclusion through Procurement: “Leading companies are no longer just approaching sustainable procurement to mitigate risk. They are maximizing opportunities and generating business benefits and lasting social impacts.”

20 September, Adelaide, South Australia: Redress Design Award Fashion Academy: “A free-to-attend sustainable fashion event for students, emerging designers and educators.”

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.”

26 – 29 September, Koudougou, Burkina Faso: 4 days focussing on organic and Fairtrade cotton in West Africa.  International Cotton & Textile Conference (SICOT).

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.”

29 September, Washington DC: Unveiling Fashion: Conversations about Fashion and Sustainability: Keynote speaker: Lauren Fey, Fashion Revolution USA, and many more.

31 October – 01 November, London: Responsible Supply Chains: The future of trade: “[The] event will include analysis of key sustainability trends, the future of business models and leadership and explore new models of collaboration.”

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.”

11 – 12 October, Kilkenny, Ireland: Global Forum on Responsible Leather. Hosted by TextileExchange Responsible Leather Roundtable.

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 October: Short Course (Free): Fashion & Sustainability: Understanding Luxury in a Changing World: “Get an introduction to issues, agendas and contexts relating to fashion and sustainability in a changing world.”

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.)

23 – 26 October, Louisville, Kentucky: 2018 EHS & Sustainability Management Forum: “This year's EHS and Sustainability Management Forum will offer five tracks, a focus on EHS&S Business Strategy, Leadership and EHS&S Tools.”

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 Business 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, 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 Johannes PlenioCCO)

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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