THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Adidas, Boll & Branch, Colored Organics, Coyuchi, Nike, Pact, Patagonia, and Williams-Sonoma (using organic cotton), Allbirds (co-founder talks about doing things a better way), Boll & Branch (largest consumer of Organic Fair Trade Certified cotton), Boohoo (broke rules by selling real fur as fake), Inditex (closing Barcelona Fashion Summit with ‘closing the loop’ talk), KiK (German court dismisses lawsuit over 2012 Ali Enterprises fire in Pakistan), Kuyichi (signs Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile), Marks & Spencer (launches vegan-friendly shoe range), Pangaia (releases vegan down jacket with dried wildflowers as insulation), Po-Zu (No. 1 ethical shoe brand in the UK), and more.

Reports released this week:

  • No reports released this week.

In general news:

  • Britons say willing to pay more for fair fashion but trust in brands lacking

  • SAC advances improved conditions for garment workers:

  • Uzbek-Spanish company implicated in forced labour with tragic consequences

  • The first ever Vegan Fashion Week is about to take place

  • An open letter to the ethical fashion movement

  • Who made your clothes?

  • Is your feminist T-shirt helping women?

  • The Great Lakes are full of microfibres – but there might be an easy solution

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: garment worker clashes with police continue resulting in one death and government/industry calls for calm; 14-year-old garment worker raped last week dies

  • Cambodia: W&D sacks 1,200 protesting workers

  • India: new code of conduct takes teen girls off night shift

  • Myanmar: garment factory rehires sacked union leaders

Manufacturers in this issue include: Venkatagiri weavers in India leaving profession, and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “The whole industry needs to be on its toes. Whenever there’s a new factory fire, the next claim will be brought and we’ll ask the court to make a decision on liability questions.” Miriam Saage-Maaß, Vice Legal Director of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), speaking on DW Deutsche Welle about a German court’s dismissal of a case brought by four Pakistani plaintiffs against clothing discounter KiK over the Ali Enterprises fire in 2012 (11 Jan).

  • “Everyone understands that the current law does not fulfil all fundamental demands.” Miriam Saage-Maaß, Vice Legal Director of the the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), on a German court’s dismissal of a case brought by four Pakistani plaintiffs against clothing discounter KiK over the Ali Enterprises fire in 2012 (10 Jan).

  • “Police shouldn’t suppress striking garment workers. It’s up to the factory owners to negotiate. Give fair wages and safe working conditions. Establish an accident insurance. Don’t hide behind the government.” Peter Fahrenholtz, German ambassador to Bangladesh, on garment worker protests this week (10 Jan).

  • “Globalization is coming home.” Remo Klinger, the lawyer defending the claims of four Pakistanis who’ve sued the German clothing discounter KiK, on a trial seen as a test case for whether companies responsible for human rights in supply chains (09 Jan).

  • “How have we let the ethical fashion movement get so off course?” Megan O,Malley, of Walk Sew Good, in an open letter to the ethical fashion movement (09 Jan).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Kuyichi signs Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile: “The Dutch clothing brand was founded in 2001 and is known for their denim. Kuyichi is the 92nd clothing label to have signed the agreement” (10 Jan).

Allbirds’ Tim Brown: ‘It’s about making better things, in a better way’: “Brown set out on a mission to create that simplicity he couldn’t find in footwear. What he found in the process was that the industry was not only stuck in its ways, but it also had a serious sustainability problem. So he decided to develop new materials and a new approach to creating and selling shoes that would address both aesthetic and environmental needs. The result was Allbirds” (09 Jan – 32:15-minute podcast).

Marks & Spencer launches vegan-friendly shoe range for spring: “If you're taking part in Veganuary this year, listen up... Marks & Spencer has launched its first ever vegan shoe range for spring and it’s so affordable!” (09 Jan).

Inditex to close Barcelona Fashion Summit with ‘Closing the loop’: “Alfred Vernís, Sustainability Academic Director at Inditex, will be responsible of the closure of the upcoming edition of the [Barcelona Fashion Summit], which will be held on 5 February in Teatre Nacional de Catalunya (TNC) [in Barcelona]” (09 Jan).

KiK evades its legal responsibility for factory fire: “The Regional Court in Dortmund will not investigate the facts in the case against the German textile retailer KiK. The proceedings were initiated by four Pakistani plaintiffs who were affected by a fire in a factory belonging to a KiK supplier in Pakistan in September 2012. The court rejected the lawsuit, which aimed to clarify KiK’s joint responsibility for the fire safety deficiencies, referring to a statutory limitation” (10 Jan). [Ed’s note: for a full roundup of the case, see here.]

Ali Enterprises lawsuit dismissed: District Court of Dortmund determines prescription: [Ed’s note: this is a press release from KiK on the outcome.] “Ali Enterprises lawsuit dismissed: District Court of Dortmund finds statute of limitations/companies need legal certainty” (10 Jan – in German).

Kik trial questions ‘customer is king’ mantra: “Four Pakistani citizens are suing German discounter KiK over a fire that broke out at one of its suppliers in Karachi in 2012. A regional court in Dortmund decides on Thursday whether the statute of limitations applies” (09 Jan).

The UK’s number 1 ethical shoe brand: “In the mid-noughties, shoe designer Sven Segal found himself at a crossroads. More than a decade of experience in the busy production lines of mainstream brands had confirmed his passion for smart, design-savvy footwear. Simultaneously, he was disheartened … The result of that internal conflict is Po-Zu” (09 Jan).

Retailers broke rules by listing real fur items as fake, ASA says: “The UK advertising watchdog has criticised two retailers for “misleading” consumers by advertising fashion items made from real animal fur as fake or “faux”. The Advertising Standards Authority, in two separate rulings published on Wednesday, said a product listing for a pompom jumper by the online fashion retailer Boohoo and another for a pompom headband sold on Amazon by Zacharia Jewellers – both advertised as “faux fur” – had broken rules set by the Committee of Advertising Practice” (09 Jan).

Ethical clothing brand Pangaia creates vegan down jacket with wildflowers: “The new brand, which launched globally late last year, made history with their vegan down jacket, which is made from natural, dried wildflowers as insulation rather than goose feathers; the rest of the jacket is made from recycled materials such as plastic water bottles, as well” (09 Jan).

8 popular companies like Nike and Patagonia that are committed to reducing environmental harm by using organic cotton: The other six are: Adidas, Boll & Branch, Colored Organics, Coyuchi, Pact, and Williams-Sonoma (08 Jan).

This small bedding startup just beat out heavyweights like Patagonia and Nike to become the biggest consumer of organic cotton worldwide – here’s why that matters: “The Textile Exchange just named husband-and-wife startup Boll & Branch as the largest consumer of Organic Fair Trade Certified cotton, ahead of companies like Patagonia and Nike” (07 Jan).

NEWS & REPORTS 

Britons say willing to pay more for fair fashion but trust in brands lacking: “Most British consumers would pay more for their clothes if factory workers received fairer wages, but lack trust in the ethical pledges made by brands, a poll found on Thursday, amid growing concerns around labour abuses in the fashion industry” (10 Jan).

SAC advances improved conditions for garment workers: “The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the leading association for the apparel, footwear, and textile industry, has been named an accredited host of the Social & Labor Convergence Project (SLCP) framework, helping to advance an industry effort to improve conditions for garment workers. The SAC is one of just three organizations to be recognized as an SLCP Accredited Host” (09 Jan).

Uzbek-Spanish company implicated in forced labour with tragic consequences: “24-year-old Sohibjon Mutalibov, an employee of the Ammofos-Maxam chemical plant was forcibly sent to pick cotton on September 26, 2018. Ten days later Sohibjon died” (09 Jan – 3:03-minute video).

How to make fashion sustainable: “8 things everyone can do to reduce the environmental impact of our wardrobes [from Christopher Raeburn/Timberland, Fashion Revolution, Filippa K, G-Star RAW, For Napapijri, Clothes Doctor, The Eco Initiative At Tretorn, and Supplycompass]” (09 Jan).

The first ever Vegan Fashion Week is about to take place: “2019 will see the first ever Vegan Fashion Week (VFW for short) take place. The 4-day event, starting on February 1, 2019, will be at the California Market Centre in Los Angeles” (09 Jan).

An open letter to the ethical fashion movement: “To all those involved in the ethical fashion movement. We need to talk. The current narrative that dominates our ethical fashion space, and many others with an ethical or sustainability focus, is that if we buy better we can save the world” (09 Jan).

Why 2019 could be a watershed year for fashion and sustainability: “With consumers, designers, students and politicians taking steps towards a more sustainable future, this year could see the fashion industry transformed, writes Sophie Benson” (08 Jan).

Why sustainable fashion matters: “Riley Uggla, the Founder of RiLEY Studio explains the importance of sustainability within the fashion industry” (08 Jan).

Ethical fashion: a new hope for survivors of human trafficking: “More and more brands are turning towards ethical fashion, not only to reduce their carbon footprint, but also to improve human dignity on a global scale. Ethical fashion is the production, design, and retail of clothing in a way that is considered ethical to the environment and society” (08 Jan).

Organizations trailblazing circular textiles: “Three leaders galvanizing circular textiles: The Ellen McArthur Foundation, Global Fashion Agenda, and Fashion Positive PLUS” (07 Jan).

Who made your clothes? “There are currently more people in enslaved or forced and abusive labour systems than at any point in human history – and our obsession with fast fashion is a big part of the problem. Appointed as a member of the House of Lords in 2004, Baroness Lola Young has spent years fighting to eliminate slavery, calling on everyone from government representatives to individual citizens to confront their own role in the problem” (07 Jan – 14:39-minute video).

Millennials and Gen Z lead pledge to ditch fast fashion in 2019: “A New Year’s Resolution Report conducted by fashion resale marketplace Thredup has found that one in four women is planning to quit fast fashion in 2019, a movement led predominantly by younger consumers” (07 Jan).

Beyond the bottom line: should business put purpose before profit? “In 1974, Phillips-Van Heusen’s pension fund sold its shares in International Telephone and Telegraph at a heavy loss in protest at the US conglomerate’s political donations. It was, the Financial Times reported, the first known example of a company’s “anti-social” actions triggering such an exit from an otherwise attractive investment” (04 Jan).

Is your feminist T-shirt helping women? “The mass-marketing of feminist merchandise raises thorny ethical issues. Critics note that some fast-fashion retailers that sell “feminist” T-shirts use production methods often that rely on women in low-wage, exhausting work” (03 Jan).

The Great Lakes are full of microfibres – but there might be an easy solution: “A new study [by the University of Toronto’s Rochman Lab] will put filters on about 100 washing machines in Parry Sound to catch the plastic particles” (02 Jan).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh  

Disparities in wages to be solved: “Amid continued demonstrations by garment workers over alleged disparity in their new wage structure, the government yesterday assured the workers of addressing the discrimination within a month. A 10-member committee has been formed to review the wage structure” (09 Jan).

Bangladesh police, garment workers clash in protests: “Bangladesh police fired tear gas and swung batons as thousands of garment workers demonstrated for better wages for a fourth day Wednesday, shutting down factories on the outskirts of the capital. The Daily Star newspaper said one protester was fatally shot and three dozen others were injured in clashes with police” (09 Jan). [Ed’s note: coverage on this has been extensive within and without Bangladesh:

Raped RMG worker dies: “A 14-year-old female garments worker, who was gang-raped in a secluded place in Ashulia of Savar on Saturday night, died on Monday morning” (07 Jan).

Cambodia

Calm urged as garment workers go against the grain: “Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday urged thousands of garment workers to stop demanding one-time payments of owed seniority indemnity because their strike and protest actions are against the law and could lead to more factories closing” (10 Jan).

Mass sackings send chill through Cambodian garment factories: “The termination of about 1,200 staff from garment factories in Cambodia supplying brands including H&M and Marks & Spencer after a mass strike has sent a ripple of fear through the industry, experts said, warning of fresh unrest” (19 Jan).

Factory lawyer: Sackings legal: “While 1,200 sacked W&D garment factory workers protested in front of the factory on Tuesday, a lawyer representing it said they will not be re-hired” (09 Jan).

China

The state of labour relations in China, 2018: “Of the 1,701 incidents recorded on China Labour Bulletin’s Strike Map in 2018, 1,246 (73.3 percent) occurred in domestic private enterprises, 11.6 percent in state-owned enterprises, and just 2.9 percent in Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan/foreign-funded enterprises and joint-ventures” (09 Jan).

India

Take teen girls off night shift, Indian factories told: “New [Southern India Mills’ Association (SIMA)] code of conduct also says factories should not employ staff under the age of 16 and limit working day to nine hours” (08 Jan).

Myanmar

Strike action reinstates union leaders in Myanmar: “A two-week strike by garment workers at the Chinese-owned Cixing Knitting Factory in Myanmar has ended after the company agreed to reinstate seven sacked union leaders. Around 350 workers from 15 other factories joined the strike in solidarity earlier this week after the company reneged on an agreement to rehire the seven union officials” (10 Jan).

Garment factory rehires workers, ending strike: “The Chinese-owned Cixing Knitting Factory in Hlaing Tharyar Township agreed yesterday to rehire seven sacked workers who are also union leaders, ending an almost two-week-long strike” (09 Jan).

MANUFACTURERS

GI tag fails to bring cheer to Venkatagiri weavers: “Weavers in Venkatagiri [India], wedded for centuries to their craft, are slowly leaving a profession that was once patronised by kings and queens” (05 Jan).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

15 – 17 January, Berlin: Neonyt Fashionsustain: The Neonyt Trade Show is the world’s biggest exhibition for sustainable fashion.

21 – 23 January, New York City: Texworld USA: The winter show will focus on sustainability.

22 – 24 January, Medellin, Columbia: Colombiatex 2019: includes highlighting the best practices of 25 companies that are committed to this subject with innovation, social and environmental responsibility.

24 January, London: 8th Future Fabrics Expo: “Source from 5000+ fabrics, yarns, leathers, trims with a reduced environmental impact from over 150 mills and suppliers.”

29 January – 07 February, Various locations in India/Pakistan: 1 Day Leather Processing Course: “Do you source from India or Pakistan? Get your supply chain trained in leather processing.”

* 01 – 04 February, Los Angeles: Vegan Fashion Week: “Vegan Fashion Week is dedicated to elevate ethical fashion globally.”

* 05 February, Barcelona: Barcelona Fashion Summit: “What can fashion do to stop the loss of consumers?”

18 February, Izmir, Turkey: GOTS Regional Seminar Turkey: “Through focused and challenging discussions, this one-day seminar shall address pressing issues relevant to the organic textiles industry.” 

25 February, Tempe, Arizona: GRI Reporters’ Summit: North America: “3rd Annual GRI Reporters’ Summit: Practical Solutions to Improve your Sustainability Reporting.”

26 – 28 February, Phoenix, AZ: GreenBiz 19: “Premier annual event for sustainable business leaders.”

28 February, London: The Nature of Fashion: “The panel, which will include Edwina Ehrman and Kate Fletcher, will explore how to use fashion as a pro-environmental force.”

02 May, Dhaka: Bangladesh Fashionology Summit: Transparency through technology, technology for decent work and environment, future skills development.

15 – 16 May, Copenhagen: Copenhagen Fashion Summit: “Join us this May when fashion’s most visionary and innovative minds gather to discuss the most critical issues facing our industry and planet.”

* 03 – 06 June: Detroit: SB’19 Detroit: “Navigate your brand’s sustainability journey to deliver business success,” by Sustainable Brands.

10 – 12 June, London: Ethical Corporation’s 18th Responsible Business Summit Europe: “It’s time to Lead: Innovate, Engage and Collaborate.”

18 – 20 June, Minneapolis, USA: Circularity 19: “Circularity 19 will bring together more than 500 thought leaders and practitioners to define and accelerate the circular economy.”

22 June, Barcelona: Plante Textiles 2019: “The 10th edition of Planet Textiles will be a seminal event on sustainability in the textile manufacturing sector and will see an unrivalled gathering of experts from the entire fashion value chain.”

(Photo Anja Osenberg, CCO)

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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