THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Burberry (unsold inventory strategy), Farfetch (PETA buys shares to push for a fur ban), H&M (announces progress on living wages, but then criticised by CCC; and an interview with head of water sustainability), Loro Piana (cashmere joint venture in China), Primark (extends sustainable cotton program to Pakistan), The North Face (extends sustainably produced wool clothing), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • African fashion brands bring sustainability to the runway, but can they scale up and stay green?

  • Myanmar and Turkey added to US labour exploitation list

  • Indigo reimagined: while touting sustainability, denim gets a makeover

  • The Price of Fast Fashion (BBC video)

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: review sought on minimum wage hike; protests over contaminated drinking water; German brands urge government to agree to Accord transition

  • Cambodia: push for canteens at all garment factories; PM urges workers not to protest during wage discussions

  • India: protests against piece work and factory sackings

Manufacturers in this issue include: Hi-Tech Printing & Labeling Inc. (labels for smarter purchases), PPG (senior scientist awarded for eco role) and more.

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

H&M accused of failing to ensure fair wages for global factory workers: “The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) said Sweden’s H&M – the world's second-largest fashion retailer after Zara owner Inditex – had not met a commitment made in 2013 to ensure its suppliers would pay a living wage to some 850,000 textile workers by 2018” (24 Sep). [Ed’s note: see H&M Group reaches close to a million workers with its fair living wage strategy: “The work we do at factory level – to create the foundation and processes for fair living wages – has grown from covering three factories in 2013 to now reaching 655 factories employing more than 930,000 garment workers” (20 Sep). The CCC report can be seen in full here.]

Where Burberry waste goes now British fashion brand isn’t burning clothes any more: “Elvis and Kresse, a UK-based sustainable luxury fashion brand, is helping Burberry reach its environmental responsibility goals by creating accessories and homewares from its leather offcuts” (23 Sep).

Loro Piana announces cashmere JV in China’s Inner Mongolia: “The Italian luxury cashmere brand Loro Piana, which is owned by the luxury conglomerate LVMH, has announced development of a cashmere farm in China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region. Fabio D’Angelantonio, CEO of Loro Piana, said the company has signed an agreement with the Chinese government and a third-party firm to establish a joint venture in the region. The new farm is expected to supply the brand with high-quality cashmere” (21 Sep – in Chinese).

Primark extends sustainable cotton sourcing programme to Pakistan: “Primark has worked with established agricultural experts, CottonConnect, alongside local NGO REEDS (the Rural Education and Economic Development Society), to introduce the programme into Pakistan. An additional 20,000 farmers have been enrolled in the programme in Pakistan” (21 Sep).

PETA buys shares in Farfetch: “Online retailer @farfetch which sells fur made from fox, coyotes, & more was just listed on the #NYSE. PETA became one of its FIRST shareholders! We’ll have the opportunity to attend #Farfetch’s annual meetings and DEMAND it ban cruel fur sales!” (21 Sep).

The North Face expands range of sustainably produced wool clothing: “The North Face hopes its commitment to expanding the range of the label’s Cali Wool collection this year “will help raise awareness of how consumers can support climate action by purchasing products made with regenerative methods.” Cali Wool is sustainably produced wool that the company introduced last year” (21 Sep).

Inside Italy’s shadow economy: “Within a distressed labor market, thousands of low-paid home workers create luxury garments without contracts or insurance … She stitched carefully at a sophisticated woolen coat, the sort of style that will sell for 800 to 2,000 euros ($935 to $2,340) when it arrives in stores this month as part of the fall and winter collection of MaxMara, the Italian luxury fashion brand. But the woman, who asked not to be named for fear that she could lose her livelihood, receives just €1 from the factory that employs her for each meter of fabric she completes.” (20 Sep). [Ed’s note: long piece from the NYT, which also references Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Gucci, Kering, Louis Vuitton, Tod’s, Euroshoes, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Abiti Puliti (the Italian arm of Clean Clothes Campaign). See also, Camera della Moda Responds to New York Times Article: “Italy’s fashion association issued an official statement in the face of accusations of irregular working conditions in the country” (22 Sep).]

An interview with Shariful Hoque, responsible for water sustainability in global production for H&M: “In this conversation … Sharif Hoque describes the particular challenges of water stewardship in the textile industry, examples of positive impacts that have come from H&M’s water sustainability philosophy, the corporate and shareholder case for proactive engagement with best water stewardship practice, the corporation’s collaboration with WWF, and the importance of water stewardship initiatives “beyond the factory fence”” (20 Sep).

Ethical sneakers that don’t harm people, animals or the planet: Veja, Novesta, Po-Zu and Adidas (‘best of a bad bunch’) (13 Sep).

NEWS & REPORTS

Gender Equality in Social Auditing Guidance: “To help companies address [the status and wellbeing of women in supply chains], BSR—with support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs—is pleased to launch guidance that identifies the main improvements required for gender-sensitive social auditing and provides recommendations, practical advice, and relevant examples on how to effectively integrate gender considerations into audits. This new Gender Equality in Social Auditing Guidance is based on and complements the Gender Equality in Codes of Conduct Guidance published in 2017” (24 Sep).

African fashion brands bring sustainability to the runway, but can they scale up and stay green? “Africa’s fashion industry, however, remains a very local affair. Most African brands are small operations, with no production capacity to supply large orders. Scaling up is hard, given electricity shortages and other manufacturing glitches that come with producing in a developing country” (23 Sep).

Myanmar and Turkey added to US labour exploitation list: “The US Department of Labor (DoL) has added Myanmar and Turkey to the list of foreign-made apparel and footwear that it has reason to believe are produced by either child or forced labour in violation of international standards” (21 Sep).

Indigo reimagined: while touting sustainability, denim gets a makeover: “The denim market's expansion into new apparel categories signals change for the industry” (21 Sep). [Ed’s note: article references Reformation, American Giant, Outerknown, Lenzing, Mavi Jeans, DL 1961, Gap, Target, Candiani, AG Jeans, Guess, Closed, Wrangler.]

The Price of Fast Fashion: “We are consuming fashion at a rate never before seen on our planet. 100 billion garments are manufactured every year and the fashion industry continually tempts us to buy more with new ranges in the shops. But this so-called fast fashion is taking a toll on the environment. Clothes production can cause pollution and uses lots of precious natural resources, as well as creating mountains of waste that go to landfill. So what, if anything, is the fashion industry doing about this? Fashion lover Assefeh Barrat follows every stage of the production process - from cotton growers in the USA, to factory owners in Turkey and designers in the West to see who is leading the way in reducing fashion’s environmental impact. And she asks consumers if they are really willing to change their fast fashion habits” (21 Sep – 45-minute video; available only in the UK).

How London Fashion Week can set the stage for a sector-wide sustainability revolution: “The catwalk shows for London Fashion Week may be over, but with the event's annual festival set to begin on Thursday (20 September), critical eyes will focus on the environmental and ethical impacts of fast fashion. Here, edie explores four ways that the show can champion sustainable alternatives” (19 Sep).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Int’l trade union platform seeks review on minimum wage for RMG workers: “Demanding reconsideration of the minimum monthly wage and a 10% yearly increment on basic salary, IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC) placed a memorandum to State Minister for Labour and Employment Md Mujibul Haque yesterday” (23 Sep).

Demo for drinking water in Gazipur: “Several thousand Readymade Garment (RMG) workers have vowed to continue fight for pure drinking water in all factories across the country. Thousands of co-workers demonstrated to show their sympathy to 60 sick employees, who were admitted to hospitals and clinics after drinking contaminated water in last two days. All the workers from nearby factories joined the Newtex Factory workers and blocked. After few minutes, the demonstrators began chanting slogans for salaries (till August), arrear dues and safety measurement, they said” (24 Sep).

RMG workers’ children to get education aid from central fund: “Nearly 200 children of readymade garment workers are going to receive education assistance from the RMG sector central fund next month, according to labour ministry officials” (23 Sep).

Outrageous new minimum wage announced in Bangladesh: “In a climate of fear and intimidation and after months of delays, Bangladeshi authorities have announced the new monthly minimum wage of 8,000 taka (USD 95) for the 4.5 million workers in the garment sector in Bangladesh. This amount shows complete disregard for legitimate workers’ unions and for the need to set wages through social dialogue” (21 Sep). [Ed’s note: from Clean Clothes Campaign.]

Pros and cons of wage hike for apparel workers in Bangladesh: “The government has announced Tk 8,000 as minimum monthly wage, up from existing Tk 5,300, for the country’s readymade garment workers amid protests from labour groups demanding higher pays. Both the factory owners and labour rights groups have expressed their dissatisfaction over the wage although the owners’ and workers’ representatives to the minimum wage board are said to have agreed on the amount” (21 Sep).

Minimum Wage: RMG workers’ countrywide demo Sept 21: “Garment workers will demonstrate in their factory areas across the country on September 21, protesting the recent announcement of Tk 8,000 as their minimum wage and demanding doubling of the amount to Tk 16,000” (20 Sep). [Ed’s note: I could find no follow up reports on any such protest.]

Board, workers at loggerheads: “Union leaders and members of a government-formed board which declared Tk 8,000 as the minimum monthly wage for garment workers are at loggerheads over the amount” (20 Sep).

Partnership for Sustainable Textiles members urge Govt. to support existing agreement for transition of Accord: “In a letter to the Bangladeshi Government, members of the [Partnership for Sustainable Textiles] and the Accord, among them Tchibo, ALDI Süd and ALDI Nord as well as Hugo Boss, demand the adherence and support to the existing agreements for the transition of the Bangladesh Accord to a national institution” (20 Sep).

Cambodia

Push for canteens at all garment factories: “The Land Management Ministry has complied with an order made by Prime Minister Hun Sen for factories to provide adequate places for garment workers to eat” (21 Sep).

PM: No protests during wage talks: “Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday urged garment workers not to protest as meetings on the 2019 minimum wage continue” (20 Sep).

India

India made significant advancement in eliminating worst forms of Child Labour in 2017: US report: “As per an official US report on the ‘Worst Forms of Child Labour’, India is one of the only 14 countries which has made significant progress towards eliminating child labour in 2017. The report is mandated by the Trade and Development Act of 2000 and is one of the most comprehensive works of research on the issue” (22 Sep).

Garment factory workers protest against piece work: “Over 300 women employees of a private garment factory in the Peenya industrial area are staging a protest against their management for forcing them to take up piece work instead of a steady monthly salary” (21 Sep).

350 workers shunted out of garment company, protest withdrawn after assurance of action: “Around 350 workers staged a protest as they were locked out of the Creative Garments Company at Peenya in Bengaluru. The permanent workers were asked to quit their job without any notice. These workers were made permanent two years ago. Thus, the workers were staging protest in the company premises for three days” (21 Sep).

MANUFACTURERS

PPG scientist receives top honor from American Chemical Society: “Dr. Shanti Swarup, PPG senior scientist, coatings research and development, polymer synthesis, was named the recipient of the 2019 National Award in Applied Polymer Science, administered by the American Chemical Society (ACS) … Swarup has made key contributions that have helped create many commercial products with higher performance, less environmental impact or lower cost than prior generations of products” (19 Sep).

Rise of sustainable fashion highlights the importance of custom fabric labelling: “Los Angeles-based fabric label manufacturer [Hi-Tech Printing & Labeling Inc.] notes that a large part of increasing environmental awareness comes from providing eye-catching and easy to read labeling so that consumers gravitate towards brands and designers that make sustainable products. By educating consumers about the care and content of garments, fabric labels are essential for brands and designers to incorporate in their products so that consumers make smarter purchases” (19 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.”

* 04 October, Los Angeles: Sustainable Fashion Forum: “A one-day conference focused on sustainable fashion and textile processes and practices, offering tangible ways fashion businesses can lead in sustainability, ethical responsibility, and climate change.” [Part of LA Fashion.]

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.”

(Photo linkCCO)

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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