THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Adidas (ramps up use of recycled plastic waste), Asics (using recycled fibres for Olympic attire), Bestseller (reaffirms commitment to sustainability), Carcel (sustainable fashion brand giving opportunities to women in prisons), Denim Expert Ltd. (releases circular fashion brand), LataSita (focussing on zero waste), Levi Strauss (testing out blockchain with Harvard to track worker’s welfare), Outerknown (fair-trade and eco-friendly), PVH (newest member of How2Recycle program), Saga Furs (does financial loss herald end of fur?), Saint Haven (the science of ecological sound and hypoallergenic clothing), Tretorn (making raincoats made from recycled ocean waste), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • Spanish women shoe workers organise to end decades of exploitation

  • Hawaii set to ban fur

  • UK should listen to MPs and fix the holes in the Modern Slavery Act

  • Asia’s factory workers in an AI-driven world

  • Fashion CEOs told to urgently address their “catastrophic impact” on climate change

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: more claims workers who protested in recent weeks are being victimised; group claims worker unrest resulted from defective procedures in wage structure implementation; and government forms committee to finalise Accord’s exit

  • Cambodia: mass sacking by W&D Cambodia deemed lawful by GMAC

  • Egypt: three years on, the murder of Italian PhD student researching trade unions thorn in side to relations between the two countries

  • India: another garment factory fire in Noida (the second in less than a fortnight)

  • Myanmar: detailed article on hour labour laws are leaving workers with raw deal in disputes

  • Pakistan: local concern over risk of losing GSP Plus benefits from the EU

  • Sri Lanka: Dabindu Collective in the news over its work with EPZ workers

  • Uzbekistan: on a drive to have cotton boycott lifted

  • UK: textile sector rife with exploitation and underpayment

Manufacturers in this issue include: PFGHL (launches photovoltaic power station project), PG DENIM (100% Made in Italy fabrics), Re:newcell (repurposing old clothes), Unifi (new sustainable offerings), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “There have been efforts in the past to shut down these factories, but unfortunately what happens is they operate under a phoenix system where they will close one day, and then open up under a different name the next day.” Adam Mansell, chief executive of the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFTA), on dealing with the issue of garment factories in the UK underpaying workers (25 Jan).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Saga Furs swings to loss as labels drop fur, China sees slowdown: “Do the latest results from Saga Furs suggest that fur is reaching the endgame as far as fashion is concerned? In the year to October 31, the fur specialist’s pre-tax profit was actually a loss – of €1.7 million” (28 Jan).

Bangladesh proudly launch circular fashion brand: “Denim Expert Ltd. are very pleased to present the first images of our first circular fashion collection under the brand name of CIRCLE. The vision for the development came from MD Mostafiz Uddin’s experiences in Copenhagen and the collection was produced in-house by the less able bodied and transgender employees of Denim Expert Ltd.” (27 Jan).

Kolkata-based sustainable clothing brand LataSita focuses on zero wastage: “Zero-Waste fashion does not come without its own challenges. [LataSita founder Meghna Nayak] agrees that most people won’t engage with something simply because they ‘should’ or because ‘it’s ethical’. Which is why she uses her brand as a platform to start a conversation with her customers, many of whom do not grasp the idea of sustainability” (26 Jan).

PVH joins How2Recycle program: “PVH, one of the world’s largest apparel companies and owner of iconic brands including Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen, Speedo, Warner’s and IZOD, is the newest member of the How2Recycle program. PVH will be using the recycling label to provide detailed instructions for how to recycle its Calvin Klein underwear packaging” (25 Jan).

Levi Strauss, Harvard trial Ethereum tech to track factory workers’ welfare: “Harvard University, jeans giant Levi Strauss and U.S. think-tank New America are investigating blockchain as a means to improve labor welfare. New America announced Thursday that the U.S. Department of State has granted $800,000 for a pilot project that will develop a blockchain-based system to track the working conditions of factory workers [in Mexico]” (25 Jan).

Asics to outfit Japanese athletes with kit made from recycled clothes at Tokyo 2020 Olympics: “On Friday, Asics, the official supplier of the Japanese Olympic and Paralympic teams at the Tokyo 2020 games, announced that the kits and uniforms for athletes and officials will be made using recycled fibres” (25 Jan).

Tretorn is selling raincoats made from recycled ocean waste: “This Swedish clothing brand is putting recycled plastic bottles and discarded fishing nets to good use” (25 Jan).

Vegan protesters removed from Artemis fur shop: “About 20 campaigners from the group Direct Action Everywhere Brighton targeted the leather and fur shop Artemis in the North Laine on Sunday to demand retailers end the “torture” and “unnecessary deaths” of animals” (25 Jan).

The secret is in the science for Saint Haven soft: “Creating a line of clothing that is nontoxic, hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, soft, breathable and ecologically sound was the goal of Saint Haven’s Jacqueline Sacks, but once she researched the process of apparel production, she wanted to do more” (24 Jan).

Adidas pledges to make more shoes using recycled plastic waste in 2019: “It looks like reducing plastic waste is the cause closest to Adidas’ heart. The sportswear brand announced ambitious plans to increase the production of shoes containing recycled plastic waste from five million pairs in 2018 to eleven million pairs in 2019. Such growth will be possible thanks to a collaboration with Parley for the Oceans, the environmental organization which collects plastic waste on beaches and turns it into a yarn that can be used in apparel and footwear” (24 Jan).

Carcel: the sustainable fashion brand giving opportunities to women in prisons: “In August 2017, Danish fashion designer Verónica D’Souza launched “Carcel”, a new fashion label with a goal to combine social responsibility and sustainability. The brand's high-quality products are made exclusively by women in prison using 100 percent natural materials and disregarding traditional seasons in order to sell all products and avoid waste” (24 Jan).

Good company: Outerknown’s surf wear for ‘people and planet’: “Alongside its focus on fair-trade, Outerknown also employs a number of eco-friendly materials in its production, such as organic cotton, which uses no pesticides and 90% less water than the non-organic kind, and econyl, a new material made from recycled waste such as fishing nets” (24 Jan).

Collaboration critical to Bestseller’s fashion FWD strategy: “Bestseller has reaffirmed its commitment to a collaborative approach to making the fashion industry more sustainable through its involvement in Global Fashion Agenda’s (GFA) CEO Agenda 2019” (23 Jan).

NEWS & REPORTS 

Spanish women shoe workers organise to end decades of exploitation: ““If we stop, you don’t walk” is the arresting motto of the Women Shoe Workers Association (WSA) of Elche, a small city in south-eastern Spain. This group was established last year to expose two open secrets in the country’s so-called ‘Footwear Capital’: the lack of formal employment contracts and poor working conditions that many shoe workers in this area have endured for decades” (28 Jan).

Hawaii set to ban fur: “The State of Hawaii [has introduced] “A Bill For An Act Relating to Animal Fur Products” (S.B. No. 1350) to “prohibit the manufacture or sale of certain animal fur products in the State [of Hawaii] and the shipment or transport of certain fur products into the State for sale or distribution”” (25 Jan).

Frontline Fashion 3, with Cara G Mcilroy: Episode 3: “Judging day has arrived. Our nerve-wracked finalists have only three minutes to present their collections to our panel of industry experts, including Denise Ho, Fashion Director of The R Collective, Roger Lee, CEO of TAL Group, Clare Press, Sustainability Editor-at-Large Vogue Australia, and global queen of up-cycling and the Redress Design Award’s longest serving judge, Orsola de Castro. Their collections might be complete - but whether they are prepared to be grilled on every aspect of sustainability – from sourcing, aftercare to marketing – is another story” (25 Jan – 11:56-minute video).

The UK should listen to MPs and fix the holes in the Modern Slavery Act: “Phil Bloomer of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and Nick Grono of the Freedom Fund say this week’s independent review confirms the deep concerns of activists about the government’s light-touch approach” (25 Jan). [Ed’s note: the report referenced can be seen here in full.]

Why local capacity building could solve the Spice Girls’ problem: “Everyone agrees that auditing processes are unsatisfactory. A combination of on-the-ground empowerment and a rethink of how auditors are paid could help” (25 Jan).

Asia’s factory workers in an AI-driven world: “For factory workers, automation, robotics, and AI represent a steep set of challenges, particularly at lower skill levels. First, there will be fewer jobs to go around, and second, the jobs that remain will require data and analytical skills that today’s factory workers are not likely to have” (24 Jan).

Fashion CEOs told to urgently address their “catastrophic impact” on climate change: “Fashion CEOs have been told they need to urgently address climate change within their companies at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Switzerland this week. Global Fashion Agenda, a not-for-profit which leads industry collaboration on sustainability, presented its most recent CEO Agenda report at the conference highlighting eight priorities for the industry to address this year” (24 Jan). [Ed’s note: you can read the CEO Agenda report in full here.]

Fast fashion costs more than you think: “What college student hasn’t shopped at Forever 21, Target, Old Navy or Charlotte Russe at least once? The clothing is cheap, and the styles stay up-to-date with the latest trends. What’s not to like? Unfortunately, brands like these are a part of a practice known as “fast fashion,” and they’re causing serious, harmful environmental impacts” (24 Jan).

Independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 second interim report: transparency in supply chains: “Second report from the independent review of the [UK] Modern Slavery Act 2015 covering transparency in supply chains … As part of the review, the members were invited to give their views on transparency in supply chains. This report looks at the question of increasing transparency in supply chains. The report includes findings and a summary of recommendations” (22 Jan).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh  

RMG workers being victimised for recent movement: “The country’s readymade garment workers were being victimised because of their recent movement against disproportionate increase in wages as the factory authorities filed cases against hundreds of workers and fired many from jobs, said participants in a dialogue on Saturday” (27 Jan).

Defective procedures led to worker unrest, says CPD: “The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) has identified defective procedures in the implementation of the wage structure as the main cause of the recent unrest in the garment sector” (26 Jan).

Govt forms committee to finalise Accord’s exit plan: “The government has recently formed a working committee to finalise a time bound transition plan for Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a platform of European brands and buyers, for handing over its (Accord) readymade garment factory safety responsibility to a national body” (25 Jan).

Cambodia

W&D followed law when firing workers: GMAC: “The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia on Saturday issued a statement saying W&D Cambodia Co Ltd’s termination of striking workers was done in accordance with the law” (28 Jan).

Egypt

Egypt frustrates Giulio Regeni investigation three years on: “Last year, [Italian chief prosecutor, Giuseppe Pignatone] said he believed that Regeni [an Italian doctoral student] had been killed because of his politically sensitive research into [Egyptian] trade unions” (25 Jan).

India

3 injured in garment factory blast in Noida: “At least three workers were injured—one of them seriously—when a large boiler burst due a technical fault in a company [Fancy Industries] engaged in dry cleaning of garments” (25 Jan). [Ed’s note: this is the second garment factory fire in Noida in 10 days; see here for earlier fire.]

Myanmar

Myanmar labour laws leave workers with raw deal in disputes: ““According to the labour laws, a worker who has been fired without reason must be compensated by their employers based on the number of years he or she has been with the company,” U Ye Naing Win said. “Now workers are being asked to go to civil court if compensation disputes are not settled. In reality, it is next to impossible for many workers to attend the court hearings,” he said” (22 Jan).

Pakistan

GSP Plus: Official calls for addressing EU concerns: “Punjab Chief Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar has directed all relevant departments to play an effective role in addressing concerns of a mission of the European Union (EU) over implementation of GSP Plus conventions by Pakistan” (27 Jan).

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka garment workers stand up for their rights: “Just outside Sri Lanka’s Bandaranaike International Airport, where more than 2 million tourists start their vacations each year, a different reality unfolds in the Katunayake export processing zone (EPZ)” (22 Jan). [Ed’s note: story focuses on Dabindu Collective, an organisation working with women in FTZs.]

Uzbekistan

Move to lift forced labour stigma over Uzbek cotton: “Some of the world’s top clothes brands could soon be persuaded to lift their boycott on Uzbek cotton if the government of Uzbekistan is successful with a renewed lobbying push promising to end all forced and child labour in the Central Asian country” (24 Jan).

United Kingdom

‘Criminally Underpaid’ UK factory workers handed £90,000 in wages they should have already had: “Textile manufacturing bosses have been urged to “end 19th century practices” as dozens of UK clothing factory workers were awarded nearly £90,000 in backpay after being denied minimum wage” (25 Jan).

Textile sector “rife” with exploitation and underpayment: “An HM Revenue & Customs investigation found that over a six-year period 126 garment workers were paid wage arrears. MP Mary Creagh, who reviewed the HMRC data, said it showed exploitation in the industry was still “rife ‘. HMRC has 14 ongoing investigations, and it found underpayment in one in every four inspections” (25 Jan).

MANUFACTURERS

PG DENIM back at Munich Fabric Start with 100% Made in Italy fabrics: Paolo Gnutti’s PG DENIM has worked with Berto and Eurotessile to create a product from raw materials that do not cross European borders – 100% made in Italy supply chain” (29 Jan – press release).

Making Vietnam’s textile industry sustainable: “The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Vietnam are collaborating to transform Vietnam’s bourgeoning textile and apparel industry into a more sustainable one. The project was launched this month and will be carried out from 2018 to 2020. It will involve engaging the sectoral players to better manage their water and energy use – focusing specifically on the Mekong and Dong Nai deltas, where more than half of Vietnam’s apparel factories are located” (27 Jan).

BPD Expo offers sourcing and sustainable alternatives for denim: “The two-day boutique denim trade event—housed at the former Scoop store on Broadway in SoHo—presented S/S 2020 collections from Asia-based mills alongside a vintage flea market, denim workshops and artwork from Ronen Azulay” (25 Jan). [Ed’s note: companies mentioned include Tuong Long Co., Soorty, and Apholos.]

PFGHL launches photovoltaic power station project to promote sustainable development of garment and textile industry: “As an environmentally-friendly garment manufacturer, PFGHL officially launched its photovoltaic power station project in Nanchong Factory at the end of 2018. Since its establishment, PFGHL has always adhered to the concept of sustainable development, and been paying attention to environmental protection while pursuing production quality and efficiency” (25 Jan).

Unifi introduces new sustainable offerings at 2019 Outdoor Retailer Snow Show: “Focused on consumer demands for recycled products, Unifi is introducing TruFlexx sustainable, engineered stretch fiber made with REPREVE; along with TruClean chemical-free anti-static fiber, and REPREVE nylon staple fiber” (25 Jan).

Irrigation dept to curb water supply to south Gujarat industries: “The water-dependent industrial units including textile mill dyes and chemical units, engineering units will be hit hard due to the crisis” (25 Jan).

Getzner uses Bruckner stenters for air pollution control: “Getzner, a leading company for the production of African damask fabrics and a leading manufacturer of shirt fashion fabrics based in Austria, has announced that the company has installed Bruckner stenters for heat-recovery and exhaust air pollution control. Bruckner, based in Germany, develops, manufactures, and supplies textile finishing machinery” (24 Jan).

The second life of fashion: “Producing clothes is a highly resource-intensive industry. This short video shows how one company in Sweden [Re:newcell] created a revolutionary way of repurposing old clothes into new materials for the fashion industry to use, in order to better protect the planet. (23 Jan – 3:09-minute video). [Ed’s note: also includes Filippa K and Wargön Innovation.]

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                          

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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.”

(Photo Andre Iv, 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.

Comment