Brands in this issue include: Cotton On and Target (investigate suppliers after forced labour of Uyghurs exposed in China’s Xinjiang), Fast Retailing (saving water on jeans), H&M (staff suspended for wearing stickers, says NZ union), Lidl, Lindex, Bestseller and Orsay (using new chemical management app), Monki (going sustainable), and more.

In general news:

  • Ellen MacArthur Foundation to “transform” jeans

  • This fashion week wants you to buy less, not more

  • ‘Connecting for Success’ at the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Bangladesh Seminar 2019

  • Bangladesh joins UN Fashion Climate Charter

  • Conscious consumerism with sustainable fashion

  • New system ensures traceability in the textile industry

The supply chain

  • Bangaladesh: C&A Foundation highlights key lessons on collective bargaining; labour rights groups demand more amendments to labour law

  • Cambodia: thousands of garment workers on strike in Kandal province

  • Mexico: first assessment of child labour in the apparel industry in Mexico

  • Myanmar: academic’s study of migrant workers wins prize from ILO

  • Sri Lanka: Modern Slavery Act is having unintended consequences for women’s freedom in Sri Lanka

  • Vietnam: collective bargaining move good for garment workers

Manufacturers in this issue include: Bolger & O’Hearn (sees growth from sustainable chemistries), SEI (denim with a light footprint), Welspun (CEO says sustainability is moral issue), and more.

Sustainable fashion jobs: 6 new jobs listed this issue (at Gymshark, Lululemon, Nike, TetraGlobal, Tommy Hilfiger and VF).

Quotes of the week:

  • “It sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? A water tax—surely that will never happen, people might say. The same people are probably saying the world will never run out of freshwater. Yet such a day might come far sooner than we think.” Mostafiz Uddin, Managing Director of Denim Expert Limited, on whether it’s time for a water tax in the apparel sector (14 Jul).

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


Cotton On and Target investigate suppliers after forced labour of Uyghurs exposed in China’s Xinjiang: “Four Corners can reveal that the following brands sold in Australia source cotton from Xinjiang: Target, Cotton On, Jeanswest, Dangerfield, Ikea and H&M. Cotton On and Target Australia are now investigating their relationships with suppliers in Xinjiang. The Cotton On Group sources cotton from Xinjiang-based subcontractors, Litai Textiles. Chinese government notices viewed by Four Corners said the company’s Kuytun branch was working with government officials to train and recruit surplus farm labourers for work in factories. Asked if Cotton On was confident the cotton yarn it sourced from Litai Textiles was not being produced by people working against their will, the company told Four Corners it was not aware of the issues raised and would now undertake an investigation. The company also confirmed a staff member last year visited Litai Textiles’ Korla factory, which is located just six kilometres away from a massive re-education camp in the town” (15 Jul). [Ed’s note: long investigative piece from the ABC. You can watch “Tell the World” by Four Corners here (45:46-minute video)”.]

H&M staff suspended for wearing stickers: Union: “First Union members who work at H&M shops in central Christchurch, and in Sylvia Park and Commercial Bay in Auckland, say they have been suspended for wearing a sticker at work to support their wage claims. Shop worker Anaise Lenati who works at the Botany H&M store said wearing stickers was just a cute way for members to support one another. “H&M’s reaction to send members home is so out of proportion. Paying living wages is one of H&M’s corporate goals and now they are locking out their workers because they are asking for a living wage,” Lenati said” (13 Jul).

App scans chemical inventory, helps compliance: “The Hong Kong business that’s launching the tool is already working with a number of leading textile chemical suppliers and brands such as Lidl, Lindex, Bestseller and Orsay. Speaking exclusively to Ecotextile News at the recent ITMA in Barcelona, the company says that in future, the app could also be integrated into existing textile industry chemical management tools as the industry works towards harmonisation” (11 Jul – From Ecotextile, subscription needed to read full article).

Swedish fast-fashion brand promises to go sustainable: “Monki [under H&M], the Stockholm-based high street label on every millennial’s wishlist, is one such brand. Its affordable, contemporary designs span both men’s and womenswear and denim is at the core of its offering each season. A recognised name throughout Europe, it supplies to 127 stores in 16 different markets. In 2018, it made a promise – that all of its denim would be sustainably sourced and organic from that point onwards” (11 Jul).

Fast Retailing treating denim jeans in southern California with water-saving techniques: “Fast Retailing, the Japanese parent company of Uniqlo, recently launched its Southern California denim innovation center to announce it is very close to eliminating the use of water from its denim-treatment process. The $19 billion company showed off its Fast Retailing Jeans Innovation Center in Gardena, Calif., next door to the Japanese-owned Caitac Garment Processing location, which has been washing jeans for local denim manufacturers for years” (11 Jul).


Ellen MacArthur Foundation to “transform” jeans: “New guidelines published today by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation have united leading apparel brands and recyclers around the world in a mission statement to transform the way in which jeans are produced. The Jeans Redesign Guidelines include minimum requirements for the durability, material health, recyclability and traceability of jeans which are said to closely align with the principles of the circular economy; which the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has established itself as a leading advocate for” (16 Jul – From Ecotextile, subscription needed to read full article).

Why this fashion week wants you to buy less, not more: “At first it seems incongruous, a consumer-facing fashion event that wants people to buy less, not more. But that's exactly the message behind the campaign for this year’s Melbourne Fashion Week, whose program officially launches on Monday” (15 Jul).

‘Connecting for Success’ at the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Bangladesh Seminar 2019: “On 8th September 2019, GOTS is hosting the ‘GOTS Bangladesh Seminar 2019’ (GBDS19) with the theme ‘Connecting for Success’ at the International Convention City Bashundhra (ICCB) in Dhaka, Bangladesh The seminar serves to bring key players from brands, exporters, certifiers, chemical industry, and other significant stakeholders together, says a recent press release” (13 Jul).

Bangladesh joins UN Fashion Climate Charter: “The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA) – the trade body of apparel manufacturers in Bangladesh – has joined the UN Climate Change’s Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action (UNFCCC) initiative” (12 Jul – From Ecotextile, subscription needed to read full article).

Conscious consumerism with sustainable fashion: “With Chennai witnessing its worst water scare in years, city-based designers and experts speak on the value and impact of green fashion on workers, the environment and their wallet” (11 Jul).

New system ensures traceability in the textile industry: “How can a garment’s origin be derived in a safe and credible way? How can the producer guarantee that it has been produced in a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable way? Now, a new, secure traceability system has been developed in a research project at the University of Borås” (10 Jul).



Key lessons on collective bargaining in Bangladesh’s apparel sector: On its Facebook page, C&A Foundation has highlighted a report released in April 2019 that captured nine lessons and insights related to collective bargaining agreements as a form of dispute resolution between management and trade unions (15 Jul). [Ed’s note: see the C&A Foundation report here.]

Labour rights groups demand more amendments to labour law: “Labour rights groups on Saturday demanded further amendment of Bangladesh Labour Act to make it friendly for workers removing a number of repressive provisions. In a national labour convention on identifying inconsistencies in existing labour laws, labour leaders alleged that the rights of workers had been gradually reduced in every amendment of labour act as workers representatives failed to play their due roles in the process. IndustriALL Bangladesh Council organised the convention held at BMA Auditorium in the city” (14 Jul).


Thousands of garment workers on strike in Kandal province: “Thousands of Bowker Garment Factory workers in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district are on strike to demand better working conditions and the return of their union leader. The strike began on Monday after the representative was fired for defending a member. A petition showed 18-points related to better working conditions” (12 Jul).


Assessment of child labour in the apparel industry in Mexico: “For the first time in the Mexican State of Guanajuato, an assessment on child labour in the shoe and apparel industry has been conducted to put child labour on the state agenda. We are proud to announce this initiative is part of a new partnership with the ‘Network for Child Rights’ in Mexico (REDIM), and in cooperation with the organisations ‘Integral Education for Social Transformation’ (EDITRAS) and 'Health, Art and Education’”(12 Jul).


Academic’s study of migrant workers wins prize from ILO: “A Vietnamese academic, Hạnh Nguyen, has won the 2019 Regulating for Decent Work Prize from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for her study of the conditions of female migrant workers in Myanmar’s garment factories. The paper, titled “Expectations vs Reality: The Well-being of Female Migrant Workers in Garment Factories in Myanmar”, focused on workers’ well-being within the context of the economic and social transition in Myanmar” (12 Jul).

Sri Lanka

Modern Slavery Act is having unintended consequences for women’s freedom in Sri Lanka: “The Modern Slavery Act was seen as a big achievement for combating the issue of forced labour … Less well known is how Article 54 of the act, which assigns British companies the responsibility to clean up their global supply chains, hurts factory workers in developing countries. I’ve witnessed how British companies outsource this responsibility to local factory managers in Sri Lanka. These local managers feel tremendous pressure to monitor their workforce, even beyond the shop floor, for fear of losing their contracts. And this leads to an excessive amount of surveillance, with devastating consequences for factory workers, most of whom are female” (11 Jul).


Vietnam collective bargaining move good for garment workers: “The recent decision by Vietnam's National Assembly to ratify one of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) fundamental conventions to promote collective bargaining sends "a strong signal" to the country's garment industry and could lead to higher productivity in the sector” (12 Jul).


Is it time for a water tax in the Bangladesh apparel sector? “Not only is water being undervalued, it is also being misused. Many factories take water from nature and pollute it. They add chemicals during wet processing and, in many cases, water is discarded back into the environment without being cleaned. By that, I mean, without being placed in an effluent treatment process using modern technology, which, in many cases, can remove the vast majority of impurities from water. Instead, water is often spewed out untreated by factories where it pollutes the local environment, often having a drastic impact on local farming and the water of local communities. There are countless examples of this globally” (14 Jul).

Automated sorting system scaled up: “An automated textile sorting system established and pilot-tested in Malmö, Sweden, is set to become operational at industrial scale next summer, after government agency Vinnova has piled in investment equating to 22 million Swedish krona” (12 Jul – From Ecotextile, subscription needed to read full article).

Denim with a light footprint: “Italian textile machine supplier SEI says it’s wrapped up sustainability and ‘industry 4.0’ in one single technology with the release of its automated ‘Matrix’ which designs, marks, engraves and cuts fabric rolls with lasers” (12 Jul – From Ecotextile, subscription needed to read full article).

Bolger & O’Hearn sees growth from sustainable chemistries: “Growth for US speciality chemicals manufacturer Bolger & O’Hearn will come from its latest developments of more sustainable chemistries, including non-formaldehyde acrylic resins, fluorine-free water repellents, and its recent association with Dutch multinational DSM’s textile polymer portfolio, according to the company’s marketing director Shawn Honeycutt” (12 Jul).

Addressing sustainability is the moral responsibility of business: Dipali Goenka, Welspun: “Welspun is currently in the midst of a massive transformation driven by sustainability where almost every aspect is being looked at and re-imagined. According to CEO and Joint Managing Director, Dipali Goenka, “There is no doubt that business has to transform if we are to mitigate climate impacts. Welspun as the industry leader has to redefine how the textile business can be done in a far more sustainable and transparent manner. Systems and processes need a redefinition and we have worked actively in driving this. But our biggest interventions are around the creation of vibrant and progressive farming communities.” Welspun products are largely made out of cotton, which is why the sustainability journey begins right from the farmers affiliated to Welspun who are trained to grow BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) and Organic Cotton. In Wardha (Maharashtra) and Kutch (Gujarat) the main cotton producing regions for Welspun farmers are given complete farm management solutions right from the field to the market. This project is spread over 250 villages and indirectly impacts 50,000 farm workers. The ambition is to build models of sustainable farming despite the small plot sizes of most farmers” (11 Jul).

Illegal textile mills releasing hazardous waste into creeks: “After Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) officials, based on a complaint by environment NGO Parivartan Trust, found a mill located in Sachin GIDC releasing hazardous chemical waste directly into Mindhola creek on Tuesday, the pollution watchdog is now on a hunt to find out more such illegal textile mills operating in the city and polluting the water bodies rampantly” (11 Jul).


[New listings or updated information marked with *]

Adidas: Manager Sea Program Operations (Portland, OR)

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

Aldi: Corporate Responsibility in Supply Chain (Salzburg)

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

Amazon: Japan Environmental Manager (Tokyo)

Brands Of: Social & Environmental Affairs Officer (London)

BSR: HERproject Associate (Hong Kong)

BSR: Manager, Supply Chain Sustainability (New York)

C&A Foundation: Data Analyst (Gurgaon)

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)

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

Centric Brands: Global Sourcing & Compliance Analyst (New York)

Chanel: Sustainability Project Coordinator – Internship (London)

Circle Economy: Project Manager - Dutch Circular Textiles and Apparel (Amsterdam)

Circle Economy: Project Manager Circular Textiles and Apparel (Amsterdam)

Decathlon China: Supplier Quality Engineer (Shenzhen)

Disney: Manager, Audit Analysis, ILS (Glendale, CA)

Fair Wear Foundation: Brand Liaison (Amsterdam)

Fjällräven: Brand Experience Coordinator (Stockholm)

Global Brands Group: Social & Environmental Affairs Officer (London)

Global Brands Group: Social & Environmental Affairs Assistant (London)

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: Program Officer (Washington DC)

Groupe ETAM: Sustainability & Compliance Manager Asia (Hong Kong)

* Gymshark: Sustainability Manager (Solihull)

H&M: Sustainability Developer (Yangon)

Hugo Boss: Corporate Sustainability Manager (Metzingen)

Hugo Boss: Internship, Sustainability Communication and Event Organization (Metzingen)

Hugo Boss: Sustainability & Innovation Manager (Metzingen)

ÏDKIDS: CSR Internship (Supplier Social Audits) (Pas-en-Artois)

Impactt: Senior Consultant – Social Auditing (London)

Impactt: Marketing Manager (London)

Kenneth Cole: Fall Internship Program – CSR (New York)

Kmart Australia: Human Rights Manager (Melbourne)

Kmart Australia: Sustainable Materials Manager (Melbourne)

* Lululemon: Community Programs Lead AU/NZ (Melbourne)

Marc Fisher Footwear: Production Compliance Manager (Greenwich, CT)

Marc Fisher Footwear: Compliance Coordinator (Greenwich, CT)

Miles: Area Vendor Compliance/Sustainability (Norderstedt)

Nakd: Corporate Social Responsibility Internship (Gothenburg)

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

* Nike: Environmental Health & Safety Manager - Air MI (Phoenix, AZ)

Nike: Project Manager, Social Community Impact APAC (Tokyo)

Nike: Community Impact Director Latam (Mexico City)

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

PVH: Manager, Environmental Sustainability & Product Stewardship (New York)

Ralph Lauren: Associate, Global Employee Communications & Philanthropy (New York)

REI: Director, Communications and Public Affairs (Kent WA)

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

Solidarity Center: Senior Specialist for Organizing – Trade Union Strengthening Department (Phnom Penh)

Solidarity Center: Deputy Country Program Director (Phnom Penh)

Sustainable Apparel coalition: Operations Coordinator, Europe (Amsterdam)

TAL Apparel: Environmental Sustainability Executive (Hong Kong)

* TetraGlobal: Director of Sustainability, Compliance & Safety (Norfolk, VA)

* Tommy Hilfiger: Corporate Responsibility Coordinator (Amsterdam)

Tommy Hilfiger: Communications Manager Sustainability (Amsterdam)

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

* VF: Sustainable Operations Assistant Manager (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 *]

22 – 23 July: New York: 2019 Sourcing & Sustainability Summit: “This is the only sourcing summit focused 100% on footwear.”

05 September, Shanghai: How to assess a factory on Social, Health & Safety and Quality issues: “Be able to grasp the overall vision of an efficient quality process and avoid the critical non conformities in terms of social and health & safety performance.”

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. Click here to register.

20 – 21 September, Dhaka, Bangladesh: Global Textile Forum – Gearing up for New Generation Textiles: “Global Textile Forum is an initiative, a platform to promote region’s textile and garment industry through Collaborative efforts.”

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.”

12 September, Shanghai: Environmental Awareness Training: “Know the requirements to control & reduce the environmental risks in the textile wet processing units, and understand how to better address critical topics such as Chemical Management and Wastewater Management in the factory with Effluent Treatment Plant.”

17 September, Hong Kong: Environmental Awareness Training: “Know the requirements to control & reduce the environmental risks in the textile wet processing units, and understand how to better address critical topics such as Chemical Management and Wastewater Management in the factory with Effluent Treatment Plant.”

19 September, Hong Kong: Chemical Management Training: “What are the key requirements in terms of proper chemical management in a textile factory to reduce the environmental & social risks?”

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.”

29 – 30 October: Washington DC: “Brands Taking Stands – What’s next?”: “bringing corporate leaders together on a fast-paced main stage, keenly focused on the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind their thinking”

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 – 12 February, Cologne: 1st International Conference on Cellulose Fibres: “New International Conference on Cellulose Fibres, the fastest growing fibre group in textiles, the largest investment sector in the bio-based economy and the solution for avoiding microplastics.”

11 March, London: Drapers Sustainable Fashion 2020: “[With a] focus on collaborating for change within the fashion retail industry.”

(Photo Bruno Glätsch, 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.