THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Banana Republic (joins the clothing rental craze), Burberry (developing China-specific sustainability strategy), Dr Martens (profits soar on vegan range), Levi Strauss, Wrangler and Lee (subjects of a report on sexual and other abuses at factories in Lesotho), and more.

Recently released reports:

In general news:

  • The problem with ‘vegan leather’ – is it really more sustainable?

  • No sustainability in shame

  • Igbo weaving and Akwete fabric: The future of sustainable fashion could be hidden in our past

  • Fast-fashion industry veterans are shifting gears to sustainable businesses

The supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: workers protest over non-payment of wages

  • Cambodia: unions prepare to negotiate minimum wage for 2020; harmful gender norms

  • India: garment workers severely punished for minor mistakes

Manufacturers in this issue include: Infinited Fiber (backed by Asian viscose giant), MAS Holdings (sustainable waste water system), Mi Terro (turning old milk into sustainable clothing), and more.

Sustainable fashion jobs: 3 new job listed this issue (House of Anita Dongre, Interface, Pebbles).

Quotes of the week:

  • “For all luxury brands, the right question might not be if they need a China-specific sustainability plan, but how quickly they can create one that’s holistic, trustworthy and inspiring.” (18 Aug).

  • “Those that police how environmentally-friendly our consumption is  – from militant vegans to sustainable lifestyle influencers – are notorious for their simplistic views of sustainability.” (17 Aug).

  • “There is no such thing as vegan leather.” Dr Kerry Senior, director at the UK’s leather trade federation, Leather UK (17 Aug).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

High-street fashion labels like Zara and H&M promise sustainability in China – can luxury brands keep up? “Whether make-up, fashion or jewellery, informed consumers in China want sustainable products and practices, and companies like Swarovski, Burberry and Estée Lauder are putting in place strategies that are China-specific” (18 Aug).

Banana Republic joins the clothing rental craze: “Banana Republic said Friday that it will launch an online rental service for women in September. The monthly subscription, “Style Passport,” will cost $85 a month and women can rent three different pieces from the brand at a time. Customers will be able to choose from around 100 different styles a month and can opt to buy any of the items. Banana Republic says it plans to add a rental program for men in the future” (16 Aug).

Bosses force female workers making jeans for Levi’s and Wrangler into sex: “Women producing jeans for American brands including Levi Strauss, Wrangler and Lee have been forced to have sex with their managers to keep their jobs or gain promotion, an investigation into sexual harassment and coercion at garment factories in Lesotho has found. Brands have responded to the “extensive” allegations by the the US-based Worker Rights Consortium by signing enforceable agreements with labour and women’s rights groups to eliminate gender-based violence for more than 10,000 workers at five factories owned by the Taiwanese company Nien Hsing, one of the southern African country’s largest employers” (15 Aug). [Ed’s note: full report here.]

  • Levi’s and Wrangler suppliers ‘sexually harassed employees’: “Female workers at garment factories producing jeans for American brands such Levi Strauss and Wrangler have been forced into having sex with managers to keep their jobs or gain promotion, according to a two-year investigation by the US-based Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). The report – published on Thursday – found that managers and supervisors regularly enticed female workers into sexual relationships through promises of promotions or full-time contracts. Additionally, management was found to have failed taking disciplinary action against offenders and workers’ efforts to unionise were also suppressed” (16 Aug – from Ecotextile News, subscription required to read full article).

  • Apparel brands unite to tackle gender-based violence in Lesotho: “Levi Strauss & Co, The Children's Place, and Kontoor Brands are launching a comprehensive pilot programme to prevent gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) in garment factories in Lesotho after an investigation documented a “deeply concerning” pattern of abuse and harassment at a key suppliers in the country” (16 Aug).

Dr Martens’ profits soar by 70 per cent over success of new vegan range: “Dr Martens’ profits have soared by 70 per cent in the year to the end of March, thanks to the success of its new vegan range of boots. According to the footwear brand, online sales also rose by two-thirds to £72.7m, accounting for 16 per cent of total revenues for the company” (14 Aug).

NEWS & REPORTS   

The problem with ‘vegan leather’ – is it really more sustainable? “As more people reduce the amount of animal products on their plates, they’re beginning to take a similar approach to their wardrobes, prompting greater demand for “vegan” garments such as leather. And the brands that are taking note have flourished as a result. Earlier this week, shoe brand Dr Martens announced its profits had surged by 70 per cent in the year to the end of March thanks to the success of its vegan range of boots. The British label follows in the cruelty-free footsteps of Topshop and Adidas, both of whom have added vegan shoes to its collections in the last year” (17 Aug).

No sustainability in shame: “Being good to the planet has a price tag, which is often quite substantial, and effectively locks out those in low-income brackets. The culture of shame that emerges from the sustainability movement ignores the complex barriers to entry that are created by capitalism. Free-market capitalism has ensured that sustainability is not universally accessible: higher price points for sustainable essentials such as food and clothing effectively bar sustainable options to people in lower-income brackets” (17 Aug).

Igbo weaving and Akwete fabric: The future of sustainable fashion could be hidden in our past: “Akwete is a small town in Abia State, Eastern Nigeria. This town is renowned for and actually named after their traditional weaving methods because they produce “Mkpuru Akwete” which directly translates as “Akwete fabric”” (15 Aug).

Fast-fashion industry veterans are shifting gears to sustainable businesses: “After working in fast fashion for over seven years, including as head of e-commerce apparel at Charlotte Russe, Margaret Coblentz wanted a big change. “I learned a lot about e-commerce and a lot of fashion, but fundamentally, it wasn’t a business model that really resonated with me. It wasn’t something that I felt really good about being part of,” she said. “It’s important to align with what you think is important in the world. That includes social justice, paying people a living wage and treating them well. In fast fashion, that gets ignored — but if something costs $1.25, you have to really wonder what’s being produced.” After leaving the Charlotte Russe in 2016, Coblentz started searching for smaller brands to work with, aiming for those focused on sustainability” (15 Aug).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN 

Bangladesh

Garment workers demand wages and festival allowance: “Thousands of garment workers from factories in Dhaka, Gazipur and Chattogram demonstrated between August 7 and 9 to demand their unpaid July salaries, the Eid religious festival bonus and overtime allowances. About 7,000 garment workers blockaded Legacy Fashion Ltd and Anwara Fashion Ltd in the Kalurghat Industrial Area and up to 300 workers from factories in Mirpur 1, in Dhaka, blocked the Mirpur Road. Workers from the Style Crafts factory north of Dhaka blocked the Dhaka-Gazipur road” (17 Aug).

Cambodia

Unions prepare to negotiate minimum wage: “Unions are preparing to meet with Labour Ministry officials later this month to discuss the minimum wage in the garment sector for 2020” (19 Aug).

Addressing stereotypes: Harmful gender norms in Cambodia: “Of the garment sector’s 635,000 workers, 90 per cent are women. As described by CARE International, employment in the garment sector provides an opportunity for female economic empowerment. This is, however, contingent on adequate protection of human and labour rights. While Cambodia has made huge strides economically, harmful gender norms continue to perpetuate the inequality of men and women in the workplace and in wider society. Specifically, this relates to the expectation of gendered roles as played out in the evolving power dynamics of traditionally male-dominated domains” (18 Aug).

India

Garment workers severely punished for minor mistakes: Probe report: “The Labour Department, probing into the protest by employees of Himatsingka Linens in Hassan [Karnataka], has learnt that the workers were subjected to severe punishment for minor mistakes in their workplace. Some of the violations included workers not being allowed to contact family members and requests for leave being turned down” (15 Aug).

MANUFACTURERS   

Save water, serve half-a-glass to visitors: Bhilwara DC: “The District Collector of Bhilwara [India] has issued an order to all government offices that visitors and employees be served only ‘half-a-glass of water’ to check its wastage … “The water-scarce district famous for its textile industry is still one of the dried out with the lowest water table region in the state. The administration is supplying 556 tankers per day to far-flung areas for human consumption”” (18 Aug).

Meet the company turning old milk into sustainable clothing: “Reducing waste, recycling resources and promoting conservation are three of the major pillars of any sustainable business model. In recent years, environmentally-conscious companies have found innovative ways of recycling waste and creating new products. Mi Terro, a startup based in Los Angeles, aims to draw attention to the amount of waste produced in the dairy industry by creating sustainable fabrics from unused milk. The company sources excess milk from a dairy farm in China before processing it and turning milk into fibers capable of being used in durable, lightweight clothing” (17 Aug).

“Denim manufacturing is not standardized therefore the certifications don’t need to be either”: “C&A was the first to certify a gold level denim garment with partner Pratibha Syntex Ltd. in India, G-Star Raw in partnership with Artistic Milliners in Pakistan to develop a C2C gold level certified fabric, later similar projects with Soorty and Rajby also in Pakistan. Outside of denim we have worked with wool manufacturers in partnership with Stella McCartney and Zegna Barruffa, and later with Maiyet and Botto Giuseppe” (16 Aug).

Infinited Fiber backed by Asian viscose giant: “Infinited Fiber, a spin out from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland which turns cellulosic waste into new textile fibres using a chemical process, has received new funding from RGE Pte Ltd – a company which also owns Asian viscose supplier Sateri, Asia Pacific Rayon and energy firm Pacific Oil & Gas. RGE joins a group of other investors including H&M Group, Virala and Fortum in a bid to scale up its technology and a ‘strategic co-operation agreement’ has also been signed between RGE and Infinited Fiber” (16 Aug – from Ecotextile News, subscription required to read full article).

MAS and Colombo Science and Technology Cell signs Licensing Agreement for sustainable waste water system: “A revolutionary filter technology developed in Sri Lanka to use aluminium waste for treating waste-water in the textile industry. The new process is a sustainable closed-loop model which creatively uses the waste from aluminium anodizing to treat the waste-water from the textile industry and any final waste is converted into eco-bricks. A licensing agreement was signed between Twinery- the innovation arm of MAS Holdings and Colombo Science and Technology Cell of the University of Colombo recently to implement the process at the MAS Fabric Park.  The research was conducted in collaboration with the Colombo Cell and MAS teams and funded by Twinery” (16 Aug).

Textile printing ink market expected to witness a sustainable growth over 2027: “Environment-friendly textile printing ink is gaining more emphasis owing to the growing environmental concerns and the need for sustainable textile printing ink for textile and fabric printing. Biodegradable textile printing ink providers are seeing more growth opportunities in the nearing future owing to the need for eco-friendly solutions. Players of the textile printing ink market including the Kornit Digital Ltd. and Magna Colours have provided eco-friendly water-based textile printing ink to the market with the growing use of the textile printing ink for printing fabrics especially in the clothing and apparel segment of amongst other application segments. Being a great alternative for chemically based textile printing ink, the eco-friendly textile printing ink redefines the future of the textile printing ink market” (15 Aug).

SUSTAINABLE FASHION JOBS

[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)

* House of Anita Dongre: Fashion Designer – Sustainability (Mumbai)

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)

* Interface: Global Director of Life Cycle Assessments (Atlanta, GA)

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)

* Pebbles: Manager Maatschappelijk Verantwoord Ondernemen (Alkmaar)

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 robynm, 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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