Brands in this issue include: Asos (noted for responding to conscious consumers), Asos, Bestseller, H&M, Kering, Li & Fung, Nike, PVH, and Target (making sustainable the new normal), H&M (expanding partnership with ILO; offering free rides with Lyft for apparel recycling in NYC), H&M and Tchibo (did not source cotton from Ethiopian region suffering discrimination and conducted community consultation), Kering, Inditex and Adidas (ranked in the top 100 sustainable companies globally), Tailored Brands (releases CSR report), Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Mothercare (sourcing from Bangladesh factory where worker was beaten), The RealReal (sees more fashion brands embrace resale), Zara (jeans made by women demanding fair pay), and more.
Reports released this week:
No Room to Bargain, by Human Rights Watch
Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2019, by Euromonitor
Tailoring a More Sustainable Future, by Tailored Brands (CSR report)
Status of Corporate Responsibility in India, 2018: Do Businesses Respect Human Rights? by Corporate Responsibility Watch (in particular “Chapter 5: Bonded Labour: India Lives in Denial”)
In general news:
The Guardian’s Bangladesh-made Spice Girls T-shirt story rolled on all week
Lawmakers urge UK to punish big companies that fail to tackle modern slavery
Why fast fashion must become sustainable fashion
Companies operating in a conflict or post-conflict country: exercise leverage or stand ready for litigation
How widespread is waste in luxury fashion? “
What’s better, economics or sustainability? Supply chain execs are divided
Euromonitor reveals the top 10 global consumer trends in 2019
India: CSR: A Cover-up for Irresponsible Business?
In the supply chain:
Bangladesh: EPZ Labour Ordinance promulgated; production targets depress workers
Cambodia: businesses, unions ask EU not to impose trade sanctions; EU threatens trade sanctions; factory fires more workers over trade union dispute; factory shuts amid mounting protests
India: FICCI calls for fresh worker housing scheme for textiles, garment workers
Pakistan: in garment factories, pregnant women are fired or sent on forced leave
Manufacturers in this issue include: Birla Cellulose (new sustainable fabric), Lenzing, Tejidos Royo, Officina+39 and Tonello (combining for new sustainable collection), and more.
Quotes of the week:
“The [Guardian] article does not mention how much the factory was paid. Paying a factory USD 1.5-2.5 range T-shirts and claiming fame to ethical sourcing and random references to “living wage” must be stopped. The reason we can’t pay our workers more is because we don’t get a fair price.” Dr Rubana Huq, managing director of Mohammadi Group in Bangladesh, responding to The Guardian articles on Spice Girls T-shirts made in Bangladesh (23 Jan).
By Stephen Frost, CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
BRANDS & RETAILERS
H&M Group and ILO expand partnership: “The ILO and H&M Group have broadened their cooperation to further improve working conditions and productivity in the textile and garment industry supply chains. This partnership will help drive both the Decent Work and Sustainable Development Goal Agendas in a key global sector” (24 Jan).
These women make your Zara jeans. now, they’re demanding to be paid fairly: “Bobita works for the NASSA group, where she is responsible for sewing up to 80 pockets an hour on women’s jeans for Zara. Women like Bobita, who started working in the industry at 16 years old, make up 80% of the 4 million RMG (Ready Made Garments) workers in over 4,500 factories in Bangladesh. The industry has transformed Bangladesh’s economy, contributing 83.49% to Bangladesh’s total exports of $36.66 billion and will play a large part in Bangladesh’s plan to move from a developing country to a middle income country by 2021” (23 Jan).
Think tank: Making sustainability the ‘new normal’ in fashion: “The Global Fashion Agenda is spearheading the fashion industry’s journey toward a more sustainable future and is behind the Copenhagen Fashion Summit and the annual Pulse of the Fashion Industry report in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group. Here, the nine Strategic Partners of the Global Fashion Agenda — Asos, Bestseller, H&M group, Kering, Li & Fung, Nike, PVH Corp., the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Target Corp. – have authored a “call for joint action” to make sustainability a default setting across the fashion apparel industry” (23 Jan).
Tailored Brands releases 2018 sustainability report: “Tailored Brands [has] announced the publication of its 2018 Sustainability Report, Tailoring a More Sustainable Future” (23 Jan). [Ed’s note: you can see the full report here.]
Kering named second-most sustainable company in the world: [Ed’s note: Corporate Knights released its 2019 Global 100 CSR ranking this week. Three fashion companies in the list are #2 Kering (81.55%); #54 Inditex (64.98%), and #84 Adidas (54.20%).] (22 Jan).
H&M and Lyft offer free rides for apparel recycling: “In an effort to encourage New Yorkers to donate clothing to H&M’s Garment Collecting program, the retailer has partnered with Lyft to give free rides to city dwellers looking to recycle their apparel at any H&M store” (22 Jan).
More luxury fashion brands embrace resale: Q&A with The RealReal: “Luxury resale, already on the rise, got a big boost last month. Luxury consignment company The RealReal and designer Stella McCartney extended their partnership, underscoring how much McCartney wants to keep items out of the landfill” (21 Jan).
NEWS & REPORTS
The Guardian article on the Spice Girls T-shirts made in Bangladesh: [Ed’s note: This was a big story earlier in the week (see Tuesday’s FSWIR), and it snowballed as The Guardian released more stories and an op-ed. It also attracted responses. Here are the main stories since the original stories were published on Monday.]
Here, now & forever: “I laugh when the western media goes on a rant about us, the eastern democracy, the eastern economy and the eastern human rights condition” (23 Jan). [Ed’s note: by Dr Rubana Huq, managing director of Mohammadi Group in Bangladesh.]
Factory that supplied Tesco compensated abused worker: “A Bangladeshi factory that produces clothes for Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Mothercare was forced to compensate an “outspoken” female worker after she was beaten up on the orders of management and threatened with being murdered, the Guardian has learned” (22 Jan).
The Guardian view on Bangladesh: when charity goes wrong: “Globalised business networks make well-meaning shoppers complicit in the exploitation of workers they are trying to help” (21 Jan).
How do you know if your clothes are being made ethically? “So how do you ensure the clothing you’re buying is made responsibly? We take a look at the complexities of ethical fashion, and how to best navigate the confusing clothing economy…” (21 Jan).
Why are wages so low for garment workers in Bangladesh? “How can a charity-backed T-shirt come from a dismal factory where staff are abused and do gruelling work for low pay?” (21 Jan).
Tesco, Mothercare and M&S use factory paying workers 35p an hour: “Bangladeshi firm that made charity Spice Girls T-shirts also works with major UK retailers” (21 Jan).
Comic Relief statement on Spice Girls T-shirts: “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” (20 Jan).
No Room to Bargain: “There are currently millions of workers like Shabana in Pakistan’s garment industry who are victims of exploitation and abuse. In recent years, these invisible workers have on rare occasions been part of the national conversation, sadly, almost always for wrong and often tragic reasons” (23 Jan). [Ed’s note: See the full report, No Room to Bargain, by Human Rights Watch, here.]
Lawmakers urge UK to punish big companies that fail to tackle modern slavery: “Britain should give its landmark modern slavery law more bite and punish businesses and public bodies that fail to combat slavery in their supply chains, lawmakers said on Tuesday” (23 Jan).
Why fast fashion must become sustainable fashion: “In the world of fashion, the term ‘eco-friendly’ isn’t a new concept. In fact, sustainable fashion first made waves in the 1970s along with the paisley patterns decorating bell-bottoms. Two decades later, the concept of ‘conscious consumerism’ entered the scene. As Americans became more aware of low wages and poor working conditions at international factories, apparel and fashion brands realized the need to make changes if they wanted to retain their customer base” (22 Jan).
Companies operating in a conflict or post-conflict country: exercise leverage or stand ready for litigation: “Apparel companies H&M and Tchibo decided not to source local cotton from the Omo Valley region in Ethiopia when local communities alleged discrimination and impacts on their livelihoods resulting from land displacement and inadequate compensation on the part of the government. In parallel to implementing this ban, these companies also engaged with relevant stakeholders, including the government, on what community consultation would look like moving forward to avoid future conflict in cotton-producing areas” (22 Jan).
How widespread is waste in luxury fashion? “Burberry was the brand that sparked a big brouhaha, but waste in the luxury fashion sector is thought to be commonplace. Big names rumoured to have destroyed stock include Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors and Juicy Couture. But why?” (21 Jan). [Ed’s note: answer is exclusivity, tax breaks and stopping fakes. Article notes Burberry and Elvis & Kresse initiative and Stella McCartney.]
What’s better, economics or sustainability? Supply chain execs are divided: “What’s more important to supply chain decision-makers: economic performance or sustainability? A new report indicates, at first glance, that profitability is the most important of all corporate sustainability objectives. However, when directly asked whether profitability or supply chain sustainability was more important, 60% gave equal priority to these objectives, with another 25% leaning towards sustainability” (21 Jan).
reGAIN tackles our fast fashion problem with rewards for recycling clothes: “reGAIN is an app which aims to change shoppers’ attitudes about unwanted clothes. Instead of consumers chucking their used items into the trash once they’re done with them, it offers rewards of coupons and discounts with retailers for recycling their clothes” (21 Jan).
Euromonitor reveals the top 10 global consumer trends in 2019: “Global market research company Euromonitor International unveiled today a new white paper highlighting the top 10 global consumer trends to watch in 2019. The annual report reveals emerging trends that provide insight into consumers’ changing values and explores how their behaviour is disrupting business globally” (15 Jan). [Ed’s note: #2. Back to Basics for Status; #3. Conscious Consumer (with the Asos ban of feathers, mohair, etc. used as an example of a company response), and #8 I Want a Plastic-free World.]
India: CSR: A Cover-up for Irresponsible Business? “Corporate Responsibility Watch (CRW) launched its first ever CSR in India Report in the year 2016 with the objective of providing an overall status of Business Responsibility. CSR in its original avatar was considered as responsible operations by businesses in their core business. In its new avatar, the Companies Act 2013, Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) initiatives are often talked about or undertaken as if they were something special, which is rather problematic” (17 Jan). [Ed’s note: of special interest to readers of this newsletter is “Chapter 5: Bonded Labour: India Lives in Denial”, which focuses on the apparel supply chain. See full report - Status of Corporate Responsibility in India, 2018: Do Businesses Respect Human Rights? – here.]
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Production target depresses apparel workers: “Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, several apparel workers claimed they feel mentally stressed due to higher target of production and extra working hours, which make them ill, leading to many to resign” (22 Jan).
EPZ Labour Ordinance promulgated: “Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Division of the law ministry on Tuesday issued a gazette notification of Bangladesh EPZ Labour Ordinance 2019 repealing EPZ Workers’ Welfare Association and Industrial Relations Act, 2010. The ordinance reduced minimum membership requirement to create a workers welfare association to 20 per cent from 30 per cent” (20 Jan).
Factory shut amid mounting protests: “A Phnom Penh garment factory abruptly closed its gates on Tuesday amid mounting protests over the “temporary suspension” of some of its 1,400 workers. Workers from a factory belonging to Long Victory International in Russey Keo district’s Tuol Sangke commune started protesting again over their unpaid furlough, which the company had claimed was due to a lack of orders from clients” (23 Jan).
Cambodia faces next trade-sanctions move by the European Union: “The European Union moved closer to imposing trade sanctions against Cambodia as a result of alleged human-rights violations in the country. The European Commission in Brussels has asked EU national governments to give the green light by Jan. 29 for suspending a policy that lets Cambodia export all goods except weapons duty-free and quota-free to the bloc” (23 Jan).
Cambodia businesses, unions ask EU not to impose trade sanctions: “Cambodian businesses and unions urged the European Union on Monday to not withdraw trade preferences from Cambodia over human rights concerns, saying such a decision would pose serious economic damage and harm millions of workers and their families” (21 Jan).
Factory fires four more workers: “Prestige Garment Co in Kandal province has fired four more workers this month following protests over the December 22 sacking of a worker representative who was trying to form a union” (21 Jan).
Unionists called to court seven years after protest: “Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) president Pav Sina and six other union members were summoned to appear at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on January 25 over a protest in 2012 [at Ocean Garment Co.]” (21 Jan).
FICCI calls for fresh worker housing scheme for textiles, garment workers: “Workers from eastern states of India migrate to the south to work in garment factories, but attrition is high because the country lacks decent worker housing” (22 Jan).
In Pakistan’s garment factories, pregnant women are fired or sent on forced leave: “Women workers in Pakistan’s garment factories are fired or sent on forced leave when they become pregnant, Human Rights Watch revealed in a report on January 23. They are not given any maternity leave. The women interviewed for the report asserted that in practice there is no maternity leave since pregnant women are either fired or themselves leave the job for a few months” (24 Jan). [Ed’s note: See full report, No Room to Bargain, by Human Rights Watch, here.]
Burlington, Cone Denim owner ITG changing name, moving HQ to Charlotte: “Greensboro-based International Textile Group is changing its name and moving its headquarters to Charlotte. Elevate Textiles Inc. is now the parent company of textile brands Burlington, Cone Denim, American & Efird, Gutermann and Safety Components, according to the company’s website – where the rebranding already has taken effect” (23 Jan).
Say hello to easy-breezy and sustainable fabric with LivaEco: “Birla Cellulose, a part of Aditya Birla Group’s Grasim Industries, has taken the onus of bringing a wave of sustainable fashion in India with Liva Natural Fluid Fashion. First introduced four years ago, Liva now unveils a new and improved, eco-enhanced variant—LivaEco, launched on January 19 this year” (23 Jan).
5 innovative fashion materials made from food by-products: Piñatex (by Ananas Anam), Orange Fiber, Parblex (by Chip[s] Board), Agroloop BioFibre (by Circular Systems), Vegeatextile (by Vegea) (23 Jan).
Denim supply chain leaders come together for a Latin-infused sustainable collection: “Guatemalan designer Juan Carlos Gordillo brings his signature Latin flavor to Planet REhab, a new 15-piece women’s collection sustainably produced by Lenzing, Tejidos Royo, Officina+39 and Tonello” (22 Jan).
Global artificial fur market 2019-2023 – 19% CAGR projection over the next four years: “The global artificial fur market is expected to post a CAGR of over 19% during the period 2019-2023, according to the latest market research report by Technavio” (22 Jan).
India textile sector weighs up CO2 dyeing: “Waterless textile dyeing using super-critical CO2 technology could be coming to India for the first time, with Dutch engineering company DyeCoo confirming to Ecotextile News that it’s in talks with several Indian textile companies – including Arvind Mills – to ship new dyeing technology to the region” (18 Jan).
CONFERENCES & SEMINARS
[New listings or updated information marked with *]
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.
* 09 – 10 April, Amsterdam: Sustainable Apparel and Textiles Conference: “How brands can transform factories, increase transparency and implement circularity in fashion and textile supply chains.”
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.”
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.