THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Aldi, Co-op, M&S, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco (among UK brands committing to responsible recruitment in supply chains), Amazon (recruiting sustainability manager in London), Boohoo (changed mind on wool after furious farmer’s appeal), Carcel (more stories about its prison labour model), H&M, VF and Connor (in Ethisphere’s ethical companies list), Selfridges (to ban exotic skins), Nike (‘empowering’ the wrong women), Lanius (building a sustainable brand slowly), LVMH (shortlist of designers), Rossignol (goes fur free), Selfridges, G-Star Raw and Everlane (joining Global Fashion Agenda’s new sustainability group), Simply Suzette (sustainable denim is good business), The Drop (future of fast fashion), Urban Outfitters (employed employees to cut up clothing), Wool and the Gang (knitting wool from plastic bottles), Zara (quietly building a sustainable collection), and more.

Reports released this week:

  • No reports released this week

In general news:

  • Landsec to launch textile recycling scheme

  • Consumers bid adieu to fast fashion

  • Sustainable fashion moving from trend to permanent style

  • “Fashion retailers must take responsibility for their products”: Mary Creagh MP is taking on the fashion industry

  • How plastic from clothing gets into seafood ... and what your laundry has to do with it

  • Feathers are this season’s standout fashion trend – but are they ethical?

  • UK shoppers own £10 billion worth of clothing they don’t wear

  • Future Fashion Factory: a £5.5m industrial action

  • Vegan vs animal-based fashion: which one is more sustainable?

  • Fashion is fabulous, but it’s not much use if we’ve nowhere to live

  • Launch of Australasian Circular Textiles Association (ACTA) means business for sustainable fashion

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: Govt to relocate chemical warehouses to Kadamtali, Tongi; local press covers Oxfam Australia’s report on poverty wages

  • California: Charges against operators of underground garment shop licensing scheme

  • Cambodia: ministry alerts factories on hot season risks; workers march in support of W&D workers; Olive Apparel hit with third fainting incident this month

  • China: workers protest wage arrears and social insurance owed

  • Pakistan: major fire at garment factory

  • Philippines: expanded maternity leave becomes law

  • Vietnam: thousands of garment workers protest allowance cuts

Manufacturers in this issue include: DyeCoo (developing water- and chemical-free textile tinting), Eastman (in Ethisphere’s ethical companies list), HeiQ (launches functional fabric development service), KGFabriks (receives national water award), Proklean Technologies (using ‘good bacteria’ to battle pollution), Sappi (joins Sustainable Apparel Coalition), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “The Fair Labor Association board voted today to require factory list transparency.” FLA demands tier one transparency from participating companies (28 Feb).

  • “Western correspondents and campaigners are painting an exaggerated picture of the exploitation and poor working conditions, while obscuring all those who cheerfully work behind their machines and joyfully celebrate their new lives of abundance.” Clean Clothes Campaign, paraphrasing the Bangladesh response to The Guardian’s reporting on poverty wages in that country’s apparel factories (28 Feb).

  • “No matter how you brand it, buying anything new – especially within the constant churn of the trend cycle – can never be sustainable.” Kat George (27 Feb).

  • “Advertising to promote a wardrobe change every month, selling clothes at a loss, burning unsold stock and turning a blind-eye to labour injustices in textile factories are all practices that must change.” Mary Creagh, MP, in an interview on what needs to happen in the wake of the recently-released Environmental Audit Committee report (26 Feb).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Amazon recruiting fashion sustainability program manager: “Act as the Sustainability team lead for implementing goals related to fashion sustainability (materials, waste, communication), working closely with the EU fashion business” (Feb 19). [Ed’s note: London based.]

Rossignol goes fur free: “PETA says that it has been informed by the leading winter sports clothing and equipment company Rossignol that they will no longer source fur for use in their clothing. The Rossignol Group – which owns 12 brands that are sold in over 6,000 outlets around the world and distributed in 51 countries – joins a growing list of companies that have recently taken a stand against fur” (28 Feb).

Media fawns over Nike ‘empowering’ women ad, forgets about abused women in its factories: “A new Nike ad which busts stereotypes about women in sport is receiving wide praise in the media for “empowering” girls to be the best they can be – but the adoring coverage of the sports giant is missing something crucial” (27 Feb).

This knitting wool is made with plastic bottles: “Wool and the Gang is a DIY fashion brand making knitting kits … Most recently, we launched our ‘New Wave’ yarn, which recycles plastic waste into a soft and squishy polyester fiber, that is then combined with cotton” (27 Feb).

Selfridges, G-Star Raw join Global Fashion Agenda’s new sustainability group: “Selfridges Group, G-Star Raw and Everlane are joining Global Fashion Agenda to tackle the industry’s sustainability problem. The three retailers, along with Crystal International and Erdos Group, will make up GFA’s newly formed Associate Partners group, to help the industry create new sustainability initiatives” (27 Feb).

The 2019 World’s Most Ethical Companies Honoree List: [Ed’s note: Ethisphere has released its list of the world’s most ethical companies – 128 in all – which includes two retailers and sourcing company (see Manufacturers section for a chemical company also listed. The two retailers are H&M and VF. The sourcing company is Connor.] (26 Feb).

Selfridges to ban exotic skins: The British retailer aims to phase out exotic skins from its offer and only sell leather from agricultural livestock by February 2020 (26 Feb).

A luxury clothing line faces backlash for advertising that its workers are in prison: “When the Danish designers Louise van Hauen and Veronica D’Souza debuted Carcel several years ago, with $400 alpaca wool sweaters sewn by women who are in prison in Cusco, Peru, the initial reception was overwhelmingly positive” (26 Feb).

  • Carcel produces fashion with prison labor: Exploitation or ethical business model? “I was not the only one to be alarmed by these ads. Twitter exploded with comments mocking the brand for epitomizing white saviorism and exploitative capitalism. Photos of the brand’s founders, lithe and pale, next to their wrinkled worker-prisoners seemed to epitomize racial, imperial, and class divides. They asked, “what stage of capitalism is this?”” (26 Feb).

We just discovered Zara’s secret sustainable collection and it’s incredible: “It comes, therefore, as a very welcome surprise that many of us have been shopping sustainably all along without even realising it, thanks to high street stalwart Zara’s secret ‘Join Life’ collection” (26 Feb).

Revealed: How Urban Outfitters ordered employees to cut up clothing: “Urban Outfitters employees in Amsterdam have been ordered to destroy clothing and other goods deemed 'damaged' by store managers, even for faults as minor as a missing button or broken strap” (26 Feb).

German fashion label Lanius: why growing a sustainable brand takes more time: “I think it is nice to achieve something on a small scale. That's why I stayed and still produce in China today, although contrary to prevailing prejudices, it is no longer cheaper there, but rather just as expensive as in Portugal, for example. No, I am no longer there for price reasons but because I feel committed to the production site and attach great importance to many years of working together” (26 Feb).

UK supermarkets lead in commitment to responsible recruitment throughout their supply chains: “UK supermarkets including Aldi, Co-op, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco … have joined together as Founding Sponsors of the Responsible Recruitment Toolkit (RRT) to offer expert, pragmatic support to their suppliers in order to achieve responsible recruitment in their supply chains” (25 Feb). [Ed’s note: see the website here.]

Furious wool farmer who took on fashion giant – and forced a ewe-turn: “A heartfelt appeal by a North Wales hill farmer sparked an online backlash against a fashion giant after it pledged to ditch wool over cruelty claims. Boohoo, one of the UK’s biggest online fashion retailers, made a dramatic U-turn just hours after Llanfairfechan sheep farmer Gareth Wyn Jones appealed for “commonsense”” (25 Feb).

‘We see this as the future of fast fashion’: “Jonathan Kruger and Stephen Stroud are on a mission to banish the ill-fitting suit. Their fashion brand, The Drop, creates custom-made jackets, trousers and waistcoats in a range of colours and styles. But customers who plan on popping in to see them for a consultation and to get measured up can’t, because they don’t have a shop” (25 Feb).

Simply Suzette founder shares why sustainable denim is good business: “Sustainable denim is out there—you just have to know where to find it. Online retailer Simply Suzette has become one such source, known for a curated selection of some of the world’s top sustainable denim brands on one convenient platform” (25 Feb).

LVMH reveals the list of the 20 designers shortlisted for the semi-final held on March 1st and 2nd, 2019: “The new edition of the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers has confirmed its success, with, this year, over 1,700 applicants, a record … some of the semi-finalists are involved in the field of innovation, both in terms of the materials and the techniques they us” (25 Feb).

Arizona Muse and G-Star RAW fight for sustainability at the Future Fabrics Expo: “G-Star RAW’s denim and sustainability expert Adriana Galijasevic joined the company in 2007, and has brought the brand to the forefront of the eco-fashion movement. With the launch of their ‘most sustainable jeans ever’ last year, which boast 98% recyclability, G-Star RAW has seen a huge shift in their social and ecological responsibility” (24 Feb).

NEWS & REPORTS

Fair Labor Association votes for factory transparency: “The Fair Labor Association board voted today to require factory list transparency” (28 Feb). [Ed’s note: the FLA will thus require participating companies to provide publicly available tier one supplier lists.]

We’ll tell you what we want, what we really, really want: freedom, safety and a living wage for garment workers: “Women working for 35p (US$0.45) an hour, stringing up 16-hour shifts, chasing production targets of thousands of pieces per day, coping with verbal abuse and harassment from their supervisors: there is every reason to be outraged about the Guardian’s recent revelations that workers in the factory where Spice Girls t-shirts are being made to raise money for the British charity Comic Relief face poverty wages and inhumane working conditions” (28 Feb). [Ed’s note: from the Clean Clothes Campaign.]

Contribute to a podcast on how we can make fashion more sustainable: “[The Guardian would] love to hear your thoughts about the environmental and ethical impact of ‘fast fashion’, and how we as individuals and nations can rethink attitudes to shopping” (28 Feb).

Buying new is not sustainable, no matter how you sew it: “The word “sustainability” is everywhere right now. The anti-fast fashion movement finally appears to be filtering into the mainstream, and the average shopper is waking up to the perils of their sartorial habits. Even influencers and big brands are cashing in on a new model of ethical branding. But regardless of how consumption is greenwashed, the ongoing promotion of wants over needs creates an aspirational culture, in which acquisition of the right products is the pinnacle of self-empowerment. No matter how you brand it, buying anything new – especially within the constant churn of the trend cycle – can never be sustainable” (27 Feb).

Landsec to launch textile recycling scheme: “Landlord property developer Landsec has launched a new textile recycling scheme in response to calls from the government to place a 1p tax on fashion items” (27 Feb).

Consumers bid adieu to fast fashion: ““I feel like I can’t even make eye contact with you guys,” Sarah Hawkinson says into the camera, the popular fashion YouTuber’s eyes darting from her lap to the wall. She goes on to tell her 350,000 subscribers that she’s done turning a blind eye to fast fashion and will now be mindful of how her consumer choices support big corporations. Turns out, she’s not alone” (27 Feb).

Sustainable fashion moving from trend to permanent style: “It’s the end of what’s likely been the ‘greenest’ fashion month yet, with some of the most talked-about moments focused not on present trends but on a more sustainable future” (27 Feb).

“Fashion retailers must take responsibility for their products”: Mary Creagh MP is taking on the fashion industry: “I spoke to Mary Creagh last week to get her thoughts on where the British fashion industry is and what we, as consumers, media, individuals, companies and government, need to do to see urgent, systematic change” (26 Feb).

How plastic from clothing gets into seafood ... and what your laundry has to do with it: [Ed’s note: five-minute video at link.] (25 Feb).

Feathers are this season’s standout fashion trend – but are they ethical?PETA has condemned designers who use feathers as ‘ignorant and out of touch’” (25 Feb).

Price, availability and processes: limitations of sustainable materials: “The outbreak of fashion giants into sustainability has accelerated the research and development of new materials, but for many companies to enter that universe is still a utopia” (25 Feb).

UK shoppers own £10 billion worth of clothing they don’t wear: “In 2018, a survey uncovered that shoppers in the UK hoard over 10 billion pounds worth of unworn clothes. Women were also found to be the largest culprits in unworn clothes, splurging the most money on garments (£1042 per year) while only wearing a measly 55% of their wardrobe” (25 Feb).

Future Fashion Factory: a £5.5m industrial action: “A new £5.5m research programme aims to improve speed, productivity and sustainability in the UK’s clothing supply chain” (25 Feb).

Vegan vs animal-based fashion: which one is more sustainable? “Vegan fashion is in. An indication for this is the first Vegan Fashion Week, which premiered in Los Angeles in early February. But the boom is calling on more and more critics, who accuse animal rights activists of lacking sustainability, of all things” (25 Feb).

Fashion is fabulous, but it’s not much use if we’ve nowhere to live: “[Mother of Pearl designer Amy] Powney likens the climate crisis to a war that we know is coming, but says that’s not a bad thing, or it wouldn’t be if we just woke up” (25 Feb).

Launch of Australasian Circular Textiles Association (ACTA) means business for sustainable fashion: “Launching in 2018, the Australasian Circular Textile Association (ACTA) harnesses this principal, but with a very clear end goal: zero textile waste. The ACTA is the market’s first organisation offering to act as the voice of Australia’s fashion industry, which has shown a proven desire to evolve towards sustainability” (25 Feb).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh  

Govt to relocate chemical warehouses to Kadamtali, Tongi: “The government has decided to relocate the chemical warehouses from Old Dhaka to the capital’s Kadamtali and Gazipur's Tongi area. In the aftermath of the devastating fire in Chawkbazar that claimed 69 lives, the decision was taken on Wednesday with an aim to prevent such fatal accidents in future” (27 Feb).

Poor wages force Bangladesh RMG workers to skip meals: “Most of the readymade garment workers in Bangladesh cannot afford three full meals per day and regularly skip meals due to poor wages, according to a research conducted by Oxfam Australia” (27 Feb).

California

Charges against operators of underground garment shop licensing scheme: “California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the California Labor Commissioner’s Office today announced the filing of criminal charges against Jong Min Ju (Ju) and his co-conspirators, as well as the arrest and arraignment of Irene Park (Park) for an alleged illegal garment shop licensing scheme. In the criminal complaints, Attorney General Becerra alleges Ju and his co-conspirators engaged in a scheme to defraud the Labor Commissioner’s Office into issuing garment shop registration licenses to garment contractors, who would otherwise be ineligible due to past labor violations, unpaid taxes, or other problems” (26 Feb).

Cambodia

Ministry alerts factories on hot season risks: “Labour Minister Ith Samheng has reminded workers to take care of their health, adding that factory owners must monitor the heat in the workplace during the dry season” (28 Feb).

Workers march for sacked colleagues: “More than a thousand workers of W&D garment company in Meanchey district marched yesterday to the Labour Ministry urging it to intervene in their labour dispute and demand that all workers are allowed back to work” (28 Feb).

  • W&D workers protest sackings: “More than 100 workers from the W&D factory gathered in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday in a show of support for six representatives who are appealing the ruling over their dismissal” (26 Feb).

Olive Apparel hit by third fainting incident this month: “Nearly 60 workers of Olive Apparel in Phnom Penh fainted yesterday, the third time it has happened in its factory in Por Senchey district. On February 23 and 25 a total of 90 factory workers had fainted and some of them told police it was due to chemical fumes” (27 Feb).

China

Workers protest wage arrears and social insurance owed by textile factory in Binhai, Jiangsu: [Ed’s note: from China Labour Bulletin’s strike map.] (28 Feb).

Pakistan

Two receive burn wounds as garments factory caught fire in Karachi: “At least two labourers received burns wounds as fire broke out in a garments factory located in New Karachi’s Gabol Town neighbourhood” (27 Feb). [Ed’s note: see also Massive blaze at New Karachi factory doused after nine hours: (27 Feb). The video at the link shows the factory is Selimpex International (an exporter).]

Philippines

Expanded maternity leave becomes law in the Philippines: “The new law increases the current paid maternity leave of 60 days for normal delivery and 78 days for caesarian, to 105 days for female workers in government and the private sector, including those in the informal economy, regardless of civil status or the legitimacy of the child. The law allows allocation of up to seven days of leave to the child’s father” (26 Feb).

Vietnam

Thousands of Nghệ An garment workers protest allowance cuts: “Haivina Kim Liên … in Nam Giang Commune, Nam Đàn District earlier announced a salary increase of VNĐ200,000 (US$9) per worker as of this month. However, employees discovered their pay packets were unchanged upon receiving this month’s pay” (27 Feb).

MANUFACTURERS

HeiQ launches functional fabric development service: “Swiss textile innovator HeiQ launches HeiQ Fabric Lab, a new service to assist brands with fabric innovation so they can turn their product concepts into reality. With HeiQ Fabric Lab, HeiQ takes a brand’s product idea and applies its expertise in fibre, yarn, fabric solutions, chemical technology, as well as its knowledge and sourcing partners to develop the brand partner’s future functional fabric” (27 Feb).

Garment manufacturers in Philippines eye comeback: “Garment manufacturers want more tax incentives to help the struggling industry, urging the government to take advantage of the Chinese companies who are interested to set up shop here” (27 Feb).

Sappi joins Sustainable Apparel Coalition: “Sappi Limited is pleased to announce that it has joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and will use the group's sustainability measurement suite of tools, the Higg Index” (27 Feb).

The 2019 World’s Most Ethical Companies Honoree List: [Ed’s note: Ethisphere has released its list of the world’s most ethical companies – 128 in all – which includes Eastman.] (26 Feb).

  • Eastman named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere for the sixth time: “Eastman’s commitment to ethical business practices and a zero-incident mindset aligns closely to the company's focus on continual improvement within the environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework," said Karen Guske, Director of Public Policy and Global Business Conduct. "We recognize the correlation between ESG performance and a company’s financial performance”” (26 Feb).

These 11 companies are leading the way to a circular economy: [Among the list is] Dutch company DyeCoo [which] has developed a process of dyeing cloth that uses no water at all, and no chemicals other than the dyes themselves” (26 Feb).

Just dye it: how this apparel company is developing water- and chemical-free textile tinting: “One innovator to watch is Netherlands-based DyeCoo, a company that developed the first commercially available textile dyeing machine that eliminates the need for water and processing chemicals in the dyeing process” (26 Feb).

KGFabriks receives national water award: “KGFabriks, a unit of Sri Kannapiran Mills Limited, has been recognised with a 1st place in the national water award 2018, given by the Union ministry of water resources and river development. KGFabriks makes denim fabric and consumes just 6 litres of water to make a metre of denim as compared to most competition which uses 60 litres per metre of denim” (26 Feb).

Textile units using ‘good bacteria’ to battle pollution: “A Chennai-based company’s products is being used by several textile units in Ahmedabad and Gujarat to help them battle pollution and reduce the level of chemicals in their effluent. Proklean Technologies Pvt Ltd makes eco-friendly products for industries like textile, leather and paper that otherwise depend on heavy chemicals for a substantial portion of their production process” (26 Feb).

As summit nears, S. Korean firms hope to return North: “Many South Korean manufacturers struggling with high labor costs and slowing growth in Asia’s fourth-largest economy say North Korea’s much cheaper workers and untapped resources represent an unmissable opportunity” (25 Feb).

Five cobalt salts proposed for restriction: “In response to a request by the European Commission, ECHA submitted a restriction dossier in October 2018 concerning five cobalt salts … The five cobalt salts cobalt sulphate, cobalt dichloride, cobalt dinitrate, cobalt carbonate and cobalt di(acetate)” (21 Feb).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                          

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

* 06 -08 March, Los Angeles: LA Textile: Includes seminars on GOTS, sustainable fashion (with Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, CFDA, etc.).

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.”

17 April, Northampton, UK: Half Day Understanding REACH Training Course: “Understanding the differences between the Candidate List, Annex XVII and Annex XIV.”

23 – 26 April, Northampton, UK: 4 Day Practical Leather Technology Training Course: “Ideal for those who are heavily involved with leather, such as supply chain staff, tannery staff, leather buyers, footwear technologists or those who need to top up their leather technology knowledge.”

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.”

12 June, Northampton, UK: 1 Day Chemical Compliance and Product Safety Training Course: “On this chemical course, our in-house chemical expert will guide you through the various legislations and chemicals in a simple step-by-step process, ensuring that you are aware of your obligation and how to comply.” (For the leather industry.)

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 Aaron Burden on Unsplash, 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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