Brands in this issue include: Gildan (making Leave.EU T-shirts in Bangaldesh), H&M (hijacking consumers’ brain chemistry; accused of illegal marketing in Norway), Kaufland, H&M, Esprit, Zara, Primark and OBI (experience warning strikes in Germany), Patagonia (mail-in option for worn wear), Ralph Lauren (explains new CSR strategy), Scorett (published tannery list), Tchibo (reduces CO2 emissions), Zalando (outsources returns management), and more.
In general news:
Summary of key findings and recommendations for fashion by MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee in the UK (report coming later this week)
Time for a global minimum wage?
GoBlu’s Lars Doemer in Italy on transparency
The future of denim is sustainable
Are you ready for the “Honest Generation”?
Better Cotton now accounts for one-fifth of global production
That ‘sweatshop-free’ label in your clothes is mostly still just a bunch of bull---t
Four things you should know about the Netherlands’ new law to eliminate child labour
In the supply chain:
Bangladesh: achACT and CCC criticise Accord plan; workers missing out in new budget, say unions; four new Accord updates
Cambodia: EU monitoring visit concludes; women workers do own survey on GBV
India: another garment factory fire
Uzbekistan: Human Rights Watch claims it is target of abuse in research visit (government says it will investigate)
Vietnam: ratifies ILO Convention 98
Manufacturers in this issue include: Archroma (sees uptake of its Aniline-Free indigo solution in Vietnam), Bluesign (releases black limits for chemical products), CHT (rated in top 10% of chemical companies), PILI (to produce sustainable textile dyes using microbes), and more.
Sustainable fashion jobs: 2 new jobs listed (at Cotton made in Africa and H&M).
Quotes of the week:
“The real eco-warrior is the one wearing 20-year-old, mass produced boardshorts, not the one wearing the brand new recycled plastic monstrosities.” From an article on Australia’s cavalier attitude towards sustainability (15 Jun).
“And fast-fashion would have to be ditched, with clothing business models focused on recycling, upgrading and renting so people would only buy three new items each year.” From an article on the drastic shifts required for cities to become sustainable (14 Jun).
By Stephen Frost, CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
BRANDS & RETAILERS
Stores like H&M are meant for immediate consumption rather than long-term wear: A video released by Business Insider via Twitter claims that fast-fashion is hijacking consumers’ brain chemistry to sell more products (17 Jun – 8:26-minute video).
Warning strikes at retailers in Germany’s southwest: “Warning strikes at retailers in Baden-Württemberg continued on Saturday. According to Verdi [the United Services Trade Union], around 500 employees participated nationwide … “Affected are Kaufland, H&M, Esprit, Zara, Primark and OBI”” (15 Jun – in German). [Ed’s note: the warning strikes are over stalled negotiations for higher wages for retail staff.]
Leave.EU T-shirts made in Bangladesh by workers paid just 39p per hour: “Campaigners funding Nigel Farage are selling £20 Leave.EU T-shirts made by workers in Bangladesh paid just 39p an hour. The T-shirts are sold by the Leave.EU campaign, which boasts it is “backing Britain” and wants more jobs here … Canadian T-shirt firm Gildan, whose label is on the Leave.EU T-shirts, has them made at a factory in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh” (15 Jun).
Zalando to outsource returns management: “Zalando’s high return rate is one of its biggest cost drivers, with almost half of all purchases sent back to the e-tailer, according to experts. Zalando has confirmed this figure. About 97% of returned items are subsequently re-sold through the Zalando shop, a spokesperson said. Most of the remainder is sold though other proprietary platforms or outlets. Around 0.05% of returns are destroyed “if this necessary for health reasons such as in pest infestation, pollution or the like”” (14 Jun).
Tchibo reduces CO2 emissions: “Transport is the biggest lever when it comes to reducing emissions. Tchibo sets itself the goal of reducing CO₂ emissions by 40 percent per tonne kilometer in goods transported by 2020. Within only three years, the company has already achieved a reduction of its CO₂ emissions by 23 percent” (14 Jun – in German).
Patagonia launches mail-in option for ‘Worn Wear’ sustainability program: “In an effort to cut down on the amount of clothing ending up in landfill, Patagonia is giving customers the option to mail-in used Patagonia clothing in exchange for purchase credit, as part of its Worn Wear program” (13 Jun).
Why we renewed our strategy for global citizenship & sustainability at Ralph Lauren: “Although we are at the beginning of our journey with Design the Change, we have already made progress on several fronts, and I know we have the right people and culture to deliver on our new goals with excellence. For example, this past year we launched our Earth Polo, made entirely from recycled plastic bottles, and marked the start of our commitment to recycle 170 million plastic bottles by 2025 and turn them into high quality yarn and thread. Our teams also donated more than 14,000 hours of their time and talent to 80 non-profit organizations through our Ralph Lauren Gives Back program. Additionally, we achieved global workforce gender balance; 53% of our leaders at and above the Senior Director level are women” (12 Jun).
Consumer Authority: H&M conducts illegal environmental marketing: “[Norway’s] Consumer Authority demands that Hennes & Mauritz change the marketing of it’s ‘conscious’ clothing collection, where H&M gives the impression of being sustainable and environmentally friendly. The marketing is illegal, concludes the Consumer Authority” (07 Jun – in Norwegian). [Ed’s note: the Consumer Authority has given H&M three weeks to respond.]
Scorett publishes tannery list: “In connection with Fair Action’s social media campaign, Scorett states that they will provide information about where the leather for their shoes is manufactured” (03 Jun – in Swedish).
NEWS & REPORTS
Summary of key findings and recommendations for fashion by MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee in the UK: [Ed’s note: the Environmental Audit Committee will release the Government’s response to the EAC’s report on sustainable fashion later this week. This article is a summary of key findings and recommendations.] “The fashion industry must pay to clean up its waste”. The MPs outline five ways fashion is damaging the planet (from forced and illegal labour to large scale clothes wastage) and five things the Government must do to fix the problem (from ensuring the rights of workers in the UK and abroad to reducing the rate of fashion consumption) (18 Jun).
The time has come for a global minimum wage: “As the International Labour Organization celebrates its 100th anniversary, it should embrace the chance to stop the global race to the bottom” (17 Jun).
Sustainability as a competitive lever for the footwear and accessories sector: “Lars Doemer, Director and co-founder of GoBlu, an international service company and sustainability accelerator for companies in the fashion system, explained in his speech the strategic levers for companies that choose to take the path of a more ethical production and compatible with the environment. The key word is transparency, intended not only as a willingness to provide information, but as an active process to grow one's business through the constant knowledge and exchange of information with the network of suppliers and partners, in favour of a coherent path to a sustainability that is not only environmental , therefore, but also social and economic” (15 Jun – in Italian).
The Future of Denim, Part #1: How the humble jean is redefining sustainable style: “It used to be the case that ‘sex sells’. From the perfume industry, to cars, chocolate, footwear and especially jeans, appealing to our primal instinct used to be a sure-fire sales strategy. But in an age of conscious consumerism, a commitment to sustainability and an interest in the story behind a brand is starting to take precedent” (14 Jun).
Are you ready for the honest generation? “Today, The Consumer Goods Forum and the global change agency Futerra launch new consumer research from the USA, UK, India and South Africa revealing a striking difference between what Millennials (23-38 years old) and Gen Z (22 and under) believe about the honesty of brands and retailers. The survey revealed that in the US & UK, 66% of Millennials think that brands are never honest, or not honest enough about environmental issues, which leaps to 79% of Gen Z. For the treatment of factory workers, 69% of Millennials think that brands are never honest, or not honest enough, with a staggering 84% of Gen Z feeling the same. India follows the trend, with 59% of Millennials thinking that brands are never honest, or not honest enough on worker treatment, increasing to 82% of Gen Z” (14 Jun).
The apparel sector is getting it: Better Cotton now accounts for one-fifth of global production: “The cotton industry – long criticized for its adverse environmental, social and labor impacts – is rapidly undergoing a transformation led by the nonprofit Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). In its just released 2018 annual report, BCI’s figures show that the amount of ethically and sustainably produced “Better Cotton” is growing fast. It accounted for 19 percent of global cotton production during the 2017-18 growing season, with an astounding 2 million farmers now licensed to produce Better Cotton by BCI; and 99 percent of these farmers are smallholders farming on less than 20 hectares of land” (14 Jun).
That ‘sweatshop-free’ label in your clothes is mostly still just a bunch of bullshit: “Sweatshop labor hasn’t gone away just because the brands are telling us it has — here’s how to navigate the modern garment industry’s ethical maze” (13 Jun).
Going Dutch: Four things you should know about the Netherlands’ new law to eliminate child labour: “A historic step was taken in the Netherlands last month when the Dutch Senate voted to adopt the Child Labor Due Diligence Law. When the law enters into force, all companies selling products on the Dutch market will be required to show that they are addressing the issue of child labour in their global supply chains. This law is an important step towards the adoption of mandatory due diligence legislation in the Netherlands and Europe, which we feel is absolutely necessary in addressing business-related human rights and environmental impacts” (13 Jun).
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Bangladesh Accord independence jeopardized: “At this stage, the MOU [on ending the Accord next year] simply says that this institution will take over the role and tasks of the Agreement with, as stakeholders, BGMEA, unions and brands. It leaves a series of important points unanswered, postponed to future discussions. Will unions have the same weight in decision-making as companies in its governing body? Will the inspection of the institution be independent and free from the interference of factory owners? The will the inspection have the power to shut down factories that refuse to comply with safety requirements? Will brands be required to provide financial assistance to cover the cost of security renovations at their suppliers? The Accord is effective because it incorporates these elements. If this is not the case with the new institution, it will be a failure” (17 Jun – in French). [Ed’s note: by achACT and Clean Clothes Campaign in Belgium.]
Proposed budget not workers friendly: SKOP: “Leaders of the Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad, a combine of 12 labour right bodies, have termed the proposed budget for fiscal 2019-20 as traditional, highly ambitious and biased towards owners of mills and factories. In a statement, they said the proposed budget was no way friendly to the workers and would not fulfil their expectations” (17 Jun).
Bangladesh Accord updates: The Bangladesh Accord has published four updates: i) Safety remediation progress; ii) Status inspections program; iii) Update safety training program; and iv) Update safety and health complaints (14 Jun).
EU sends monitoring mission to Cambodia to assess the human rights and labour rights situation: “Officials from the European Commission and the European External Action Service undertook a mission to Cambodia from 3 to 10 June 2019. The mission was part of the monitoring and evaluation under the procedure that could lead to the temporary withdrawal of Cambodia’s trade preferences under the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme, following concerns over Cambodia’s record against core human rights and labour rights conventions” (11 Jun).
Women workers address gender-based violence in garment factories in Cambodia: “While studies have shown the prevalence of violence against women at home and in their communities, no comprehensive data exists to document the extent of gender-based violence (GBV) at work. Therefore, to understand GBV in the world of work, 23 women leaders from seven unions in Cambodia representing garment-sector workers came together in 2018 to learn more about gender-based violence (GBV) and harassment in the workplace, and to determine how best to increase awareness, understanding and effective responses to gender-based violence in our unions and our workplaces” (16 Jun).
Fire breaks out at garment factory in Ludhiana, firefighting operations underway: “A major fire broke out a garment factory in Punjab’s Ludhiana. Around 50 tenders arrived at the spot to douse the flames. The cause of the fire is not ascertained yet. No casualties or injuries have been reported so far. More details are awaited” (17 June).
Effort to intimidate Human Rights Watch in Uzbekistan: “A Human Rights Watch researcher, Steve Swerdlow, was the target of an aggressive verbal attack while on a visit to Uzbekistan to investigate human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said today. The organization condemned the attack in Tashkent on June 13, 2019, which appears to be part of a wider smear campaign against Human Rights Watch, other human rights activists, and journalists in Uzbekistan” (14 Jun).
· Statement from the Uzbekistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “At present, the issue is being comprehensively studied. Based on the results, measures will be taken in accordance with current legislation. The Uzbek side supports the activities of Human Rights Watch in Uzbekistan and will continue to work with this and other human rights organizations” (17 Jun – in Russian).
ILO welcomes Vietnam’s vote to ratify ILO fundamental convention on collective bargaining: “All of the deputies present at the National Assembly session on 14 June voted yes to the ratification of ILO Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining” (14 Jun).
Top result for corporate social responsibility of CHT: “In April 2019, CHT Germany GmbH received the scorecard of the annual EcoVadis rating for Corporate Social Responsibility. Pleasingly, the result improved compared to the previous year, so that the Specialty Chemicals Group of Companies is among the top 10% of all rated companies. The awarded Silver Medal confirms the CHT Group's consistently sustainable course, which is implemented within the framework of its business activities” (15 Jun).
French startup to produce sustainable textile dyes using microbes: “Paris-based PILI has raised €3.6M that will take its technology to produce dyes through microbial fermentation to an industrial scale” (13 Jun).
Bluesign releases black limits for chemical products: “On July 1, 2019, Bluesign will publish threshold limits for chemical substances in finished chemical products like auxiliaries or dyes as the bluesign SYSTEM BLACK LIMITS (BSBL). The compilation of substances is an extract of the bluesign TOOL which was introduced in 2002” (12 Jun).
Tuong Long to convert 100% of its production to ground-breaking Aniline-Free indigo solution by Archroma: “Archroma, a global leader in color and specialty chemicals towards sustainable solutions, today announced that Vietnam-based Tuong Long Co. Ltd. is the first denim manufacturer in Vietnam to switch 100% of its production to Archroma’s aniline-free* Denisol Pure Indigo [which] was first launched in May 2018 as a non-toxic way to produce the traditional, iconic indigo blue that consumers associate with denim and jeans” (12 Jun).
Ayurganic: A lesson in organic, slow fashion: “We are at an Ayurvastra dyeing centre in Balaramapuram near Thiruvan-anthapuram in Kerala, watching how organic cloth is being treated using Ayurvedic principles. Global Organic Textile Standard-certified organic cotton is scoured in fresh water to clean it, then put into vessels filled with water with a small portion of oil. The fabric is then dried and treated with buffalo milk and cow urine mixed in water—the milk and urine taken from cows and buffaloes fed with herbs—as well as cotton seeds and leaves” (15 Jun).
SUSTAINABLE FASHION JOBS
[New listings or updated information marked with *]
Adidas: Senior Manager SEA, Environment - South Asia (Jakarta/Bangkok)
Adidas: Director SEA, Field Operation - North Asia (Guangzhou)
Adidas: Manager Sustainability A&G Materials (Guangzhou)
Adidas: Manager Sustainability Materials FW (Ho Chi Minh City)
Aldi: Corporate Responsibility in Supply Chain (Salzburg)
Amazon: Social Responsibility, Senior Program Manager (Shenzhen, China)
Amazon: Japan Environmental Manager (Tokyo)
America Today: Internship sustainability department (Corporate Social Responsibility) (Diemen)
ASOS: Ethical Trade Assistant (Hong Kong)
Avery Dennison: Sustainability Project Engineer (Boston, MA)
BSR: HERproject Associate (Hong Kong)
BSR: Manager, Supply Chain Sustainability (New York)
C&A Foundation: Data Analyst (Gurgaon)
Canada Goose: Manager- Fabrics Research, Development, and Sustainability (Toronto)
Canada Goose: Sr. Materials Developer, Fabric Research, Development & Sustainability (Toronto)
Canada Goose: Corporate Citizenship Department Coordinator (Toronto)
Canada Goose: Sustainability Programs Specialist (Toronto)
Canada Goose: Manager, Sustainability and Social Compliance Programs (Toronto)
CDC: Job Quality Executive, Value Creation Strategies Team (London) [NB: although CDC is the UK’s development finance institution, it urges people with labour rights experience in apparel & textiles to apply.]
Center for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility (CCR CSR): Social Worker (Shenzhen)
Centric Brands: Global Sourcing & Compliance Analyst (New York)
Chanel: Sustainability Project Coordinator – Internship (London)
* Cotton made in Africa: Junior Project Manager for Verification Management (Hamburg)
Decathlon China: Supplier Quality Engineer (Shenzhen)
Fair Labor Association: Social Compliance Program Manager (Washington, DC)
G-Star RAW: Intern GSRD Foundation (Amsterdam)
Gap: Operations Administrator, Supplier Sustainability (Hong Kong)
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)
Guess Europe: CSR Coordinator (Bioggio)
Gymshark: Sustainability Manager (Solihull)
* H&M: Sustainability Developer (Yangon)
H&M: Sustainability Expert Industrial Relations and Wage (Yangon)
Herschel Supply Company: Product Quality & Compliance Manager (Vancouver)
Hop Lun: Sustainability Manager (Hong Kong)
IDH: Senior Program Manager Cotton (Utrech or Gurgaon)
Impactt: Marketing Manager (London)
Impactt: Principal Consultant (London)
Impactt: Project Officer (London)
Kenneth Cole: Senior Corporate Social Responsibility Manager (New York)
Kering: Ready to Wear Materials Research & Sustainability Specialist (Novara)
Kmart Australia: Community Relations Advisor (Melbourne)
Marc Fisher Footwear: Compliance Coordinator (Greenwich, CT)
Nakd: Corporate Social Responsibility Internship (Gothenburg)
New Era Cap: Senior Manager, Global Social Compliance (Buffalo, NY)
New Look: CSR Administration Assistant (London)
Nike: Community Impact Director Latam (Mexico City)
Nike: Director of Supplier Relationship Management – Supply Chain (Beaverton, OR)
Patagonia: Head of Supply Chain Environmental Responsibility (Ventura, CA)
Pentland Brands: Corporate Responsibility Business Partner (Nottingham)
PVH: Director, Corporate Social Responsibility – Calvin Klein (New York)
Ralph Lauren: Associate, Global Employee Communications & Philanthropy (New York)
REI: Director, Communications and Public Affairs (Kent WA)
REI: Senior Administrative Assistant, Brand Stewardship & Impact (Kent, WA)
Samil Vina International: Compliance, CSR (Tây Ninh)
Selfridges: Senior Sustainability Manager (London)
Superdry: Ethical Sourcing Assistant (Hong Kong)
Sustainable Apparel coalition: Operations Coordinator, Europe (Amsterdam)
Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Senior Manager, Public Affairs (Amsterdam)
Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Executive Director (San Francisco)
Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Senior Manager, Higg Brand & Retail Tool (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)
Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Senior Manager of Verification (San Francisco, New York, Amsterdam, or 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)
WSR: Director of Outreach and Communications (New York)
CONFERENCES & SEMINARS
[New listings or updated information marked with *]
21 June, Barcelona: Manufacturer Forum: “The event will examine ZDHC tools and their practical application, the Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg FEM) and how to make continuous improvements at facility level.”
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.”
24 June, Webinar: 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge: Review and Brand Perspective: “review the findings from the first (2018) 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge report and learn from the successful partnerships between Cotton Connect and Lindex.”
* 25 June, Bangalore: Supply Chain Transparency: A workshop on Blockchain for Circular Fashion: “Join us in discovering how this can be leveraged, in a workshop that will include representation from brands, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and other key textile stakeholders…”
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?”
09 July, Webinar: Biosynthetics E-Learning Series Part 2: “Biosynthetics can play an important role in replacing fossil-based resources with renewable feedstock. At the same time, there are various sustainability challenges also associated with the use of renewable feedstock.”
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.
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”
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.