THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: American Airlines (Oeko-Tex approval for uniforms), Boob, Filippa K, Plucky, Swedish Stockings (nominated for Swedish sustainability award), Burberry (and end to burning and fur), Dzaino (upcycled bags), Levi’s (CEO’s stand on gun violence), Nike (Colin Kaepernick and Nike’s sweatshops; and a favorability decline), Stella McCartney (faux leather shoes), and more.

In general news:

  • Half of teens influenced by brand ethics
  • New ‘Made in USA’ portal from FDRA
  • Fashion is “an extremely wealthy industry founded on unpaid work”
  • Australia continues fight for ethical fashion

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: RMG workers working 28 hours more than normal; Accord and Alliance cut ties with 28 more RMG units
  • Cambodia: minimum wage talks begin
  • eSwatini: mass protests over wages
  • Myanmar: protests and strike at garment factory
  • Turkey: social dialogue solves workplace dispute
  • Turkmenistan: bus carrying cotton pickers overturns, three injured

Manufacturers in this issue include: Bolt Threads (eco-friendly mushroom bags), Made-From-Malai (vegan leather from coconut water waste), Taipo Eco-friendly Cotton Mill (Hong Kong’s first cotton recycling mill), Tandem Repeat (self-healing fibres from squid genes), We aRe SpinDye (water- and toxin-free textile dying process), and more.

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Burberry ends practice of destroying unsaleable products: “Burberry announces it will stop the practice of destroying unsaleable products, with immediate effect … Burberry also confirms it will no longer use real fur. There will be no real fur in Riccardo Tisci’s debut collection for Burberry later this month, and we will phase out existing real fur products” (06 Sep). [Ed’s note: see also Burberry to stop burning unsold items after green criticism (06 Sep).]

Brands nominated for this year’s Habit Mode Gala Sustainability Prize are…: Boob, Filippa K, Plucky, Swedish Stockings, and (non-brand) Mistra Future Fashion (06 Sep – in Swedish).

Stella McCartney just designed her own (faux leather!) Stan Smiths: ““It occurred to me that you really couldn’t tell the difference between the real leather and the faux leather pair. I could not help but think [of] how many animals’ lives could be saved if Stan Smith and Adidas would change from real leather to vegetarian leather, and use non-animal-based glues”” (05 Sep).

Circular Upcyling Fashion by Dzaino 자 이노: Berlin upcycling label Dzaino is launching a crowdfunding campaign to develop the first large-scale production of bags from recycled textiles (05 Sep – in German).

Detox for clothing: environmentally friendly coatings without PFCs: Tchibo’s latest blog post focuses on the company’s work toward eliminating toxic chemicals, particularly PFCs (04 Sep – in German). [Ed’s note: see also this video – Clothes Without Pollutants (in German) – released by Tchibo this week.]

American Airlines new uniforms to get OEKO-TEX seal of approval‌‌‌‌‌‌: “When the new American Airlines uniforms … debut in 2020, inside each garment will be a small label that reads “STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®.” While the label may only have a few words on it, it is supported by years of research and testing to provide consumers with garments that are safe to wear” (04 Sep).

A complete guide to buying ethical clothes on a budget: “If you’re keen to fill your closet with inexpensive clothes you can feel good about, this list is a good place to start. Companies like Everlane, Allbirds, Rent the Runway, and American Giant are leading the way, but so are some lesser known brands like MATE, Nisolo, and Blu & Blue” (04 Sep).

Levi Strauss CEO: Why business leaders need to take a stand on gun violence: [Ed’s note: article penned by Chip Bergh.] “As president and CEO of a values-driven company that’s known the world over as a pioneer of the American West and one of the great symbols of American freedom, I take the responsibility of speaking up on the important issues of our day very seriously” (04 Sep). [Ed’s note: see also What boycott? Levi Strauss & Co. doubles down on gun violence (05 Sep), an analysis of corporate activism by Triple Pundit.]

Colin Kaepernick & Nike's Sweatshops: “Because of my 20+ years of battling Nike’s sweatshop abuses, I’ve been getting phone calls and texts about Nike’s latest move to feature Colin Kaepernick in their reboot of the “Just Do It” campaign” (04 Sep). [Ed’s note: by Jim Keady, “the only athlete in the world to publicly refuse to take part in a Nike endorsement deal because of their sweatshop abuses.” See also, Nike's favorability drops double digits following new ‘Just Do It’ campaign with Colin Kaepernick: “Among younger generations, Nike users, African Americans, and other key demographics, Nike’s favorability declined rather than improved” (06 Sep).]

Nike, Respect Garment Workers in Indonesia! “After fifty years of Nike building their empire on the backs of Indonesian garment workers, Nike is pulling all apparel production from the country. Over 30,000 garment workers sewing for OUR universities here in the U.S. are at risk of losing their livelihoods!” (04 Sep). [Ed’s note: a petition from USAS.]

How brands are going all out to embrace sustainable fashion: [Ed’s note: from Lacoste and Reebok, to Girlfriend Collective and Stella McCartney.] (03 Sep).

NEWS & REPORTS

Over half of teens are influenced by ethics when buying a brand: “The majority of teenagers are influenced by ethics when buying a brand, with most either deliberately buying or deliberately stopping using a brand because of its ethics, according to new research” (06 Sep). [Ed’s note: article mentions Patagonia and Burberry.]

FDRA launches “Made in USA” portal on US footwear producers: The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) has announced the formation of ‘U.S. Domestic Footwear Producers Council’ and an online portal for all things American-Made when it comes to footwear (05 Sep).

‘Sustainability means nothing and everything all at once’: Mother of Pearl’s Amy Powney on her mission to reframe how we consume fashion: ““The issue with supply chain is, to find out where your jumper has come from, you have to learn about cotton farming, wool farming, synthetics and cellulose fabrics” she says pragmatically, when we meet at her design studio set back from the canal in East London. “No one's got time to do all that”” (04 Sep).

Fashion is “an extremely wealthy industry founded on unpaid work”: “Eight years ago author Giulia Mensitieri met an Italian fashion stylist. The stylist – who despite “wearing Chanel shoes, carrying a Prada handbag, [and] being flown across the world in business class” – was travelling the world “never knowing when she would be paid for a job and how much she would get.” On at least one occasion, “For a week’s work, a very big luxury brand gave her a voucher for €5,000 to spend in their boutique.” As a result of this encounter, Mensitieri set out to investigate the business of fashion” (04 Sep).

Fight for ethical fashion practices in Australia continues following reauthorisation: “An ethical clothing body says they will push for greater transparency, and protect rights for workers in the fashion industry, after receiving an unprecedented 10 year reauthorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission” (04 Sep).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

RMG workers have to work 28 hrs more than normal: Study: “A garment worker has to work 28 hours more a month than the working hours stipulated in labour law 2006, a study has revealed. Besides, garment workers work 2.5 extra hours on an average after regular eight-hour duty. They work 60 additional hours a month which is 30 per cent more than normal working hours” (05 Sep).

Global buyers sever ties with 28 more RMG units: “[Accord and Alliance] cut business relations with 28 more readymade garment factories in Bangladesh in last two months (July-August) due to the units’ failure in implementing workplace safety measures” (05 Sep). [Ed’s note: factories named in article.]

Cambodia

Minimum wage talks officially begin: “Negotiations to determine 2019’s minimum wage for garment workers in Cambodia began at the Labour Ministry yesterday.” $153 – 2017; $170 – 2018; $200 or more - 2019? (04 Sep).

eSwatini

Workers protest textile companies’ refusal to increase wages: “Over 10,000 workers from five factories in Nhlangano took mass action to vent their anger over low wages last week. At Zheng Yong, workers were locked in the factory when the employers ran away” (05 Sep).

India

RSS-backed trade union says Modi government causing ‘extreme labour exploitation’: “RSS-affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) will launch a nationwide agitation on Sep 6 against the Modi government’s reforms that it says have led to “extreme exploitation and harassment” of the labour sector and led to increasing unemployment in the country” (04 Sep).

Myanmar

Labour leagues stage collective protest in Dagon Seikkan industrial zone: “The labour leagues from a lot of factories staged a collective protest as part of supporting the strike of Fu Yuen garment factory in Dagon Seikkan Industrial Zone, Yangon Region on September 2 … The strike of Fu Yuen garment factory has turned 13 days. The protest workers would like 30 sacked workers to get back to work” (03 Sep).

Turkey

Industrial relations in Turkey: solving workplace disputes by social dialogue: “ETI’s Country Programme Manager in Turkey, Kadir Uysal, analyses a workplace dispute with which he was recently involved [at Akin Socks]. He explains how a commitment to building trust and cooperation between an initially oppositional trade union and sock manufacturing factory averted potentially devastating factory closure” (05 Sep). [Ed’s note: involves Next, Primark, Tesco, Deriteks and IndustriALL.]

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan bus carrying cotton pickers overturns, injuring three: A bus transporting employees from several kindergartens and schools to pick cotton was involved in an accident, resulting in three hospitalisations for serious injuries (01 Sep – in Russian).

MANUFACTURERS

First eco-friendly mushroom bags hit the US market: “The first lab-grown leather handbags made from mushroom roots were put up for sale this week via a US-based crowdfunding website aiming to carve themselves a niche in the embryonic but fast-growing market for eco-friendly fashion” (06 Sep). [Ed’s note: Bolt Threads is behind the project.]

Sustainable textile innovations: self-healing fibres made out of squid genes: “Philadelphia-based company Tandem Repeat headed by CEO Gözde Şenel-Ayaz and COO Dennis Werger, found self-healing characteristics in squid genes. In an eco-friendly and low-cost process, thermoplastic fibres are extracted, which are made into a fabric that is biodegradable and 100 percent recyclable” (04 Sep).

Malai vegan leather – sustainable fashion from coconut water waste: “Malai vegan leather by Made-From-Malai is an organic alternative leather made from coconut water waste, highly suitable for innovative leather-looking like bags and fashion accessories” (04 Sep).

For textile dyeing units, extracting groundwater 750 times cheaper than treating wastewater: “Textile dyeing units [in India] would rather extract groundwater than treat wastewater due to the costs involved but a lack of monitoring and financial assistance from the government is making things worse” (04 Sep).

H&M orders kick off Hong Kong’s first cotton recycling mill: “Hong Kong has gotten its first environmentally friendly cotton mill since a five-decade business hiatus for opening any new mills that weave the staple fiber. The factory [Taipo Eco-friendly Cotton Mill] already has its first client [H&M]” (04 Sep).

Social Impact Ventures backs We aRe SpinDye’s water friendly textile tech: “The textile industry causes nearly 20% of industrial water pollution, primarily from processes like dying and finishing. Swedish startup We aRe SpinDye has devised a water- and toxin-free textile dying process. “We can introduce the color early in the manufacturing sequence. With this method, the exact color is integrated into the material from the beginning, without the use of water or toxins”” (03 Sep).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

10 September, San Francisco: The Future of Design Workshop: A workshop teaching the SAC’s Higg Production Tools to apparel and footwear designers.

10 – 12 September, Chemnitz, Germany: Sustainable Textile School: “Formation of a marketplace for innovation and further education with a focus on sustainability in the textile industry.”

12 September, webinar: SDG Leadership Forum for Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production: “As part of our ongoing series of online dialogues, the SDG Leadership Forum for Goal 12 … offers an opportunity to explore how we can accelerate our transition to a circular economy” (co-hosted by C&A Foundation).

14 – 15 September, Lüneburg, Germany: C2C Congress 2018: Special track: Fashion and Textiles.

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 – 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 Busin4ess 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 Jörg PeterCCO)

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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