THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Boohoo (refuses to let union talk to workers about representation), Gap (CEO says clearance rack has terrible carbon footprint), Nike (launches guide to sustainability for brands; freezes sponsorship of another pregnant runner), and more.

In general news:

  • Sustainability is linked to privilege

  • A roundup of the trailblazing initiatives unveiled at Copenhagen Fashion Summit

  • A roundup of quotes from Texprocess and Techtextil, Fashionsustain Berlin, the conference on Neonyt

  • Can tech transform fashion? And another article saying it can (How technological innovation is changing the face of fashion)

  • All stakeholders have equal responsibility to ensure transparency

In the supply chain:                                                         

  • Bangladesh: the big news was of course the 281 working day extension for the Accord (although some believe it has come at the expense of autonomy); a protest triggered by a rumour of death; 435 RMG units vulnerable to labour unrest over festival allowances; and a new study claiming social barriers hinder women’s participation in trade unions

  • India: six workers critically injured in garment factory fire

Manufacturers in this issue include: Lenzing (to trace fibres with blockchain), Spinnova (producing clothing fibre from plants), and more.

Sustainable fashion jobs: 4 new jobs listed (at C&A Foundation, Mint Velvet, Nike, and Ross Dress for Less).

Quotes of the week:

  • “[T]he “luxury sector has thought leadership and influence, but think about a poor person wanting to buy trousers. If you are poor, your impact on the planet is worse by default (due to the climate impact of cheap fashion). That is so unfair and no longer acceptable.” Brune Poirson, Vice-President of the United Nations Environment Assembly (20 May).

  • “If we cannot provide sustainable fashion for all, we have failed.” Anna Gedda, Head of Sustainability for H&M Group (20 May).

  • “All I hear is that we are talking about product development not sustainability. It takes up to 12 years to get a real paradigm shift. It took us 19 years to turn PET bottles into high-quality filament yarns. Our technology can be used to manufacture any PET-based product; we are able to convert used plastic bottles back into sustainable ester which can, in turn, be used to manufacture new bottles, packing film and textiles. Our goal is to recycle over 50,000,000 bottles a day by the end of 2021. The number of bottles discarded has reached over 1.5 billion per day. This is a global problem that requires a global solution.” Vivek Tandon of perPETual Global (16 May).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Nike launches guide to sustainability for brands: “At Nike, we believe in the unlimited potential of athletes. We have an obligation to consider the complete design solution, inclusive of how we source it, make it, use it, return it, and, ultimately, how we reimagine it. Inspired by Global Fashion Agenda, we have created Circularity: Guiding the Future of Design. The guide and its related workbook share principles that support a universal call to action for our industry: We must all come together and have a more positive impact on our planet” (17 May). [Ed’s note: link goes straight to guide.]

The clearance rack has a terrible carbon footprint, Gap CEO says: “The vast supply chain that produces and sells clothing has a massive carbon footprint. That makes the clearance rack a problem, says Gap Inc. Chief Executive Officer Art Peck. The carbon footprint of a blouse with an unpopular print that ultimately sells for 99 cents is “inexcusable at the end of the day,” Peck said at the Bloomberg Sustainable Business Summit in Seattle on Thursday” (17 May).

Boohoo refuses to let union talk to workers about representation: “The booming online fashion retailer Boohoo is refusing to allow trade union officials to discuss recognition for employees months after its founder told MPs she was open to union representation” (16 May).

British runner Pavey says Nike froze sponsorship when pregnant: “British distance runner Jo Pavey has become the latest female athlete to complain that Nike halted her sponsorship payments when she was pregnant, Sky News reported on Thursday” (16 May).

NEWS & REPORTS   

Sustainability is linked to privilege - teasing out the truths from Copenhagen Fashion Summit: “Copenhagen Fashion Summit demonstrated very clearly that sustainability is strongly linked to wealth and privilege. The people creating the least environmental impact are invariably the world’s poorest people, and they are paying the biggest price” (20 May).

Trailblazing sustainability initiatives unveiled at Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2019: “It was clear at Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2019 that there is an urgency and united ambition to act now. The discussions and debates emphasised that companies must collaborate now, more than ever, to rectify the harmful consequences of the fashion industry and combat the climate crisis, resource scarcity and social implications” (17 May). [Ed’s note: a roundup of what was unveiled by Global Fashion Agenda.]

‘All I hear is that we are talking about product development not sustainability’: “At the start of Texprocess and Techtextil, Fashionsustain Berlin, the conference on Neonyt, presented itself for the first time with an offshoot at Texprocess, the leading international trade fair for the garment and textile processing industry, which is taking place through Friday in Frankfurt am Main. The roundtable sessions focused on the question “Is sustainability the key to textile innovations?” In two rounds of talks, industry partners such as Lenzing, Perpetual Global, Zalando, Kering and Procalçado S.A. entered into an interdisciplinary exchange on sustainable solutions for the fashion industry” (16 May).

Can technology transform the fashion industry? “Contrary to the determinist rhetoric about robots taking over, in the ILO’s latest report on the Future of Work, experts advocate for a “human-in-command” approach to technology, to enhance work rather than be controlled by it. Start thinking of robotics, big data systems or the Internet of Things as tools for improving conditions of work and the potential becomes enormous” (16 May).

How technological innovation is changing the face of fashion: “Where sustainability is concerned, the most relevant outcome of their research might be the new-found ability to colour cotton without the use of chemical dyes. Instead, Professor [Juan P.] Hinestroza and his team use tightly wound layers of nanoparticles known as metal-organic frameworks to give physical colour to the fabric. The long-term potential of this technology, if it were to become accessible to a large enough market, is massive – not only would it make a substantial dent in the 20% of industrial water consumption spent on dyeing and treating textiles, it would also make individual pieces of clothing last longer, since physical colour, unlike chemical colour, does not fade with each wash”(14 May).

All stakeholders have equal responsibility to ensure transparency: “In the second session of ‘Digitalization of supply chain to cut costs and reduce lead times’ topic, keynote speaker Lars Doemer, Co-founder of GoBlu, talked about transparency where he defined it according to a definition of GoBlu, “Transparency is an active business process to add value to your product and/or to your relationships with all relevant stakeholder (business and societal) by sharing meaningful and correct data or information””(03 May).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh  

Rumour of death triggers RMG workers’ protest: “Workers of a readymade garment (RMG) factory took to the streets in Dhamrai of Dhaka following a rumour that several of their co-workers were killed in a road accident yesterday. Around 1,000 workers of Mahmuda Attires Ltd blocked Dhaka-Aricha highway in front of the factory for one and a half hours, said police” (20 May).

435 RMG units vulnerable to labour unrest: “Industrial police have identified … 435 apparel and textile units across the country as vulnerable to labour unrest over non-payment of wages and festival allowances to workers before the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr festival” (20 May).

Accord can stay for 281 days from May 8: SC: “The Supreme Court today said Accord, a European agency for factory inspection and remediation, can continue its activities for 281 days from May 8, when a memorandum of understanding was signed between Accord and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) in this regard. The BGMEA will form a cell in the Accord and they will jointly inspect and ensure safety and security of garments factories and workers in Bangladesh, the apex court said” (19 May).

  • Bangladesh factory safety monitors introduced after deadly Rana Plaza disaster given court extension: “Factory owners had been lobbying for the monitors to leave, arguing that the programme’s five-year mandate had expired. But global clothing brands took the issue to the country’s Supreme Court and won” (19 May).

  • Terms of extension to strip independence of Accord? “Supreme Court allowed an extension to Accord for 281 working days, from the date of agreement, May 8, which will go well beyond February 2020. But, from now on, the extension offered is conditional and subjected to terms and condition of the agreement. BGMEA’s lawyer Barrister Imtiaz Mainul Islam told Bangladesh Apparel News, that from now on there will be no single authority governing the remediation work of Accord. BGMEA and Accord will jointly work and continue the remediation work” (19 May).

  • BGMEA to set up RSC for better monitoring: “The RSC is envisaged to take over all the safety-related matters in the RMG industry within the legal framework of the government of Bangladesh, according to the BGMEA. During the transition period, the BGMEA will immediately establish an operating unit within the Accord's Dhaka office named 'BGMEA Unit' to ensure a smoother transition” (20 May).

Social barriers hindrance to women’s participation: study: “Analysing data of 20 labour associations, the study finds that only 15 percent members of the associations are women, although the country has a big female workforce, particularly in the readymade garment sector” (19 May).

India

Six workers critically hurt in Gurugram factory fire: “Six people working in a garment factory in Gurugram received burn injuries after the industrial unit named Shobha designs caught fire due to short circuit on Sunday morning. The incident occurred in the industrial area of Sector-37 at around 3:00 am” (20 May).

MANUFACTURERS

Lenzing traces its fibers with blockchain technology: “Through a partnership with Hong Kong-based technology firm TextileGenesis, Austrian fiber producer Lenzing enters the age of digital traceability: Using blockchain technology to support its Tencel-branded fiber business, Lenzing wants to ensure transparency from wood to the finished garment” (20 May).

Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2019: Avery Dennison proposes next generation sustainable materials: “On 15-16 May 2019 at the Copenhagen Concert Hall, Avery Dennison presented ten solutions at the summit” (16 May).

Spinnova highlighted in article on waste and securing the future of the planet: “Spinnova uses a mechanical method to produce fiber, currently in a pilot stage. Their process uses about 99 percent less water than cotton production (one study showed that about 2,900 gallons of water can be produced to make a pair of jeans), without any harmful chemical” (12 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)

Amer Sports: Performance Improvement Sustainability Specialist (Hong Kong)

ASOS: Ethical Trade Assistant (Hong Kong)

BSR: HERproject Associate (Hong Kong)

BSR: Manager, Supply Chain Sustainability (New York)

* C&A Foundation: Data Analyst (Gurgaon)

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)

EcoVadis: Corporate Social Responsibility Analyst (Hong Kong)

ETAM: Sustainability & Compliance Manager Asia (Hong Kong)

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: Communications Intern (Washington, DC)

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

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)

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

H&M: Chemical Compliance Specialist (Stockholm)

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

Hop Lun: Sustainability Manager (Hong Kong)

Hudson’s Bay: Labour Relations Coordinator (Etobicoke)

Hugo Boss: Internship, Sustainable Supplier Management & Social Compliance (Metzingen) (see ad in German here)

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

Impactt: Marketing Manager (London)

Impactt: Principal Consultant (London)

Impactt: Project Officer (London)

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

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

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

* Mint Velvet: CSR Coordinator (High Wycombe, UK)

Nakd: Corporate Social Responsibility Internship (Gothenburg)

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

* Nike: Integrated Performance Manager, Sustainable Manufacturing & Sourcing (Portland, OR)

Nike: Data Analyst - Product Sustainability (Portland, OR)

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)

PVH: Communications Manager Sustainability (Amsterdam)

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

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

* Ross Dress for Less: Director, Sustainability (San Francisco, 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

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

Vestiaire Collective: Chief Sustainability Officer (Paris)

VF: Specialist, Supply Chain Sustainability (Shanghai)

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 *]

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: “The theme of this year´s seminar is ‘Connecting for Success’, and serves to bring together the key players. Speakers shall include representatives from brands, exporters, certifiers, chemical industry, and other significant stakeholders.”

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 Gordon Johnson, 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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