THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Aldo (first footwear company to be certified climate neutral), Arcadia (releases factory list), Asos (future of fashion summit; and ‘most conscious high-street brand’?), Courrèges (ditches plastic/vinyl), Decathlon (100% renewable energy), M&S (interview with sustainability head), Monki (100% sustainably sourced cotton), Stella McCartney (Fashion for Good partnership), Uniqlo (rated at 3/5 by Good On You), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • Will we soon be renting rather than buying our clothes?

  • The sustainability stories behind the Green Carpet Fashion Awards dresses

  • Great Lakes researcher recognized for pioneering plastic pollution studies

In the supply chain:

Bangladesh: first transgender employees in jeans factory; outgoing US ambassador says RMG factories among safest in world; protest over backpay blocks highway for four hours

  • Cambodia: new directive to address wages and indemnity

  • Myanmar: worker protest over disputes at five factories

  • Uzbekistan: forced labour in cotton industry hard nut to crack

Manufacturers in this issue include: Applied DNA Sciences (partnership with American & Efird), Nanollose (making leather from champagne), Saha Pathana Inter-Holding and PTT Global Chemical to create high-end textiles from plastic waste in Thailand, and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “One must view the rise of the super-rich in the context of the poorest 10 percent in Bangladesh having their share of the national income being halved in just eight years from 2 percent to 1.01 percent with wealth and income inequality widening.” Nazmul Ahasan, on the rise of the ultra wealthy in Bangladesh (23 Sep).

  • “You don’t have to be woke to know that fashion has a sustainability problem.” Designer Tiziano Guardini (22 Sep).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Stella McCartney joins Fashion for Good: “Fashion for Good is proud to announce the official partnership with Stella McCartney, one of the leading global luxury lifestyle brands dedicated to sustainability and innovation. The partnership demonstrates both partners’ shared commitment to industry-wide collaboration and to integrating disruptive innovations within the fashion supply chain” (27 Sep).

Courrèges stops plastic, says goodbye to historic vinyl: “At the heart of Courrèges, vinyl has for many years made up jackets, trenches and mini-skirts symbolic to the brand. But a new chapter is on the horizon for the label. Launched in 1961 by André and Coqueline Courrèges, this summer the brand was bought by Artemis Holding, backed by Kering group, who just announced that it is about to give up plastic and no longer use it in production” (27 Sep).

Arcadia releases factory list: Arcadia Group, whose brands include Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge, has published a lit of first tier factories (27 Sep).

Burberry Stops Incinerating Clothing Launching ‘Responsibility Agenda’: “The South China Morning Post recently wrote a story “Where Burberry waste goes now British fashion brand isn’t burning clothes any more,” that got us thinking about large brands and positive spins on waste as a new harvest of sorts” (26 Sep).

ASOS stages Future of Fashion summit with third-party brands and industry experts: “Young fashion e-commerce giant ASOS today hosted a summit with more than 90 of its third-party brands and a host of industry experts to debate the future of fashion” (26 Sep).

Is Asos forging ahead as the most conscious high-street brand? “From the outside, it seems that Asos has two goals for 2018: to get inclusivity and sustainability at the forefront of its agenda. And again, from the outside, it seems to be hitting both of these targets” (26 Sep).

Decathlon commits to sourcing 100% renewable energy: “Decathlon is Europe’s biggest sports retailer, with operations in 51 countries and over 1,400 stores. The company is committed to sourcing 100% renewable electricity globally by 2026. This includes facilities in France, Spain, Italy and China, which account for most of its electricity use and already have some onsite solar installations, as well as new territories such as Australia, Israel, Chile, Canada and the US” (25 Sep).

These are the coolest sustainable shoes we've ever seen: “SAOLA is a new French brand making slick sneakers from recycled material and algae foam” (25 Sep).

‘Sustainability means nothing’: How Atelier & Repairs’ Maurizio Donadi approaches responsible fashion: ““The numbers are staggering. The industry produces 150 billion finished garments a year for a population of 7 billion people on earth – and probably one-third of those 7 billion cannot afford one item a year anyway. And then because of seasonality, you keep that overproduction going. Every six months, something new,” said Donadi. “Ideally, we are an effort to eliminate the excess of finished garments but also of textiles. Billions if not trillions of yards of materials and fabrics are produced and never used” (25 Sep).

Aldo the first fashion footwear and accessories company in the world to be certified climate neutral: “South Pole, a world-leading developer of climate action projects, certified the ALDO Group as climate neutral according to South Pole's climate neutral company label criteria. The ALDO Group offset 100% of the carbon emissions produced in 2017 by its corporate stores, offices and distribution centres, and will continue this commitment moving forward” (25 Sep).

German brand LANIUS is elegance at its most ethical: “‘Love fashion, think organic, be responsible’, is the mantra of German brand LANIUS [Good On You rating – 4/5]. The label effortlessly combines ethics with elegance, offering high-end fashion for shoppers that care deeply about the integrity of their wardrobes” (25 Sep). [Ed’s note: from Good On You ethical fashion app.]

Lend out your clothes? Sustainable fashion website has us convinced: “The Nu. Wardrobe, founded by Aisling Byrne and Ali Kelly who met during their time at Trinity College Dublin, were both searching for ways to dress in ways which allowed them to look good and feel ethical, and realised that borrowing clothes was a formula for success” (25 Sep).

PETA buys Farfetch shares to push company to stop selling fur: “Animal rights organization PETA announced the purchase of Farfetch sales, after the British luxury marketplace became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange last Friday. The move will allow PETA to attend Farfetch’s annual meetings, during which the organization aims to push the company to stop selling fur. Farfetch currently offers products made from foxes, coyotes, chinchillas and badgers” (25 Sep). [Ed’s note: see last issue of FSWIR for more on this.]

Mike Barry of Marks & Spencer – the ambition to sell sustainably: “[Mike Barry] helped to develop and deliver Plan A from its inception in 2007, and is responsible for delivering the company’s ambitious plan to support 1,000 communities, help 10 million people live happier and healthier lives, and to convert M&S into a zero-waste business” (25 Sep – 53:50-minute podcast by Mallen Baker).

Monki is now using only 100% sustainably sourced cotton: “High street store Monki has announced that it will now only use 100% organically sourced cotton. As the millennial brand is working with recycled cotton also, Managing Director Jennnie Dahlin Hansson has explained that “this is a step towards our 2030 goal to only support sustainably sourced materials. It’s a good feeling, knowing that 100% of our cotton is now sustainably sourced”” (24 Sep). [Ed’s note: Monki is owned by H&M.]

Tiziano Guardini challenges perceptions of sustainable fashion: “Rome-born Tiziano Guardini is part of a new generation of fashion talent intent on changing the fashion industry from the inside out by pioneering a sustainable approach to making clothes. … “I only use materials with a sustainable story. I use nylon from fishing nets and ocean waste, yarn made from Castor oil, I use cotton that's Greenpeace-approved and ethical from the seed through to the yarns. The denim is made from organic and recycled cotton, used in its raw form so that it uses less water.” The options are out there, designers just have to source them” (22 Sep).

How ethical is Uniqlo? “Overall Rating: It’s a Start – 3/5” (21 Sep). [Ed’s note: from Good On You ethical fashion app.]

Ternua is recycling plastic and other post-industrial waste products: “Ternua is adding a range of recycled raw materials faithful to its commitment to respecting and caring for nature as well as using PFC free and water repellent treatments to that emotional inspiration. Specifically, these materials will be sourced from recycled bottles and other post-industrial waste” (19 Sep).

Krochet Kids, Known Supply + Slow storytelling: “[A conversation with] Kohl Crecelius, a social entrepreneur, and the founder and owner of two social impact apparel brands. With a focus on helping shoppers know and connect with the makers behind their clothing, KNOWN SUPPLY and Krochet Kids intl. are pushing to humanize the fashion industry” (11 Sep – 49:03-minute podcast).

Outerknown + smashing the formula: “[A conversation with] Shelly Gottschamer, the head of sustainability and supply chain at Outerknown, to the show. A sustainable menswear brand co-founded by 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater + designer John Moore, Outerknown believes in building products by making every decision with the highest regard for the environment and the people they work with” (04 Sep – 31:17-minute podcast).

NEWS & REPORTS

Decent Work in Global Supply Chains - A Baseline Report: “Summarizes data of bilateral interviews with supply chain, procurement, and sustainability executives of companies that participate in the UN Global Compact Action Platform on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains” (Sep 18). [Ed’s note: Inditex is one of the Decent Work in Global Supply Chains Action Platform Participants.]

Will we soon be renting rather than buying our clothes? “The BBC's Circular Economy series highlights the ways we are designing systems to reduce the waste modern society generates, by reusing and repurposing products. This week we look at whether we will be renting our clothes instead of buying them in future” (26 Sep).

Fighting fast fashion: the rise of ethical consumerism: “It is a common practice worldwide to exchange human rights for cheap labour. So says Michelia Miles, the Development and Education Manager for Trade Aid, a social enterprise which promotes ethical trade and consumer education. She says the conditions many garment workers face are akin to modern-day slavery” (25 Sep).

The sustainability stories behind the Green Carpet Fashion Awards dresses: “Held at Milan’s La Scala, the Green Carpet Fashion Awards is one of the most glittering events of Fashion Week, attended by some of the world's most influential women. The only difference is that every stitch, seam and Swarovski crystal can be traced back to ethical origins. Dressing those women, big hitters from Versace to Salvatore Ferragamo sent out a powerful message of responsibility and community” (24 Sep).

New York Denim Days underscores denim’s sustainable future: “The second edition of New York Denim Days this weekend served strong denim style with a side of education about the industry’s progress toward sustainability” (24 Sep).

Women in Cotton: Use of Technology: “[CottonConnect’s] latest report ‘Women in Cotton: Use of Technology’ explores how technology can be used to create access to training, increase knowledge, enable decision making and empower women cotton farmers” (24 Sep).

Here are the six most sustainable vegan fabrics: Organic cotton, linen, hemp, Tencel, and Pinatex (24 Sep). [Ed’s note: from Good On You ethical fashion app.]

Great Lakes researcher recognized for pioneering plastic pollution studies: “A New York chemistry professor was recently recognized for her pioneering role in identifying microplastics as a significant pollutant in the Great Lakes. Her efforts led to limits on the use of microplastics” (24 Sep).

The rise of the super rich in Bangladesh: “A recent report that says Bangladesh has had the highest rise in its ultra wealthy population, surpassing any other country in the world, may have taken many by surprise. The growth rate, calculated by Wealth-X, a global financial intelligence and data company, stands at a solid 17.3 percent” (23 Sep).

List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor: The spreadsheet from the US Department of Labour available at the link contains 418 country/good entries produced by child or forced labour. Of interest to readers of this newsletter are ‘cotton’ (Argentina, Azerbaijan, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Egypt, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz, Mali, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Zambia), ‘footwear’ (Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Turkey, and Vietnam), ‘garments’ (Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burma, China, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam), ‘leather’ (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Vietnam), ‘textiles’ (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, North Korea, and Vietnam), ‘rubber’ (Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Liberia, Philippines, and Vietnam), ‘silk’ (India, and Uzbekistan), ‘thread/yarn’ (India), and ‘fashion accessories’ (Philippines) (20 Sep).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

Breaking taboos: Bangladesh’s Denim Expert Ltd. welcomes its first transgender employees: “Bangladesh jeans manufacturer, Denim Expert Ltd., has just partnered with sexual minorities campaigning organisation, the BANDHU Social Welfare Society, to offer work opportunities to people who are transgender. Denim Expert’s founder and CEO, Mostafiz Uddin, blogs on the initiative’s importance” (27 Sep).

Bangladeshi RMG factories among safest in world: “The garment and apparel factories in Bangladesh are among the safest in the world, United States Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat said yesterday, warning, however, against any complacency” (26 Sep).

Ensuring rights of workers, remediation challenges for RMG sector: Bernicat: “Ensuring rights of workers and completion of the remediation works of garment factories under a national action plan are the next major challenges for the readymade garment industry of Bangladesh, observed US ambassador Marcia Bernicat on Tuesday” (26 Sep).

Labour protest blocks Gazipur highway for four hours: “Garment workers demanding backpay at a Gazipur factory [Knit and Knitex Ltd.] have blocked the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway for over four hours. Police and protesters have clashed during the demonstration” (23 Sep).

Cambodia

Labour Ministry issues directives to address wages and indemnity: “The Labour Ministry on Friday issued two directives on wages and indemnity to improve labour conditions for workers. The first directive titled Wage Payment for Workers/Employees states that from January onward company owners are required to pay employee wages once every two weeks, noting that other benefits are to be paid once per month. The second directive titled Payment of Seniority Indemnity states that beginning in January seniority indemnity is required to be made twice a year” (24 Sep).

Myanmar

Workers march, call on govt to help end disputes at 5 factories: “Workers held a march in Hlaing Tharyar township to call the government’s attention to unsettled labour disputes at five factories in Yangon Region on Thursday” (27 Sep). [Ed’s note: factories named are Great Well One, Myanmar Infocham, and Fu Yuen. Great Well One may be Great Wall, a factory in which workers started a protest demanding increased wages in (04 Sep).]

Uzbekistan

Forced labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry – a hard nut to crack: “There is a palpable buzz in the air in Uzbekistan these days, following a decision by the U.S. Department of Labor to remove the country from a blacklist of cotton producers that rely on child workers” (26 Sep).

MANUFACTURERS

Initiative to create high-end textiles from plastic waste: “A Thai company has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a petrochemical refiner to develop textile products using plastic waste, at a time when all eyes are on the harm plastics are doing to the planet. Saha Pathana Inter-Holding Plc (SPI) and PTT Global Chemical PLC (GC) aim to bring Thai textile products up to international standards, a media release said on Tuesday” (25 Sep).

Fermented fashion – how about vegan leather clothing from champagne? “How about vegan leather clothing from champagne? It seems to, thanks to Nanollose, a new sustainable material that takes the fashion industry a step closer to its sustainable development endeavour” (24 Sep).

Creating thread DNA to ensure apparel authenticity: “To decrease the threat of counterfeit products in different industries, Applied DNA Sciences has introduced a biochemistry-based innovation in apparel authentication. By partnering with North Carolina–based thread manufacturer American & Efird LLC (A&E), Applied DNA Sciences unveiled a DNA-tagged thread that includes a DNA marker, which can test authenticity by adding a small amount of activator fluid to a swab that has been brushed on the product to collect a sample” (20 Sep).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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 October, Geneva: Giving Women’s 8th Annual Conference: “The Fashion Industry: Women’s Friend or Foe?”

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 October, Milan: Introduction to BCI & Better Cotton: “[A]fter the Textile Exchange Conference [22 – 24 October] to find out how BCI is creating opportunities for your more sustainable cotton strategies.”

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 Brigitte WernerCCO)

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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