THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: LVMH (going vegan?), Next and Tchibo (join ZDHC), Stella McCartney (encourages circular economy with The RealReal partnership), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • Fashion industry turns a blind eye with unsustainable fake fur, says MP Mary Creagh

  • Global brands reluctant to share costs of factory improvements in Bangladesh

  • Did a slave make your sneakers? The answer is: probably

  • More than 30 textile chemicals to be restricted in the EU

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: Accord appeal deferred for fourth time; workers return to work after agitation closed factories; Alliance bids adieu

  • Hungary: protests over ‘slave labour’ law

  • Malaysia: Shocking proposal to deduct 20% of migrant workers’ wages

  • Myanmar: Workers from four factories hold press conference for labour rights violations                                                                                                        

  • Spain: Spain’s minimum wage to jump 22% in new year

Manufacturers in this issue include: Embee (improvised washers for the textile printing industry), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “[A]lmost impossible to recycle.” MP Mary Creagh, on fake fur, which has soared in popularity in recent years as shoppers become more ethically-conscious (17 Dec).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Vegan LVMH? The next luxury giant to take action: “Vegan LVMH. Long are gone the days when garments made from fur and rare animal skins were seen as the epitome of charm and glamour. In fact, the use of fur is becoming increasingly associated with bad fashion taste and irresponsible consumption, that the number of fashion brands moving away from the usage of materials of animal provenience in their manufacturing is growing at an accelerated rate” (16 Dec).

Stella McCartney encourages circular economy with The RealReal partnership: “[Stella McCartney] has renewed its partnership with the sustainable company, which focuses on giving luxury items a second life through resale and avoiding them going to landfill. Shoppers buying Stella McCartney pieces through the secondhand retailer will be rewarded with $100 in store credit to use at Stella retail stores or online” (14 Dec).

Next and Tchibo join ZDHC: Next, Tchibo and the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (a multi-stakeholder partnership consisting of companies, associations, non-governmental organisations, trade unions, standards organisations and the Federal German Government) have joined the ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Program” (14 Dec).

Jacqueline Sacks develops proprietary sustainable fabric, launches Saint Haven: “Saint Haven, a luxurious line of sustainable essentials founded by Jacqueline Sacks, officially launches today, December 13. On a mission to ease the discomfort of her children’s sensitive skin issues, Sacks, wife of PayPal’s David Sacks, spent several years developing a brand-new proprietary method for softening fabric, leading her to develop Saint Haven SoftTM, an incredibly soft and breathable non-toxic fabric. Saint Haven launches today with blissfully soft clothing for women, babies, toddlers and children” (13 Dec).

“Patagonia is in business to save our home planet”: “For the past 45 years, Patagonia has been a business at the cutting edge of environmental activism, sustainable supply chains, and advocacy for public lands and the outdoors. Its mission has long been “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis”” (13 Dec).

NEWS & REPORTS 

Fashion industry turns a blind eye with unsustainable fake fur, says MP Mary Creagh: “Fake fur has soared in popularity in recent years as shoppers become more ethically-conscious, but this is having an adverse effect on the planet, says MP Mary Creagh, who is currently leading a parliamentary inquiry into sustainability in the fashion industry” (17 Dec).

After Rana Plaza: the politics of sharing: “While local firms now work under stricter safety standards, global brands are reluctant to share in the costs of improvements, write Sarah Ashwin, Naila Kabeer and Rachel Alexander [from the London School of Economics]” (17 Dec).

Green fashion? When clothing industry decides ecology is in: “Long overdue, the apparel industry’s awareness of environmental issues has finally reached a tipping point. “Up until the middle of the last decade, issues which concerned the sector were rather social, on the exploitation of workers,” says Nathalie Alley, professor at the French Institute of Fashion. But prompted in part by the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth in 2006, the industry started to look at the state of the planet and where its materials and production processes fit in”” (15 Dec).

New reports on socio-economic and environmental impacts of cotton cultivation systems: “Two new reports from American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Thinkstep International examine the socio-economic and environmental footprint of three cotton cultivation systems – Organic, Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and Conventional – in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh … The findings of the reports indicate that while Organic and BCI Cotton had a more positive environmental footprint than conventional cotton farming, on social and economic side the difference is not significant” (14 Dec).

Did a slave make your sneakers? The answer is: probably: “We often talk about slavery as if it was a thing of the past–a horror from another era, perpetrated by people who have no resemblance to us. But the truth is that slave labor is still alive and well. And a new report produced by the nonprofit KnowTheChain points out that your closet is likely full of clothes made through forced labor” (14 Dec).

More than 30 textile chemicals to be restricted in the EU: “The European textile industry has until December 2020 to comply to a new EU regulation restricting the use of 33 chemicals which are classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction, including benzene, formaldehyde and heavy metals” (13 Dec).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh 

Accord’s hearing today: “The Supreme Court yesterday deferred for a fourth time the date for further hearing of an appeal filed by the Accord for extending its stay in Bangladesh. The hearing will take place today [18 Dec]” (18 Dec).

Health insurance brings smile to RMG workers: “Garment worker Mira breathed a sigh of relief when she learnt last November that she would no longer have to bear her healthcare bills. Paying an annual premium of Tk 100, the worker of Millennium Textiles (Southern) and Fashion House Ltd in Ashulia became the holder of a healthcare insurance policy” (17 Dec).

Workers return to factories, no agitation reported: “Latest development on the labour unrest in Bangladesh’s apparel industry, workers have returned to the factories after working week resumed after weekend. On-the-ground reports gathered by Bangladesh Apparel News from Savar, which was the most troublesome zone during the demonstration and witnessing 40 factory closures out of the total 60, saw production resume in almost all the units” (17 Dec).

Govt to address loopholes in new RMG wage structure after polls: minister: “The government on Saturday announced that the inconsistency, if any, in the newly announced wage structure for the readymade garment workers would be solved after the national elections scheduled for December 30” (15 Dec).

Labour unrest: No solution reached, owners threaten factory close: “Latest update on the prevailing labour unrest in the apparel industry of Bangladesh, no solution has been reached over the current impasse that has surfaced after the new wage structure rolled into effect from this month. A multilateral meeting to reach a solution in this regard was held at the labour ministry on December 15, 2018, with the Crisis Management Committee of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), labour ministry officials and labour leaders” (15 Dec).

Sexual harassment of RMG workers: “Women’s labour rights are protected by law. Through the revision of the Labour Act, 2006 in 2013 and formulation of Labour Rule in 2015 the rights of workers were addressed and initiatives taken to ensure a decent work environment. This included workers’ right to trade unions, introduction of an insurance scheme, setting up of a central fund to improve the workers' living standards, and requiring 5 percent of annual profit to be deposited in employee welfare funds. The recent Labour Rules also have introduced detailed specifications for provisions such as child care and compensations.  The National Industrial Health and Safety Council has drafted an Occupational Safety and Health Policy which remains at the final stages of approval. The implementation of this policy would benefit women more than men as they are more affected by its absence. The Labour Code, 2006 and its revision in 2013 recognised the issue of sexual harassment in the work place. The High Court judgement on sexual harassment also provides guidelines to employers and educational institutions on how to address sexual harassment issues.” (14 Dec).

Alliance bids adieu from Bangladesh after massive reform work: “Alliance, a platform of North American buyers and retailers, has announced to shutter down its operations in Bangladesh after carrying out structural reform to over 700 factories. The third-party compliance monitor published its fifth annual report on December 12, 2018, where it announced that it will linger no more and that it has achieved success in building a culture of safety in Bangladesh in its five-year term. In its final report, Alliance claimed of 93 percent remediation across all its 714 affiliated factories and 100 per cent achievement of initial Corrective Action Plan across 428 factories” (14 Dec).

Hungary

Hungarians protest against “slave law”: “Around ten thousand people took to the streets of Budapest in one of the biggest demonstrations Hungary has seen for some time. The demonstration Sunday afternoon was the largest in a series of marches that started last week, after the government has passed a new labour law, which has been labelled a ‘slave’ law” (17 Dec).

Hungary ‘slave labour’ law sparks protest on parliament steps: “Protests have broken out in Hungary after the country’s parliament passed new labour laws, which have been labelled “slave labour” by opponents. New rules mean companies can demand up to 400 hours of overtime a year and delay payment for it for three years” (13 Dec).

Malaysia

Shocking proposal to deduct 20% of migrant workers’ wages: “The Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress is shocked at the human resources minister’s proposal to deduct or withhold 20% of migrant workers’ wages. His justification that it will serve the objective of preventing migrants from fleeing from their employers is even more shocking!” (16 Dec).

Myanmar

Workers from four factories in Myanmar hold press conference for labour rights violations: “Workers from four factories in Yangon Region held a press conference yesterday urging the government to solve the problems such as firing, no wages and labour rights violations. The press conference took place at the office of Myanmar Journalist Network in Pazundaung Township. The briefing was organized by four workers from Myanmar Infochamp Shoe Factory, MDM Shoe Factory, Central Star Garment Factory and Nisho Garment Factory” (15 Dec).

Spain

Spain’s minimum wage to jump 22% in new year: “Spain’s minimum wage will jump by 22% in 2019 - the largest annual increase in more than 40 years. It means millions of low-paid workers could see a pay rise from €736 ($835; £665) to €900, effective from January” (12 Dec).

MANUFACTURERS

Embee washers save water for textile printing industry: “India-based Embee Group has introduced improvised washers for the textile printing industry. These washers also use filtered recycled water for washing, reusing 90 per cent of water. The improvised screen, squeegee and drum washers are perfect for efficient washing with minimum water consumption combined with water recirculation, the company said” (15 Dec).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

21 – 23 January, New York City: Texworld USA: The winter show will focus on sustainability.

22 – 24 January, Medellin, Columbia: Colombiatex 2019: includes highlighting the best practices of 25 companies that are committed to this subject with innovation, social and environmental responsibility.

24 January, London: 8th Future Fabrics Expo: “Source from 5000+ fabrics, yarns, leathers, trims with a reduced environmental impact from over 150 mills and suppliers.”

29 January – 07 February, Various locations in India/Pakistan: 1 Day Leather Processing Course: “Do you source from India or Pakistan? Get your supply chain trained in leather processing.”

18 February, Izmir, Turkey: GOTS Regional Seminar Turkey: “Through focused and challenging discussions, this one-day seminar shall address pressing issues relevant to the organic textiles industry.” 

25 February, Tempe, Arizona: GRI Reporters’ Summit: North America: “3rd Annual GRI Reporters’ Summit: Practical Solutions to Improve your Sustainability Reporting.”

26 – 28 February, Phoenix, AZ: GreenBiz 19: “Premier annual event for sustainable business leaders.”

28 February, London: The Nature of Fashion: “The panel, which will include Edwina Ehrman and Kate Fletcher, will explore how to use fashion as a pro-environmental force.”

02 May, Dhaka: Bangladesh Fashionology Summit: Transparency through technology, technology for decent work and environment, future skills development.

15 – 16 May, Copenhagen: Copenhagen Fashion Summit: “Join us this May when fashion’s most visionary and innovative minds gather to discuss the most critical issues facing our industry and planet.”

10 – 12 June, London: Ethical Corporation’s 18th Responsible Business Summit Europe: “It’s time to Lead: Innovate, Engage and Collaborate.”

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: Plante 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.”

(Photo image, 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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