THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Adidas (commits to CSR), Amour Vert (bets on local manufacturing), C&A (awarded for C2C denim), H&M (on the way towards using 100% sustainable materials), Monki (subject of an article questioning ethical fashion), Steinhoff ($7.4 billion accounting fraud), Under Armour (social compliance program accredited by FLA), VF (turning sustainability and responsibility strategies into practical action for change), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • How to shop sustainably, according to the experts

  • Building a circle of trust between buyers and suppliers

  • Vegan leather – why do we still call it leather?

  • KADCCIMA wants FG to revive cotton farming in Nigeria

  • As costs skyrocket, more U.S. cities stop recycling

  • Australian clothing take-back scheme proposed

  • Statewide fur ban introduced in California legislature

  • The damaging environmental impact of wool

  • NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business and IRI launch new Sustainable Share Index

  • Fast fashion: 8 tough questions you'll want to hear the answers to

  • How big retailers are selling sustainability

  • Labor and human rights groups urge multi-stakeholder initiatives and business associations in the apparel sector to adopt transparency requirements

  • UN Alliance For Sustainable Fashion addresses damage of ‘fast fashion

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: Accord publishes January Quarterly Aggregate Report; probe cites chemical explosion as primary cause; take steps to reinstate GSP; Bangladesh workers under attack

  • Cambodia:  Hun Sen asks a union leader not to urge workers to protest; millions spent on garment workers last year

  • Ethiopia: Abduction, rape and low salary at Hawassa Industrial Park resulted in workers strike

  • India: B’luru garment workers accuse manager of sexually harassing colleague, case booked; Bengal inks wage agreement with jute industry

  • Myanmar: Garment Factory agrees to pay salary, compensation to over 700 workers after negotiation

  • Sri Lanka: Hundreds of women workers part of longest running strike in the Katunayake Investment Promotion Zone

Manufacturers in this issue include: Calik Denim (new fabric technologies), Spinnova (CEO interviewed in podcast), and more.

Sustainable fashion jobs: seven new jobs listed (at Aldo, Burton, Chanel, Fair Trade, Levi Strauss, Lululemon).

Quotes of the week:

  • “[I]t is quite ironic, to say the least, that in a great many cases, the relationship between buyers and suppliers continues to be adversarial.” Mostafiz Uddin, Managing Director of Denim Expert Limited, on building a circle of trust between buyers and suppliers (18 Mar).

  • “Bar a few exceptions, major brands and retailers at every level of the market maintain their opacity, refusing to submit to external inspection while making unverifiable statements about the sustainability of their goods.” Ryan Sng, on why shopping for ethical fashion is still so hard (17 Mar).

  • “California lawmakers are better at banning than governing.” Katy Grimes on a law that would prohibit the sale and manufacture of new fur by Californian assemblywoman Laura Friedman (16 Mar).

  • “Fast isn’t the problem, vast is – vast amounts of product leading to vast amounts of waste.” Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Fashion Revolution, on fast fashion (15 Mar).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

On the way towards using 100% sustainable materials: “Today, 57% of all materials used by H&M group is recycled or sustainably sourced. This is an increase from 35% in just one year, and takes us closer to our goal to only use recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030” (19 Mar).

Monki’s Lazy Loop sustainable denim line: Why shopping ethical and eco-friendly fashion is still so hard: “In 2019, public frustration with whitewashing led to a proliferation of minority representations in western popular entertainment, if only in quantity and not quality. By comparison, we still fall over and over for greenwashing, i.e. the adoption of externally sustainable business models to mask less PR-friendly modus operandi” (17 Mar).

How VF Corp turns sustainability and responsibility strategies into practical action for change: “VF Corporation, a global leader in branded lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories, has been recognized as one of the 2019 World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices” (15 Mar).

PwC investigation finds $7.4 billion accounting fraud at Steinhoff, company says: “South African retailer Steinhoff said an independent report had found it had overstated profits over several years in a $7.4 billion accounting fraud involving a small group of top executives and outsiders” (15 Mar).

C&A Cradle to Cradle Certified denim garment named winner in Product Design/Redesign category: The award was made at the PR News CSR & Nonprofit Awards Luncheon, which took place on March 15, 2019 at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. (15 Mar).

Under Armour’s social compliance program accredited by FLA: “The Fair Labor Association (FLA) today announced that its board of directors has accredited the social compliance program of Under Armour. The accreditation confirms the company has strong policies and practices in place to set goals, monitor, and remediate problems to improve conditions for the workers within its global supply chain” (14 Mar).

This fashion brand is betting big on local manufacturing: “California-based fashion label Amour Vert is out to prove that both can be done – without sacrificing quality and style. The brand includes French-inspired fashions for men, women and children that are produced with the smallest environmental impact possible” (14 Mar).

Adidas commits to corporate social responsibility: “In 2018, Adidas produced more than five million pairs of shoes containing recycled plastic waste. The company plans to more than double that figure this year. To reach this goal, the company has partnered with global collaboration network Parley for the Oceans. Parley for the Oceans intercepts plastic waste on beaches before it can reach the oceans” (14 Mar).

NEWS & REPORTS

How to shop sustainably, according to the experts: “Our need for fast fashion is ruining the planet, so we asked industry insiders how they shop sustainably” (18 Mar). [Ed’s note: panel of experts includes Stephanie Broek, Emma Breschi, Katherine Ormerod, Amy Powney, Kitty Cowell, and Ksenia Schnaider.]

Building a circle of trust between buyers and suppliers: “Most of us would agree that if we want clothing made in sustainable conditions by workers who are paid a fair wage, there is a price to pay” (18 Mar). [Ed’s note: by Mostafiz Uddin, Managing Director of Denim Expert Limited in Bangladesh.]

7 critical issues affecting sustainable fashion in Australia: “At the first Legacy Responsible Fashion Summit in Sydney, panelists and keynote speakers addressed the sustainability issues facing fashion today” (18 Mar).

Vegan leather – why do we still call it leather? “Vegan leather, but what exactly is it? Based on a new market study released by ‘Grand View Research’, animal-free leather or vegan leather market is forecasted to cross the $85 billion mark by 2025. But how many of you know what vegan leather is, and what it stands for?” (17 Mar).

KADCCIMA wants FG to revive cotton farming in Nigeria: “The Kaduna State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KADCCIMA) says increasing cotton farming is the first step towards reviving local textile companies in the country” (17 Mar).

As costs skyrocket, more U.S. cities stop recycling: “With China no longer accepting used plastic and paper, communities are facing steep collection bills, forcing them to end their programs or burn or bury more waste” (16 Mar).

Australian clothing take-back scheme proposed: “The Australian Circular Textile Association has proposed a national textile take-back scheme in a bid to address the fast fashion waste crisis head on. ACTA, which will officially launch in Melbourne at the Australian Circular Fashion Conference on Thursday, says the retail sector should embrace its plan before their hand is forced by governments and consumers” (16 Mar).

CA assemblywoman Friedman’s fur ban: ‘there is no need for fur in the 21st century’: “Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) is authoring AB 44, which would prohibit the sale and manufacture of new fur in California. “Today there are a variety of humane alternatives, both in terms of faux fur that is virtually indistinguishable from real fur, and alternative textiles that are just as warm or fashionable,” Friedman says. “There is no need for fur in the 21st century and no place for it in a sustainable future””(16 Mar).

The damaging environmental impact of wool: “It’s time we all considered the negative environmental impact of wool, as well as the horrendous cruelty that sheep face in the industry, and made the switch to sustainable vegan fashion” (15 Mar). [Ed’s note: by PETA.]

Episode 163: A ‘ROSI’ path for calculating sustainability ROI: “It’s been one year since New York University’s Center for Sustainable Business (part of the Leonard N. Stern School of Business) introduced the Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI) methodology. The center’s director Tensie Whelan weighs in on which companies are using it, and how” (15 Mar – 29:09-minute podcast).

Fast fashion: 8 tough questions you'll want to hear the answers to: “But what does fast fashion really signify? Is it as catastrophic for people and planet as it sounds? And will the current, dizzyingly swift system of oversupply stimulating endless demand soon come off the rails? FashionBeans unpicks the threads with the help of some world-renowned experts” (15 Mar).

How big retailers are selling sustainability: “Department stores and e-commerce sites like Selfridges, Farfetch and Galeries Lafayette are making moves to promote more sustainable fashion, a shift that could have a powerful impact on the industry” (15 Mar).

Labor and human rights groups urge multi-stakeholder initiatives and business associations in the apparel sector to adopt transparency requirements: “In response to requests from trade unions, and other independent labor rights and human rights organizations, on February 27 the Fair Labor Association (FLA) voted to require its company affiliates to publicly disclose their supplier lists … Members of the Transparency Pledge Coalition, a group of global unions and other independent labor rights and human rights organizations, will be monitoring this decision to ensure its full and meaningful implementation while calling on other apparel sector Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives (MSIs) and business associations to follow suit” (14 Mar).

UN Alliance For Sustainable Fashion addresses damage of ‘fast fashion’: “The UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, launched today at the UN Environment Assembly, is seeking to halt the environmentally and socially destructive practices of fashion, and instead harness the industry as a driver for improving the world’s ecosystems” (14 Mar).

Fur debate: Are faux alternatives more sustainable than the real thing? “Animal rights activists say real fur is cruel but environmentalists argue that faux fur is harming the environment” (13 Mar).

Upskilling for Digital Transformation: Preparing the Fashion Supply Chain for the Future of Work: “Shimmy Upskill is a gamified, AI-based training application that teaches digital patternmaking and 3D modeling fundamentals to garment workers. Since May 2018, we have completed five pilots of the software in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the US” (11 Mar).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh  

January Quarterly Aggregate Report: “The Accord launched its first Aggregate Report of 2019, showing the remediation progress & the status of workplace programs at the Ready-Made Garment factories covered under the 2018 Transition Accord” (18 Mar).

Probe cites chemical explosion as primary cause: “The labour ministry’s probe committee formed to investigate the causes of the deadly fire in old Dhaka’s Chawk Bazar has found that the fire originated from a chemical explosion at the 1st floor of Wahed Mansion that killed 70 people on February 20” (18 Mar).

Take steps to reinstate GSP: “Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi yesterday asked US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller to take steps to reinstate the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) status for Bangladesh as the country has made significant progress in workplace safety” (15 Mar).

  • GSP is an ‘image issue’ for Bangladesh: Tipu Munshi: “Immediate past Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed last year said Bangladesh was not expecting trade privileges from the GSP programme of the US and would not request for it anymore. “We don't expect the GSP facilities from the US anymore because whatever progress we make they are not going to give it back,” Tofail had said” (14 Mar).

Episode 123: Bangladesh workers under attack: “If you are looking for a place to see the scourge of free market capitalism at work, you don’t have to look further than Bangladesh. I talk with Monika Hartsel of the Solidarity Center about the thousands of workers in Bangladesh who have been recently fired for protesting and demanding better wages” (13 Mar – 49:05-minute podcast).

Cambodia

Hun Sen asks a union leader not to urge workers to protest: “Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the Cambodian Labour Confederation President Ath Thorn to stop urging garment workers to protest and demand indemnity payments” (18 Mar).

Millions spent on garment workers last year: “The Health Minister on Tuesday said that the ministry spent $21 million providing healthcare to garment workers last year” (14 Mar).

Ethiopia

Abduction, rape and low salary at Hawassa Industrial Park resulted in workers strike: “Thousands of workers in Hawassa industrial park stopped their work this morning due to lack of response to their problems low salary, unsafe working environment and being exposed to sexual abuses and abduction” (07 Mar).

India

B’luru garment workers accuse manager of sexually harassing colleague, case booked: “Bengaluru police are investigating a general manager of a garment factory in Peenya over allegations of sexual harassment. Shashidhar Shetty, the general manager of Texport Apparel, a unit that manufactures garments such as Nautica and Vans, based out of the Peenya industrial area is being investigated after a complaint was made by a worker in the unit regarding an incident that occurred on March 12” (16 Mar). [Ed’s note: The Karnataka Garment Workers Union has filed a formal complaint with Vans. See here.]

Bengal inks wage agreement with jute industry, CITU stays away: “The West Bengal government has signed a wage agreement with the jute industry to ward off an impending strike in the mills, officials said Thursday. The agreement. which was signed late on Wednesday, came into effect from today, Labour Minister Malay Ghatak said. As per the fresh agreement, new workers would get a maximum of Rs 385 per day, from the existing Rs 257” (14 Mar).

Myanmar

Garment Factory agrees to pay salary, compensation to over 700 workers after negotiation: “Blue Moon Garment Factory in Kyansittha Street in Shwelinban Industrial Zone in Hlinethaya Township, Yangon Region, has agreed to pay salaries and compensation for factory shutdown to over 700 workers after selling off the factory property, said factory workers” (14 Mar).

Sri Lanka

Hundreds of women workers part of longest running strike in the Katunayake Investment Promotion Zone: “Workers from workwear manufacturing company ATG Ceylon Pvt Ltd. in Sri Lanka have been subject to a range of human rights abuses breaching both Sri Lankan and international labour laws and conventions. Hundreds of women workers, part of the Free Trade Zone and General Services Employees’ Union (FTZ-GSEU) have been on strike for over two months, now the longest running strike in the Katunayake Investment Promotion Zone. Two workers are now on hunger strike” (15 Mar).

MANUFACTURERS

Fifth batch of innovators start at Fashion For Good: The selected companies are: Checkerspot, Dimpora, FARFARM, FastFeetGrinded, IndiDye, Indigo Mills Designs, MonoChain, pondTextile, Pure Waste Textiles, VeChain (18 Mar).

‘Holy grail’: how textile recycling can help slash emissions, pollution and landfill: “Jones and Ross have pioneered and trademarked – with input from the CSIRO and the Queensland University of Technology – a small-scale and environmentally friendly process that takes blended fabrics and reduces them to their raw components” (16 Mar).

Fibre innovation from Finland may change textile industry: “As the global clothing industry struggles with a sustainability crisis, several Finnish companies are offering solutions” (15 Mar).

Calik Denim’s ‘Eudemonia’ offers look into new fabric technologies: “Among these is D-Clear, a technology applied throughout the entire collection, that uses 40 percent less water in indigo dyeing and 83 percent less during the finishing process, in addition to reducing the volume of chemicals used per meter of fabric for a collective savings of 94 percent, the company said” (15 Mar).

RM-3 Episode four: Logs revisited: “We chat with the founder and CEO of Spinnova, a Finnish company turning wood pulp into cellulose fibers that can then be used in textiles, insulation, filling—even hygienic wipes” (14 Mar – 20:25-minute podcast).

SUSTAINABLE FASHION JOBS

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

* Aldo: Sustainability Analyst (Montreal)

Ascena Retail Group: Director, Supply Chain Sustainability (Hong Kong)

Bestseller: Sustainability Reporting & Communications Manager (Copenhagen, Aarhus, or Brande, Denmark, or Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

BSR: Manager, Supply Chain Sustainability (New York)

BSR: Human Rights Director (Paris or San Francisco)

* Burton: Sustainability Analyst (Burlington, Vermont)

* Chanel: Group Director, US Corporate Social Responsibility (Piscataway, New Jersey, or New York)

Columbia Sportswear: Product Sustainability Manager (Happy Valley, Oregon )

Common Objective: Content Editor/Writer (London)

Common Objective: Product Designer (UX/UI) (London)

Common Objective: Office Manager (London)

* Fair Trade: Brand Partnerships Program Manager, Apparel and Home Goods (Oakland, California)

Fashion Revolution: Global Network Manager (London or nearby)

Fashion Revolution: Digital Marketing Intern (Amsterdam)

IKEA: Stakeholder Engagement Leader, Public Affairs (Leiden)

Impactt: Marketing Manager (London)

* Levi Strauss: Sr. Analyst, Global Product Sustainability (San Francisco)

* Lululemon: Social Responsibility & Compliance Manager (Vancouver)

* Lululemon: Global Manager, Corporate and Retail Sustainability (Vancouver)

Lululemon: Director, Product Sustainability (Vancouver)

Lululemon: Director, Product and Materials Sustainability (Vancouver)

Patagonia: Head of Supply Chain Environmental Responsibility (Ventura, California)

Redress: Sustainable Fashion Associate (Hong Kong)

Redress: Creative Media Designer (Hong Kong)

Ted Baker: Sustainability Coordinator (London)

Ted Baker: Ethical and Sustainability Assistant (London)

Ted Baker: Ethical Specialist (London)

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

21 March: The Economist’s Sustainability Summit: London: Facing the facts.

21 – 22 March, Melbourne, Australia: The Australian Circular Fashion Conference.

* 26 March, New York: Building Responsible Supply Networks: A Town Hall with Textile Exchange: “A conversation with La Rhea Pepper, Founder and Managing Director of Textile Exchange.”

26 – 27 March, Brussels: Global Business Summit 2019: Annual summit by Chemical Watch on the cutting edge of sustainable development in the chemicals world.

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.”

* 10 April, New York: Building a Global Human Rights Program: “By Elizabeth Pulos, an Associate Manager of Social Compliance at Macy’s.”

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

* 19 April, New York: Principles of Fair Fashion: “This course provides an overview of what sustainability actually means and how your organization can move beyond CSR.”

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.”

24 – 25 April, Brussels: Circular - Bio-based - Digital: the Keys to Europe's Textile Future: Annual Textile ETP Conference and General Assembly.

02 May, Dhaka: Bangladesh Fashionology Summit: Transparency through technology, technology for decent work and environment, future skills development.

08 May, Manchester, UK: Time for Change – Facing up to fashion’s sustainability and ethical challenges: ASBCI’s 2019 Spring Conference.

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.

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

(Photo Julius Silver, 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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