THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Asos and PVH (have become strategic partners at Global Fashion Agenda), Badger Sportwear (cuts off Chinese internment camp factory), Beyond Skin (UK cruelty-free fashion), Ermenegildo Zegna (recycled and recyclable new line), Fast Retailing, Wacoal, UNY, Asics, Aeon, and Mizuno (among Japanese brands assessed on human rights), Gucci (only 10% of Italians consider the brand sustainable), H&M (rolls out Take Care concept in Sweden), Houdini and Schöffel (implementing the Bluesign system), J. Crew (denim buyback program), KiK (more analysis on the German court decision), Nike (under investigation over tax by EU regulators), Nike, Toms and Patagonia (3 top sustainable brands in new survey), The North Face (new sustainable waterproof fabric), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • With its anti-fur fight gaining progress, PETA sets its sights on wool

  • United Nations Alliance on Sustainable Fashion plans for March debut in Nairobi

  • ZDHC Regional Conference on 13 February 2019 in Mumbai

  • Survey finds ‘conscious consumerism’ a top priority for Gen Z shoppers

  • Clothing care major factor in efforts for sustainability, new Trunk Club survey finds

  • EU textile chemicals regs “lack coherence,” says study

  • The global environmental injustice of fast fashion

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: protests over minimum wages continued, resulting in a revised wage schedule released on Sunday (after which protests fell away dramatically); and cost of living rose 6% for 2018

  • Cambodia: Workers strike after company sold; PM Hun Sen warns of unrest in garment sector over seniority pay demands; Garment factory workers abandoned by employer; and Senators Cruz and Coons introduce Cambodian Trade Act

  • India: Indian workers hold biggest strike in history

  • Laos: garment industry faces severe labor shortage

Manufacturers in this issue include: DAK Americas (acquires PET recycling facility from Perpetual Recycling Solutions), Worn Again Technologies (chemical process to turn used polyester and cotton clothing into raw material), and more.

Quotes of the week:

  • “The use of violence against workers simply demanding the pay they deserve is disturbing and shameful.” Mathias Bolton, Head of UNI Commerce, on the Bangladesh response to protesting garment workers (11 Jan).

  • “In his speech to the Mexican Congress during his December 1 inauguration, the new president charged that 36 years of neoliberal economic reforms had lowered the purchasing power of Mexico’s minimum wage by 60 percent.” David Bacon, on the changing landscape for Mexican workers under the new Lopez Obrador administration (09 Jan).

  • “[W]e posit that negative externalities at each step of the fast fashion supply chain have created a global environmental justice dilemma.” Rachel Blick, et. al., in “The global environmental injustice of fast fashion” (Dec 2018).

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

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Ermenegildo Zegna presents a favorable rise of social good: “It is of note to inform you that 25 percent of the collection (nylon, cashmere, and wool) was  recycled from Zegna factory offcuts … the collection, supported by the Zegna textile division, is almost entirely made with exclusive wool, cashmere and nylon fabrics created with innovative processes from pre-existing sources” (13 Jan).

Six sustainable fashion brands every GQ reader should know: Veja, Christopher Raeburn, Stella McCartney, Patagonia, Rapanui, and Adidas (12 Jan).

The fault in our factories: “In November, Saeeda Khatoon flew to Europe to seek justice for the death of her son and 257 others, in the Baldia factory inferno of 2012. With the support of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), a Berlin-based human rights organisation, four affectees, including Saeeda Khatoon, filed a lawsuit against German textile discounter Kik, in Dortmund, Germany” (11 Jan). [Ed’s note: an op-ed on the dismissal of the Kik case, the ongoing campaign for mandatory human rights due diligence laws for corporations, and the outmoded occupational safety laws in Pakistan.]

J. Crew tackles sustainability with denim buyback program: “J. Crew debuted this week a new program in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, in which it buys back old pairs of jeans to be recycled into insulation material for the housing company” (11 Jan).

KiK wins: The law is weak: “It could have been a success story: it was the first lawsuit related to corporate liability within the global supply chain in Germany. Victims of a factory fire of a KiK supplier factory had sued. But on January 10, 2019, the district court of Dortmund rejected the lawsuit filed by victims of the factory fire Ali Enterprises in Pakistan” (11 Jan – in German).

ZDHC signatory brands to converge their screened chemistry programmes: “ZDHC’s Roadmap to Zero Programme announces the convergence of Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, Inc., H&M and C&A approaches to screened chemistry (Screened Chemistry)” (11 Jan).

Only one Italian in ten associates the Gucci luxury brand with a sustainable supply chain: “In general, the luxury brands listed in the [Ipso MORI] survey are not considered better than the cheapest brands or retailers. The survey has in fact highlighted some surprising data concerning luxury brands. For example, 10% of Italians associate Gucci with an eco-sustainable chain , against 13% for Zara and 17% for H&M, despite research conducted by the Clean Clothes Campaign revealing how Gucci sources from countries where miserable conditions exist like Serbia” (10 Jan – in Italian).

KiK: German court rejects Pakistani lawsuit over deadly fire: “A German court has rejected a lawsuit from Pakistanis against German retailer KiK over responsibility for a factory fire in Karachi. KiK said the blaze was an act of terrorism. Shamil Shams reports from Dortmund” (10 Jan).

H&M will help customers extend the life of garments: “H&M’s Take Care concept, which sees sewing studios in stores and has been rolled out in Germany, France and Norway, has now also been launched on the Swedish market” (10 Jan – in Swedish).

Vegan fashion: Q&A with British brand Beyond Skin: “UK brand Beyond Skin is on a mission to make cruelty-free fashion the way of the future. Founded in 2001, the Brighton-based footwear brand has had its fair share of challenges along the way, including the diminishing number of footwear suppliers in the UK, and the uphill struggle of forging out a new vegan market in the early 2000s” (10 Jan).

Asos and PVH Corp. join Global Fashion Agenda as strategic partners: “Asos and PVH Corp. have joined the global sustainability movement. The two businesses have become strategic partners at Global Fashion Agenda” (10 Jan).

US apparel firm cuts off Chinese factory in internment camp: A U.S. supplier of t-shirts and other team apparel to college bookstores “[Badger Sportwear] cut its ties Wednesday with a Chinese company that drew workers from an internment camp holding targeted members of ethnic minority groups … In a statement posted to its website, Badger said Wednesday it will no longer do business with Hetian Taida, nor import any goods from the same region “given the controversy around doing business” there” (10 Jan).

Nike’s Dutch tax status investigated by EU regulators: “The European Commission has opened an investigation into the tax treatment of Nike Inc in the Netherlands, saying this may have given the U.S. sportswear maker an illegal advantage” (10 Jan).

The North Face unveils new breathable waterproof fabric: “Fabric technology keeps getting more incredible. Who thought you could have lightweight waterproof fabric that is also sustainable? Recently, The North Face unveiled its newest product called FutureLight, a breathable waterproof material using nanospinning technology and sustainable practices” (08 Jan).

Most Japanese apparel companies fall short on human rights: “Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and Human Rights Now, an international human rights NGO based in Tokyo, conducted a survey of the human rights policies and practices of the top 62 apparel companies in Japan. Despite individual approaches and reminders over a period of several months, only 21 companies responded to the survey - 33.8 percent. This low response rate in itself raises concern as to the level of understanding of companies regarding their human rights responsibilities, including their responsibility to respond to civil society concerns. Only half of the top 10 apparel companies responded, and only 37 percent of the top 30. Some companies stated it was their policy not to respond to human rights related surveys” (21 Dec). [Ed’s note: you can see the names of all 62 companies surveyed here. Includes Fast Retailing, Wacoal, UNY, Asics, Aeon, Mizuno, and leading foreign brands operating in Japan.]

NEWS & REPORTS 

With its anti-fur fight gaining progress, PETA sets its sights on wool: “With [the fight against fur] largely in the rearview, organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have set their sights on a new goal: Fighting against the use of wool. But fighting against the use of wool can be quite different than fighting fur” (14 Jan).

United Nations Alliance on Sustainable Fashion plans for March debut in Nairobi: “The United Nations Alliance on Sustainable Fashion will be officially launched March 14, during a media event of the 4th U.N. Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. While different U.N. institutions have tried to encompass fashion in various sustainability initiatives, this will mark a more comprehensive approach to address all aspects of a sustainable fashion industry” (14 Jan).

7 Rs for sustainable fashion: “Most of us can easily list off the 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — as they’ve been part of school curriculum for over three decades now, but our global fashion consumption problem is so off the charts, it’s time for a few more Rs – Research, Repurpose, Repair & Rent!” (14 Jan).

Vegan clothes are set to go mainstream in 2019 – here’s how ethical fashion became cool: “Vegan clothes and shoes are set to go mainstream in 2019 as many Britons start to reassess the contents of their wardrobes as well as their fridges” (13 Jan).

ZDHC Regional Conference on 13 February 2019 in Mumbai: “As part of its regional activities, ZDHC is organising a Conference with the theme “Accelerating Sustainable Chemical Management - Connecting the Dots” on 13th of February 2019 in Mumbai, India. The Conference will see all stakeholders of the textile value chain - including ZDHC Signatory Brands, manufacturers, chemical industry, partner organisations and service providers - discuss on the three “I”s … Integration, Implementation and Innovation in sustainable chemical management practices” (11 Jan).

More than ever, our clothes are made of plastic. Just washing them can pollute the oceans: “How much plastic is your washing machine sending out to sea?” (11 Jan).

Survey finds ‘conscious consumerism’ a top priority for Gen Z shoppers: “Global solutions provider CGS said today that sustainability is driving demand and customer loyalty, according to its newly released 2019 U.S. Consumer Sustainability Survey. CGS surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. individuals, aged 18 and older, in regard to how sustainability impacts their buying preferences. Two-thirds of respondents said they consider sustainability when making a purchase and will pay a premium for sustainable products, according to the report” (11 Jan). [Ed’s note: see survey graphic from CGS here. Consumer rate Nike, Toms and Patagonia as the top three sustainable brands.]

New poll from Changing Markets and Clean Clothes Campaign finds U.S. public wants more transparency from clothing brands on supply chain impacts: “The poll found that four in five Americans (79%) believe clothing brands should provide information on their environmental commitments and the measures they are taking to minimize pollution in their supply chain. Around three quarters (73%) of the American public also believe that clothing brands should be responsible for what happens in the manufacturing process, and that they need to take measures to ensure clothes are produced in an environmentally friendly way” (10 Jan). [Ed’s note: this is one of seven press releases from Changing Markets Foundation on an Ipsos MORI survey conducted last year in seven markets: UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain. Similarly worded press release titles can be found for each of the seven markets – e.g., Majority of the UK public feel clothing brands should be responsible for supply chain; The majority of the Spanish public believes that clothing brands should be responsible for the impact they have on the supply chain. A summary of the survey (Sustainable Fashion Survey: Prepared for Changing Markets Foundation) results across all markets can be found here. The full results (i.e., data) is here.]

Clothing care major factor in efforts for sustainability, new Trunk Club survey finds: “According to a press release, the survey found that a notable percentage of clothes are tossed due to improper care, with at least 10 items each year being thrown out due to shrinkage, color issues and damage. 43 percent of those polled said they "rarely or never read the care instructions on their clothing before doing the laundry," while 21 percent said they rarely if ever follow instructions on clothing care tags” (10 Jan).

What will people wear in the future? [Ed’s note: from The Economist.] “A new wave of innovation is fueling a radical change in fashion. Wearable technology, data, automation and lab-grown materials will have a major impact on what people will be wearing in the future” (10 Jan – 6:24-minute video).

Frontline Fashion 3, with Cara G Mcilroy: Episode 1: “In Episode 1 of Frontline Fashion 3, host Cara G gets to grips with the question ‘what is sustainable fashion’ and gets to know our Redress Design Award finalists who hail from all corners of the world. She finds out how they discovered their interest for sustainable design and their main focus areas as she explores their competition collections” (10 Jan – 9:12-minute video).

EU textile chemicals regs “lack coherence,” says study: “A lack of coherent regulation in the EU means potentially hazardous chemicals continue to be used in all stages of the production process in the textiles industry, a new Norwegian study has said” (09 Jan). [Ed’s note: see more here.]

3 sustainable fashion trends to watch during 2019: Innovations in insulation – bison and bottles; Rent, don’t own; “Green” goes mainstream (08 Jan).

The global environmental injustice of fast fashion: “Fast fashion, inexpensive and widely available of-the-moment garments, has changed the way people buy and dispose of clothing. By selling large quantities of clothing at cheap prices, fast fashion has emerged as a dominant business model, causing garment consumption to skyrocket. While this transition is sometimes heralded as the “democratization” of fashion in which the latest styles are available to all classes of consumers, the human and environmental health risks associated with inexpensive clothing are hidden throughout the lifecycle of each garment … We discuss the role of industry, policymakers, consumers, and scientists in promoting sustainable production and ethical consumption in an equitable manner” (Dec 2018). [Ed’s note: academic article published in Environmental Health 17(1).]

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh  

Living in Dhaka: People spent 9pc more on rice: “The price of rice rose by around nine percent in the capital in 2018 compared to a year ago, while the cost of living increased by six percent, the lowest in nine years, said the Consumers Association of Bangladesh yesterday” (13 Jan).

RMG worker ‘raped’ in Narayanganj: “A female ready-made garment worker was allegedly raped at Rupganj in Narayanganj early Friday. The 22-year-old was raped in Khadun area of the upazila while returning home from work” (12 Jan).

Over 100 Bangladesh garment plants halt operations in strike: “Strikes at garment factories around the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka stretched into a fifth day Thursday, disrupting output for brands like H&M in the world's second-largest apparel exporter behind China … Japan’s Fast Retailing, which operates the Uniqlo casual clothing brand, said no noteworthy strikes were taking place at facilities producing its apparel”” (11 Jan). [Ed’s note: widespread coverage again:

Cambodia

Workers strike after company sold: “More than 500 Quantum Clothing garment factory workers are on strike over missing benefits and wages after the factory’s American owner sold it to a company from China” (14 Jan).

PM Hun Sen warns of unrest in garment sector over seniority pay demands: “Hun Sen warned workers that continuing to press for the bonuses could lead to the closure of two-thirds of garment factories in the country” (11 Jan).

Union chief Rong Chhun lodges complaint to court: “Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun on Wednesday filed a complaint to the Appeal Court against the suspended jail term handed down by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for his alleged role in 2014 Veng Sreng Boulevard protests [over garment workers’ wages] that turned violent” (10 Jan).

Garment factory workers abandoned by employer: “Nearly 300 Uni Grand Garment workers in Kampong Speu province yesterday arrived at work only to find their factory shuttered, leaving them distraught as they are missing wages …  “Countries that undermine democracy, ignore labor standards, disregard human rights, and fail to protect intellectual property should not enjoy special trade privileges”” (09 Jan).

Sens. Cruz, Coons introduce Cambodian Trade Act: “U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the Cambodian Trade Act of 2019, which would require the administration to review the preferential trade treatment Cambodia receives under the General System of Preferences (GSP). The full bill text may be viewed here” (09 Jan).

India

Indian workers hold biggest strike in history: “150 million Indian workers took strike action in what is reported to be the biggest work stoppage in history” (10 Jan).

New rules will protect teenage girls working in clothing factories in parts of India: [Ed’s note: I included this story from another source in the last issue of FSWIR, but was interested to see Teen Vogue running it.] (08 Jan).

Laos

Laos’ garment industry faces severe labor shortage: “Garment factories in Laos are experiencing labor shortages as workers are looking to Thailand for greener pastures, sources say” (10 Jan).

Mexico

A new day for Mexican workers: “The Lopez Obrador administration is changing the law so that workers can actually choose a union and vote on their contracts” (09 Jan).

MANUFACTURERS

138 footwear brands are in seriously hot water: “The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $84,846 for 138 Textile, Clothing and Footwear workers following a series of audits across Australia. Fair Work Inspectors audited 371 businesses in the sector and found only 52 per cent were compliant with all their workplace relations requirements” (11 Jan). [Ed’s note: you can see the full Fair Work Ombudsman report – Textile, Clothing and Footwear Compliance Phase Campaign Reporthere (downloads as a WP doc).]

Worn Again transforms old clothes into raw materials: “This goes beyond recycling. Worn Again Technologies, headquartered in London, says it’s developed a chemical process to turn used polyester and cotton clothing, along with PET plastic bottles and packaging, back into raw materials. The startup is working to scale up in the next couple of years, and see the pellets and pulp it creates spun back into shirts, pants and more” (10 Jan).

DAK Americas to acquire PET recycling facility from Perpetual Recycling Solutions: “DAK Americas, an Alpek Polyester business, announces that it has signed an Asset Purchase Agreement with Perpetual Recycling Solutions, to acquire the Perpetual PET recycling facility in Richmond, IN” (09 Jan).

Bluesign: Partner for the entire textile and clothing industry: “When Bluesign Technologies was founded in St. Gallen in November 2000, it wasn’t to formulate a new eco-standard for greener products. The goal was much broader: Bluesign Technologies wanted to lay the foundation for systematic change in textile production as a whole” (08 Jan). [Ed’ note: article includes quotes from Houdini and Schöffel, both of which have implemented Bluesign’s system.]

Textiles ministry honours Pratibha Syntex MD: “The ministry of textiles has conferred Pratibha Syntex managing director (MD) Shreyaskar Chaudhary with Outstanding Young Entrepreneur Award in the textile sector, in the category of garments and made-ups. He was awarded for his initiatives in the area of product innovation, process innovation, sustainability initiatives and marketing & branding innovation” (07 Jan).

S & S Spotlight: Orange Fiber: “What if I said to you, residual materials of citrus fruits can be cultivated into opulent fabrics likened to the most luxurious of silks? The Godfather, Don Michael Corleone, would roll around in his grave knowing he missed a trick with the lucrative opportunities of Sicilian citrus fruits hailing from his territory.  For the latest edition of S & S Spotlight, let me introduce you to Orange Fiber” (03 Jan).

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.”

01 – 04 February, Los Angeles: Vegan Fashion Week: “Vegan Fashion Week is dedicated to elevate ethical fashion globally.”

* 03 – 06 February, Munich: ISPO Munich 2019: Lots on sustainability this year.

05 February, Barcelona: Barcelona Fashion Summit: “What can fashion do to stop the loss of consumers?”

* 13 February, Mumbai: ZDHC Regional Conference: “Signatory Brands, other stakeholders and industry captains of the textile & leather value chain will meet and deliberate on how to integrate sustainable chemistry in business strategies, implement best practices in textile manufacturing and encourage innovations in the chemical industry.”

* 15 February, Amsterdam: Circular Textiles Ready to Market – ECAP Event: “Sharing the results and learnings of the European Clothing Action Plan after more than 3 years of work.”

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.”

03 – 06 June: Detroit: SB’19 Detroit: “Navigate your brand’s sustainability journey to deliver business success,” by Sustainable Brands.

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 Kai, 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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