Brands in this issue include: Amazon (redefining the expensive and wasteful process of returns), Cotton On and Target Australia (boycott Xinjiang cotton over forced labour fears), Haute Hijab (making sustainable headscarves mainstream), Ikea and H&M (have to get rid of chemicals before recycling), Kering (inside high-stakes fashion conference on sustainability), Levi’s, AEO, Primark, Under Armour, Burberry, H&M, Kering, Puma, Nike, VF, Adidas, PVH, Esprit, Inditex, M&S, Walmart, C&A, REI, and JCPenney (ranked on climate goals), Lululemon (worker ‘beatings’ expose a problem with fashion media), Myntra (using local tailors to alter products), Napapijri (100% recyclable, revolutionary anorak), Rebag (opens first store in San Francisco), Uniqlo, Everlane and Buttonwell (brands making high-quality basics as an antidote to fast fashion), and more.

Recently released reports:

In general news:

  • Sustainable fashion was at the forefront of Arab fashion week

  • L.A.’s Vegan Fashion Week showcases stylish, cruelty-free creativity

  • Belfast Fashion Week resale event puts sustainable fashion in spotlight

  • Game changers gather for Sustainable Fashion Summit Seoul

  • The state of sustainability, a retail analysis

  • Sustainable sourcing at scale still a far-off dream

  • Do Chinese consumers care about sustainable fashion?

  • More consumers want sustainable fashion, but are brands delivering it?

  • Jute geo-textile can earn billion dollar from domestic market

  • Fixing fashion: Who is doing what?

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: study says famale RMG workers in Bangladesh deprived of maternity benefits; garment worker blockage factory over unpaid wages

  • Mexico: president vows wage growth, labour reform funding in push for trade deal

  • Myanmar: separate plots planned to establish specialized textile and garment zones in Yangon, Mandalay

  • Uzbekistan: privatising cotton industry for sake of workers

Manufacturers in this issue include: Arch and Hook (making  hanger from ocean plastic), Lenzing (launches Tree Climate for outdoor apparel market), and more.

Sustainable fashion jobs: 6 new jobs listed this issue (at Global Fashion Agenda, PVH and SML Group).

Quotes of the week:

  • “There might be a future for sustainable fashion in China, but right now nobody cares” Andy Zhang, Shanghai fashionista (18 Oct).

  • “So, the big question is: if [Lululemon] can dedicate [$1 million] to help UN staff achieve mindfulness, why can’t they pay their garment workers more?” Bianca O’Neill, commenting on the recent worker ‘beatings’ expose by The Guardian in Bangladesh (18 Oct).

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


McKinsey survey: sustainable sourcing tops agenda: “Sustainable sourcing is amongst the top priorities for chief sourcing officials, according to an industry-facing survey conducted by US consultancy McKinsey & Company” (21 Oct).

Bangladesh hosts parallel sustainability conferences: “The Bangladesh Denim Expo and Sustainable Apparel Forum (SAF) will return next month between the 5-6th, with a focus on sustainability and responsible manufacturing techniques” (21 Oct).

Maternity rights inconsistent across Bangladesh: “A new study conducted by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) has uncovered disparities in the maternity rights of women in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector” (21 Oct).

Agencies fear impact of diluted Bangladesh water policies: “The International Development Organisation (IDO) fears the impact of Bangladesh’s garment industry on the country's water supplies is becoming "alarming" despite policies put in place to protect them” (18 Oct).

Sexual harassment costs Cambodian garment industry dear: “Sexual harassment in the workplace could be costing the Cambodian garment industry as much as US$89 million per year, according to the Care Cambodia development organisation” (18 Oct).

Brands boycott Xinjiang cotton over forced labour fears: “Fashion brands Cotton On and Target Australia have stopped sourcing cotton from China's Xinjiang province over concerns about mass human rights abuses there - including forced labour by prisoners” (17 Oct).


From Uniqlo to Everlane, the brands making high-quality basics as an antidote to fast fashion: “Brands such as Uniqlo and Everlane are starting to push high-quality basics over seasonal trends as more consumers look towards sustainable fashion. Malaysia’s Buttonwell uses high-quality Supima cotton from the US that lasts wash after wash to give new life to basic, plain T-shirts.” (21 Oct).

From Ajman to America: how Haute Hijab is making sustainable headscarves mainstream: “Melanie Elturk, who sells hijabs from the UAE to customers in the US, tells us why sustainability and Islam are inseparable” (20 Oct).

How Amazon is redefining the expensive and wasteful process of returns: “Returns cost companies millions and create billions of pounds of waste. Now, Amazon is making the process more efficient in hopes of enticing customers with easy returns” (19 Oct).

Lululemon worker ‘beatings’ expose a problem with fashion media: “Haven’t heard much about this story, even though it’s been out for a week? Well, I’m not surprised – it seems much of the fashion media have ignored the news, with quick searches on Elle Australia, Harper’s Bazaar Australia, Vogue Australia, Fashionista and more failing to reveal any coverage on the matter. The latter two, however, have gladly provided coverage for the brand’s new collab – without one mention of the controversy” (18 Oct).

Napapijri on its 100% recyclable, revolutionary anorak: “On October 8, US group VF Corp. hosted a meeting with journalists at its EMEA headquarters in Stabio, Switzerland, presenting the organisation of some of its brands [including Napapijri. met with Bhavesh Naik, director of innovation and design at Napapijri, who explained in general terms how his department functions, and talked about the brand’s product development strategy” (18 Oct).

Does ranking fashion companies by sustainability commitments actually help the industry to improve? “A report released October 17 by the18 Oct non-profit advocacy organization Stand.Earth labels fashion as a filthy industry with many brands “still wearing last season’s greenwash” rather than committing to real action against the polluting processes within the supply chain … [But by] focusing solely on fashion brands for this report, only one part of the industry story is being told. I caution the use of this scorecard to assign sustainability or climate-impact credentials to brands without visibility of their relative production levels and global market share (and therefore relative total impact) and the efforts of the independent manufacturers with whom they are working.” (18 Oct). [Ed’s note: brands ranged from Levi’s (80) and AEO (73) – with climate goals putting the world on a pathway to 1.5 degrees or less of warming – to Primark (0) and Under Armour (0) – with climate goals putting the world on a path to climate catastrophe, with 3+ degrees of warming. 45 brands were ranked in the report including Burberry, H&M, Kering, Puma, Nike, VF, Adidas, PVH, Esprit, Inditex, M&S, Walmart, C&A, REI, and JCPenney.]  

  • New report gives fashion industry's climate commitments failing grades: “ research shows most companies don’t meet pollution reduction standards called for by UN Paris Agreement” (17 Oct).

Rebag opens first store in San Francisco, plans 20 more U.S. locations: “After gaining $25 million in fresh capital back in February, luxury handbag marketplace and reseller Rebag has opened its fourth retail location in California in San Francisco” (18 Oct).

Before Ikea and H&M can use recycled fabrics, they have to figure out what’s in them. (Answer: lots of poison): “Companies with strict standards about chemicals in their products are wary about using recycled material they can’t control. Ikea and H&M just ran a large study on recyclable fabrics to figure out the kind of chemicals they have—and how they can get rid of them before reuse” (17 Oct).

Inside Kering’s high-stakes fashion conference on sustainability: “Sustainable fashion may sound unsexy to a lot of people, but it’s currently in vogue in the fashion industry now.  At this year’s Shanghai Fashion Week, the luxury group Kering collaborated with the Silicon Valley-based innovation platform Plug and Play to host an in-depth discussion on just this topic, the very first “K Generation Talk & Award Ceremony” in China. For Kering, the location was a strategic choice, as Chairman and CEO of Kering, François-Henri Pinault, stressed that “there is no luxury without China, there is no sustainability without China”” (17 Oct).

Local tailors set to deliver for Myntra: “Fashion etailer Myntra is roping in local tailors to deliver clothes so that they can alter products at customer’s doorstep, and help reduce return on sale that makes up for nearly 15-20% of all merchandise sold for the online industry. While partnering local tailors isn’t new for fixing fitting flaws, this is the first time they will be used for picking up packages from nearest fulfilment centres as delivery agents”(28 Sep).


Sustainable fashion was at the forefront of Arab fashion week: “Arab Fashion Week just concluded this edition in its new custom-built home 1422. Beginning on October 9, and continuing until October 13, the ultra-stylish fashion event attracted the best and brightest in the region … Based on the ethos of #LongLiveClothes, Comfort wanted to showcase a sustainability element through upcycling.  The brand partnered with the FAD (Dubai Fashion Institute) to upcycle clothes, including old denim, to create new designer pieces - and the results were spectacular” (20 Oct).

L.A.’s Vegan Fashion Week showcases stylish, cruelty-free creativity: “Skirts and jackets made of aluminum-can pull tabs and cork were among the animal-friendly pieces of apparel on display at the second Vegan Fashion Week held Oct. 10-15 in downtown Los Angeles. (The first one took place in March, also in DTLA.) Emmanuelle Rienda, the event organizer, acknowledged that “vegan” might not conjure images of luxury, given the ubiquity of fur and leather in high fashion. But she rejects that with this season’s theme, “Fashion Is Activism,” which promotes eye-catching fashion that is also cruelty-free and sustainable” (19 Oct).

Belfast Fashion Week resale event puts sustainable fashion in spotlight: “Belfast Fashion Week director Cathy Martin is turning her attention towards championing ethical and sustainable fashion” (19 Oct).

The state of sustainability, a retail analysis: “In its Sustainability Edit 2019 report, new research by Edited shows interest in sustainability continues to grow, with an average of 90,500 Google searches for the term per month in the US” (18 Oct). [Ed’s note: see more here.]

Sustainable sourcing at scale still a far-off dream: “Sustainable sourcing is fast becoming a top priority for fashion companies – yet a new survey of sourcing executives reveals major hurdles to reaching their goals include a lack of international standards or clear definitions on sustainability, and problems with the cost and availability of materials” (18 Oct).

Do Chinese consumers care about sustainable fashion? “The Chinese luxury market has been noticeably slow-moving on sustainable fashion, with consumers often treating luxury as a separate sphere to other sustainable sectors. Recently, however, marketers are claiming that sustainability will play a key role in purchasing decisions in 2020 and beyond. But how much do Chinese consumers really care about ethically-sourced or sustainable goods? Or are they simply looking for the best deals on designer brands?” (18 Oct).

More consumers want sustainable fashion, but are brands delivering it? “With consumers being more environmentally conscious than ever, it’s no surprise that sustainability has become a familiar refrain in the fashion industry. But are brands delivering on it? That’s a different story. Among mass-market apparel brands and retailers, only 1% of new products introduced in the first half of this year were tagged sustainable, even after a five-fold increase in the number of such items unveiled in the past two years, according to a McKinsey study released Thursday. “Apparel companies still have a long way to go to meet the demand for sustainability,” said the report, titled “Fashion’s New Must Have: Sustainable Sourcing At Scale”” (17 Oct).

Game changers gather for Sustainable Fashion Summit Seoul: “With the 2020 Spring-Summer Seoul Fashion Week currently underway, the organizers hosted a forum to discuss sustainable fashion on Wednesday and Thursday. The Seoul Design Foundation hosted Sustainable Fashion Summit Seoul at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza in central Seoul invited fashion designers who are currently participating in sustainable fashion projects from here and abroad” (17 Oct).

Jute geo-textile can earn billion dollar from domestic market: “Bangladesh can earn billion dollar from the domestic market by ensuring proper use of jute geo-textile (JGT) in preventing soil, river and embankment erosion and landslide in hilly areas instead of exporting raw jute, experts have said” (16 Oct).

Fixing fashion: Who is doing what? “Since [Common Objective] first published Fixing Fashion: Who Is Doing What? in 2018 as part of our Mapping the Industry report as a guide to the main global solutions to the fashion industry’s social and environmental impact, there has been an explosion of interest in sustainability from within the fashion industry.  A raft of new initiatives and standards have launched adding to the over 100+ that already existed and are included in this update” (15 Oct).



Female RMG workers in Bangladesh deprived of maternity benefits: study: “Female workers in the readymade garment factories in Bangladesh have been deprived of the benefits they are entitled to as per law concerning maternity leave and childcare rights, according to a study. The study titled ‘Maternity Rights and Childcare in Bangladesh: A Study of Workers in the Readymade Garment Sector’ found that most of the female workers surveyed did not know about their legal rights regarding paid maternity leave and that many factories represented in the survey did not adhere to the national legal requirements for paid maternity leave or onsite childcare facilities” (20 Oct).

Garment workers in Dhaka demand unpaid wages: “Around 200 workers from the Air Fashion garment factory blockaded the Dhaka Rampura-Malibagh road in front of the Abul Hotel for over an hour demanding three months of unpaid salaries” (19 Oct).


Mexico’s president vows wage growth, labour reform funding in push for trade deal: “Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador vowed yesterday wage increases and funding for the implementation of labour reforms, part of a campaign to convince US Democratic lawmakers to ratify a new North American trade deal” (18 Oct).


Separate plots planned to establish specialized textile and garment zones in Yangon, Mandalay: “Separate land areas are being planned to establish special zones related to textile and garment in Yangon and Mandalay regions, according to the ministry of industry. The ministry is cooperating with the private sector to implement pilot projects for industry complexes and clusters, a high-ranking official from the ministry. Union Minister for Industry Khin Maung Cho said plans were underway to adopt a national level textile policy with the help of Germany’s GIZ with the aim of developing Myanmar’s textile industry, boosting investment by inviting foreign trade partners, getting necessary infrastructure, boosting export market and reducing import” (16 Oct).


For the sake of workers, Uzbekistan is privatising its cotton industry: “The hope is that the private sector will pay cotton-pickers, instead of simply forcing them into the fields” (17 Oct).


‘The penicillin of fashion’: a hanger made from marine plastics is addressing fashion’s environmental hang-ups: “As photographers circled a small group of Extinction Rebellion protesters staging a ”die-in” outside the first day of London Fashion Week SS20, one corner room inside a building on central London’s The Strand was abuzz with PRs, reporters and industry insiders surrounding Roland Mouret, the fashion designer, who teamed up with Sjoerd Fauser and Anne Bas, cofounders of sustainable hanger startup Arch and Hook. The Amsterdam-based brand was officially launching BLUE, a hanger created to help combat the billions of pieces of plastic used by retailers that are dumped into the ocean every year” (20 Oct).

Lenzing launch Tree Climate for outdoor apparel market: “The Outdoor apparel market has long been defined by high performance functionality, most of which is delivered through technical fabrics. Industry expert and fabric innovator, David Parkes of Concept III, thinks it’s time to revive a few iconic fabrics as well as to introduce new concepts to the Outdoor segment. He partnered with Lenzing to create an assortment of unique fabrics that showcase the inherent performance, superior hand, and—perhaps most importantly—sustainability of Tencel Lyocell. The Tree Climate Collection will debut at Functional Fabric Fair in Portland on October 22-23” (16 Oct).


[New listings or updated information marked with *]  

Adidas: Flagship Retail Sustainability Expert (Parley) (London)

Allbirds: Manager, Materials Innovation (Footwear) (San Francisco, CA)

AllSaints: Corporate Responsibility Manager (London)

Amaro: Sustainability & Social Impact Lead (São Paulo)

Amazon: Social Responsibility, Senior Program Manager (Shenzhen, China)

Ann Inc: Manager: CSR, Strategy and Communications (New York)

AVI: Packaging Graduate (Sustainability & Quality) (Sandton)

Big W: Sustainability Specialist (Sydney)

Brooks: Corporate Responsibility Analyst (Seattle, WA)

Burberry: Corporate Social Responsibility Manager (SA8000 Auditor) (Tokyo)

Burton Snowboards: Sustainable Production Analyst (Burlington, VT)

C&A Foundation: Data Analyst (Gurgaon)

Canada Goose: Manager Fabrics Research, Development, Sustainability (Toronto)

Carhartt: Social Compliance Manager (Dearborn, MI)

Center for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility (CCR CSR): Social Worker (Shenzhen)

Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute: Manager, Built Environment EMEA (Amsterdam)

Disney Parks: Strategic Sourcing Specialist, Disney Cruise Line (Celebration, FL)

Geox: CSR & Sustainability (Montebelluna)

* Global Fashion Agenda: Sustainability Intern (Copenhagen)

* Global Fashion Agenda: Production Intern (Copenhagen)

Global Fashion Agenda: Global Partnership Intern (Copenhagen)

Global Fashion Agenda: Senior Sustainability Manager (Copenhagen)

Global Fashion Agenda: Exhibitor Manager (Copenhagen)

Good On You: Sales Manager (Europe or Australia)

Groupe ETAM: Sustainability Manager (Hong Kong)

Higg Co: Director, Customer Success

Hugo Boss: Internship Sustainable Social Compliance & Supplier Management (Stuttgart)

Hugo Boss: Manager Corporate Sustainability Reporting (Stuttgart)

JCPenney: Sustainable Sourcing Manager (Plano, TX)

KappAhl: Sustainability Manager (Gothenburg)

Kmart Australia: Human Rights Manager (Melbourne)

Levi Strauss: LEAN Project Manager Distribution (Unna)

Lojas Renner: Environmental Analyst - Textile Field (Shanghai)

Lululemon: Director, Chemicals & Materials Sustainability (Vancouver)

Macy’s: Vice President, Sustainability (New York)

Milliken: Global Sustainability Director (Spartanburg, SC)

Nike: Director – Carbon and Energy (Beaverton, OR)

Nike: Sustainability Manufacturing and Sourcing Internship (Beaverton, OR)

Nike: Graduate Sustainability Innovation Internship (Beaverton, OR)

Patagonia: Environmental Responsibility Associate (Ventura, CA)

Pegas Nonwovens: Global Safety, Regulatory and Sustainability Specialist (Znojmo)

Pure Strategies: Sustainability Advisor (Boston, MA)

* PVH: Corporate Responsibility Coordinator (Amsterdam)

* PVH: Director, Supply Circularity (New York)

* PVH: Corporate Responsibility Programs Specialist (New York)

PVH: Communications Manager Sustainability (Amsterdam)

Quiz Clothing: Ethical Compliance & Sustainability Manager (Glasgow)

Salomon: Sustainability Program Manager (Annecy)

SAC: Manager, Member Services – APAC (Hong Kong)

SAC: Senior Manager, Human Resources (San Francisco, CA, or remote)

SanMar: Factory Compliance Analyst (Seattle)

* SML Group: Global Sustainability Manager (Hong Kong)

Solidarity Center: Senior Specialist for Organizing – Trade Union Strengthening Department (Phnom Penh)

Steve Madden: Social Compliance Manager (Long Island City, NY)

Stitch Fix: Packaging Program Manager (San Francisco, CA)

Sustainable Apparel coalition: Operations Coordinator, Europe (Amsterdam)

Target: Regional Director Production Safety & Quality Assurance (Shanghai)

Tommy Hilfiger: Communications Manager Sustainability (Amsterdam)

Vans: Senior Manager, Social Responsibility (Costa Mesa, CA)

Velcro Companies: EHS Manager (Manchester, NH)

VF: Sustainable Operations Assistant Manager (Shanghai)

WSR: Director of Outreach and Communications (New York)

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]  

22 October, Amsterdam: Kingpins Transformers: Catalysts: “At our Catalysts edition of Kingpins Transformers, we will spotlight the members of the denim supply chain focused on redefining the rules for the future.”

23 October, Dhaka: Higg FEM 3.0 training: Training by Sustainable Textile Solutions (STS) – Those interested in attending should contact:

23 – 24 October: Amsterdam: European Textile Polyester Summit 2019: “an insight into the European polyester market and its drivers and developments, as well as focus on feedstock availability and sustainability challenges.”

29 October, Shenzhen: Higg Index Manufacturer Forum: “The manufacturer forum targets apparel and textile manufacturers, brands/ retailers who would like to start capturing their Environmental and/or Social/labor performance using the Higg Facility Tools in 2020.”

29 October, Shanghai: Top Ten Best Practices – ZDHC: Training by Sustainable Textile Solutions (STS) – Those interested in attending should contact:

29 – 30 October: Washington DC: “Brands Taking Stands – What’s next?”: “bringing corporate leaders together on a fast-paced main stage, keenly focused on the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind their thinking.”

30 October, Istanbul: Top Ten Best Practices – ZDHC: Training by Sustainable Textile Solutions (STS) – Those interested in attending should con tact:

31 October, Shanghai: Higg Index Manufacturer Forum: “The manufacturer forum targets apparel and textile manufacturers, brands/ retailers who would like to start capturing their Environmental and/or Social/labor performance using the Higg Facility Tools in 2020.”

01 November: Hong Kong: Crisis Management & Modern Slavery: “[The Mekong Club’s] intensive 3.5-hour workshop will equip you with the right tools to anticipate and prepare for a crisis, and teach you how to use crisis management principles effectively. A realistic modern slavery crisis scenario will be used so participants can practice these principles.”

04 – 05 November: Stockholm: Transforming Products for the Circular Economy: “This two-day forum will feature leading innovators, product designers, manufacturers and brands using Cradle to Cradle Certified to design and make safe, healthy materials and products for the circular economy.”

05 November: Dhaka, Bangladesh: Sustainable Apparel Forum: 2nd edition of a forum facilitated by the Bangladesh Apparel Exchange.

05 November, Webinar: Looking Beyond the Regulation, Potential Safety Hazards: Open industry. All apparel and footwear industry professionals, regardless of AAFA membership, are encouraged to participate.

07 November, Chennai: 1 Day Chemical Compliance & Product Safety in the Supply Chain: “Manufacturers and suppliers who attend this one-day course can understand the importance of RSL and MRSL obligations for their business, key restricted substances and topical global legislation, as well as best practice guidance for implementation of MRSL compliance to satisfy the leather, footwear and apparel industries.”

12 – 14 November, San Jose, California: BSR Conference: “The 27th annual BSR Conference, one of the longest-running and most prestigious sustainable business events. This year, we will explore the transformations that are creating a new climate for business and help to pave the way for companies, people, and planet to thrive in this era of rapid change.”

13 November, New York: Leather, Compliance & Sustainability New York Conference (organised by Eurofins | BLC and held at Tapestry HQ): “Calling all brands and retailers: How to ensure your brand is compliant with chemistry legislation and can take advantage of the opportunity of adding value through sustainability.”

14 November, Brussels: Ready, Set, Substitute it Now!ChemSec invites you to a full-day event, which will include messages from policy makers, inspiration from progressive companies and hard facts from scientists, as well as panel discussions and workshops on how to best substitute hazardous chemicals.”

20 November, Delhi: Higg FEM 3.0 training: Training by Sustainable Textile Solutions (STS) – Those interested in attending should contact:

20 November, Hong Kong: Half Day Sustainability in the Leather Supply Chain Training Course: This half-day leather sustainability course covers key aspects of traceability and material sourcing, chemical management risks, environmental impacts and stewardship, NGO activity and the leather life cycle.”

22 November, Coimbatore: Higg FEM 3.0 training: Training by Sustainable Textile Solutions (STS) – Those interested in attending should contact:

26 November, Dhaka: Higg FEM 3.0 training: Training by Sustainable Textile Solutions (STS) – Those interested in attending should contact:

03 December, Northampton, UK: Leather Training Course: “The improved understanding you will gain from this leather course will help you to avoid problems when sourcing and specifying leather products as well as providing confidence when dealing with suppliers, manufacturers, and tanners.”

11 – 12 December, Istanbul: Chemical Management - ZDHC: Training by Sustainable Textile Solutions (STS) – Those interested in attending should contact:

11 – 12 February, Cologne: 1st International Conference on Cellulose Fibres: “New International Conference on Cellulose Fibres, the fastest growing fibre group in textiles, the largest investment sector in the bio-based economy and the solution for avoiding microplastics.”

11 March, London: Drapers Sustainable Fashion 2020: “[With a] focus on collaborating for change within the fashion retail industry.”

(Photo by Skeeze, 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.