THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Chamar Studio (making bags in collaboration with Indian cobblers on railway platforms), Country Road (launches traceable merino wool range), Farfetch (launches resale platform), JD Sports and Asos (accused of running their warehouses like “satanic mills”), Kering (new guidelines on animal welfare), Uniqlo (discloses all garment factories), Walmart (tackles social risk in Bangladesh), and more.

Recently released reports:

In general news:

  • Sustainable Apparel Coalition launches tech venture to scale Higg Index

  • Fashion industry turns to ‘woke’ denim

  • Government failure cause of Egypt’s cotton industry collapse

  • Germany aims to use strict law to improve work conditions in Africa

  • Open Apparel Registry is a powerful new tool shining a light on the garment industry’

  • Suppliers’ voices are getting louder

In the supply chain:                                                         

  • Bangladesh: protest over back pay

  • Cambodia: union urges police to free two members

  • England: Leicester sweatshops in the news again

  • Ethiopia: forms commission to set national minimum wage

  • India: taking actin on workplace TB; five die in sari warehouse; unions demands better transport for workers (shades of Cambodia); and the simmering issue of wages in Bengaluru

  • Pakistan: push for living wages

  • Rwanda: Chinese factory inks deal for factory (note how African countries are appearing in our ‘supply chain’ section with greater frequency)

Manufacturers in this issue include: Covestro and Lenzing (develop environmentally-compatible polyurethane (PU) synthetics for the shoe industry), and more.

Sustainable fashion jobs: 9 new jobs listed (at Canada Goose, Chanel, EcoVadis, H&M, ILO, New Era Cap, Politix, and PVH).

Quotes of the week:

  • “Couldn’t escape as shutter locked from outside and no emergency exit.” From a story on a sari godown fire in India, which killed five workers (10 May).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Country Road launches traceable merino wool range: “In an Australian first, every fibre of Country Road’s new Traceable Merino Knit range can be verified as sourced from Australian farms” (13 May).

In Mumbai, an artist wants to confront caste biases with a sustainable fashion brand: “Sudheer Rajbhar’s Chamar Studio has produced a new collection of bags in collaboration with the cobblers who sit on suburban railway platforms” (13 May).

French fashion group Kering sets guidelines on animal welfare: “Kering’s ‘Animal Welfare Standards’ cover issues such as how animals, which are often used in the fashion and textiles industry, are treated, and it would back prohibiting intensive farming and the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotic treatments” (13 May).

Farfetch launches resale platform for designer bags: “Luxury online retailer Farfetch has launched a new pilot platform that allows customers to exchange their pre-loved designer bags for store credits” (13 May).

Walmart tackles social risk in Bangladesh apparel supply chain: “US supermarket giant Walmart has identified its apparel supply chain in Bangladesh as one of the key areas where it is likely to have the greatest impact in addressing major potential risks to the dignity of workers” (13 May).

From H&M to Gucci, fashion rethinks cashmere, citing environmental harm: “The mass production of cashmere, once solely a luxury good, is fueling ecological destruction that has fashion labels searching for new sources of the fiber—or giving it up altogether” (13 May).

Uniqlo discloses all garment factories for first time: “Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing, Japan’s biggest clothing retailer by sales, has disclosed all of its major suppliers for the first time in a move toward greater transparency that shows its rising presence in South and Southeast Asia” (11 May).

This is how Vaude and FWF advocate fairer working conditions: “the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) demands fair wages for workers in sewing factories, no child labor, more safety at work and less excessive overtime. The problems are complex and hard to solve for a brand alone. In this interview, Vaude chief Antje von Dewitz, who has been a member of the FWF for many years, and Alexander Kohnstamm, head of the FWF, explain why business cooperation is important and which problems represent the biggest hurdles” (10 May – in German).

The missing sustainability link is the customer. How are H&M, Uniqlo and Walmart getting it right? “By all accounts, consumers care deeply about the planet’s future. But few can define “sustainable” beyond a platitude or those green trash cans at the end of their driveways. Few brands can explain it without getting mired in jargon and corporate gospel. Even fewer retailers and brands are effectively leveraging and communicating their sustainability initiatives to customers much beyond solar panels and panda logos” (10 May).

JD Sports and Asos warehouses like ‘dark satanic mills’: “JD Sports and Asos have been accused of running their warehouses like “satanic mills” after figures showed the number of ambulance callouts to their sites” (07 May).

NEWS & REPORTS   

Sustainable Apparel Coalition launches tech venture to scale Higg Index: “Higg Co. will provide the trusted technology industry needs to be able to implement the Higg Index at scale; while the SAC will continue to focus on driving sustainability measurement and improvements in the apparel, footwear and textile industry” (13 May).

Fashion industry turns to ‘woke’ denim: ““Once upon a time people couldn't even care less,” says Debora Schultz, the founder of Justice Denim. “I feel there's a growing awareness around who made the clothes and how they are being treated and what they are being paid” (13 May).

Three reasons why fast fashion is becoming a problem (and what to do about it): wages, polyester and waste (13 May).

Nest’s State of the Handworker Economy report is here: “Recognizing a gaping lack of data on the informal economy—and more specifically, on the handworker economy, which is estimated to account for a large portion of informal work – we are proud to unveil our first-ever State of the Handworker Report, a comprehensive report housing troves of descriptive data on artisan small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and home-based workers engaged in craft work” (13 May).

Government failure cause of Egypt’s cotton industry collapse: Farmer union: “Hussein Abousaddam, head of the farmers’ union, said that the cotton industry had collapsed as a result of the government’s failure to market the last season’s cotton crop” (12 May).

A people-centred approach to technology: “Dan Rees is Director of Better Work, a flagship programme of the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) jointly managed by the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group. He shares his perspective on how brands can promote decent work by adopting a people-centred approach to technology” (12 May).

Germany aims to use strict law to improve work conditions in Africa: “Germany now wants to prevent [worker exploitation] through a “National Action Plan for the Economy and Human Rights”, which the Federal Government adopted in 2016. It obliges German companies to comply with human rights standards when doing business abroad, but only on a voluntary basis. The response so far has been rather restrained” (10 May).

‘Open Apparel Registry is a powerful new tool shining a light on the garment industry’: “Phil Bloomer and Alysha Khambay of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre explain how the open-source map of garment facilities across the globe is helping human rights campaigners to respond quickly to abuse in supply chains” (10 May).

Suppliers’ voices are getting louder: “The suppliers of big brand apparel and footwear retailers have contributed to the Better Buying Purchasing Practices Index, where they rate their clients anonymously” (10 May).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh  

Garment factory workers block Dhaka street for back pay: “The demonstration by Star Garments workers on both sides of the key street from 4:30pm on Friday created gridlocks in the area” (10 May).

Cambodia

Union urges police to free two members: “The Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union yesterday appealed to Kandal provincial military police to free two members who were arrested for allegedly instigating violence outside the QMI factory in Ang Snuol district earlier this month” (10 May).

England

Leicester: A city fighting fast-fashion sweatshops: “It's lunchtime in the heart of Leicester’s textile industry, Spinney Hills. Two women are smoking outside a derelict-looking factory building. One says she is Bulgarian, working as a seamstress, and that she is being paid £6 an hour. The national minimum wage for over-25-year-olds is £8.21 an hour” (10 May).

Ethiopia

Commission to set national minimum wage: “The proclamation will not set a minimum wage rather establish a commission that sets a base wage across time depending on the economy, cost of living and other factors in order to avoid the hassle of revising the proclamation repeatedly” (13 May).

Ethiopia’s $26-a-month factory workers all quit in the first year: “The annual attrition rate currently stands at 100 percent => meaning no worker stays longer than a year” (10 May).

India

Govt plans to end discrimination at work against those battling tuberculosis: “The policy recognises that most workers spend most of their waking hours at their places of work and a non-discriminatory environment enables the uptake of screening and treatment by employees” (12 May). [Ed’s note: India has the world’s highest number of TB cases. Textiles is one of the at-risk sectors.]

Pune: Trapped inside locked building, five workers die in fire at saree godown in Uruli Devachi: “Five workers of a saree godown died of suffocation and burn injuries after a fire broke out in the building and they were unable to escape as the owners of the godown had locked the shutter from outside” (10 May).

Labour union demands safe transport facilities for workers in Karnataka, submits memo: Karnataka Labour Department held a meeting on Thursday to discuss provisions of safe and affordable transport for workers” (10 May).

The salary saga of Bengaluru’s garment workers: “Two decades, eight companies, no improvement. A career in Bengaluru’s garment industry has yielded little reward for Dakshayini, 41. Staffed largely by women, the industry in recent years has been in the news for allegations of underpayment and harassment of employees, and Dakshayini has seen little by way of effort to ameliorate the anger now simmering among the roughly 500,000 workers” (10 May).

Pakistan

“We are demanding a living wage instead of a minimum wage”: “We have a recent example of calculation done by International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the case of determination of pension for families of the victims of the Baldia Factory fire incident. In that case, ILO had fixed Rs25,500 as monthly minimum wage in2012 when the incident happened. So, we can say it should be not less than Rs 30,000 in 2019” (12 May).

Rwanda

Chinese garment firm to create 7,500 jobs in Rwanda: “Rwanda has signed partnership deal with a Chinese garment firm, Pink Mango C&D, to set up a modern garment factory in Kigali, expected to employ thousands of Rwandans in the long run, Rwanda Development Board announced on Friday” (12 May).

MANUFACTURERS

Experts call for denim recycling in Bangladesh: “Denim recycling, a process that turns old scrap denims into new garments, can fetch $4 billion annually, Bangladesh garment industry experts said at a recent ‘Fashionology Summit’ organised by the Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE) in Dhaka. The 400,000 tonnes of annual leftover from garment units can be recycled for making new yarns and garments, said an expert” (11 May).

Covestro and Lenzing Group develop environmentally-compatible polyurethane (PU) synthetics for the shoe industry: “Covestro and the Austria-based Lenzing Group have developed environmentally-compatible polyurethane (PU) synthetics for the shoe industry” (10 May).

SUSTAINABLE FASHION JOBS

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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

Amazon: Fashion Sustainability Program Manager (London)

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

Amazon: Japan Environmental Manager (Tokyo)

ASOS: Ethical Trade Assistant (Hong Kong)

BSR: HERproject Associate (Hong Kong)

BSR: Manager, Supply Chain Sustainability (New York)

C&A Foundation: Programme Manager, Circular Fashion (Amsterdam)

* Canada Goose: Sustainability Programs Specialist (Toronto)

* Canada Goose: Manager, Sustainability and Social Compliance Programs (Toronto)

Canada Goose: Sr. Manager, Corporate Sustainability (Toronto)

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

* Chanel: Senior Compliance Manager (Shanghai)

Columbia: Corporate Responsibility Manager (Jakarta)

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

Common Objective: Global Community Manager (London)

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

* EcoVadis: Corporate Social Responsibility Analyst (Hong Kong)

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

Ethical Trading Initiative: Senior Advisor, Gender & Social Inclusion (London)

Ethical Trading Initiative: Membership Services Assistant (maternity cover) (London)

Ethical Trading Initiative: Assistant Strategic Lead (London)

Fair Labor Association: Social Compliance Program Manager (Washington DC)

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

G-Star RAW: Intern GSRD Foundation (Amsterdam)

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

GoodWeave: Director of Communications (Washington DC)

GoodWeave: Senior Program Officer (Washington DC)

W.L. Gore & Associates: APAC Sustainability Communication Leader - Fabrics Division (Hong Kong)

Gucci: Corporate Social Responsibility Internship (Scandicci)

Gymshark: Sustainability Manager (Solihull)

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

H&M: Chemical Compliance Specialist (Stockholm)

Hop Lun: Sustainability Manager (Hong Kong)

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

* International Labour Organisation: Programme Manager, Better Factories Cambodia (Phnom Penh)

Impactt: Principal Consultant (London)

Impactt: Project Officer (London)

Kering: Ready to Wear Materials Research & Sustainability Specialist (Novara)

Levi Strauss: Manager, Community Affairs (San Francisco, CA)

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)

Nakd: CSR Coordinator (Gothenburg)

Nakd: Corporate Social Responsibility Internship (Gothenburg)

* New Era Cap: Senior Manager, Global Social Compliance (Buffalo, NY)

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

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

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

* Politix (Country Road Group): Social, PR and Events Manager (Melbourne)

Primark: Product Compliance Coordinator (Dublin)

* PVH: Communications Manager Sustainability (Amsterdam)

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

REI: Senior Administrative Assistant, Brand Stewardship & Impact (Kent, WA)

Ross Stores: Director, Sustainability (Hacienda, CA)

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)

TAL Apparel: Environmental Sustainability Executive (Hong Kong)

Ted Baker: Sustainability Coordinator (London)

Ted Baker: Ethical and Sustainability Assistant (London)

Ted Baker: Ethical Specialist (London)

Textile Exchange: Standards Coordinator

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

Tommy Hilfiger: Communications Manager Sustainability (Amsterdam)

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

Vantage Apparel: QA Compliance Specialist (Woodbridge, NJ)

Vestiaire Collective: Chief Sustainability Officer (Paris)

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

Wearable Collections: Drivers, Route Helpers and Market Coordinators (New York)

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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 June: Online course: Fashion’s Future and the Sustainable Development Goals: “explore the fashion industry’s impact on people and planet, what the Sustainable Development Goals are, and how they are intrinsically linked.” From Fashion Revolution.

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.)

13 – 13 June, Bangkok: Responsible Business & Human Rights Forum 2019: “[A] multi-stakeholder event addressing an array of priority issues under the Responsible Business Conduct and Business and Human Rights Agendas.”

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: Driving impact through integrity and preferred fiber & materials.

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

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

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

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

(Photo image, 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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