Brands in this issue include: Aldo (launches first sustainable shoe collection), Allbirds (steps into apparel with sustainable socks), Chanel (makes a gold hat out of pineapple leather), The RealReal (osts over 50 percent annual revenue growth), Zara (what its sustainability efforts could mean for the fashion industry), and more.

In general news:

  • Warning: garment may contain slave labour (an experiment)

  • Fast fashion’s “sustainability” endeavors need to be about more than fabrics, recycling

  • The problem with “sustainability”? It doesn’t really mean anything

  • ILO says Cambodia’s footwear sector ripe for investment

  • New strategy to revamp Uganda’s textile sector

  • Italy’s Chinese prostitution problem (in Prato)

  • The challenges of building a socially conscious brand

  • 11 sustainability efforts announced in July 2019

  • Coat hangers leach cancer-causing chemicals, can’t be recycled and maim wildlife. Why do we ignore the plastic menace every bit as toxic as carrier bags?

  • The Extinction Rebellion plan to “shut down” London Fashion Week in September; and What would happen if we cancelled fashion week?

  • 4 things brands should do for the environment instead of launching a new sustainable line

The supply chain:

  • Cambodia: garment industry owners say trade status withdrawal would hurt four million Cambodians

  • Vietnam: safety initiative launched in apparel, footwear factories

Manufacturers in this issue include Soko Chimica (soluble tablet gives denim stonewash look), and more.

Sustainable fashion jobs: 9 new job listed this issue (at Ascena, Canada Goose, Copenhagen Fashion Week, Cutso, Global Brands Group, Guess, Nike, Superdry and TAL Apparel).

Quotes of the week:

  • “[T]he fast fashion business model, in particular, is the very antithesis to sustainability, and yet, fast fashion retailers continue to claim efforts related to sustainability.” From The Fashion Law (14 Aug).

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


Aldo launches first sustainable shoe collection: “Footwear brand Aldo is launching RPPL, its first sustainable shoe collection with trainers featuring a recycled knit upper and algae foam outsole, as part of its wider commitment towards a more sustainable future” (14 Aug).

The RealReal posts over 50 percent annual revenue growth after going public: “The gross merchandise volume – or value of goods sold – increased by 40 percent to 228.5 million dollars, compared to the same period a year ago. Meanwhile, year-on-year revenue grew 51 percent, jumping from 18.5 million to 60.7 million dollars” (14 Aug).

Chanel makes a gold hat out of pineapple leather: “Leading French fashion label Chanel is the latest to use fabric made from pineapple leather. The fashion house launched a gold boater hat featuring the vegan leather material in its 2019-2019 collection. Chanel is making efforts to update its collections; the label banned fur and exotic skins last year” (13 Aug).

What Zara’s sustainability efforts could mean for the fashion industry: “In mid-July, Zara and their parent company, Inditex, made an announcement addressing concerns about the lack of sustainability initiatives within the brand’s current fast fashion model. Sharing plans to become “more sustainable,” Inditex has pledged that by 2025, all of their eight brands, including Pull&Bear and Bershka, will only use cotton, linen, and polyester that’s organic, sustainable, or recycled” (13 Aug).

Allbirds steps into apparel with sustainable socks: “Now Allbirds is dipping its toes in the apparel market with its first non-shoe product: socks. They’re made from a new proprietary yarn called Trino—a blend of the company's existing Tree and Merino fibers—and are meant to keep your feet sweat-free, whether you're wearing Allbirds shoes or not. Brown says the company spent 18 months developing the socks; they wanted them to be the best socks” (13 Aug).


Warning: garment may contain slave labour: “My ethical fashion label experiment was designed to examine consumer behaviour–but is it right to put the onus on consumers? The idea was simple. Walk into the mall on a busy Saturday afternoon and turn ethical labelling on its head in an effort to understand consumer behaviour. I was carrying two distinctly different stickers. One said “Product may contain slave labour.” The other one said “Product has been certified to be slave labour free”” (15 Aug).

Fast fashion’s “sustainability” endeavors need to be about more than fabrics, recycling: “For example, some retail giants are introducing recycling programs. Unfortunately, in reality, even if garments are collected by retailers and brands in-store in an attempt to avoid disposal in landfills, the capabilities to recycle clothing at the scale needed for current production rates do not exist. It is also typically more energy-intensive to recycle existing garments than to produce new ones. Another proposal, the one recently put forth by Zara, aims to use only sustainable fabrics. This is similarly not without issues. This is due, in part, to the fact that there is no such thing as a 100 percent sustainable fabric. Fabrics require a tremendous amount of energy and natural resources to produce. Sustainable fabrics are simply less harmful due to their reduced environmental impact” (14 Aug).

ILO: Cambodia’s footwear sector ripe for investment: “Cambodia's footwear sector will provide more opportunities for investment and production than the garment sector due to significant growth over the last five years, said an International Labour Organisation (ILO) research bulletin on Cambodia’s garment, textile, and footwear (GTF) industry” (14 Aug).

New strategy to revamp Uganda’s textile sector: “In addition to increasing value to Uganda’s cotton output, the factories would employ 50,000 workers earning a combined $50 million annually. The strategy proposes to revive the cotton production value chain and investment in export-oriented apparel as well as garment production factories that would initially rely on imported fabric. Planners say the textile sector could generate up to $650 million in export revenues annually if the strategy is implemented” (13 Aug).

Italy’s Chinese prostitution problem: “Italy hosts about 300,000 Chinese nationals, the largest diaspora community in the European Union. Many come to Prato, Italy’s textile capital near Florence, since there is a large established Chinese textile community. However, working conditions, financial constraints, and pressure from back home often force Chinese women into sex work and prostitution on the streets, in massage parlors, and in private apartments. Thought to be partially controlled by the Chinese mafia, the secretive and elusive community of Chinese sex workers tell a story of human exploitation and possible human rights abuses” (13 Aug).

The problem with “sustainability”? It doesn’t really mean anything: “The fashion industry is obsessed with going “green.” With fast fashion companies like Zara – which recently revealed “an ambitious plan” to transition to entirely sustainable fabrics and recycling – to the luxury brands that are taking turns proclaiming their “ethical fashion” initiatives, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a brand that is not incorporating some kind of sustainability efforts into its operations. Such a boom in eco-centric endeavors is making it increasingly difficult to distinguish between and prioritize initiatives. That is largely because the terminology being used is – more often than not – extremely vague” (12 Aug).

The challenges of building a socially conscious brand: “Fashion companies are becoming more transparent about the environmental impact of their businesses, yet few are comfortable discussing social issues such as worker welfare and wages. Designers that work with local artisans and manufacturers often have to raise prices and compromise on design. Consumers care about the social impact of clothing but are not always ready to spend more on brands that pursue this value” (12 Aug).

11 sustainability efforts announced in July 2019: “Sustainability has become not just a buzzword but brands, retailers and innovative companies are also following through, pledging to become more sustainable and to eliminate plastic in the future, for example. The use of organic cotton is also on the rise. Brands are also realising that they cannot do it alone and are joining initiatives and forming collaborations with other brands and organisations. FashionUnited has put together eleven such efforts that were announced in the month of July alone” (12 Aug).

Coat hangers leach cancer-causing chemicals, can’t be recycled and maim wildlife. Why do we ignore the plastic menace every bit as toxic as carrier bags? “We know them as a modern nuisance, cluttering waste bins and wardrobes. But an investigation by The Mail on Sunday has established that plastic coat hangers are an environmental menace so serious they could soon outstrip the damage caused by plastic bags, straws and bottles. High-street stores and online retailers hand out hundreds of millions of hangers every year – even though the overwhelming majority cannot be recycled and around half of them end up in landfill or the ocean” (10 Aug).

What would happen if we cancelled fashion week? “As Extinction Rebellion calls for the event's cancellation, we asked a series of fashion insiders, sustainability experts, and forward-thinking designers what the alternative could be” (09 Aug).

The Extinction Rebellion plan to “shut down” London Fashion Week in September: “The climate change protesters plan to target the biannual fashion event in a bid to raise awareness of the environmental damage caused by the fashion industry” (06 Aug).

4 things brands should do for the environment instead of launching a new sustainable line: “Approaches vary among fashion and footwear brands looking to reduce their environmental footprint. Some launch sustainable lines within their broader ranges, while others put out collections of more sustainable items, or develop sustainable materials for use in a limited range of products. But these efforts, while valuable, may not be the best starting place for brands looking to make an actual impact” (01 Aug).



Garment industry owners say trade status withdrawal would hurt four million Cambodians: “Withdrawing Cambodia’s tax-free entry into the European market would negatively nearly four million people, the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) said Monday, as a monitoring period to determine eligibility for the trade scheme drew to a close” (12 Aug).


Safety initiative in apparel, footwear factories: “The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) in co-operation with IDH – a Dutch sustainable trade initiative – kick-started the Life and Building Safety Initiative (LABS)” (07 Aug).


Membrane to remove oil and dyes from industrial waste water: “Expanding the range of water treatment technologies, scientists from Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati have developed a membrane that promises to help simultaneously remove oil and dyes from industrial and other wastes” (14 Aug).

Soluble tablet gives denim stonewash look: “Italian textile chemical supplier Soko Chimica has launched a one step, one bath process for the enzymatic finishing of denim that uses tablets dissolved in water – in a similar way to how modern dishwashers work” (12 Aug – from Ecotextile News: subscription required to read full article).


[New listings or updated information marked with *]

Achille Pinto Spa: Sustainability Manager (Como)

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

* Ascena: Analyst Community & Philanthropy (New York)

Asos: Ethical Trade Assistant (Hong Kong)

BSR: HERproject Associate (Hong Kong)

BSR: Manager, Supply Chain Sustainability (New York)

C&A Sourcing: Specialist - Sustainable Chemicals Management (Bengaluru).

C&A Foundation: Data Analyst (Gurgaon)

Calvin Klein: Director, Corporate Social Responsibility (New York)

* Canada Goose: Manager Fabrics Research, Development, Sustainability (Toronto)

Canada Goose: Sustainability Programs Specialist (Toronto)

Canada Goose: Sr. Materials Developer, Fabric Research, Development & Sustainability (Toronto)

Canada Goose: Corporate Citizenship Department Coordinator (Toronto)

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

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

* Copenhagen Fashion Week: Bæredygtighedspraktikant (Copenhagen)

* Cutso: Lead Developer - Sustainable Fashion Marketplace (London)

Decathlon China: Supplier Quality Engineer (Shenzhen)

Disney: Director, Environmental Science And Policy Analysis (Glendale, CA)

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

Fjällräven: Brand Experience Coordinator (Stockholm)

Fur Europe: EU Policy and Environment Intern (Belgium)

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

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

Global Fashion Agenda: Sustainability intern (Copenhagen)

Good Weave: Director, Apparel and Fashion Jewelry (Washington DC)

GoodWeave: Program Officer (Washington DC)

Groupe ETAM: Sustainability Manager (Hong Kong)

* Guess: Apparel Testing & Environmental Sustainability Specialist (Bioggio)

Gymshark: Sustainability Manager (Solihull)

H&M: Sustainability Developer (Yangon)

Hugo Boss: Corporate Sustainability Manager (Metzingen)

Hugo Boss: Sustainability & Innovation Manager (Metzingen)

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

Impactt: Senior Consultant – Social Auditing (London)

JCPenney: Project Specialist- Corporate Social Responsibility (Plano, TX)

Kmart Australia: Human Rights Manager (Melbourne)

Lululemon: Director, Chemicals & Materials Sustainability (Vancouver)

Michael Kors: Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility (New York)

MV Sport: Global Social Compliance Manager (Bay Shore, NY)

Nakd: Corporate Social Responsibility Internship (Gothenburg)

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

Nike: Ethics & Compliance Manager, Greater China (Shanghai)

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)

Pegas Nonwovens: Global Safety, Regulatory and Sustainability Specialist (Znojmo)

Primark: Sustainability Materials Sourcing Manager (County Dublin)

Primark: Sustainability Materials Coordinator (County Dublin)

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

Ralph Lauren: Manager, Sustainability (New York)

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

Puma: Officer Social Sustainability (Guangzhou)

QuizRR: Internal Sales Representative (Stockholm)

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

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

SML: Manager – Global Sustainability (Hong Kong)

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

Solidarity Center: Deputy Country Program Director (Phnom Penh)

* Superdry: Executive Assistant to Sourcing and Sustainability Director (Cheltenham)

Superdry: Energy and Environment Manager (Cheltenham)

Sustainable Apparel coalition: Operations Coordinator, Europe (Amsterdam)

* TAL Apparel: Environmental Sustainability Executive (Hong Kong)

Tchibo: (Senior) Project Manager Sustainability (Hamburg)

Tommy Hilfiger: Communications Manager Sustainability (Amsterdam)

Uniqlo: Sustainability Officer (Bangkok)

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

Unravelau: Internship Sustainability Researcher (Utrecht)

VF: Sustainability Trainee (Stabio)

VF: Manager, Worker Rights (Hong Kong)

Welspun: Head - Group Sustainability (Mumbai)

White Stuff: Foundation Manager (London)

WSR: Director of Outreach and Communications (New York)

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]  

* 28 August, New Delhi: Launch Event - Life And Building Safety (LABS) Initiative: “Start the future on providing safer working conditions for factory workers in the apparel and footwear industry.”

04 September, Northampton: 1 Day Sustainability in the Leather Supply Chain Training Course: “An introductory one-day leather sustainability course covering supply chain management, traceability and materials sources, the leather making process, chemical management risks, environmental impacts and stewardship, NGO activity and the leather life cycle.”

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.

10 September, Webinar: See What’s New – C2C Certified Version 4 Draft Standard: “introduce the Cradle to Cradle Certified Version 4 draft standard … free webinar.”

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?”

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.”

20 – 21 September: Sacramento: WB/Camp on Water-Based Printing: “first-of-its-kind summit on water-based ink printing, powered by the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association’s (SGIA) THREADX conference. Hosted by Motion Textile.”

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.”

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.”

01 November: Hong Kong: Crisis Management & Modern Slavery: “[The Mekong Club’s] intensive 3.5-hour workshop will equip you with the right tools to anticipate and prepare for a crisis, and teach you how to use crisis management principles effectively. A realistic modern slavery crisis scenario will be used so participants can practice these principles.”

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.

07 November, Chennai: 1 Day Chemical Compliance & Product Safety in the Supply Chain: “Manufacturers and suppliers who attend this one-day course can understand the importance of RSL and MRSL obligations for their business, key restricted substances and topical global legislation, as well as best practice guidance for implementation of MRSL compliance to satisfy the leather, footwear and apparel industries.”

12 – 14 November, San Jose, California: BSR Conference: “The 27th annual BSR Conference, one of the longest-running and most prestigious sustainable business events. This year, we will explore the transformations that are creating a new climate for business and help to pave the way for companies, people, and planet to thrive in this era of rapid change.”

20 November, Hong Kong: Half Day Sustainability in the Leather Supply Chain Training Course: This half-day leather sustainability course covers key aspects of traceability and material sourcing, chemical management risks, environmental impacts and stewardship, NGO activity and the leather life cycle.”

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 by Ante Hamersmit, 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.