THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: 3.1 Phillip Lim (dropping fur), Adidas, Nike, H&M and Zara (tested on microfiber loss during washing), Courteney Boot Company (an unlikely Zimbabwean hit), Ganni (accused of colonialism), H&M (partnering on closing the loop),  Hanes (highest ranking apparel brand in CDP report), Mara Hoffman (wins sustainability award), Norrøna (joins Fashion for Good), Patagonia (attacked by Rep. Rob Bishop), Victoria Beckham (dropping exotic skins), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • Are your fast-fashion clothes killing farmers?

  • In New York, one non-profit looks to combat textile waste

  • In the world of sustainability, colonialism is not dead

  • Momad rethinks concept and amps up sustainability focus

  • C&A Foundation and Fondo Semillas renew their partnership

  • German Development Ministry drafts law on mandatory human rights due diligence for German companies

  • City of Los Angeles approves ban of fur starting in 2021

  • Combating sexual harassment in the garment industry

  • Where do apparel companies stand on women workers?

  • Fast fashion waste: a circular approach to textiles

  • How millennials are shaping the fashion industry today

  • Katharine Hamnett blasts ethics of government, policy makers and fast-fashion brands

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: Bangladesh Government set to throw away Accord achievements, says union; IndustriALL calls for reappointing sacked RMG workers, case withdrawal; and investors calls for Accord to stay

  • Bulgaria: the poor state of apparel workers

  • Cambodia: EU launches procedure to temporarily suspend trade preferences; former garment workers protest sackings; at least 17 garment workers injured as ceiling collapses

  • Myanmar: thousands rally for fair labour laws

  • Pakistan: no violation of labour laws in garment industry, says PRGMEA

  • USA: apparel workers walk out over severance negotiations

  • Vietnam: over 1,000 workers interviews on gender-based violence

Manufacturers in this issue include: Arvind (cutting emissions), BASF (eco-conscious manufacturing techniques), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “Rather than negotiate a responsible handover of Accord functions, the Government of Bangladesh is intransigent in insisting that the Accord leaves Bangladesh by a fixed date, regardless of whether there is a competent safety authority to replace it.” From a joint statement by IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union (13 Feb).

  • “A new factory is coming up in the US state of Arkansas that, when commissioned in 2019, will produce t-shirts stitched by sewbots, or sewing robots. The factory is being built by a Chinese manufacturer for Adidas. It will have 21 production lines manned by sewbots and will be capable of making 800,000 t-shirts a year at a cost of $0.33 per unit. Even a country like Myanmar, with the cheapest labour cost in the world today, cannot compete with this.” From an article on the threat of backshoring (13 Feb).

  • “We can start again as a manufacturing country. We need to start from scratch but do it completely sustainably, change the old business model and unnecessary profit-making.” Katharine Hamnett on resuscitating apparel manufacturing in the UK (11 Feb).

  • “In the 1980s no-one knew there was anything wrong with the fashion industry. That has changed now, a lot of brands are changing, but a lot aren’t. Brands are unwilling because it puts up their costs.” Katharine Hamnett  again (11 Feb).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Rob Bishop blames Patagonia for climate change: “On Wednesday morning, the House Natural Resources Committee held its first hearing on climate change in eight years. It was as unremarkable as you’d expect from a dry political proceeding. Except for one thing: Rob Bishop’s precisely five-minute-long rant about Patagonia” (13 Feb).

By the bootstraps: Handmade Zimbabwe shoes an unlikely global hit: “In a tiny factory producing handmade boots and shoes in southwestern Zimbabwe, leather cutter Misheck Sibanda is on another hectic shift as he tries to keep up with soaring global demand. Orders are piling in and new workers are being recruited at the Courteney Boot Company – that seems to defy all the odds as Zimbabwe is battered by decades of economic misery” (13 Feb).

HanesBrands achieves leadership position in CDP 2018 report; A- score highest in apparel industry: “Hanes Ranks in top 6 percent of nearly 7,000 companies disclosing for the 2018 CDP Climate Change Report” (13 Feb). [Ed’s note: you can see full the 77-pp. report here.]

3.1 Phillip Lim to go fur-free from autumn 2019: “New York-based designer label 3.1 Phillip Lim is the latest fashion brand to announce that it will be dropping fur from its collections from autumn/winter 2019” (12 Feb).

Victoria Beckham ditches exotic skins, reconfirms no-fur stance: “The brand will cease all use of the skins as of fall 2019” (12 Feb).

H&M and the Environmental Media Association kick off fashion month with a partnership to help close the loop: “H&M USA and Environmental Media Association (EMA) are teaming up to bring awareness on the important topic of circularity in fashion” (12 Feb).

Norrøna joins Fashion for Good: “Norrøna is the latest fashion brand to join Fashion for Good, the global initiative to support innovations with the aim to transform the fashion industry towards a circular model” (11 Feb).

Mara Hoffman receives Repreve Champions of Sustainability Award at NYFW: The Shows: “Mara Hoffman will receive the Repreve Champions of Sustainability Leading the Change Award at an exclusive New York Fashion Week (NYFW) reception hosted by global textile solutions provider Unifi, Inc.” (11 Feb).

Adidas, Nike, H&M and Zara products tested on microfiber loss during washing: “In the last year, the Institute for Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials of the Italian National Research Council (IPCB-CNR) and the Netherlands-based Plastic Soup Foundation tested synthetic clothes from four global fashion brands” (04 Feb).

NEWS & REPORTS 

Are your fast-fashion clothes killing farmers? “Meet La Rhea Pepper (MD of Textile Exchange] and the other women determined to change the industry” (14 Feb).

In New York, one non-profit looks to combat textile waste: “The fashion industry generates tons of fabric waste each year, notably in New York – one of the world's shopping capitals and host twice a year to runway shows, a major contributor to the wider problem. Enter Fabscrap, a non-profit organization dedicated to recycling and reusing textiles that are unsuitable for donation” (14 Feb).

In the world of sustainability, colonialism is not dead: “The problem [for Scandinavian brand Ganni with a sustainability-themed showcase titled “Life on Earth”]? Photographs of brown, underprivileged women in developing countries served as the backdrop for a runway of mostly white, European models decked in designer clothing, with no mention of their stories, and how these connected in relation to the brand, or sustainability for that matter. (13 Feb).

Arizona Muse: ‘The fashion world needs to step up on sustainability’: “The model is fighting to save our planet through fashion. Here, she explains how you can help” (13 Feb).

Momad rethinks concept and amps up sustainability focus: “The Madrid trade fair celebrated its first unified edition and a revamped image on 8-10 February at Ifema. With a lineup of about 800 brands, the new format aims to offer a more attractive proposition, putting diversification, design and sustainability at the centre of the event” (13 Feb).

C&A Foundation and Fondo Semillas renew their partnership: “With the renewal of the partnership between C&A Foundation and Fondo Semillas, grassroots organisations in Mexico will continue to receive support for their work to improve working conditions in the Mexican apparel industry” (13 Feb).

German Development Ministry drafts law on mandatory human rights due diligence for German companies: “As reported by German newspaper TAZ (“Die Tageszeitung”) on 10 February 2019, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has drafted an as of yet unpublished law on mandatory human rights due diligence for German companies and their supply chains. According to TAZ, the draft text dated 1 February 2019 lays out in detail the human rights responsibilities of German companies with regard to subsidiaries and contractors abroad as well as containing proposed changes to the Commercial Code” (13 Feb).

City of Los Angeles approves ban of fur starting in 2021: “The ordinance will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021, and specifically prohibit the sale of products and apparel made in whole or in part of fur or any fashion accessory, such as handbags, shoes, hats, earmuffs and jewelry” (12 Feb).

Combating sexual harassment in the garment industry: “While India, Pakistan and many other countries at least have specific laws governing sexual harassment at work, 59 countries do not have any specific legal remedies for sexual harassment at work. And the examples of India and Pakistan illustrate that even where there are laws governing sexual harassment at work, they are often not meaningfully implemented. Human Rights Watch interviews with workers in India and Pakistan revealed that many workers are not aware of their rights or of employer responsibilities under these laws, and have not undergone preventative trainings at work. And even if workers are vaguely familiar with the law, in the absence of strong anti-retaliation protection, they cannot safely seek meaningful protection” (12 Feb). [Ed’s note: from Human Rights Watch. This report promotes a global campaign to develop a new international standard that will help prevent and respond to harassment and violence at work for  calling for a binding ILO Convention.]

Where do apparel companies stand on women workers? “Will the fashion industry throw its weight behind the global #MeToo movement? The next few months will tell us how committed apparel companies are to fighting harassment and discrimination in their supply chains” (12 Feb). [Ed’s note: by Aruna Kashyap, Senior Counsel, Women’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch; for context, see report directly above.]

Sustainability, tech, and evolving influencers: what the future holds for fashion according to Pure London: “Does sustainability have a place in fashion? A compelling question, perhaps, in the early 2000s, but for today’s fashion industry it is undoubtedly a given” (12 Feb).

Fast fashion waste: a circular approach to textiles: “In the wake of criticism by MPs over the social and environmental impact of “fast fashion”, UK retail brands are searching for solutions to clothing waste … Globechain, a “reuse marketplace”, aims to address the problem of fashion waste sustainably and conveniently, by connecting retail bodies with charities, businesses and individuals” (12 Feb).

How millennials are shaping the fashion industry today: “Love them or not, millennials are the people who definitely know what they’re doing, and the way they’re shaping the fashion industry today is here to prove this claim!” (11 Feb).

Katharine Hamnett blasts ethics of government, policy makers and fast-fashion brands: “Never one to shy away from voicing her opinion, Katharine Hamnett took to the main stage of Pure London on Sunday evening to give a passionate speech about the state of the fashion industry, while criticising the government, fast-fashion brands and policy makers alike for their contributions to an industry which still sees millions of farmers and workers living in poverty” (11 Feb).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh  

Bangladesh Government set to throw away Accord achievements: “The Bangladesh Government is set to throw away the achievements of the Bangladesh Accord, which was a response to the Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013 that claimed more than 1000 lives” (13 Feb).

IndustriALL calls for reappointing sacked RMG workers, case withdrawal: “As of Monday, owners of 99 apparel factories have fired over 11,000 RMG workers – the highest number ever – over the recent unrest at Ashulia, Savar and Gazipur. Trade union leaders yesterday demanded reinstatement of all apparel workers who were sacked following the recent unrest over the new wage structure, withdrawal of cases filed against them, and release of all the detainees” (13 Feb).

Investors say Accord for fire & building safety still needed to mitigate risks in Bangladesh garment sector: “A group of 190 global investors representing over $US 3 trillion in assets under management today released a statement urging the Bangladesh government not to abandon the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Accord) until such time as the government is fully capable of continuing its work to ensure the safety of the over 1,600 factories and 2 million garment workers currently covered by the Accord” (12 Feb).

Bulgaria

Fashion victims: Bulgaria’s textile workers on the poverty line: “Every morning, anything up to six days a week, textile workers in Bulgaria get up before the crack of dawn. They are just a few of the many thousands who make up the country's garment industry. Most, if not all, earn poverty wages. Global competition from low cost producing countries in Africa, Asia and Turkey mean that East European factories remain under pressure to drive down costs” (13 Feb). [Ed’s note: article focuses on Pirin-Tex, which produces for Hugo Boss.]

Cambodia

Former garment workers protest sackings: “More than 100 former workers from the W&D factory in Meanchey district yesterday held a protest to demand their reinstatement after they were sacked for inciting a strike” (15 Feb).

EU trade threat could make Cambodian factories worse for workers – unions: “The European Union’s move to revoke Cambodia’s duty-free access could force major clothing brands out of the manufacturing hub and worsen conditions for workers, industry experts said” (13 Feb).

At least 17 garment workers injured as ceiling collapses: “At least 17 garment workers were injured after a factory ceiling collapsed on Tuesday in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district. The incident occurred at Accastte Garment Co in Vattanac Industrial Park 2, in Kraing Pongro commune, at around 7am” (13 Feb).

Cambodia: EU launches procedure to temporarily suspend trade preferences: “The EU has today started the process that could lead to the temporary suspension of Cambodia's preferential access to the EU market under the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme. EBA preferences can be removed if beneficiary countries fail to respect core human rights and labour rights” (11 Feb).

Dominican Republic

‘Dignity and respect’: Dominican factory vows to never be a sweatshop: “Alta Gracia, which aims to ‘treat workers decently’ and pay a living wage, is a far cry from the grueling conditions many of the workers previously experienced” (14 Feb).

Myanmar

Garment industry creates most job opportunities: Minister: “The garment industry is the livelihood that can create job opportunities the most, said Thein Swe, Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population at a ceremony to present the wards to the most outstanding trainees from the garment training schools and the best garment factories at the UMFCCI on February 9” (14 Feb). [Ed’s note: article mentions the garment industry has “GSP rights”, which are under threat.]

Thousands of Myanmar workers rally for fair labor laws: “Thousands of workers marched in downtown Yangon, Myanmar, to demand fair labor laws as parliament appeared poised to pass legislation that would diminish worker rights” (12 Feb).

Responding to the human rights crisis in Myanmar: guidance for responsible businesses: “ETI has developed a roadmap for international companies sourcing from or operating in Myanmar. Our four-point plan provides guidance on adopting a human rights due diligence approach in response to ongoing human rights issues” (07 Feb).

Pakistan

No violation of labour laws in garment industry: PRGMEA: “Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, already working with several international organizations, including International Labour Organization (ILO) to protect the rights of garment workers, has shown its commitment for open discussions and cooperation with any organization to further enhance working conditions for the labour, besides improving trade opportunities for Pakistan” (14 Feb). [Ed’s note: this claim may be a response to a recently-released report by Human Rights Watch, called “No Room to Bargain”: Unfair and Abusive Labor Practices in Pakistan, which you can read here.]

USA

Workers at closing Keystone Tailored Manufacturing walk out over severance negotiations: “Workers at Keystone Tailored Manufacturing walked out Monday in an effort to ensure workers get a good severance package when the plant closes in March” (12 Feb).

Vietnam

Over 1,000 women workers interviewed for research on gender-based violence in Vietnam: Over the past few months, FWF and Care International interviewed more than 1,000 women garment workers as part of their research on gender-based violence” (08 Feb). [Ed’s note: full report will be released in April.]

MANUFACTURERS

Creating a new economic zone for apparel in Bangladesh: “Alongside the supply of the regular facilities, when building the zone, we also must seize the opportunity to develop the entire zone, the facilities and plants as at least a carbon-neutral place. There is the potential to build a centralised solar powered supply centre which could supply, at the very least, a percentage of the electricity used by the zone” (14 Feb).

Arvind plans to cut carbon emissions by 30 per cent with solar projects: “Textile firm Arvind Wednesday said it plans to reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent with the installation of rooftop solar projects across its facilities in three cities and by shifting from coal to renewable biomass for boilers. As company ramps up the three-phase installation, it plans to target 40 MW captive solar capacity, a company statement said” (13 Feb).

The ragged resurgence of textile recycling: “Richard Kirkman, chief innovation and technology officer at Veolia UK & Ireland, takes a look at progress in delivering a circular economy for textiles” (12 Feb).

BASF pioneers fashion revolution with Seven Crash and San Fang at New York Fashion Week: “BASF’s advanced material solutions presented in the ‘Quantus’ collection provide a significant breakthrough in fashion with its eco-conscious manufacturing techniques that also permit intricately crafted and stitched designs, while ensuring premium quality” (12 Feb).

Worries over Bangladesh wastewater: “Textile industries would be dumping a mind-boggling 20,300 crore [203 billion] litres of untreated wastewater into the country’s waterbodies every year from 2021 if the current situation did not improve, said a [Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology] study” (12 Feb).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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 February, Mexico City: SAC & ZDHC Manufacturer Forum: “All interested industry stakeholders and supply chain partners are welcome to participate in this manufacturer-focused event.”

26 February, London, Fashion’s Big Fix: “How do we fix the mess of the fashion industry?”

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.”

* 28 February: London: Sustainable Fashion and the SDGs: “The fashion industry touches upon several of the Sustainable Development Goals – so join us for an evening discussing sustainable fashion!”

14 March, London: Drapers Sustainable Fashion 2019: “Brings together the most sustainable brands and retailers, trailblazers and unicorns, disruptors, progressive thinkers and pioneers.”

14 March, Hong Kong: Sustainability in the Leather Supply Chain Hong Kong Conference 2019: “Focus on emerging risks to the leather industry and how these may be addressed through innovation and sustainable solutions.”

14 March, The Hague, Netherlands: Learning Seminar for Garment and Textile Brands: ‘Sourcing responsibly in Turkey. How to do due diligence?’: “Organised by the Dutch Agreement for Sustainable Garments & Textile (AGT) in cooperation with Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), supported by the AGT Turkey Taskforce.”

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

08 – 11 April, Budapest: 4th Global Sustainable Fashion Week: “press conference, international conferences, workshops, eco fashion shows and cultural programs.”

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: Planet 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.”

* 08 September, Dhaka, Bangladesh: GOTS Bangladesh Seminar 2019: For sponsorship or speaking opportunities Sumit Gupta at the link.

15 – 18 October: Vancouver: Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference: Textile Exchange call for breakout presentations.

(Photo NASA, 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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