Blog: Leonie BarrieBusiness as usual not an option in Bangladesh

Leonie Barrie | 27 April 2015

A number of reports and events last week to mark the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster all emphasised that while progress has been made towards a safer garment industry in Bangladesh, some major challenges still lie ahead. A special report on just-style looks at the new concerns and frustrations now coming to the fore for industry executives.

Plans by Italian fashion retailer Benetton Group to double the amount of compensation paid into the Rana Plaza Trust Fund to US$1.6m following an independent assessment by PwC have also been slammed as "insufficient" by labour rights groups.

And Australian fashion brands are criticised for not doing enough to protect workers in their international supply chains, with many lacking full transparency and a knowledge of where their raw materials are sourced, a new report has found.

One of the top future priorities for German sporting goods giant Adidas Group will be to drive self-governance throughout its supply chain, giving suppliers more responsibility to manage their downstream supply chains and moving towards public reporting.

The move was revealed in its annual Group Sustainability Report, which coincided with news it is teaming up with Parley for the Oceans to act against ocean pollution and use materials made of ocean plastic waste in Adidas brand products.

Sustainability was also a theme at the recent Amsterdam Denim Days event, where firms discussed new technologies and processes to reduce the impact of denim production on the environment and worker health. Innovations were also on show in digital printing, more sophisticated weaves, and vegan fabrics.

But a report from the Fairtrade Foundation suggests cotton growing is failing to provide millions of farmers with a sustainable and profitable livelihood.

Meanwhile, Under Armour has been hailed as "the next global athletic company" after the US company recorded its 20th consecutive quarter of 20%-plus revenue growth.

But Gap Inc is "not close" to finding the right formula to turn around its namesake brand’s fortunes in the US market, an analyst believes.

Just a few days after the introduction of a package of bills to help invigorate a long-delayed US trade agenda, the legislation was last week passed by both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. It will now go to the full House in the coming weeks.

The bills could pave the way for "fast track" negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – and there’s a strong chance it won’t be the deal US apparel importers have pushed for.

In other news, garment workers in Myanmar have ended strike action after securing a 37% pay rise; Timberland has set out its longstanding commitment to sustainability; and Chinese investment could flow into the Moroccan clothing and textile sector as a new deal is discussed.

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