Brands in this issue include: Adidas (topping the DJSI), C&A (Jeff Hogue’s Verge award), H&M (questions over unsold inventory, and recycled fabric fashion launch), Wrangler (adoption of dry indigo denim), and more.
In general news:
10 questions for fashion expert Jörg Bluhm
Clothes made of plastic polluting the ocean
Measuring progress to SDGs with a chemicals management survey
Los Angeles to become 4th U.S. city to ban fur sales
Can Instagram fashionistas help save the planet?
Sustainable pricing is crucial for Bangladesh apparel industry
In the supply chain:
China: protest over wage arrears
India: video on improving conditions in South India’s cotton sector; below-poverty wages for garment workers
Myanmar: problems in garment industry discussed
Vietnam: Better Work Vietnam challenges sexual harassment
Manufacturers in this issue include: Coats (among best companies to work for in Vietnam), Green Theme Technologies (start-up cleaning toxic chemicals out of waterproof garments), and more.
By Stephen Frost, CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
BRANDS & RETAILERS
Greenpeace asks what H&M is doing with unsold inventory: Greenpeace in Germany has announced H&M has billions worth of unsold inventory and asks what the company does with it. “But what happens to the insane volume of clothing nobody buys? Nobody knows that exactly. However, it is well known that H&M burns some of it, since 2013 twelve tons a year in Denmark alone” (18 Sep – in German). [Ed’s note: see also Shredded and destroyed: in a news report from Frontal 21, which is the basis for the Greenpeace questions on unsold inventory, it is alleged a confidential report shows H&M has €3.5 billion in unsold clothing, of which 100,000 times were destroyed. H&M rejected the accusation of destroy clothing (18 Sep – in German, including video).]
Wrangler is first to adopt dry indigo denim: “Wrangler [has] confirmed an agreement for denim fabric to be produced later this year with a new foam-dyeing process that will eliminate 99 percent of the water typically used in the indigo-dyeing. Wrangler is the first brand to embrace the innovative technology, which is expected to transform the denim industry” (18 Sep).
Jeffrey Hogue, global chief sustainability officer, C&A, wins prestigious GreenBiz Group Verge Award: “Jeffrey Hogue has made his mark, and that of C&A, the 177-year-old family-owned apparel company based in the Netherlands. C&A, which has around 2,000 stores in 23 countries, last year debuted the world's first T-shirt certified to the Cradle-to-Cradle standard – at scale and at an $8 retail price” (17 Sep).
H&M announces exclusive online sustainable fashion launch: “H&M has unveiled its plans to release an exclusive autumn/winter clothing line that will be available online and feature recycled fabrics” (17 Sep).
Adidas tops DJSI industry leaders 2018: The Dow Jones Sustainability Index has named Adidas as its Industry Leader 2018 for Consumer Durables & Apparel (Textiles, Apparel & Luxury Goods) (17 Sep).
NEWS & REPORTS
Magazine that started in a laundry is making people rethink their fashion footprint: “While many magazines struggle to stay afloat, one publication focusing on sustainability is going from strength to strength and celebrating 10 years in print. Peppermint, [an Australia]-wide magazine that educates people about sustainable clothing trends, originated from the curiosity of a former fashion designer” (19 Sep).
Green Fashion: 10 questions for fashion expert Jörg Bluhm: 10 questions on the Tchibo blog for Jörg Bluhm, an editor for FÜR SIE (FOR YOU) – a German fashion/beauty/lifestyle magazine – who knows the fashion industry inside out (19 Sep – in German).
Style Lend & Good On You are betting that they can improve your consumer behavior: “What if customers could improve the environment and make money by renting out their clothes simultaneously? And whom do you trust to provide an honest assessment about the ethical and environmental performance of apparel products and the companies behind them? Mike Schragger talks to Lona Alia from Style Lend and Sandra Capponi from Good On You, two entrepreneurs who believe their solutions will empower” (19 Sep – 26:07-minute podcast).
More than ever, our clothes are made of plastic. Just washing them can pollute the oceans: “Much of the microplastic problem is a plastic clothing problem” (19 Sep).
Measuring progress to SDGs with a chemicals management survey: “Hazardous chemicals in our environment impede our progress to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) in its third annual survey results reported noteworthy progress in chemical footprint reduction, with seven companies reporting reductions totaling 94 million pounds of hazardous chemicals in products, and two companies reporting the elimination of 10 unsafe chemicals in products over the past two years” (19 Sep). [Ed’s note: article references Levi Strauss, the only apparel company in the survey this year, scored 76%. See full report, leadership profiles and responders’ scores here.]
Policy plays pivotal role in textiles as sustainability movement swells: “Scott Cassel of the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) discusses how policy helps mitigate waste in the textile industry” (18 Sep).
Los Angeles to become 4th U.S. city to ban fur sales: “Following in the footsteps of the city of West Hollywood, which banned fur in 2011, and Berkley and San Francisco, thereafter, Los Angeles city supervisors “have unanimously approved a ban on fur sales, which will make Los Angeles the largest city in the country to have such as prohibition in place,” according to a statement from the Humane Society” (18 Sep). See also: Los Angeles takes step toward banning sale of fur products: ““There’s a lot of fur sold in LA. It’s in over 500 designer collections, it’s on shoes, it’s on handbags,” [Keith Kaplan, spokesman for the Fur Information Council of America] said. “So yes, it will have an impact on jobs, it will have an impact on tax revenues”” (18 Sep); and The Los Angeles City Council votes to ban fur sales: “The proposed ban, approved on a 12–0 vote on Sept. 18, will not go into effect for two years” (18 Sep).
United Nations at Coterie launches sustainability campaign: “A new partnership between the UN, UBM Fashion, ReMode, and SheTrades launched at Coterie with a prosecco toast and a special installation featuring brands which promote the initiative’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” (17 Sep).
Can Instagram fashionistas help save the planet? “A growing number of social media influencers and bloggers are carving out a niche in the content arena of sustainable fashion, using their online presence to promote ethical approaches to style” (17 Sep).
Sustainable pricing is crucial for our apparel industry: “[B]uyers are putting more pressure on us to cut our prices still further, while taking responsibility for buying fabrics, developing samples, and sometimes to hold stock longer” (17 Sep). [Ed’s note: author is Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Denim Expert Limited.]
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Workers protest closure and wage arrears owed by garment factory: Workers protest closure and wage arrears owed by garment factory in Yantai, Shandong (17 Sep).
“These young girls are traumatised”: “Improving conditions for women in South India’s cotton sector. Ethical Trading Initiative” (20 Sep – 4:14-minute video).
Garment workers get wages below urban poverty line: “For garments, a draft Minimum Wage notification in February 2018 offered workers in Bangalore Rs 11,587 per month. The Supreme Court has clearly held that competitiveness is not a ground to refuse Minimum Wage payment. In Karnataka, the minimum wage in the garment sector is only around Rs 8,000 per month” (18 Sep).
Ongoing problems in garment industry discussed: “A meeting involving Action Collaboration Transformation (ACT), government, employers and worker representatives took place at Sedona Hotel in Yangon on September 17 to discuss ongoing problems in garment industry” (18 Sep).
Better Work Vietnam challenges sexual harassment across the factory floor: “Still an underreported issue in the country, the joint programme of the ILO and the International Finance Cooperation (IFC), sheds light on the nature of harassment in the workplace and ways to tackle it” (14 Sep).
The bio-based material that’s stronger than spider silk: “Early this year, researchers … revealed that they had engineered a cellulose nanofiber — aka the building block of trees and plants — described as eight times stiffer and 20 percent stronger than spider silk, commonly considered the world’s strongest biologically derived substance. For those who like data: It has a tensile strength of 1.57 gigapascals; spider silk ranges from 0.6 to 1.3 GPa” (18 Sep).
It’s too soon to call 3D printing a green technology: “[T]here is limited quantitative analysis of the environmental performance of 3D printing. Much of it focuses only on energy used during production, rather than including impacts from raw materials production, use of the product itself or waste management. To fill this gap, we organized a special issue of Yale University’s Journal of Industrial Ecology. We found that excitement around the possibilities for dramatic environmental improvements needs to be moderated…” (18 Sep). [Ed’s note: you can access the articles in the special issue here.]
‘Waterproof that works better’: “Albuquerque startup Green Theme Technologies is cleaning the toxic chemicals out of waterproof garments with a new coating process that could fundamentally disrupt the textile industry. … “The company has created new chemistry to make things waterproof that works better and lasts longer than other textile coatings, and it’s completely green”” (17 Sep).
Coats among best companies to work for in Vietnam: “Coats, a leading industrial thread manufacturer, has been named one of the best companies to work for in Vietnam by HR Asia, the leading regional HR publication” (17 Sep).
In managing water, Surat, India takes lead: “Municipality to supply 115 MLD treated water to meet industrial requirement by March 2019. … The entire quantum of water will be treated from domestic sewerage water in tertiary treatment plants at the Bamroli and Dindoli areas for supplying to mainly textile factories in the Pandesara and Sachin industrial clusters housing over 400 dying and printing units” (16 Sep).
CONFERENCES & SEMINARS
[New listings or updated information marked with *]
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.
* 02 October, Amsterdam: Meet the Fashion for Good-Plug and Play Innovators at Impact Hub: “A selection of innovators currently taking part in the latest Fashion for Good-Plug and Play Accelerator will be presenting what they are working on.”
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.”
* 05 October, London: Fashioned from Nature: Designing a Sustainable Future: “This conference will bring together industry experts to explore creative and practical ways to reduce the environmental impact of fashion, from small-scale innovations to new methods being introduced by global brands.”
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: 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.”
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.”
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.