Brands in this issue include: Arcadia, Asda, Asos, Boohoo, M&S, Missguided, Monsoon, New Look, Next, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco (in report on living wages), Boohoo (under pressure to unionise), Gap (to source all cotton from sustainable sources by 2025), Inditex (signs for First Mile’s plastic hanger recycling), Nike (sweatshop workers making football shirts), sass & bide (founders awarded in Queen’s birthday honours list), The R Collective (saving high-end waste materials from landfill), Uniqlo (teams up with student designers), and more.
Recently released reports:
Tailored Wages UK 2019: The state of pay in the global garment industry, by Labour Behind the Label [Ed’s note: same content as the report of a similar name released last week by Clean Clothes Campaign, but with UK fashion companies included.]
In general news:
New partnership between The RSA and Ellen MacArthur Foundation on circular fashion
Decoded Future summit offers stark warning to fashion
Major UK clothing brands failing to meet living wage commitments
Sustainable fashion from London’s student designers
Why most consumers are still not buying ethical fashion
Not washing clothes is next big thing in fashion
New data capabilities assist fashion towards sustainability
Government of Uganda boosts local fashion industry
New study on ocean plastic reveals we’ve been missing most of it
A list of 10 sustainability efforts announced in May
What is fashion doing about conservation?
Do we need any more sustainable fashion brands?
New initiative for Ethiopian garment sector
Chinese universities promote green and healthy textiles
In the supply chain:
Bangladesh: the BGMEA forms 25 committees to improve conditions in garment sector
Cambodia: new video on labour conditions in factories (in German); concern that GMAC’s confidence on EBA may be premature; company denies it sacks workers due to union membership; Nike reaffirms commitment to Cambodia
India: Ludhiana industry grapples with labour shortage
Manufacturers in this issue include: Southern India Mills’ Association (says textile units have high awareness of water issues), and more.
Sustainable fashion jobs: 6 new jobs listed (at Canada Goose, New Look, Nike, Ralph Lauren, and REI).
Quotes of the week:
“…at some point we are going to see food shortages and then we will regret growing crops to produce clothes.” Sara Arnold, activist and founder of rental service Higher Studio (09 Jun).
By Stephen Frost, CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
BRANDS & RETAILERS
Replica football shirts costing £107 made by sweatshop workers ‘on 75p an hour: “Workers in Thailand making Manchester City shirts will be paid just £7.53 for a 10-hour day but the jerseys cos[t] nearly £103 … Followers of treble winners Manchester City will stump up the huge sum for their special edition shirt – while Chelsea fans will pay £102.90 for a top to mark their victory in Europe. But the Nike shirts cost just an estimated £3 to produce. And Thai workers making them are claimed to be earning a pitiful £7.53 for a 10-hour day” (09 Jun).
‘I’m really proud of what we achieved’: sass & bide founders receive honour: “Heidi Middleton and Sarah-Jane Clarke, who founded [sass & bide] in 1999, will be appointed as Members of the Order in the Queen’s Birthday ceremony [in Australia] for the pair’s longstanding charity work and their contributions to the fashion industry” (09 Jun).
The luxury fashion brand saving high-end waste materials from landfill: “The R Collective is a clothing brand using some of the industry’s highest quality materials, but with a difference: it rescues excess materials from world-leading luxury designers, and upcycles them to create something entirely new. British entrepreneur Christina Dean founded the company in 2017, inspired by a charity she founded in 2007 called Redress, which works to reduce fashion waste and promote a circular fashion industry” (08 Jun).
USDAW union hold protest outside Boohoo in Burnley: “The biggest private sector employer in Burnley will face protests on Friday after they failed to meet with union workers. A cross-party government report into fashion industry sustainability specifically recommended that Boohoo recognise USDAW [Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers] as the union for their staff. But the online giant, who employ around 1,000 people at their Widow Hill Road site in the Heasandford Industrial Estate, has refused to meet with the union this week” (07 Jun).
FIDM and Uniqlo at The Bloc partner for recycled fashion in DTLA: “Promoting recycled fashion in downtown Los Angeles, Uniqlo at The Bloc partnered with the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising to create student-designed collections that promote sustainable apparel design and production” (06 Jun).
Gap Inc. to source all cotton from sustainable sources by 2025: “Gap Inc. has set a goal to derive 100 percent of its cotton from “more sustainable sources” by 2023” (06 Jun).
Inditex UK signs for First Mile’s plastic hanger recycling: “UK recycler First Mile has launched a new plastic clothing hanger recycling programme to reduce the number of hangers ending up in landfill. The service will give retailers an easy and effective route to recycling unwanted hangers. Inditex UK has already signed up for the programme. The hangers will be processed by recycling partner Endurmeta in Deeside” (30 May).
NEWS & REPORTS
Make fashion circular: co-designing a new fashion system: [Ed’s note: The RSA has announced a partnership with Ellen MacArthur Foundation on their ‘Make Fashion Circular’ initiative.] “Over the next two years we will use design challenges, events, workshops, and communications to empower the next generation of designers to use circular economy principles to shift the fashion system” (10 Jun).
Decoded Future: driving change through sustainability and Gen Z: “The always-provocative Decoded Future summit in London on Thursday offered stark warnings to fashion and beauty, two mega-industries that make an impact not only on consumers but on the planet. Sub-titled Adapting to Changing Attitudes, the event was a wake-up call for anyone in those sectors who’s carrying on as usual in the face of climate change, evolving consumers and a young generation with very different priorities to their elders” (09 Jun).
Major clothing brands failing to meet living wage commitments: “The Tailored Wages report analyses responses from 32 top clothing brands about their progress in implementing a living wage for the workers who produce their clothes” (08 Jun). [Ed’s note: see full report here. By Labour Behind the Label. Similar content to Tailored Wages 2019: The state of pay in the global garment industry, by Clean Clothes Campaign – released las week – but includes assessments of UK brands, including Arcadia, Asda, Asos, Boohoo, M&S, Missguided, Monsoon, New Look, Next, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco.]
High street stores including H&M, Marks and Spencer, Primark and Sir Philip Green's Arcadia failing to keep workers who make their clothes out of poverty, damning report claims: “High Street stores including H&M, Marks & Spencer, Primark and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia, which includes TopShop and Miss Selfridge, are failing to ensure the workers who make their clothes are paid enough to escape poverty, a damning report claims” (08 Jun).
Tailored Wages UK 2019: “It’s back! Our latest report Tailored Wages UK 2019 takes a fresh look at which brands are taking action to address poverty pay and which are lagging behind” (04 Jun – 1:37-minute video).
Slime and pineapple leather: Sustainable fashion from London’s student designers: “Clothes grown from slime mould and handbags made out of icecube trays were among the environmentally-friendly designs and ideas presented by fashion graduates at a London arts school on Friday” (08 Jun – 1:27-minute video).
Why most consumers are still not buying ethical fashion: “Ask a group of people if they’d like to shop more ethically and sustainably, and few would say “no”. But ask those same people how much they’re prepared to pay extra for their clothing and the answers would vary widely” (08 Jun).
The next big thing in fashion? Not washing your clothes: “I have a confession to make: I’ve been wearing the same black T-shirt every single day for two weeks now and I haven’t washed it yet” (07 Jun).
The data ‘takes’ fashion in the search for personalization and traceability: “The new generation of the fashion supply chain has begun to squeeze the data, either to generate internal metrics or recharge ties with the rest of the actors” (07 Jun).
In Uganda, local fashion industry gets a government boost: “Uganda’s clothing industry has been dominated by secondhand garments for decades – until the government debuted an initiative to help boost local production. Now, the local fashion industry is experiencing a boom, and people don’t want to turn back” (07 Jun).
We totally missed most of the plastic pollution in the ocean, study reveals: “But new research published in the journal Scientific Reports has revealed that just as much, if not more, microplastics accumulate in deep ocean environments (at depths between 650 and 2,000 feet) as they do on the surface. This discovery, the study authors said, demonstrates that the repository of small plastics "extends much further and more extensively into the waters, sediments, and animal communities of the deep sea" than scientists previously realised” (07 Jun).
10 Sustainability efforts announced in May 2019: “Sustainability has become not just a buzzword but brands, retailers and innovative companies are also following through, coming up with original and sustainable products, production processes and recycling or resale options. FashionUnited has put together ten such efforts that were announced in the month of May alone” (07 Jun).
So, just what is fashion doing about conservation? “Fashion brands’ green initiatives can often come across as lip service: While the claim that the industry is the second-most-polluting in the world has been debunked, its toll on the environment is undeniably significant, marked by widespread chemical use and a heavy carbon footprint. Meanwhile, fast fashion encourages shoppers to refresh their closets constantly, sending clothing from sales floor to landfill with alarming speed” (06 Jun).
Do we really need any more sustainable fashion brands? “If addressing the climate crisis is our priority, we need to consider the answer very carefully” (06 Jun).
Bottom up: Preventing a race to the bottom in the Ethiopian garment sector: “Solidaridad, Cotton made in Africa, Danish Ethical Trading Initiative and MVO Nederland start a new project to promote a sustainable cotton and garment value chain, from Ethiopian cotton to European consumers” (06 Jun).
PolyU signs a collaborative agreement with top textile university in Southern China to promote green and healthy textiles: “The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) today announced the signing of a collaborative framework agreement with Wuyi University (WYU). The two universities will join hands for research on the development of green and healthy textile materials over a span of three years” (05 Jun).
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
BGMEA forms 25 committees to improve Bangla garment sector: “The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) recently formed 25 committees to ensure better coordination in key areas. The committees will focus on buyers’ forum, market development; fire, safety; branding, industrial engineering and efficiency; and innovation, political, legal, cultural affairs and women empowerment” (08 Jun).
The daily life of textile workers in Cambodia: “Ten-hour days, six days a week, low wages, high pressure: this is everyday work for seamstresses in factories in Cambodia. Occupational health and safety laws are often not implemented. The daily struggle of the textile workers for survival - a report” (10 Jun – 04:06-minute video – in German).
GMAC’s confidence on EBA may be premature: “Last week, the Garment Manufacturer’s Association of Cambodia (GMAC), said that a full withdrawal of the Kingdom’s everything-but arms trade status is unlikely … While we hope and pray that GMAC’s confidence will be proved right, it is would nevertheless pertinent to note that the Cambodian garment industry is slowly but surely becoming noncompetitive in terms of pricing, labor, utilities cost and with all the “feel good goodies” doled out by the government in an effort to mollycoddle the garment and footwear industry workers as though each year is an election year” (10 Jun).
Is it ‘fair’ to punish Cambodians for gov’t’s actions? “To put it briefly, numerous business organizations, trade unions and the Cambodian government itself have argued that the EU and US shouldn’t remove Cambodia’s preferential trade terms because it would disproportionally affect ordinary workers and the poorest in society. It is thought that with tariffs and quotas reimposed on Cambodian exports, the country’s vital manufacturing sector would slump, as businesses move operations elsewhere, and the country’s 800,000-plus textile workers would face mass layoffs” (10 Jun).
Company denies sacking workers over union ambitions: “Qi Ming Xin Factory yesterday denied accusations that it sacked seven unionists for attempting to create a union within the company. It said instead the unionists were fired because they encouraged other workers to protest” (10 Jun).
Nike reaffirms commitment to Cambodia: “Global sportswear manufacturer Nike Inc. on Wednesday reiterated its commitment to producing in the Kingdom and praised the country’s progress in improving labour conditions” (07 Jun).
Ludhiana industry grapples with labour shortage: “According to manufacturers, as the industry is heavily dependent on migrant workforce, their absence has hit the production by approximately 30-40%. The migrant workforce in Ludhiana constitutes over 70% of the total workforce in manufacturing industry … GR Rahhan, another industrialist having a spinning mill by the name of Roamer, said production has been severely hit. “We do not get labour from Punjab and depend on migrant labour — skilled and unskilled both. We can foresee that the problem will worsen in the years to come. For this, the only solution seems to be technology upgrade. We need to update ourselves and hire educated Punjabi youth having knowledge about new technology and machines to resolve the labour crunch issue,” he said” (06 Jun).
Industrial effluents choke Jojari: “Textile and steel rerolling units operating in the Jodhpur industrial area have been releasing untreated polluted water into the Jojari river for the last several years” (09 Jun). [Ed’s note: the Jojari River runs through Rajasthan, India.]
Water conservation, harvesting yet to gain momentum among industries: “Conservation and efficiency are the key words among all verticals of industries in the Coimbatore manufacturing cluster. However, most of the focus seems to be on energy conservation. Ask the businesses about water conservation and rainwater harvesting initiatives and there is a mixed response … The awareness level among textile units is high on water harvesting and water conservation, says K. Selvaraju, secretary general of Southern India Mills’ Association, explaining the efforts taken by the units” (07 Jun).
SUSTAINABLE FASHION JOBS
[New listings or updated information marked with *]
Adidas: Senior Manager SEA, Environment - South Asia (Jakarta/Bangkok)
Adidas: Director SEA, Field Operation - North Asia (Guangzhou)
Adidas: Manager Sustainability A&G Materials (Guangzhou)
Adidas: Manager Sustainability Materials FW (Ho Chi Minh City)
Amazon: Social Responsibility, Senior Program Manager (Shenzhen, China)
Amazon: Japan Environmental Manager (Tokyo)
America Today: Internship sustainability department (Corporate Social Responsibility) (Diemen)
ASOS: Ethical Trade Assistant (Hong Kong)
Avery Dennison: Sustainability Project Engineer (Boston, MA)
BSR: HERproject Associate (Hong Kong)
BSR: Manager, Supply Chain Sustainability (New York)
C&A Foundation: Data Analyst (Gurgaon)
Camira Fabrics: PR & Communications Manager (Mirfield)
* Canada Goose: Manager- Fabrics Research, Development, and Sustainability (Toronto)
* Canada Goose: Sr. Materials Developer, Fabric Research, Development & Sustainability (Toronto)
Canada Goose: Corporate Citizenship Department Coordinator (Toronto)
Canada Goose: Sustainability Programs Specialist (Toronto)
Canada Goose: Manager, Sustainability and Social Compliance Programs (Toronto)
CDC: Job Quality Executive, Value Creation Strategies Team (London) [NB: although CDC is the UK’s development finance institution, it urges people with labour rights experience in apparel & textiles to apply.]
Center for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility (CCR CSR): Social Worker (Shenzhen)
Centric Brands: Global Sourcing & Compliance Analyst (New York)
Decathlon China: Supplier Quality Engineer (Shenzhen)
Fair Labor Association: Social Compliance Program Manager (Washington, DC)
G-Star RAW: Intern GSRD Foundation (Amsterdam)
Gap: Operations Administrator, Supplier Sustainability (Hong Kong)
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): GOTS Public Procurement Specialist (EU) (Stuttgart)
Good Business Lab: Marketing and Partnerships Associate (Bengaluru/Delhi)
Good Business Lab: Data Associate (Bengaluru/Delhi)
Good Business Lab: Data Intern (Bengaluru/Delhi)
Good Business Lab: Research Associate (Bengaluru/Delhi)
GoodWeave: Director of Communications (Washington DC)
GoodWeave: Senior Program Officer (Washington DC)
Guess Europe: CSR Coordinator (Bioggio)
Gymshark: Sustainability Manager (Solihull)
H&M: Sustainability Expert Industrial Relations and Wage (Yangon)
Herschel Supply Company: Product Quality & Compliance Manager (Vancouver)
Hop Lun: Sustainability Manager (Hong Kong)
Impactt: Marketing Manager (London)
Impactt: Principal Consultant (London)
Impactt: Project Officer (London)
Kenneth Cole: Corporate Social Responsibility Manager (New York)
Kering: Ready to Wear Materials Research & Sustainability Specialist (Novara)
Kmart Australia: Community Relations Advisor (Melbourne)
Marc Fisher Footwear: Compliance Coordinator (Greenwich, CT)
Nakd: Corporate Social Responsibility Internship (Gothenburg)
New Era Cap: Senior Manager, Global Social Compliance (Buffalo, NY)
* New Look: CSR Administration Assistant (London)
* Nike: Community Impact Director Latam (Mexico City)
Nike: Sustainability Engagement Manager (Beaverton, OR)
Nike: Director of Supplier Relationship Management – Supply Chain (Beaverton, OR)
Pandora: Sustainability Specialist (Copenhagen)
Patagonia: Head of Supply Chain Environmental Responsibility (Ventura, CA)
* Ralph Lauren: Associate, Global Employee Communications & Philanthropy (New York)
* REI: Director, Communications and Public Affairs (Kent WA)
REI: Senior Administrative Assistant, Brand Stewardship & Impact (Kent, WA)
Reset Carbon: Senior Consultant – Corporate Sustainability (Hong Kong)
Samil Vina International: Compliance, CSR (Tây Ninh)
Selfridges: Senior Sustainability Manager (London)
Strategic Partnership for Supply Chain Transformation: Strategic Advisor & Facilitator for the Steering Committee
Superdry: Ethical Sourcing Assistant (Hong Kong)
Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Executive Director (San Francisco)
Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Senior Manager, Higg Brand & Retail Tool (San Francisco, New York, Amsterdam, or Hong Kong)
Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Project Manager (Irvine, CA)
Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Senior Manager of Higg Facility Tools (San Francisco, New York, Amsterdam, or Hong Kong)
Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Senior Manager of Verification (San Francisco, New York, Amsterdam, or Hong Kong)
Uniqlo (Thailand): Sustainability Officer (Bangkok)
University of Leeds: Research Fellow in Sustainable Materials and Renewable Fibres (Leeds)
VF: Sustainable Operations Manager, North East Asia (Shanghai).
VF: Manager, Worker Rights (Hong Kong)
VF: Specialist, Supply Chain Sustainability (Shanghai)
Wearable Collections: Drivers, Route Helpers and Market Coordinators (New York)
WSR: Director of Outreach and Communications (New York)
CONFERENCES & SEMINARS
[New listings or updated information marked with *]
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.)
12 – 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.”
12 – 13 June, Brussels: Chemical Watch Expo 2019: Global Chemical Regulations: “An international event with a programme of workshops to address important regulatory issues around the world across six streams.”
17 June, Webinar: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)- Screening Protocol for Cotton & Textiles: “Textile Exchange, in partnership with the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA), is pleased to present this webinar as part of our continued focus on improving integrity focuses on the recently delivered international reference protocol for GMO-screening in cotton and textiles.”
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.”
24 June, Webinar: 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge: Review and Brand Perspective: “review the findings from the first (2018) 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge report and learn from the successful partnerships between Cotton Connect and Lindex.”
27 June, Webinar: Discover how to drive success with transparency: “Work in fashion and want to learn how to set a strategy for your transparency journey?”
09 July, Webinar: Biosynthetics E-Learning Series Part 2: “Biosynthetics can play an important role in replacing fossil-based resources with renewable feedstock. At the same time, there are various sustainability challenges also associated with the use of renewable feedstock.”
08 September, Dhaka, Bangladesh: GOTS Bangladesh Seminar 2019: “The theme of this year´s seminar is ‘Connecting for Success’. In 2018, Bangladesh reached second position (after India) in terms of GOTS certified facilities in the country. This growth trend showcases the commitment of the Bangladeshi textile industry to not only use organic fibres, but also to environmental and social compliances. Fire and Building Safety are included in GOTS criteria and the country has made significant progress in all these areas.” Speaking opportunities available: contacts at link.
09 – 10 October, San Diego: The Responsible Business Summit West 2019: “The Responsible Business Summit West focuses on what business needs to do to show leadership on key social and environmental challenges and opportunities.”
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.
11 March, London: Drapers Sustainable Fashion 2020: “[With a] focus on collaborating for change within the fashion retail industry.”
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.