Brands in this issue include: Little Yellow Bird (set to become NZ’s first community-owned ethical fashion brand), M&S (leading the sustainable shopping movement), Queen of Raw (using blockchain technology to reduce textile production waste), and more.
In general news:
Researchers in Australia are turning textile waste into new clothes and joint replacement parts
Millennials’ attitudes towards clothing ownership are bringing about a major change in the fashion industry
Celebrity stylist Laura Jones on sustainable fashion
In fight against child labour, Dutch gov’t commits €35 million
PETA is taking on the fashion industry ... by way of the stock market
“With environmental and social costs, jeans would be 33 euros more expensive”
Our house is on fire, the fashion industry must do more than talk about the climate crisis
Textile Exchange and ReBlend join cotton recycling pilot
Redress Design Award 2019 finalists revealed
In the supply chain:
Bangladesh: two die in sweater factory blast; AAFA urges government to reinstate workers fired for Jan protests (BGMEA responds by opening probe); the government has failed to okay compliance protocol for RMG units in 9 months; Bangladesh now has highest number of green factories; at least 24 factories closed since new pay structure implemented in January; and BGMEA pushes forward with RSC
Ethiopia: government amends labour law; investment head says country needs minimum wage
Germany: hours reduced for textile workers in East Germany
India: Social & Labour Convergence Program (SLCP) is launching
Manufacturers in this issue include: Archroma (launches new water-based textile coating binder), Birla Cellulose (launches plantable tag), Chromuch (new standard in sustainable performance fiber and textile color), Eurojersey (first in the textile industry to adopt Product Environmental Footprint declaration), Lanxess (confirmed as supplier of sustainable leather chemicals), Nano-Dye (revolutionary news textile dye process), and more.
Sustainable fashion jobs: 17 new jobs listed (at Adidas, Aditya Birla, Avery Dennison, Good Business Lab, Kenneth Cole, Marc Fisher Footwear, Nanushka, Pandora, PVH, Samil Vina International, Top Form, Uniqlo, and VF).
Quotes of the week:
“I’ve lost count of the amount of press releases I’ve received from certain online retailers that are widely known to both engage in unethical practices and encourage a throwaway culture of fashion, yet are still trying to attach themselves to the [sustainable fashion] cause.” Chloe Mac Donnell (27 May).
“We suffered a double blow. The hike in workers’ wages is a big expenditure. Also, the buyers promised us to raise the pricing; instead they lowered the prices further. Our industry is currently reeling under the pressure of this double blow.” Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association Vice President MA Rahim (25 May).
“Designers and retailers fear that if they aren’t 100% addressing every issue related to sustainability, that if they talk about what they are doing that they will be attacked. But that’s a goal that’s unrealistic.” Laura Jones (25 May).
By Stephen Frost, CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
BRANDS & RETAILERS
How M&S is leading the sustainable shopping movement on the high street: “it’s refreshing to hear that one of Britain’s most loved high street brands, M&S is taking a much more considered and honest approach. In fact, inspired by Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth movie, since 2007 it has been working on its sustainability strategy” (27 May).
Little Yellow Bird set to become NZ’s first community-owned ethical fashion brand: “[Little Yellow Bird] is now set to become New Zealand’s first community-owned ethical fashion brand, raising equity via PledgeMe. At 77% of their minimum goal with 6 days to go, the investment will allow Little Yellow Bird to scale their impact, product range and explore new markets. Planned projects include the expansion of a clothes recycling program, which the company sees as a crucial next step for sustainable change in their industry” (24 May).
How one CEO is reducing waste in the fashion industry: “Stephanie Benedetto, CEO and co-founder of Queen of Raw, is trying to fix this problem. Her company uses blockchain technology to reduce textile production waste” (24 May).
There’s a lot more to Veja than meets the eye: “Before the recent wave of sustainability talk in footwear, Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion were already seeing the detriments that globalization was having on the everyday factory workers that were making the bulk of the products we were seeing on the market. Both founded Veja, a company considered by many that make the most environmentally-friendly shoe in the world” (23 May).
NEWS & REPORTS
Researchers in Australia are turning textile waste into new clothes and joint replacement parts: “Since cotton fibers are almost purely comprised of cellulose, they can be turned into other cellulose-based products. A team at Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials in Victoria, Australia has been working on designing materials and processes for a circular economy, including a solution for recycling textiles that involves dissolving cotton and regenerating it into brand-new cellulose – a complex, strong carbohydrate with many industrial uses” (27 May).
Millennials’ attitudes towards clothing ownership are bringing about a major change in the fashion industry: ““In more and more categories, consumers are choosing to rent rather than own goods outright,” a group of writers wrote in [BoF’s] State of Fashion report for 2019, naming Netflix, Spotify, and ZipCar as examples. If millennials aren’t buying houses, cars, or the latest movie, why would they keep buying clothes? “This is a fundamental evolution in consumer behavior and we expect it will have an impact in the fashion business in the years ahead,” they wrote” (27 May).
‘Dress your values’ – Celebrity stylist Laura Jones on sustainable fashion: ““(T)here’s an enormous opportunity to talk about sustainability and environmentalism in a way that captures the imagination of an everyday consumer or an everyday fashion lover and find a way to make it exciting and interesting and accessible”” (25 May).
In fight against child labour, Dutch gov’t commits €35 million: “The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs committed 35 million euros to a program committed to bringing an end to child labor Work: No Child's Business, the Ministry announced at a symposium in The Hague celebrating the 15 year anniversary of development aid organization Hivos’ department Stop Child Labor, Hivos said in a press statement” (24 May).
PETA is taking on the fashion industry ... by way of the stock market: “The single shares that PETA has amassed are far from symbolic; they grant PETA reps access to companies’ annual shareholder meetings. This “gives PETA a new forum in which to present the research we’ve done to company executives, their shareholders and the public,” says Ashley Byrne, a campaign specialist for PETA” (24 May).
“With environmental and social costs, jeans would be 33 euros more expensive”: “The price of a pair of jeans would have to increase by almost 33 euros if the ‘hidden costs’ were added, ABN AMRO said in a new report on Thursday” (23 May – in Dutch).
Our house is on fire, the fashion industry must do more than talk about the climate crisis: “As we make sense of the conversations, solutions and commitments shared at Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2019, it’s clear that radical measures and collaborative action are more urgent than ever” (22 May).
Textile Exchange and ReBlend join cotton recycling pilot: “The Cotton Recycling Pilot is a 12-14 month project designed to address barriers to the use of post-consumer recycled cotton and increase supply chain experience with circular textiles. Circle Economy and Recover will bring together supply and demand to establish a mutual understanding of the capabilities and limitations of post-consumer recycled cotton” (22 May).
Redress Design Award 2019 finalists revealed: “Redress announces the Redress Design Award 2019 Finalists - 10 emerging design talents shortlisted from hundreds of applicants from across the globe who are ready to transform fashion’s waste into want. Representing the cutting-edge of fashion creativity, the finalists, (who include menswear designers for the first time in the competition’s history), now have just 11 weeks to bring their concepts to life before presenting their collections in Hong Kong later this year at the live Grand Final where the winners will be announced” (15 May). [Ed’s note: a full set of images of the collection available here.]
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
2 die in cylinder blast in Gazipur: “Two people have died in a cylinder blast at a garments factory in Gazipur. The incident took place at the Eva Sweater Factory of Smog Group Sunday evening”(26 May). [Ed’s note: some confusion in reports on the name of the factory.]
Sweater factory in Gazipur catches fire from blast, 2 killed: “Two persons were killed and at least 10 others injured after a blast triggered a fire in a sweater manufacturing factory in the industrial hub of Gazipur, adjacent to capital Dhaka. The fire at ‘Smoke Sweater Factory’, located in Memberbari area, Baiarchala, Gazipur Sadar, broke out around 6:15pm on May 26, 2019, right before iftar hours in Ramadan and took nearly two hours to douse, Fire Service and Civil Defence sources have said” (27 May).
AAFA urges govt to reinstate fired RMG workers, drop charges against leaders: “American Apparel & Footwear Association on Friday urged the Bangladesh government and readymade garment factory owners to withdraw criminal charges against labour leaders and reinstate workers fired following the protests over the minimum wage in January this year” (26 May).
BGMEA opens probe into workers’ termination claim: “The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has initiated an independent inquiry to ascertain whether any worker was illegally terminated, in response to a complaint raised by the American Apparel and Footwear Federation (AAFA)” (27 May).
Govt fails to okay compliance protocol for RMG units in 9 months: “The government has failed to approve a compliance protocol to bring the readymade garment factories, which are not positively responding to the remediation process, under regulation even in the last nine months … According to labour ministry officials, most of the RMG factories inspected under the national initiative were dilly-dallying to implement the corrective action plan as per the instruction of the relevant government bodies as there were no punitive measures for the units that fail in this regard” (26 May).
Bangladesh has highest number of green garment factories: “Ten more garment factories received the top billing from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to take the total to 24, the highest in the world, in a heartening development for Bangladesh’s apparel sector, whose image has been battered by incidents of industrial accidents” (26 May). [Ed’s note: factories named in article.]
At least 24 apparel factories shuttered in Bangladesh for losses: “At least 24 apparel manufacturing factories have been forced to shut down in Bangladesh for losses since the implementation of new pay structure for workers back in January 2019” (25 May).
Pay wage, fest allowance by Ramadan 20: labour leaders: “Leaders of different garment workers’ rights bodies on Friday at separate protest rallies in Dhaka called on the government to take steps to ensure payment of workers’ wage and festival allowance by Ramadan 20, or May 26” (25 May).
RSC on cards to inspect RMG factories: “Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) is set to constitute RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) in the next three months to monitor work environment in the export-oriented garment factories, RMG insiders have said” (23 May).
MoLSA to push for livable wages in ind. parks: “The newly amended Ethiopian labor law, which is initiated by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) and currently under review by the parliamentary standing committee, is said to have incorporated provisions that would help protect the basic rights of workers in terms of safe working environment and decent and livable wages, at the time when global rights advocates are increasingly publicizing the so called “exploitative” wages paid to works at newly built industrial park structures” (25 May).
Ethiopia needs minimum wage law to protect workers – Investment chief: “Head of Ethiopia’s state-run investment body says it is time the government settles on a minimum wage among others to protect the interests of workers” (24 May).
How to support a virtuous sourcing circle in Ethiopia: “From Bangladesh to Ethiopia, garment manufacturing is a potential path to economic development. But this will only happen if Western brands and retailers adopt specific sourcing practices, according to Dorothée Baumann-Pauly and Auret van Heerden from the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights” (24 May).
Working time reduction for East German textile workers: “A new collective agreement applicable to 16,000 textile workers in eastern Germany has been signed by IG Metall and its employer counterpart” (24 May).
Social & Labour Convergence Program launching in India: “The Social & Labour Convergence Program (SLCP) is launching in India with a series of launch events across the country in partnership with Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), Shahi Exports and The Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (TEXPROCIL). Events are scheduled for May 30 in Bengaluru, June 3 in Tiruppur, June 5 in Mumbai, and June 7 in Delhi” (24 May).
Revolutionary textile dye process launched: “The future of exhaust dyeing has arrived: Nano-Dye’s disruptive, patent pending, sustainable cationic textile dyeing technology, The Nano-DyeTM Process, sets a new benchmark for exhaust dyers in the cotton and cotton blend textile arena with the start-up of its first two continuous, mass production systems in Bangladesh with one in March 2019 and the second this May 2019” (26 May).
Archroma launches Appretan NTR: “Archroma, a leader in colour and specialty chemicals towards sustainable solutions, has introduced Appretan NTR, a new water-based textile coating binder based on renewable natural ingredients, for the very first time at Techtextil last week” (24 May).
Livaeco plantable garment tag now at W retail stores: “The plantable tag launched by Birla Cellulose last month for its eco-enhanced variant Livaeco is now attached to each garment across retail stores of W. The plantable tag wishes to create a positive environment footprint by introducing and engaging consumers with eco-friendly practices right from sourcing to the final degradation of the garment” (23 May).
Chromuch: The new standard in sustainable performance fiber and textile color: “Chromuch advances a new standard in sustainable color design with its innovations in solution dyed synthetic fiber. Chromuch fibers are rich in color, colorfast, earth-friendly and are made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles and use absolutely no water in the dyeing process. Chromuch Now is our developer-friendly program with its selection of competitively priced, trend-right colors that are in stock for better lead times and low MOQ” (22 May).
Lanxess confirmed as supplier of sustainable leather chemicals: “After one year as a ZDHC “Value Chain Affiliate”, specialty chemicals company Lanxess has now completed certification for all organic leather chemicals published at Compliance Level 3 in the ZDHC Gateway, the largest online catalog for sustainable chemicals in the textile and apparel industry. Current Lanxess profile in the ZDHC Gateway confirms Level 3 MRSL compliance for a portfolio of close to 500 products for every step of leather manufacture” (21 May).
Eurojersey declares its environmental footprint: “Eurojersey is the first in the textile industry to adopt the PEF – Product Environmental Footprint declaration – which evaluates the environmental footprint of its entire manufacturing cycle” (15 May).
SUSTAINABLE FASHION JOBS
[New listings or updated information marked with *]
* Adidas: Director SEA, Field Operation - North Asia (Guangzhou)
Adidas: Manager Sustainability A&G Materials (Guangzhou)
Adidas: Manager Sustainability Materials FW (Ho Chi Minh City)
* Aditya Birla Group: Assistant General Manager - Corporate Social Responsibility (Dahej)
Amazon: Social Responsibility, Senior Program Manager (Shenzhen, China)
Amazon: Japan Environmental Manager (Tokyo)
Amer Sports: Performance Improvement Sustainability Specialist (Hong Kong)
ASOS: Ethical Trade Assistant (Hong Kong)
* Avery Dennison: Global Senior Manager, Sustainability (Boston, MA)
BSR: HERproject Associate (Hong Kong)
BSR: Manager, Supply Chain Sustainability (New York)
C&A Foundation: Data Analyst (Gurgaon)
Canada Goose: Sustainability Programs Specialist (Toronto)
Canada Goose: Manager, Sustainability and Social Compliance Programs (Toronto)
Canada Goose: Sr. Manager, Corporate Sustainability (Toronto)
Center for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility (CCR CSR): Social Worker (Shenzhen)
Chanel: Senior Compliance Manager (Shanghai)
EcoVadis: Corporate Social Responsibility Analyst (Hong Kong)
ETAM: Sustainability & Compliance Manager Asia (Hong Kong)
Ethical Trading Initiative: Senior Advisor, Gender & Social Inclusion (London)
Ethical Trading Initiative: Membership Services Assistant (maternity cover) (London)
Ethical Trading Initiative: Assistant Strategic Lead (London)
Fair Labor Association: Communications Intern (Washington, DC)
Fair Labor Association: Social Compliance Program Manager (Washington, DC)
G-Star RAW: Intern GSRD Foundation (Amsterdam)
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): GOTS Public Procurement Specialist (EU) (Stuttgart)
* 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: Senior Program Officer (Washington DC)
W.L. Gore & Associates: APAC Sustainability Communication Leader - Fabrics Division (Hong Kong)
H&M: Internal Communications and Sustainability Responsible (Sydney)
Herschel Supply Company: Product Quality & Compliance Manager (Vancouver)
Hop Lun: Sustainability Manager (Hong Kong)
Hudson’s Bay: Labour Relations Coordinator (Etobicoke)
International Labour Organisation: Programme Manager, Better Factories Cambodia (Phnom Penh)
Impactt: Marketing Manager (London)
Impactt: Principal Consultant (London)
Impactt: Project Officer (London)
* Kenneth Cole: Corporate Social Responsibility Manager (New York)
Kering: Ready to Wear Materials Research & Sustainability Specialist (Novara)
Macy’s: Manager, Corporate Giving (New York)
* Marc Fisher Footwear: Compliance Coordinator (Greenwich, CT)
Mint Velvet: CSR Coordinator (High Wycombe, UK)
Nakd: CSR Coordinator (Gothenburg)
Nakd: Corporate Social Responsibility Internship (Gothenburg)
* Nanushka: Sustainability Manager (Budapest)
New Era Cap: Senior Manager, Global Social Compliance (Buffalo, NY)
Nike: Data Analyst - Product Sustainability (Portland, OR)
Nike: Director of Supplier Relationship Management – Supply Chain (Beaverton, OR)
* Pandora: Sustainability Specialist (Copenhagen)
Patagonia: Head of Supply Chain Environmental Responsibility (Ventura, CA)
Politix (Country Road Group): Social, PR and Events Manager (Melbourne)
* PVH: Intern CR (Amsterdam)
REI: Senior Administrative Assistant, Brand Stewardship & Impact (Kent, WA)
* Reset Carbon: Senior Consultant – Corporate Sustainability (Hong Kong)
Ross Dress for Less: Director, Sustainability (San Francisco, CA)
* Samil Vina International: Compliance, CSR (Tây Ninh, Vietnam).
Superdry: Ethical Sourcing Assistant (Hong Kong)
Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Senior Manager, Public Affairs (Amsterdam)
Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Senior Manager of Verification (San Francisco, New York, Amsterdam, or Hong Kong)
Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Senior Manager of Higg Facility Tools (San Francisco, New York, Amsterdam, or Hong Kong)
Textile Exchange: Standards Coordinator
Tommy Hilfiger: Communications Manager Sustainability (Amsterdam)
* Top Form: Head of Operations Compliance (Hong Kong)
* Uniqlo (Thailand): Sustainability Officer (Bangkok)
University of Leeds: Research Fellow in Sustainable Materials and Renewable Fibres (Leeds)
* VF: Sustainable Operations Manager, North East Asia (Shanghai).
VF: Manager, Worker Rights (Hong Kong)
VF: Specialist, Supply Chain Sustainability (Shanghai)
Wearable Collections: Drivers, Route Helpers and Market Coordinators (New York)
YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund: Senior Officer, Philanthropy and Strategic Partnerships (New York)
CONFERENCES & SEMINARS
[New listings or updated information marked with *]
03 – 06 June: Detroit: SB’19 Detroit: “Navigate your brand’s sustainability journey to deliver business success,” by Sustainable Brands.
10 June: Online course: Fashion’s Future and the Sustainable Development Goals: “explore the fashion industry’s impact on people and planet, what the Sustainable Development Goals are, and how they are intrinsically linked.” From Fashion Revolution.
10 – 12 June, London: Ethical Corporation’s 18th Responsible Business Summit Europe: “It’s time to Lead: Innovate, Engage and Collaborate.”
12 June, Northampton, UK: 1 Day Chemical Compliance and Product Safety Training Course: “On this chemical course, our in-house chemical expert will guide you through the various legislations and chemicals in a simple step-by-step process, ensuring that you are aware of your obligation and how to comply.” (For the leather industry.)
13 – 13 June, Bangkok: Responsible Business & Human Rights Forum 2019: “[A] multi-stakeholder event addressing an array of priority issues under the Responsible Business Conduct and Business and Human Rights Agendas.”
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.”
* 27 June, Webinar: Discover how to drive success with transparency: “Work in fashion and want to learn how to set a strategy for your transparency journey?”
22 June, Barcelona: Planet 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.”
* 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.
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.”
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 March, London: Drapers Sustainable Fashion 2020: “[With a] focus on collaborating for change within the fashion retail industry.”
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.