THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Burberry (on the DJSI despite burning; attacked by the IFF), H&M (garment-to-garment recycling), Inditex (DJSI leader), M&S (empowering women in India), prAna (doubling down on hemp), Rothy’s (eco-friendly sneaker), Zero Waste Daniel (recycling comedy show), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • Sustainable pricing is crucial for Bangladesh apparel industry

  • Did Rana Plaza really trigger a fashion revolution?

  • Thomson Reuters Foundation launches the Stop Slavery Hub

  • 35% of microplastics released into oceans from synthetic textiles

  • Finding high-tech outerwear not harmful to planet

  • Australian scientists develop nanotechnology to purify water

  • New Zealand bans mulesing

  • French law to ban unsold garments will be passed in 2019:

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: unions reject new minimum wage; govt. mulls more benefits for RMG exports after wage hike; US denies GSP

  • Cambodia: wage protest

  • China: wage protest

  • India: empowering women in supply chains; worker shortage in Punjab

  • Myanmar: Chinese factory refuses to rehire sacked workers; delegation to India learns about sexual harassment

  • Pakistan: worker safety still a major issue

Manufacturers in this issue include: Alta Gracia (collegiate apparel), Asahi Kasei (stretch yarn used in C&A’s C2C jeans), Intradeco Apparel (sustainability award), Novetex (garment-to-garment system with H&M) and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “As a consumer, when you make your choice and purchase a garment, we want you to be an educated consumer who can make an educated and empowered choice. Right now, the information that is needed is not readily available; you have to proactively look for it and there are often contradicting messages out there.” Charney Magri, co-director of a short film called ‘Catwalk to Creation’ (14 Sep).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Despite burning unsold goods, Burberry is included in Dow Jones Sustainability Index: “Despite admittedly burning unsold goods to preserve its image of exclusivity, British fashion house Burberry has been included for the fourth consecutive year in Dow Jones Sustainability Index, in the “Textiles, Apparel & Luxury Goods” category. The index aims to guide investors who want to take sustainability practices into account” (14 Sep).

Why hemp is at the heart of prAna’s future collections: “The brand explains why they've placed this fast-growing plant at the forefront of their #SustainableClothingMovement” (14 Sep).

11 brands taking on fashion’s green challenge: [Ed’s note: article references Maggie Marilyn, Ksenia Schnaider, Mara Hoffman, Eileen Fisher, Salvatore Ferragamo, Triarchy, Loro Piana, Marie-Ève Lecavalier, and Gabriela Hearst.] (14 Sep).

Inditex, the most sustainable retailer according to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index: “For the third year in a row, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index has singled out Inditex as the retailer with the best practices along the environmental, social and economic dimensions” (13 Sep).

With an eco-friendly sneaker, Rothy’s treads on new ground: “Since launching two years ago, Rothy’s has gone from a wild idea – women’s flats made from recycled water bottles – to a colorful line of shoes that pop up constantly on Instagram and Pinterest” (13 Sep).

Brooklyn fashion designer creates recycled clothing, hosts comedy show: “A Brooklyn fashion designer [Daniel Silverstein founded Zero Waste Daniel] has created recycled clothing and will host a comedy show in an effort to bring attention to fashion waste” (12 Sep).

Burberry has finally ditched fur – but faux fur has its own problems too: “Burberry’s decision has been hailed as a cause for celebration by animal rights organisations, with PETA announcing they’re doing ‘cartwheels’ at the news. However, not everyone is rejoicing. The International Fur Federation (IFF) say they’re ‘disappointed’ with Burberry’s decision because, they say, a move to using faux fur is not environmentally friendly” (07 Sep).

NEWS & REPORTS

UN Human Rights Council adopts key report on exposure of workers to toxic substances: “A new report adopted by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) says that the exposure of workers to toxic substances is a global challenge that can and should be considered a form of exploitation. The HRC is calling states, business actors and international organisations to urgently eliminate or minimise workers’ exposure to these substances” (17 Sep). [Ed’s note: the report – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes – can be downloaded here.]

Sustainable pricing is crucial for our [Bangladesh] apparel industry: “Bangladesh’s apparel manufacturers appreciate their customers' tough trading conditions, they themselves have suffered huge cost increases—in raw materials, gas, electricity and water supply, minimum wages for the workers, and the costs incurred with upgrading factories to make them safer. In spite of those cost pressures, buyers are putting more pressure on us to cut our prices still further” (17 Sep). [Ed’s note: by Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Denim Expert Ltd.]

Five years after the Bangladesh factory collapse – did the tragedy trigger a fashion revolution? [Ed’s note: article references Clean Clothes Campaign, Mango, Matalan, United Colors of Benetton, Primark, Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, ActionAid, H&M, CottonConnect, Global Fashion Exchange, Fashion Revolution, Marks & Spencer, New Look, River Island, and Ethical Trade Initiative.] (16 Sep).

Luxury is conscious in a post-Lehman world: “A decade after the global financial crisis, a spirit of sustainability has firmly gripped the luxury and fashion industry” (15 Sep).

Thomson Reuters Foundation launches the Stop Slavery Hub: “[T]he Thomson Reuters Foundation has launched, The Stop Slavery Hub, an all-encompassing digital hub that is set to become the biggest online source of information on modern slavery” (14 Sep).

35% of microplastics released into oceans from synthetic textiles: “Each time an item of clothing is washed up to 700,000 microscopic fibres make their way into our oceans, where they are swallowed by sea life and become incorporated into the food chain, potentially ending up on our plates, according to a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers” (14 Sep). [Ed’s note: you can read the report, Engineering Out Fashion Waste, here.]

Interview with fashion documentary maker Charney Magri: “Clothes need to be treasured”: “Charney Magri is an award-winning ethical photographer, director and producer who has recently co-directed a short film titled ‘Catwalk to Creation’, which will be released later this year. She is also a published author, public speaker, mentor and activist” (14 Sep).

Here’s how to find high-tech outerwear that doesn’t harm the planet: “Make no mistake: fashion as a whole is guilty of pollution. However, with technical apparel — outerwear in particular — it’s especially problematic. High-performance garments often come with highly damaging manufacturing processes, as many of those crazy tech-ninja jackets are, at the end of the day, made from plastics” (14 Sep). [Ed’s note: companies referenced include Arc’teryx, Adidas, Patagonia, Columbia, The North Face, Polartec, Mission Workshop, Tilak, Fjallraven, Jack Wolfskin, Vollebak, and Cotopaxi.]

Australian scientists develop nanotechnology to purify water: “Scientists in Australia have developed a ground-breaking new way to strip impurities from waste water, with the research set to have massive applications for a number of industries” (14 Sep).

New Zealand bans mulesing mutilations of sheep: [Ed’s note: from PETA.] After receiving pressure from animal advocates, lawmakers in New Zealand have passed a strong law to protect sheep from abuse. The country just banned mulesing, a painful procedure performed on sheep on wool farms in which large chunks of flesh are carved out of their backsides. And they won’t have to wait for long: The law goes into effect on October 1” (13 Sep).

What does circularity mean for sustainable fashion? “A step-by-step breakdown of circular fashion, and why you should care about it” (13 Sep). [Ed’s note: article references H&M, Aterlier OM + OM Khadi, Zara, Asos, Adidas and Kering – the parent company of Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga.]

French law to ban unsold garments will be passed in 2019: “It’s confirmed. The law on the prohibition of the disposal or burning of unsold garments will be proposed in 2019. “This measure will be enshrined in the law along with the other measures of the Roadmap for the Circular Economy and the transposition of the Framework Directive on waste” (11 Sep – in French).

TrusTrace, helps you trace a product from fibre to garment to fibre: “Making the impossible possible, TrusTrace, a traceability and transparency platform, that uses the blockchain to achieve sustainability in fashion” (11 Sep).

What we’ve learnt from Vogue Australia’s Sustainability Editor-at-Large: “If you’re not familiar with [Vogue Australia’s Sustainability Editor-at-Large Clare Press’s] book or podcast Wardrobe Crisis, here are a few the incredible facts and figures she is spreading the word about” (10 Sep).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Unions reject Tk 8,000 minimum wage: There have been numerous stories on trade union rejection of the minimum wage rise announced last week. RMG workers stage demo rejecting Tk 8,000 wage: “The workers of ready-made garment factories today [14 Sep] staged demonstration in Dhaka rejecting the government’s decision to raise their minimum monthly wage to Tk 8,000” (14 Sep); The declaration of minimum wage is rejected by the workers: “Jolly Talukder said that the minimum wages of the garment workers of the government are unjust and unacceptable” (14 Sep – in Bangla); RMG workers reject Tk 8,000 as minimum wage: “Taslima Akhter, leader of the Workers’ Association, said: “The announcement of minimum wage of Tk 8000, which is an increase of Tk 2700, after 5 years will ruin both the workers and the industry”” (14 Sep); RMG workers stage demos rejecting minimum wage at Tk 8,000: “Jolly Talukder, general secretary of the GWTUC, said, “The fixation of minimum wage for RMG workers is unjust and illogical”” (14 Sep); Workers reject the minimum wage of Tk 8,000: “With Tk 8,000 in the current market, it is not possible for anyone to live and continue production. The workers of the country's highest export earnings will never accept this extreme discrimination” (14 Sep – in Bangla); Bangladesh unions reject $95 minimum wage for garment workers: “Bangladesh unions staged street protests Friday to reject what they called an “inhuman””(14 Sep); Labour bodies slam new wage for RMG workers: “the authorities should review the wage immediately to set the lowest wage at Tk 16,000” (15 Sep); Govt should review new apparel sector minimum wage: “labour leaders say that the worker representative to the board did not truly represent the workers in the apparel sector” (16 Sep); Bangladeshi garment workers, unions say new minimum wage is a “cruel joke,” call on brands to pay more: “Union leaders and garment factory workers, alike, are describing the new wage minimum as a “cruel joke” and a “slap on the face”” (17 Sep); Pay more for your clothes, Bangladesh workers tell global fashion brands: “Garment workers in Bangladesh have rejected an increase in the minimum wage, saying it is still not enough to live on and urging global brands to pay more for the clothes they buy” (17 Sep).

Govt mulls more benefits to RMG exporters after wage hike: Tofail: “Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed on Sunday said that the government was mulling over more benefits for the country’s readymade garment sector so that the sector could remain competitive in the global market as the worker wages increased by 51 per cent but the prices of apparel products remained unchanged in the international markets for a couple of years” (17 Sep).

No scope for discontent with wage hike, says state minister for labour: “State Minister for Labour Mujibul Haque says there is no scope for discontent over the announcement of the Tk 8,000 minimum wage for public sector garment workers. “We have the support of the labourers, so we believe there will not be any problems,” he said. “We announced the wage increase in accordance with the prime minister’s commitments in order to curb dissatisfaction”” (16 Sep).

Let Accord operate till task ends: “Some 153 global investors representing $2.8 trillion in assets have called for the continuation of the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety (Accord) until it completes its mandate and government agencies are able to assume its responsibilities” (16 Sep).

Bangladesh still denied GSP privileges by US: “US refuses to re-admit country to the GSP, citing concerns over labour reforms” (14 Sep).

Every garment unit must have a complaint committee: “Maheen Sultan, Team Leader of Shojag Coalition and member of Naripokkho, shares with Naznin Tithi of The Daily Star the major findings of their recent survey on sexual harassment and violence against women in the RMG sector” (14 Sep).

“Bangladesh is associated with the idea of resilience and the idea of a quiet revolution” – Shahpar Selim: “[P]anellist Shahpar Selim spoke to Rebecca Bowers about the current greening initiatives taking place in garment factories across Bangladesh, and the potential to improve in the coming years” (12 Sep).

Cambodia

Workers protest over unpaid wages: “More than 100 garment factory workers yesterday staged a protest over unpaid wages in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district. Moeun Sara, one of the workers, said Hungtak Garment Co Ltd paid some of the missing wages yesterday, bringing a stop to the protest” (14 Sep).

China

Workers protest wage arrears owed by garment factory: Workers protest wage arrears owed by garment factory in Yichun, Jiangxi (11 Sep – in Chinese).

India

Empowering women in India’s garment sector: “How ETI member M&S is working to eliminate sexual harassment and gender discrimination in its India supply chain” (17 Sep – 4:09-minute video).

Punjab labour shortage: Depleting migrant workforce in MSME sector prompts state to upgrade vocational training for locals: “The garment and hosiery industry of Ludhiana that exports goods to Europe and Russia is particularly hit as skilled and semi-skilled labour is in short supply leading to a steep increase in wages. While the minimum official daily wage for skilled labour is Rs 366 and Rs 332 for semi-skilled labour, employers say the demand-supply mismatch has pushed up labour costs to between Rs 13,000-15,000 per month (Rs 433-Rs 500 per day)” (15 Sep).

Myanmar

Chinese garment factory refuses to rehire 30 workers: “Chinese-owned Fu Yuen garment factory will not rehire 30 workers it sacked last month for violating factory rules and actions that decreased its output, factory officials said. … The workers, who were members of the factory labour union, were dismissed without warning by the management on August 20, triggering a strike by about 300 union members” (13 Sep).

Myanmar delegation to India to learn about addressing sexual harassment: “Fair Wear Foundation organised a study visit for stakeholders from Myanmar to engage with representatives in India on ways to address violence and harassment in the workplace. The goal of the trip was to introduce relevant stakeholders from Myanmar on India’s legislative framework and its application in garment factories” (10 Sep).

Pakistan

‘Serious measures needed to ensure worker safety in Pakistan’: “‘Despite passage of six years since the tragic industrial incident of Baldia Factory fire in 2012, the working conditions in almost all factories of Pakistan are still the same and workers are performing their jobs in dangerous working conditions’” (10 Sep).

MANUFACTURERS

My Chemical Guide: “Seven questions [by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work] will address your current practices with regard to dangerous substances and chemical products. If improvements are needed, you will immediately get tips on what you need to do and on how you can do it as easily and efficiently as possible” (September).

Circular urgency at the Dornbirn-GFC: “In an extremely stimulating and entertaining presentation at last week’s Dornbirn Global Fiber Conference (GFC) in Austria, Edwin Keh, CEO of the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textile and Apparel (HKRITA), explained the background to the rapid development of a garment-to-garment recycling system for the H&M Foundation and Novetex” (17 Sep).

ROICA: The smart-stretch secret ingredient in C&A’s cradle-to-cradle certified jeans: “C&A has launched the world’s most sustainably made Cradle-to-Cradle Certified jeans now using ROICA V550, part of the ROICA Eco-Smart family of premium stretch yarns dedicated to sustainable stretch end-uses [from Asahi Kasei]” (14 Sep).

Appalachian’s USAS chapter works to bring Alta Gracia apparel to University Bookstore: “Students in Appalachian State University’s chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) worked with the University Bookstore and Office of Sustainability in spring 2018 to offer a line of collegiate apparel made by Alta Gracia, a Dominican Republic company known for offering its employees a safe, healthy workplace and a living wage” (14 Sep).

The environment’s new clothes: biodegradable textiles grown from live organisms: “Now a small but growing group of innovators is turning to the genius of nature in an attempt to put wastefulness and pollution in the apparel industry out of fashion, right at the source: They are using live organisms to grow pieces of biodegradable textiles, creating environmentally friendly materials in the laboratory – and are even producing some near-complete items without the need for factory assembly” (14 Sep). [Ed’s note: article references TextileLab Amsterdam, Kukka, and Faber Futures.]

Intradeco Apparel earns REPREVE® Champions of Sustainability Award for its manufacturing practices: “The award recognizes companies who are committed to manufacturing sustainable products using Unifi’s REPREVE®, the world's number one, branded recycled performance fiber” (11 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 AnitaCCO)

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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