by Hank Boerner – Chair, G&A Institute
Considering Recent News About “Apparel Fashion and Sustainability” — and the Investor Initiative to Help Make East Asian Factory Workers Safer and Better Paid…
In monitoring the growing abundance of news stories and commentary about “supply chain,” “globalization” or “trade” topics and issues, our editors often see the focus is on apparel, clothing, textiles, fashion, and related topics & issues.
Companies in the developed economies widely source apparel footwear and related items in the developing and under-developed nations – and what happens there can quickly make news that travels around the globe.
Example: The focus five years ago about this time was on the East Asian nation of Bangladesh and the Rana Plaza vertical factory tragedy in the capital city of Dhaka (or Dacca) that killed more than 1,000 garment industry workers. The labels of leading western nation marketers were scattered about the debris and ashes — and those familiar brand images as well as images of the collapsed building and details of the tragedy helped to focus attention on worker conditions in the East Asian region in both North America and Europe.
The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) investor coalition is keeping the focus on worker safety as the “Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Safety” is renewed for another three years.
ICCR institutions and their investor allies organized as “The Bangladesh Investor Initiative” (with collective AUM of US$4.5 trillion) on the 5th anniversary are urging a stronger corporate response and demonstrated commitment to local worker safety and adequate wage levels. The link to our blog commentary on recent developments and background information for companies and investors is below.
Some good news to share is that sustainability is catching on in the fashion industry. The uber fashion magazine from publishers Conde Nast – Vogue, with more than one million readers — just published a story about the embrace of “eco-friendly” fashion, spotlighting “the best designers of a new generation are stitching sustainability into everything they do…”
“While sustainability has long been considered a “byword for hemp-heavy bohemia,” writer Olivia Singer explains, “a new generation of designers is building brands with a more conscious approach to fashion at their core.”
Fabrics are sourced through collectives in India empowering female weavers as just one example. In the article designers explain why sustainability is important to their brands (Richard Malone, Le Kilt, Elliss, E.L.V. Denim, Alyx, Marine Serre, Richard Quinnare featured interviews).
A number of creative approaches being adopted by the designers is explained — just think about the contribution to global sustainability of turning recycled plastics and viscose into yarn and fringing, using organic cotton as well as recycled polyester for “new” fashions, creating ECONYL from fishnets to make swimwear, and using recycled cotton and plastics as part of the effort of making sustainability a “pillar of luxury”.
The encouraging details are in our Top Story this week – a cautionary note: some of the fashion photos are edgy and might offend.