THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Elkline (joins FWF), Elliott Footwear (launches world’s first vegan, climate-positive sports shoe), Forever 21 (ignites sustainable fashion debate), VF (signs Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action), and more.

In general news:

  • Fashion for Good joins Circle Economy

  • ‘Look for the laggards’ – investors told to target modern slavery

  • Why fashion doesn’t pay fair

  • To help fashion’s homeworkers, first we need to count them

  • How to fight sexual harassment at work? Empower women workers through trade unions

  • France, Sweden propose ban on over 1,000 allergens in textiles

  • The ‘greenwashing’ hiding the truth of your favourite fashion brands

  • Fashion’s victims (in India’s design houses)

  • The paradox of sustainable luxury — and 3 ways to solve it

  • ‘The consumer is pushing them’: How fast-fashion brands are responding to sustainability

In the supply chain:                                                         

  • Bangladesh: can Rubana Huq lead a rights makeover in the industry?; workers at risk of losing jobs after wage hike; renewed demands from workers on May Day; labour court says over 17,000 cases pending in seven tribunals; safety watchdog Nirapon officially launches; study says only 4% garment factories have anti-harassment committee; and a roundtable stresses need to bolster workplace safety

  • Cambodia: ministry urges better housing and transport for garment workers; and union submits petition to mark labour day

  • India: two articles on poor conditions in garment sector

  • Tunisia: youth employment program to strengthen vocational training

Manufacturers in this issue include: Baldwin Technology (launches environmentally friendly application for textile finishing process), Cone Denim and Jeanologia (partner on water conservation), Unspun (Hong Kong start-up developing 3D technology to weave perfect pair of customised jeans with zero waste), and more.

Sustainable fashion jobs: 7 new jobs listed (at BSR, G-Star RAW, W.L. Gore & Associates, H&M, REI, Ross Stores and VF).

Quotes of the week:

“It’s quite hard for people looking from the outside, and even for brands, to know what part of the price paid is for labor.” Doug Miller, professor of workers’ rights in fashion at Northumbria University (02 May), whose view is supported by a quote from a Fair Wear Foundation member performance check of Vaude Sport: “Vaude is not able to substantiate a clear link between the wages paid to workers and the FOB prices paid to factories. When Vaude is able to investigate further and determine more precisely the labour costs for its products, it should have a better understanding whether Vaude’s FOB prices support payment of living wages” (02 May).

“Another Mumbai designer is getting infamous for long working hours and not paying salaries on time, threatening legal action if the employee takes leave which is never granted in advance.” Namrata Zakaria, on exploitation in India’s fashion industry (30 Apr).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

VF Corporation signs Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action: “In signing the charter, VF joins more than 40 fashion and apparel industry companies in the shared pursuit of net-zero emissions by 2050, among other specific targets. Under United Nations Climate Change, the Fashion Industry Charter was launched at the UN international climate negotiations (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018” (02 May).

FWF welcomes Elkline as a new member: “The German fashion brand Elkline aims to implement sustainable improvements and social standards through FWF membership. ‘It is our highest requirement to produce Elkline products under the best possible ecological and social-human conditions’, says Elkline CEO Stephan Knüppel” (02 May).

Forever 21 ‘steals’ anti-fast-fashion artist’s work: “High Street retailer Forever 21 has been criticised for unsolicited use of an anti-fast-fashion artist's image to promote its clothing on Instagram. The artist said she was shocked a fashion brand “would openly make light of the disposable garment culture” (01 May).

  • Forever 21 ignites sustainable fashion debate: “A social media bungle by American fashion retailer Forever 21 this week has once more put fast fashion under the spotlight. The retailer copped criticism Monday for being ignorant about the impacts of fast fashion after a social media post where they joked about only wearing an outfit once. The retailer’s Indian Instagram account shared an image of a clothing label, reading “I probably won’t wear this again because it’s already been on my Instagram” (01 May).

Danish brand Elliott Footwear launches world’s first vegan, climate-positive sports shoe: “The new Danish brand Elliott Footwear, launched on April 23rd what it calls ‘a climate positive trainer collection’ in time for the summer. Elliott is marketing a collection of trainers (sports shoes) made from materials that are vegan and recyclable, claiming that one pair of Elliot trainers removes one metric tonne of CO2 emissions” (29 Apr).

NEWS & REPORTS

Fashion for Good joins Circle Economy: “Circle Economy has welcomed Fashion for Good as a strategic partner to the Switching Gear project to accelerate the uptake of re-commerce and rental business models in the apparel industry. A social enterprise, Circle Economy accelerates the transition to circularity through on the ground, action focused, development of practical and scalable solutions” (02 May).

‘Look for the laggards’ – investors told to target modern slavery: “Fund managers can put trillions of dollars worth of pressure on businesses that fail to stop slave labor by uniting to demand improvements and monitor progress, said Fiona Reynolds, head of London-based Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI). Otherwise a host of ethical issues risk falling from view, with consumer pressure over global warming providing handy cover for companies that drag their feet on modern slavery” (02 May)

Why fashion doesn’t pay fair: “The fashion industry says it wants fair wages throughout its supply chain. It isn’t willing to pay for them” (02 May).

To help fashion’s homeworkers, first we need to count them: “It is time to address the gaping lack of data on the role played by hundreds of thousands of homeworkers who stitch and embroider our clothes, dye our fabrics and perform countless other tasks vital to the fashion supply chain” (01 May).

How to fight sexual harassment at work? Empower women workers through trade unions: “Human Rights Watch, International Labour Organization and others have reported sexual harassment in garment factories across a number of countries. Many global apparel brands tout the steps they take to ensure garment workers in their supplier factories are treated well. Yet these measures, which rely heavily on social audits, tend to fall grossly short. At the same time, brands avoid steps that would truly empower workers to raise and address workplace abuses, like standing up for workers’ freedom of association” (01 May).

France, Sweden propose ban on over 1,000 allergens in textiles: “France and Sweden have submitted a proposal to ECHA  to ban or restrict over 1,000 skin sensitisers in textiles, leather, furs and skins sold to consumers” (01 May).

The ‘greenwashing’ hiding the truth of your favourite fashion brands: “High street brands might talk about “ethics” and “sustainability”, but that doesn’t mean they’re actually doing anything ethical or sustainable” (01 May).

Fashion’s victims: “I asked some complainants writing about their work woes to fashion vigilante DietSabya to write to me directly and found that the truth about the backend staff gets murkier. ‘Bad toilets’ was not even half of it. Those who wrote to me – all of them educated, urbane adults – were subjected to mental trauma, physical harassment, and in a few cases, even molestation” (30 Apr).

The paradox of sustainable luxury — and 3 ways to solve it: “With brands becoming increasingly important, China’s hyper-informed young consumers are starting to consider the negative effect of this mass consumption. Questions about where materials come from, the quality of colors and dyes used, and how workers are treated during the production process are just a few of the issues brands now need to answer. And the answer should better be that the entire process of sourcing and production has been holistically aligned and meticulously controlled” (29 Apr).

‘The consumer is pushing them’: How fast-fashion brands are responding to sustainability: “Loose Threads founder and lead analyst Richie Siegel said a big question for consumers and analysts should be whether these companies can actually deliver on their promises. “There is probably a way — with a lot of work, recycling, repurposing, up-cycling — where you could make improvements in this existing fast-fashion model, but generally speaking, that model is an unsustainable model,” he said” (29 Apr).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh  

Rights makeover overdue in Bangladesh garment industry: “The Bangladesh garment industry needs a makeover, no doubt. [Rubana] Huq appears well-placed to spearhead reforms. To do so successfully, she needs to fix several of the industry association’s missteps and firmly embrace workers’ rights. Huq promised to make Bangladesh famous for being “competitive” rather than the “cheapest.” In this mission, she will not find better allies than labour advocates and workers. Brands, suppliers, and labour groups—and in fact, everyone—should unite to reject the notion that cheap equals competitive. (01 May).

Workers at risk of losing jobs after wage hike: “A senior operator at Babylon Casualwear Ltd, a concern of Babylon Group, Murad was dreaming a better future after wage hike. But he was sacked and became the vendor half a km from the factory where he used to work. ‘I was forced to resign as the factory set double production target which I could not meet,’ said Murad” (01 May).

Bangladesh workers renew old demands at May Day events in Dhaka: “Maximum eight-hour work a day, minimum monthly payment of Tk 16,000, trade union rights, safe workplace, compensation for workers injured or dead at work, and an end to oppression of workers – the same old demands have been raised at May Day programmes in Dhaka” (01 May).

Labour court: Over 17,000 cases pending in seven tribunals: “Thousands of workers have been waiting for justice from labour courts, where a huge number of cases remain pending – mainly due to slow trial proceedings and negligence in officials’ duties. Seven labour courts, and the only labour Appellate Tribunal in the country, are burdened with a backlog of 17,608 cases, sources said. (01 May).

Local factory safety watchdog Nirapon announces its launch: “Nirapon, a platform of 21 foreign RMG brands, has officially launched its activities in Dhaka. The launching program took place on Monday, where it was pledged to help building capacity towards a locally sustainable culture of safety in RMG factories, and work to keep up the safety achievements, the country’s garments sector has so far made” (30 Apr).

  • Nirapon now covers 21 member brands,600 factories: “‘Nirapon’, a newly formed locally oriented organisation which works to oversee the ongoing safety, training and helpline efforts at the Alliance-listed garment factories yesterday talked about their operations in Bangladesh focused on keeping Bangladesh garment factories safe” (30 Apr).

Study: Only 4% garment factories have anti-harassment committee: “According to the report 68% factories do not have any anti-harassment committee and 28% workers do not know about the committee. Only 4% garment factories have harassment complaint committee despite a High Court directive to form anti-harassment committee in every organization. A study, titled “Monitoring work and working condition of women employed in RMG industries of Bangladesh” and conducted by Karmojibi Nari, says that about 14% of RMG workers face sexual harassment at their workplaces” (29 Apr).

Concerted efforts stressed to bolster workplace safety: “Safety of workers should be enhanced, especially in the apparel sector, ensuring upgraded compliance and smooth growth in the highly competitive global market, demanded participants in a roundtable on Wednesday” (24 Apr).

Cambodia

Ministry urges better housing and transport for garment workers: “The Labour Ministry is planning to streamline how garment factory workers commute to work in order to reduce traffic accidents. The ministry plans on making public transportation services more accessible to garment factory workers and urging enterprises to provide housing nearby factories” (02 May).

Union submits petition to mark labour day: “A total of 20 points were listed in the petition, calling for the government and the National Assembly to increase the minimum wage for garment and footwear factory workers to $250 per month, expand social security services, improve workplace safety, drop all charges against union leaders and activists, halt the use of short term contracts and create a labour court, among others” (02 May).

India

Protesting exploitation, women workers from garment industry paint Bangalore red: “There are around 1,200 garment units in Bangalore which employ around 4.5 lakh workers. In Karnataka, these garment workers get paid a minimum wage of around Rs 8,000 a month – 25% below the urban poverty line of Rs 10,800 a month, based on the Rangarajan Committee report [from 2014]” (01 May).

NHRC lens on thousands of TN factories for ‘miserable’ working conditions: “More than 7,000 garment factories and spinning mills in Tamil Nadu are under the scanner after the national human rights watchdog raised concerns over “miserable” working conditions there. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) ordered authorities in Tamil Nadu to act after a report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation about female garment workers airing their grievances on radio stations and demanding better conditions” (29 Apr).

Tunisia

Youth employment program in Tunisia to strengthen vocational training system: “Tunisia will be able to set up training and qualification programs for young people that meet the future requirements of the labour market” (30 Apr). [Ed’s note: the textile sector is a key focus.]

MANUFACTURERS

Cone Denim, Jeanologia to partner on water conservation: “Cone Denim has announced plans to partner with garment finishing technology company Jeanologia on a sustainable denim collection for Fall 2020” (30 Apr).

ITMA 2019 Exhibitor Preview: Baldwin Technology: “Baldwin Technology Company Inc., a member of TMAS, the Swedish textile machinery association, is pleased to announce the launch of the TexCoat G4 at the ITMA trade show in Barcelona from June 20-26, 2019. The TexCoat G4 is the next generation of the company’s revolutionary non-contact precision application system for fabric finishing. The system enables a continuously high quality and productive textile finishing process with zero chemistry waste and drastically reduced water and energy consumption” (29 Apr).

Hong Kong start-up developing 3D technology to weave perfect pair of customised jeans with zero waste: “With 3D weaving, Unspun will no longer have any cut waste, the discarded fabric from traditional apparel making techniques. Start-up’s founders say they are determined to change the polluting and labour intensive denim manufacturing process through the use of technology” (22 Apr).

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)

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

* BSR: HERproject Associate (Hong Kong)

BSR: Manager, Supply Chain Sustainability (New York)

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

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

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

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)

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

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)

GMS: Manager/Associate Manager, CSR (Hong Kong)

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: Chemical Compliance Specialist (Stockholm)

Hop Lun: Sustainability Manager (Hong Kong)

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

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)

Nakd: CSR Coordinator (Gothenburg)

Nakd: 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)

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

Primark: Product Compliance Coordinator (Dublin)

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

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)

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)

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

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

Whistles: CSR and Sustainability Assistant (London)

Wolverine: Product Sustainability Manager (Rockford, MI)

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

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

08 May, Hong Kong: Sourcing Summit: Hong Kong: Accelerating Change: What's New, Now & Next: “Sourcing Journal’s Sourcing Summit: Hong Kong is a unique forum that invites supply chain executives to challenge the status quo and welcome new ideas.”

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.)

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: Textile Exchange call for breakout presentations.

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.”

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 Johannes Plenio, 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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