THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Boohoo, House of Fraser, Missguided, TK Maxx, Amazon and Ebay (named in article on real fur labelled as fake), C&A, Vaude, Hessnatur, and KiK (comment on Germany’s ‘Green Button’ certification), Ecoalf and NAT-2 (featured in a ‘Neonyt’ trade fair video), Fashion Nova (accusing of copying again, this time from Knots & Vibes), H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 (companies Marie Kondo is bad for), Patagonia (making money from saving planet), Stanley/Stella (under fire over Spice Girls merch), Tommy Hilfiger (launching 100% recycled cotton jeans), Volcom (a ‘farm to yarn’ initiative), WAWWA (1+1 deal for homeless), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • Spice Girls/Comic Relief T-shirts (Revealed: Spice Girls T-shirts made in factory paying staff 35p an hour; ‘Inhuman conditions’: life in factory making Spice Girls T-shirt; and It’s no surprise that the Spice Girls T-shirt was made by workers on poverty wages)

  • Fast fashion exploits everyone it touches

  • Want a fashion industry without waste? Support the Australian Circular Fashion Conference

  • Could Marie Kondo slow down fast fashion?

  • 5 Minutes With…Douwe Jan Joustra from C&A Foundation

  • Stories the fashion media won’t tell

  • Chinese firm to invest in Cambodian cotton plantations

  • Real fur is bad for animals. Fake fur is bad for the earth. What the hell do we do now?

  • How sustainable fashion could finally become widely available

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: Accord hearing deferred until 18 February; a call to end harassment of workers who protested for wages

  • Cambodia: new wage plan to pay workers twice per month implemented; W&D workers refuse to return to work

  • Malaysia: reform of Employment Act underway

  • Sri Lanka: rubber glove workers protest union sackings

Manufacturers in this issue include: Texwinca (dropped from world’s largest sovereign fund over labour rights), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “[T]he increased safety of [Bangladesh] factories [after Rana Plaza] did not come with a “corollary increase in labor rights” such as guarantees against physical, verbal, and sexual harassment. In fact, she said, safety measures have come with “an increase in attacks against unions and labor organizers.” Human-rights lawyer Chaumtoli Huq (18 Jan).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Saving the oceans with fashion: “This year [‘Neonyt’ trade fair] focused on water and ocean pollution. Among the 140 brands having exhibited their latest collections at the fair, there were companies sourcing ocean waste such as fishing nets and discarded plastic directly from fishermen, others proved that even coffee or milk can make a good material to use for producing fashionable footwear” (19 Jan). [Ed’s note: includes video featuring Ecoalf and NAT-2.]

Faux fur: Fashion retailers told to take immediate action against real fur items advertised as fake: “Fashion retailers have been told to take immediate action to ensure items they advertise as being made from faux fur are not made from real fur. The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), part of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has issued an enforcement notice, which says if regulators continue to see problems in this area after 11 February 2019, they will sanction companies involved” (18 Jan). [Ed’s note: brands mentioned include Boohoo, House of Fraser, Missguided, TK Maxx, Amazon and Ebay.]

An inside look at Volcom’s ‘farm to yarn’ initiative: “How a sustainable cotton manufacturing process and empowering farmers in rural India are reshaping supply chain practices” (18 Jan).

Tommy Hilfiger to launch 100 percent recycled cotton jeans this spring: “The PVH Corp.-owned brand announced Friday it will introduce its first 100 percent recycled cotton denim styles in the Spring ’19 Tommy Jeans collection. The sustainable denim is the result of research from the PVH Denim Center in Amsterdam, a hub dedicated to setting new standards for producing denim efficiently and in a more environmentally-friendly way” (18 Jan).

Sustainable clothing brand WAWWA offers 1+1 deal for homeless: “[WAWWA uses] sustainable manufacturing techniques and pays a fair wage for an end product that’s longer lasting and minimises its impact on the world. To top it off, their 1+1 collection donates an item to someone less fortunate for each item bought” (17 Jan).

Patagonia’s CEO on how saving the planet has been good for business: “Rose Macario reflects on the brand’s recent political activism and philanthropy – and what’s next” (17 Jan).

NEWS & REPORTS 

It’s no surprise that the Spice Girls T-shirt was made by workers on poverty wages: “The bitter irony of a T-shirt promoting gender justice being made by women on poverty wages reflects an ongoing disconnect between campaigners in the West, and the realities of global supply chains” (21 Jan).

Revealed: Spice Girls T-shirts made in factory paying staff 35p an hour: “Spice Girls T-shirts sold to raise money for Comic Relief’s “gender justice” campaign were made at a factory in Bangladesh where women earn the equivalent of 35p an hour during shifts in which they claim to be verbally abused and harassed, a Guardian investigation has found … The factory is part-owned by a minister in Bangladesh’s authoritarian coalition government, which won 96% of the vote last month in an election described as “farcical” by critics … The factory was employed to produce the T-shirts by the Belgian brand Stanley/Stella, which claimed to closely monitor operations” (20 Jan). [Ed’s note: Comic relief have issued a statement (here): “Comic Relief is shocked and concerned by the allegations in The Guardian. No one should have to work under the conditions described in the piece. To be very clear, both Comic Relief and the Spice Girls carried out ethical sourcing checks on the supplier Represent told us they would be using for production of the T-shirts. Represent then switched the supplier to Stanley/ Stella, who used the factory where this alleged mistreatment occurred, without telling either the Spice Girls or Comic Relief” (20 Jan). Stanley/Stella is a Fair Wear Foundation member brand.]

‘Inhuman conditions’: life in factory making Spice Girls T-shirts: “Salma has never even heard of the Spice Girls. Her life, hunched over a sewing machine for up to 16 hours a day, is a world away from the luxuries enjoyed by the millionaire pop band. But while neither knows it, Salma and the Spice Girls are connected. The factory where she has worked for more than five years, off a narrow, winding road three hours’ drive from Dhaka, is where charity T-shirts designed by the group were made” (20 Jan).

Fast fashion exploits everyone it touches: “Fashion Nova, the fast fashion chain that rose to fame on Instagram, has once again come under fire this week after appearing to knock off a designer’s piece. This time, it’s a dress from an ethical fashion brand based in London called Knots & Vibes” (20 Jan).

Want a fashion industry without waste? Support the Australian Circular Fashion Conference…: “Australia is leading the way in the circular fashion revolution, with its second Australian Circular Fashion Conference (ACFC) to be held in March. Established in 2018 by a group of industry advocacy specialists and Australia’s most renowned sustainability experts, the first ever Conference held in Sydney was a resounding success, with business leaders from some of Australasia’s largest retail companies attending the event, including Wesfarmers and Australia Post” (19 Jan).

Could Marie Kondo slow down fast fashion? “While [Kondo’s influence could push consumers toward fewer, higher-quality investment pieces] might spark mental and financial relief for consumers, it’s not joyful for retailers—especially those in fast fashion, such as H&M, Zara, and Forever 21” (18 Jan).

5 Minutes With…Douwe Jan Joustra from C&A Foundation: “We [C&A Foundation] have close connections with the retail giant C&A, but we are an independently-funded foundation here to transform the fashion industry into a force for good. We are operating circular fashion, helping brands and retailers to transition to a circular economy, and we are creating better working conditions and living conditions for those working in the fashion industry. We also help to boost the use of sustainable materials, and we aim to help eradicate child and forced labour” (18 Jan).

Stories the fashion media won’t tell: “Why are fashion outlets ignoring Bangladeshi garment-worker protests? … when it comes to these protests, US and European fashion magazines have been conspicuously silent. Searching the US websites of Marie ClaireHarper’s BazaarW, Vogue, and, yes, even Teen Vogue, I found no mention of them” (18 Jan).

Chinese firm to invest in Cambodian cotton plantations: “Chinese firm Jiangsu Lianfa is now crop testing in Pursat province, in the country’s west, and will start growing cotton on 180 hectares of land if test results are satisfactory, according to a company representative” (18 Jan).

How to Go Organic: “The guide provides pertinent arguments for organic cotton purchase considering the specific needs of sourcing, communication, management and Corporate Social Responsibility departments. The six steps to set up an organic supply chain make up the backbone of this guide: 1·Management Decision / 2·Assessments / 3·Partnerships / 4· Traceability and Certification / 5·Contract / 6·Communication” (17 Jan).

Real fur is bad for animals. Fake fur is bad for the earth. What the hell do we do now? “There’s an implicit connotation that animal-free is more sustainable, but that’s simplistic and misleading. Some of the most harmful fabrics on the planet include denim and other cotton textiles. Denim producers dump heavy metals into bodies of water. Industrial cotton production requires a heavy diet of carcinogenic pesticides, which inevitably leach into water supplies. The line you’ve been fed about fashion houses going animal-free? It hardly explains the scope of production harm in the industry at large” (17 Jan). [Ed’s note: article mentions Versace, Gucci, Armani, Michael Kors, PETA, FICA, Banana Republic, BlankNYC, Free People, Modern Meadow, and Levi Strauss.]

Linking planetary boundaries to business: Part of Kering’s series on planetary boundaries for business: “Companies are increasingly seeking to reduce their environmental impacts, increase resource efficiency and mitigate risks from climate change. The Planetary Boundary framework offers a new approach for the business community to set science-based corporate targets and make meaningful decisions to help restore a well-functioning planet” (16 Jan).

How sustainable fashion could finally become widely available: Will the Green Button [Grüner Knopf] by German Development Minister Gerd Müller work? Comments from C&A, Vaude, Hessnatur, and KiK (14 Jan – in German).

This multimillionaire wanted to improve the world with nettles: Bob Crébas wanted to make fabric out of nettles, which requires hardly any pesticides/extra water) instead of using cotton. He failed. This long story explain what went wrong (04 Jan – in Dutch).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh   

SC defers Accord hearing to Feb 18: “Accord’s lawyer Advocate AM Amin Uddin told The Daily Star the apex court adjourned the hearing as both parties will talk about Accord’s functioning. Meanwhile, Accord can continue work” (21 Jan).

Unless addressed, wages issue will keep troubling Bangladesh’s garment industry: “The recent week-long mass protests by Bangladesh’s garment workers came to an end after an upward revision of wages for six classes of workers. But even after the upward revision, the Bangladeshi garment worker gets less than what workers in comparable countries do” (19 Jan).

Post-mortem of a worker’s death: “On January 8, 22-year-old Sumon Mia, a worker of Anlima Textile of Kornopara area in Savar, was shot dead during a “clash” between workers and law enforcers over demands for fairer wages. As we sit on what was once his bed, his sister-in-law Hashi explains that Sumon was on his way home on his lunch break when the incident happened. “There were no demonstrations in his factory and he was doing his regular duty. Usually he takes his lunch with him, but since he had just recovered from jaundice and was taking a lot of medications still, he had been coming home for lunch for the last few days,” says Hashi, showing us his black lunch bag and packets of medicine” (18 Jan).

Don’t harass garment workers for wage protests, says Shajahan Khan: “Former shipping minister Shajahan Khan has urged the government to protect garment workers from harassment over their protests for increased minimum wages” (17 Jan). [Ed’s note: this announcement received widespread coverage:

Six simple steps to sustain business: “The RMG industry must think outside the box in order to thrive. Apparel supply chains and factories will look very different in the future, thanks to changes in technology, sourcing practices, how the customer is shopping, and the embedding of sustainable methods of production. With the most successful sourcing hubs being those which adapt to and embrace change, Bangladesh is well-placed to thrive in tomorrow’s exciting new landscape -- provided it follows these six simple steps” (17 Jan). [Ed’s note: by Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Denim Expert Limited.]

Why should the labour leaders live in fear?Kumar Das was a meritorious student of MC College in Sylhet. While studying physics at Jahangirnagar University he decided to work for the rights of the workers. Since then he has been doing this in Savar, Ashulia and Dhamrai areas of Dhaka. Currently he is a regional organiser of Samajtantrik Sramik Front. But now, focussed and determined, Soumitra lives in fear and panic” (17 Jan).

Bigots and their war on women: “Ignoring men like Ahmed Shafi would be unwise … No girl should be educated beyond class four. And women should only be imparted education by other women” (16 Jan).

Cambodia

Factories begin new wage plan: “The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training issued an announcement on Wednesday indicating that 81 per cent of garment and footwear factories have implemented the government’s new requirement to pay workers’ wages twice a month” (18 Jan).

W&D workers refuse to return to work: “Over 1,000 garment workers from the W&D factory did not return to work on Monday despite government mediation attempts. They said they remained concerned over pressure from the factory management and their colleagues being fired” (16 Jan).

Malaysia

Unions respond to reform of Malaysia's Industrial Relations and Trade Union Acts: “Malaysia’s government is in the process of reforming the country's Employment Act, and IndustriALL affiliates in the country are coming together to form a response and propose amendments. …  Among the main principles on the amendments discussed were freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, relating to the sections focusing on the formation of trade unions and recognition for collective agreements” (16 Jan).

Myanmar

Numbers of garment factories rose during five years: DICA: “The numbers of garment factories whose products are being exported to the European Union have increased by 180 within 5 years, according to  Aung Naing Oo, Director-General of Department of Investment and Companies Administration (DICA). In 2013, there were only 22 garment factories exporting to EU but at present, the numbers has increased to 202, an increase by 180 total, primarily due to benefits brought about by the EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP)” (18 Jan).

Sri Lanka

Rubber glove workers in Sri Lanka protest unjust terminations: “Protesting workers at ATG Ceylon, a British-Sri Lankan manufacturer of industrial gloves, are demanding the reinstatement of five terminated union officers and members, and an end to union oppression at the company” (16 Jan).

MANUFACTURERS

Mills asked to use Danish water treatment technology: “Speaking to members of the All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association (APTPMA) on Friday, [Embassy of Denmark Deputy Head of Mission Bente Schiller] pointed out that the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) was installing a waste water treatment plant to recycle textile effluent” (19 Jan).

World´s biggest sovereign fund ejects Chinese company: “Norway´s sovereign wealth fund, the world´s biggest, has excluded a Chinese company from its almost $1 trillion portfolio because of human rights violations, the Norwegian central bank said on Thursday. Yarn, fabric and apparel manufacturer Texwinca is the main shareholder in Megawell Industrial, which has been criticised for working conditions at its factories in Vietnam” (17 Jan).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                          

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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.”

03 – 06 February, Munich: ISPO Munich 2019: Lots on sustainability this year.

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

13 February, Mumbai: ZDHC Regional Conference: “Signatory Brands, other stakeholders and industry captains of the textile & leather value chain will meet and deliberate on how to integrate sustainable chemistry in business strategies, implement best practices in textile manufacturing and encourage innovations in the chemical industry.”

15 February, Amsterdam: Circular Textiles Ready to Market – ECAP Event: “Sharing the results and learnings of the European Clothing Action Plan after more than 3 years of work.”

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.”

* 21 March, Melbourne, Australia: The Australian Circular Fashion Conference.

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 image, 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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