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Business Case
Virus, Be Damned — Fashion Industry Charges Ahead Toward Sustainable Future

Even as COVID-19 continues to dominate headlines and the global consciousness, the 7th annual Fashion Revolution Week sees news and moves from Jeans Redesign, Vivienne Westwood and Fair Trade USA, to name a few.

17 more brands commit to give jeans a circular redesign

Image credit: Wrangler

17 new apparel brands and manufacturers have joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign project.

New participants:

•         BrandsBalzac Paris, Banana Republic, ICICLE, Organic Basics, seventy + mochi, Triarchy, unspun, Wrangler

•         Garment ManufacturersRemi Holdings, Tarasima Apparels

•         Fabric Mills and Laundries — Artistic Fabric Mills, Crescent Bahuman, Green Lab, KG Fabriks, Naveena Denim Mills Karachi, Panther Denim, Tat Fung

Along with the 50+ other organizations already taking part, these new participants will work to transform the way jeans are produced in line with circular guidelines for denim to ensure that jeans last longer, can easily be recycled, and are made in a way that is better for the environment and the health of garment workers.

Towards the end of 2019, the Jeans Redesign project was extended to fabric mills, and additional mills have now signed up with this final cohort of participants. Although this is the final cohort of participants to sign up to the project, the Guidelines will continue to be available online for any company that wants to implement them. The project will continue to inform the next steps of Make Fashion Circular.

The Guidelines build on existing efforts to improve jeans production — including the open-source guide created following C&A and Fashion for Good’s joint initiative to develop Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certified™ Gold jeans (C&A has since released the first C2C Certified Platinum denim, as well). They were developed with insights from more than 40 denim experts from academia, brands, retailers, manufacturers, collectors, sorters and NGOs.

Charging ahead with commitments to circularity, the brands are signaling an unwavering commitment to circular thinking despite the huge disruptions to the fashion industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first pairs of the redesigned jeans will be on sale later this year.

Read more about the Jeans Redesign project

Vivienne Westwood joins Canopy’s campaign to preserve ancient and endangered forests

Image credit: Vivienne Westwood/YouTube

Today, environmental conservation NGO Canopy and iconic fashion designer Vivienne Westwood celebrate Earth Day and their new partnership with the release of the video, “Vivus” — created by Scottish filmmaker Aidan Zamiri; and featuring a poem by spoken word artist, model and visibility activist Kai-Isaiah Jamal.

The video aims to highlight the direct link between fashion and the destruction of the world’s ancient and endangered forests. Kai’s poem juxtaposes logging and pulping trees to make viscose with the dream of a world that values forests too much to tear them down.
“We are long-time campaigners about the impacts of climate change and use our voice to mobilise people around its effects on them and the planet. Fashion has a disproportionate impact on the environment and to remedy that we have for some time been changing the way we make clothes to reflect the need for the industry to change the way it operates,” said Christopher DiPietro, Global Brand Director at Vivienne Westwood. “We were so pleased to be able to work with Kai and Aidan on this film. We hope it will help draw attention to our campaign in support of the work Canopy has been doing to transform unsustainable supply chains to protect forests around the world – and with it our climate and wildlife.”

Over the last few years, the teams at Vivienne Westwood have been adapting the way they make clothes to reflect the growing urgency to change how the fashion industry operates.
As such, Vivienne Westwood has become the 214th apparel company to sign on to Canopy’s CanopyStyle campaign — and the brand has committed to protect vital forest ecosystems by ensuring that any virgin wood pulp used to make or package its products only comes from responsibly managed forests; that 100 percent of its wood pulp-derived fabrics such as viscose will be FSC-certified by 2021, and it will prioritize next-generation viscose as it becomes available.

Read more about Vivienne Westwood’s sustainability commitments and CanopyStyle

Fair Trade USA, Rachael Wang launch second annual ‘We Wear Fair Trade’ campaign

Women's empowerment advocate Nasreen Sheikh | Image credit: Fair Trade USA

On Monday, to commemorate Fashion Revolution Week, Fair Trade USA unveiled its second annual lookbook and campaign, "We Wear Fair Trade." This year’s campaign theme and lookbook, “She Wears Fair Trade,” was made in partnership with renowned creative director, activist and stylist Rachael Wang; and features Fair Trade Certified™ apparel modeled by prominent human and environmental rights advocates who represent women’s empowerment. 

“The fashion industry is experiencing unprecedented circumstances due to COVID-19. The impacts of this crisis are being felt far and wide, especially by the most vulnerable, like garment workers,” said Amy Blyth, Director of Partnerships and Program Development for FTUSA’s Apparel & Home Goods (AHG) Factory program. “It’s so easy to feel powerless right now but that’s why this campaign is so important. It inspires advocacy and gives us tangible ways to take action. Now more than ever, programs like fair trade are critical.”

Fair Trade USA says it believes fair trade is more important than ever during the pandemic. As such, the Apparel & Home Goods (AHG) team is supporting its factory partners, workers and brands during COVID-19 by sharing resources with factories about prevention, sanitary protocols and social distancing best practices; making its Community Development Funds more flexible to use to address crisis-related needs; and providing brand partners with guidance on best practices and Fair Trade requirements during the pandemic.

The “She Wears Fair Trade” lookbook showcases Fair Trade USA brand partners — J.Crew, Madewell, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), Mountain Khaki, REI, Obey Clothing, Outerknown, Patagonia and prAna — in an effort to raise awareness about the growing collection of Fair Trade Certified™ apparel, while showcasing the stories of the people behind the clothes themselves.

Featured model activists and garment workers: 

Fair Trade USA, through its AHG Factory program, partners with brands and factories to improve worker well-being at manufacturing facilities by enforcing rigorous health and safety standards and ensuring workers are engaged, represented, and receive supplemental income to improve their livelihoods through Fair Trade USA’s unique Community Development Funds. Fair Trade USA’s AHG Factory program launched in 2011 with 3 factories in 2 countries. Today, the program reaches over 75 factories in 13 countries, with over 140,000 fair trade factory employees benefiting.

Read more about "We Wear Fair Trade"

Fashion Revolution launches latest campaign, Transparency Index

Image credit: H&M

On Tuesday, Fashion Revolution released the fifth edition of its Fashion Transparency Index — the biggest to date, covering 250 of the world’s biggest fashion brands and retailers. The Index shows which brands are leading the way on transparency, which have seen the greatest improvement in their scores, and where there is more work to be done.

This year’s top spots, in order, went to H&M, C&A, adidas/Reebok, Esprit and Marks & Spencer.

Image credit: Fashion Revolution

The majority of brands and retailers lack transparency on social and environmental issues. More than half of brands (54 percent) score 20 percent or less. Despite this, there are fewer low-scoring brands this year compared to last year. For example, 28 percent of brands score 10 percent or less in 2020, compared to 36 percent of brands in 2019.

However, the Index sees many brands taking steps towards greater transparency: Out of the 98 brands reviewed since 2017, the average score has increased by 12 percentage points.

With changes to its systems and structures, the fashion industry has the potential to provide millions of people with decent and dignified livelihoods and conserve and restore our living planet. The Spotlight Issues of this year’s Index includes a section on brands’ purchasing practices, which have come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks.

“In the midst of this global pandemic, the need for citizens to hold brands and retailers to account is more pressing than ever before,” says Carry Somers, co-founder and Global Operations Director of Fashion Revolution. “Over the past weeks, we have seen the devastating impact of brands’ buying practices on some of the most vulnerable workers overseas. Now, more than ever, we need to keep asking #whomademyclothes and hold these brands, many of whom have made immense profits in recent years, to account for their actions.”

As in past years, Fashion Revolution is calling on citizens to ask #WhoMadeMyClothes? and demand that fashion brands protect the workers in their supply chain, especially during this unprecedented global health and economic crisis.

A new hashtag has also been launched for Fashion Revolution Week 2020: #WhatsInMyClothes? By introducing a new campaign question and highlighting the findings from Somers' eXXpedition voyage to research microplastic pollution, Fashion Revolution will shed light on the substances hidden in our clothes. As part of this focus on the composition of our clothing, the Fashion Transparency Index considers brands’ approaches to restricted substances, their commitment to eliminating virgin plastics and the steps they are taking to prevent microplastic pollution.

Read more about the campaign ...