THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Canada Goose (developing faux fur), Couturme (AI fashion mass customization software), Everlane (first sneaker is green and cheap), Geox (involves suppliers in sustainability analysis), H&M (“an honest ad”), Papu, Sail&Ski, Vimma, Noom, Lindex, Marimekko, By Pia’s, House, Mywear, Nosh, R-Collection, and others (rated by Eetti in Finland), Reformation (allowing factory tours by public), The North Face (launches “Explore Mode”), and more.

Recently released reports:

In general news:

  • The Baptist World Aid Ethical Fashion Guide: A skeptic’s appraisal

  • The French government is working on legislation to ban destruction of unsold fashion

  • Introducing circular fashion: the shopping concept that could save the planet; How the plastics industry is hijacking the circular economy

  • Who made my clothes? Stand up for workers’ rights with Fashion Revolution week; Why you should take part in Fashion Revolution Week 2019

  • Is 2019 the year fashion finally takes sustainability seriously?

  • The rise and rise of rental fashion in Australia

  • Ban all fur sales in NYC: Stop sanctioning the torture of animals, writes Anjelica Huston

  • Is Ivanka Trump actually supporting Ethiopian makers? Our research says not

  • How to fix the fashion industry’s racism

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: new BGMEA president calls for minimum price for apparel; worker protests

Manufacturers in this issue include: Infinited Fiber Company (next generation sustainable fiber), PrimaLoft (microbes for recycling), and more.

Sustainable fashion jobs: seven new jobs listed (at the Center for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility, END., Gymshark, Herschel Supply Company, Nike, The North Face, and Vantage Apparel).

Quotes of the week:

  • “Ethiopia is one of the last-gasp destinations as cheap labor options dwindle for fast fashion brands, and the country continues to be rife with labor abuses.” Alice Finnerty, in an article on Ivanka Trump’s trip to Ethiopia (19 Apr).

  • “[O]ne cannot buy their way into sustainability, that in fact, overconsumption has led us to an unsustainable ecosystem where offer (and even demand!) is far greater than any need.” Céline Semaan (18 Apr).

  • “[A] shirt made in Italy is sold at $200, but the same shirt of the same quality but made in Bangladesh is sold at only $20 a piece.” Siddiqur Rahman, the outgoing president of the BGMEA (18 Apr).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

In a bold move of transparency, Reformation is now allowing the public to tour their factory: “Reformation is allowing shoppers to tour the Los Angeles factory in which the majority of their clothes are manufactured. This is a huge commitment to a full transparency policy. Seriously!” (21 Apr).

New AI fashion mass customization software is poised to make billions with over 32 million choices: “We've been waiting a long time for this, a company that can offer consumers the convenience of Stitchfix door delivery fashions with the individual design and custom tailoring of bespoke and couture. Couturme, a San Francisco start-up has managed to succeed where so many other custom fit software and bio measurement companies have struggled.  Like Stitchfix, Couturme starts with a style questionnaire, but then takes the process all the way through production, offering both speed and nearly infinite design options. With over 32 million possibilities and 97% fit accuracy based on thousands of customer interactions,  customers can create nearly any design they want with near perfect fit”(20 Apr).

See Everlane’s first sneaker. It’s green, cheap, and so normcore-chic: “Our sneaker addiction is killing the planet. Everlane joins the quest to create a sneaker with a small environmental footprint” (18 Apr).

Earth Day: How Geox involves suppliers in sustainability analysis and multi-functional laboratories: “In order to make manufacturing processes more efficient and reduce environmental impact, Geox recycles and re-processes waste products. All soles contain a minimum of 5% recycled material on average.  The company is a member of the Leather Working Group, an association of producers and distributors within the leather industry that promotes the adoption of sustainable and responsible practices.” (18 Apr).

Report finds room for improvement in Finnish clothing brands’ ethics: “A report on corporate social responsibility published by ethical trade NGO Eetti [Eettisen kaupan puolesta ry] found that a majority of Finnish clothing brands rank very low in terms of climate, environmental and human rights transparency ... The best-ranked Finnish brand in the report was children’s clothing company Papu, the only firm to make it into the B category (“On track towards sustainability”). The next category (“On its way, but can do better”) included companies Sail&Ski and Vimma. These brands all produce their products either solely in Finland or in some other low-risk countries. [In] category D (“should do better”) included Noom, Lindex, Marimekko, By Pia’s, House, Mywear, Nosh and R-Collection. The lowest category, E (“Better put your wallet away”), held Halti, Reima, Nanso, Pola, Peak Performance, Sasta, Gugguu, Luhta, Makia, Rukka, Torstai and Your Face.” (17 Apr). [Ed’s note: you can see the full report here, in English and Finnish.]

Canada Goose is developing faux fur: “Canadian outerwear brand Canada Goose (CG) may soon offer winter coats with faux fur trim, according to Canadian animal-rights activist Jenny McQueen” (17 Apr).

The North Face launches “Explore Mode” to encourage engagement with the outdoors: “Ahead of Earth Day on April 22, The North Face today launched “Explore Mode,” an initiative that encourages consumers to unplug digitally and connect with the outdoors” (16 Apr).

Honest H&M Ad: “Here at H&M we are conscious. That’s why we released a collection made of fruit without disclosing if it's actually made sustainably or if the garment workers that created this collection were paid a fair living wage” (10 Apr). [Ed’s note: by YouTuber Kristen Leo.]

NEWS & REPORTS

The Baptist World Aid Ethical Fashion Guide: A skeptic’s appraisal: “My observation here is that clothing brands are eager to talk the talk but remain most unwilling to walk the ethical walk, and a pointer to this reality is the pattern of growth in the parameters. This year, 130 brands participated in the survey that enables Baptist World Aid to generate this report. Of that number, the report found 38% of companies have improved their overall grade, with a significant improvement across the industry in 79% of the areas assessed” (22 Apr).

The French government is working on legislation to ban destruction of unsold fashion: “On the heels of widespread reports that fashion brands ranging from H&M to Burberry and Louis Vuitton routinely destroy unsold products, a French politician wants to ban such behavior by law. Brune Poirson, the Secretary of State to the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, is “drafting a law to prevent companies from destroying unsold clothing,” per WWD, the latest step in an effort first announced last year when French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe introduced fifty proposals aimed at the development of the country's circular economy” (22 Apr).

Introducing circular fashion: the shopping concept that could save the planet: “The industry’s buzziest new idea could finally be an authentic way of reconciling a love of fashion with sustainability” (22 Apr).

Who made my clothes? Stand up for workers’ rights with Fashion Revolution week: “Exploited garment workers in Bangladesh are facing arrest and violent attacks for demanding more pay. A campaign uniting customers and workers gives you the power to help, says Tamsin Blanchard” (22 Apr).

Is 2019 the year fashion finally takes sustainability seriously? “Eco-friendly, ethical and sustainable fashion is finally on the industry’s agenda - and for many brands and designers this has been a year of awakening. But, as Tamsin Blanchard argues, we all have our part to play in making fashion truly circular” (22 Apr).

The rise and rise of rental fashion in Australia: “More and more Aussies are hiring – not buying – their clothes. Here’s why. According to ABS stats, Australians are the second highest clothes shoppers (after North Americans) consuming an average of 27 kilos a year. Thing is, we then throw out 23 kilos – most of which ends up in landfill” (21 Apr).

Ban all fur sales in NYC: Stop sanctioning the torture of animals, writes Anjelica Huston: “When I heard that Council Speaker Corey Johnson had introduced a bill to ban the sale of fur in New York City, and that Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal earlier introduced a similar bill in the Legislature, following similar bans in Los Angeles and San Francisco, I wanted to be among the first to promote it. There is so much violence in the world beyond our control, so let’s eliminate whatever cruelty we can — especially when it’s for something as unnecessary these days as fur” (20 Apr).

Is Ivanka Trump actually supporting Ethiopian makers? Our research says not: “For anyone who cares about sustainable business practices, these are certainly worthy pillars to support. Ivanka visited a traditional weaving loom at Muya, a traditional crafts manufacturing center in Addis Ababa. But while pictures circulate of a beaming Trump attempting the traditional craft, the reality of working conditions for women in Ethiopia doesn’t lend itself so readily to photo ops” (19 Apr).

Fashion industry’s carbon impact bigger than airline industry’s: “The apparel and footwear industries together account for more than 8 percent of global climate impact, greater than all international airline flights and maritime shipping trips combined. The challenge to reduce carbon emissions offers the fashion industry an opportunity for its players do what they do best – be creative. Eco-friendly fashion pioneers from Stella McCartney to Rent the Runway to The RealReal are creating new reuse and resale models of doing business. (19 Apr).

Why you should take part in Fashion Revolution Week 2019: “Now recognised in more than 100 countries worldwide, the Fashion Revolution movement continues to strike the balance between raising awareness of the industry’s most alarming truths while encouraging and educating people – students, educators, designers, consumers, fashion brands – about the actions they can take to shape the industry for the better” (19 Apr).

How the plastics industry is hijacking the circular economy: “What they are calling circular is a sham, just fantasy recycling so that they can maintain the status quo” (19 Apr).

Fast fashion failings: “In a previous life, I was a fashion designer. I got out of the industry at a time when I saw Australian manufacturing heading overseas to China, Vietnam and Bangladesh. I watched as quality plummeted and prices continued to rise. I began to hear rumours of slave labour treatment of machinists, mostly women, working for piece work wages or kept in massive manufacturing plants for Western fashion giants” (18 Apr).

How to fix the fashion industry’s racism: “Promoting diversity in the executive suite does not mean social justice at the factory” (18 Apr).

We need to change the way we think about sustainable fashion: “Activist Céline Semaan explains why we can't just buy into sustainability, we have to change the way we live” (18 Apr).

The fashion industry is insanely wasteful. Can blockchain fix it? “The technology is helping savvy companies (and enterprising entrepreneurs) find fresh opportunity in overlooked materials” (17 Apr).

Catwalk to Creation – Part 2: “Given almost 63% of textiles are synthetics - meaning oil and plastics – and 83% of our waters contain plastic microfibres with a 1/3 of this is said to come from the fashion industry, learn how you can be a part of the solution, not the problem” (16 Apr – 16:38-minute video).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh  

Apparel should have minimum price: “Bangladesh needs to set a base price for garment items to ensure proper rates from international retailers and brands for all manufacturers and bring an end to unhealthy competition locally, said the new BGMEA president [Rubana Huq]” (21 Apr).

RMG workers call of protests in Badda after assurances from factory owners: “The workers of a ready-made garment (RMG) factory have withdrawn protests demanding the payment of overdue wages, after receiving assurances from factory owners. Agitated workers of Star garment factory had staged a demonstration and blockaded a road in Dhaka’s Moddho Badda area for an hour, from around 12:45pm on Sunday” (21 Apr).

Bangladesh garment workers demand reopening of factories: “Over one thousand garment workers in Savar and Ashulia blocked roads on Tuesday to demand payment of outstanding wages and reopening of factories’ roads” (20 Apr). [Ed’s note: factories cited are Yagi Bangladesh Garments, Azim Group, and Omorfu Sweater.]

Buyers offer low prices for image crisis: Outgoing BGMEA chief: “Bangladeshi garment manufacturers are not getting proper prices as the Western retailers are reluctant to hike the prices using the excuse of image crisis, [Siddiqur Rahman, the outgoing president of the BGMEA] said at a press conference held at the under-construction office complex of the trade body in Uttara” (18 Apr).

MANUFACTURERS

Hello, little microbe. Doesn’t this jacket look yummy? “Consider the case of PrimaLoft, an Albany-based brand that specializes in high-performance material science. Initially known for the synthetic microfiber insulation also called PrimaLoft that the company created for the armed forces in the 1980s (down, the traditional filling for cold-weather gear, loses effectiveness when wet), it has since branched out into the outdoor and lifestyle clothing industries” (22 Apr).

Growth at cost of environment: “Bangladesh's industrial sectors, especially garment, are growing at the cost of environment, said ActionAid Bangladesh, a non-governmental organisation, yesterday” (21 Apr).

Amid an acute water crisis, Batik textile makers in Gujarat are going organic: From Eco India (20 Apr – 26:01-minute video).

Next generation sustainable fiber is both carbon neutral and re-usable forever! “One of the problems being faced within the textile industry is the growing demand for cotton. Looking to solve this problem is Infinited Fiber Company Ltd (IFC). They have come up with a technology that enables textile waste to be used over and over again … So far IFC has raised 3.7 million euros in funding from investors like the H&M Group, Fortum, a leading clean energy and resource efficiency company, and Finnish investment company Virala” (18 Apr).

Video game teaches women to operate robots set to take their garment jobs: “Robots are taking over the garment industry in southeast Asia. And while these machines help companies make clothes quickly and cheaply, they also spell doom for a number of garment workers. Enter Shimmy Technologies, a company trying to tackle the problem through an unexpected method: a video game that utilizes artificial intelligence. Using the game, the company wants to teach female workers skills that will help them run the technology in place at their jobs, ultimately helping them stay employed — and possibly make more money — even after automation” (18 Apr).

SUSTAINABLE FASHION JOBS

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

Adidas: Manager Sustainability Materials FW (Ho Chi Minh City)

Amazon: Social Responsibility, Senior Program Manager (Seattle, WA)

Amazon: Fashion Sustainability Program Manager (London)

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

Amazon: Japan Environmental Manager (Tokyo)

Blackberrys Menswear: Sr. HR Executive-Employee Engagement & CSR (Gurgoan)

BSR: Manager, Supply Chain Sustainability (New York)

BSR: Human Rights Director (Paris or San Francisco)

Burton: Sustainability Analyst with Sports Equipment (Burlington, VT)

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

Centre for Sustainable Fashion: Digital Content Officer (London)

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

Columbia: Corporate Responsibility Manager (Jakarta)

Columbia: Corporate Responsibility Specialist, Japan Direct Sources (Zhuhai)

Common Objective: Content Editor/Writer (London)

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

Common Objective: Office Manager (London)

Cotton made in Africa: Project Manager for Verification Management (Hamburg)

* END.: Head of Facilities and Health & Safety (Washington, England)

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

Fair Wear Foundation: Brand Liaison and Member Community Officer (Amsterdam)

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): GOTS Public Procurement Specialist (EU) (Stuttgart)

GoodWeave: Senior Program Officer (Washington DC)

Gucci: Corporate Social Responsibility Internship (Scandicci)

* Gymshark: Sustainability Manager (Solihull)

Hop Lun: Sustainability Manager (Hong Kong)

H&M: Internal Communications and Sustainability Responsible (Sydney)

H&M: Sustainability Project Intern (Jakarta)

HEMA: Social and Environmental Compliance Strategist (Amsterdam)H

HEMA: Sustainability Strategist (Amsterdam)

* Herschel Supply Company: Product Quality & Compliance Manager (Vancouver)

Institut Français de la Mode: Professor/Kering Chair on Fashion sustainability & Social responsibility (Paris)

JCPenney: Director Inclusion & Diversity, CSR and Supplier Diversity (Dallas TX)

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

Lululemon: Director, Product and Materials Sustainability (Vancouver)

Macy’s: Facility Management Energy Manager (Woodbridge, NJ)

Macy’s: Environmental Services Intern/Co-op (Cincinnati, OH)

Macy’s: Manager, Corporate Giving (New York)

Moncler: Sustainability Project Specialist (Milan)

NA-KD: Corporate Social Responsibility Internship (Gothenburg)

* Nike: Director of Supplier Relationship Management – Supply Chain (Beaverton, OR)

Nike: Senior Director Labor, Health & Safety, Sustainable Manufacturing & Sourcing (Beaverton, OR)

Nike: Environmental Deployment Director (Singapore)

Nike: Sustainability Professional II (Jakarta)

One Jeanswear Group: Social Compliance Specialist (New York)

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

PVH: Corporate Responsibility Specialist, Programs & Operations (New York)

PVH: Sr Manager, Corporate Responsibility (Transparency & Engagement) (New York)

s.Oliver: Senior Global Sustainability Manager Environment & Chemical Compliance (Rottendorf)

Selfridges: Senior Sustainability Manager (London)

Stitch Fix: Responsible Sourcing Specialist (San Francisco)

Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Senior Manager, Public Affairs (Amsterdam)

Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Senior Manager of Verification (San Francisco, New York, Amsterdam, or Hong Kong)

Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Senior Manager of Higg Facility Tools (San Francisco, New York, Amsterdam, or Hong Kong)

Ted Baker: Sustainability Coordinator (London)

Ted Baker: Ethical and Sustainability Assistant (London)

Ted Baker: Ethical Specialist (London)

* The North Face: Director, Global Sustainability (Denver, CO)

Tommy Hilfiger: Communications Manager Sustainability (Amsterdam)

Under Armour: Environmental Sustainability Analyst (Baltimore, MD)

University of Leeds: Research Fellow in Sustainable Materials and Renewable Fibres (Leeds)

* Vantage Apparel: QA/Compliance Specialist (Avenel, NJ)

Varner: Sustainability Manager (Oslo)

VF: Manager, Sustainable Products Data (Denver, Colorado)

Whistles: CSR and Sustainability Assistant (London)

Wolverine: Product Sustainability Manager (Rockford, Michigan)

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                          

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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 April, London: Fashion Question Time at the V&A: “Fashion Revolution invites you to Fashion Question Time at the V&A.”

24 April, Amsterdam: 'Goat to Garment' Screening + Learning Lab: By Fashion for Good on re-thinking how we work with wool (and drive change in the fashion industry).

24 April, Los Angles: The Future of Design Workshop: Presented by Sustainable Apparel Coalition for  fashion designers and product developers.

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

27 April, Melbourne: A.BCH X Fashion Revolution 2019 Natural Workshop: “In this two-part workshop intensive, learn the art of embroidery and natural dye techniques like shibori and resist stitching.”

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.

13 – 17 May, Iceland: Textile Academy Bootcamp 2019: “An amazing week full of Workshops + Guided tours + Social events”

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 facilitated by the Bangladesh Apparel Exchange.

12 – 14 November, San Jose, California: BSR Conference: Note: this link is only to sign up for updates; registration will begin in May.

(Photo Max Anderson, 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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