Blog: Beth WrightBoohoo Group urged to link bonuses to sustainability progress

Beth Wright | 8 March 2021

The chairman of UK online fast fashion retailer Boohoo Group is being urged to provide an update on some of the commitments he made to politicians in December – including whether executive bonuses will be linked to progress on workers' rights and sustainability.

The group is also facing scrutiny overseas, with the US being urged to ban imports from the company by a charity alleging forced labour is present in the group's supply chain.

Elsewhere, apparel industry associations and human rights groups have joined forces to condemn the military coup and growing violence in Myanmar, and to urge companies sourcing from the southeast Asian country to maintain dialogue and honour all existing commitments made to factories.

While as apparel retailers and brands scramble to try to disentangle their cotton supply chains from possible links to forced labour abuses in Xinjiang province, China is likely to be looking for alternative markets for its fibres – presenting new challenges for countries like South Africa.

Having described the story so far in human rights and sustainability – and the new chapter starting in 2021 with consultation on an EU law on sustainable corporate governance – we look at how apparel companies can best prepare for the journey ahead, and how they can inspire others to join them.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is making a significant step to increase the share of locally-sourced raw materials in clothing made in the country by setting up a new fabric processing park.

Egypt's plans to attract significant foreign investment in its garment and textile manufacturing sectors have been delayed due to the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic – prompting the government to step in to spur development.

In the new post-virus global garment industry, there will be a shakeout. We may find ourselves operating in an industry with a one-strike-you-are-out environment, where sustainability is the name of the game.

When asking consumers what they miss most during lockdown, shopping with friends on a Saturday afternoon is surely among the answers. And it is not just about the shopping, but also about the social activity that goes along with it. Interacting with friends, having them pick out pieces we may have never seen. But what's the alternative?

On the surface, the UK's zero-tariff, zero-quota Brexit deal appeared to be a good thing for the country's apparel industry. But the reality is proving to be much more complex, and UK retailers will need to carefully assess whether international operations are still profitable and feasible.

Staying with retail, analysts have applauded the Associated British Foods management team for their transparency in presenting details of Primark's supply chain at its first ESG investor day.

H&M Group has invested in Alchemie Technology, a global disruptor of textile dyeing and finishing technology.

Ralph Lauren Corporation has launched its first subscription apparel rental initiative in a move that allows the US fashion company to tap into the growing focus on the sharing economy.

And Swedish fashion company Nudie Jeans has partnered with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) on a project that looks at ways to make use of second-quality jeans, such as recycling into fibres for new denim fabric at scale.

In other news, Jeanologia has partnered with Anish India Exports to launch a sustainable garment finishing plant driven and managed by women; and a new campaign is urging consumers to round-up their purchases to the nearest dollar in a bid to empower and educate the women who make their clothes.

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