Blog: Leonie BarrieCSR issues top the agenda

Leonie Barrie | 18 April 2011

Corporate social responsibility issues seemed to top the headlines on just-style last week, starting with sporting goods firm Puma which has launched an investigation into a mass fainting by 101 workers at one of its footwear suppliers in Cambodia.

Initial reports from the Heuy Chuen (Cambodia) Corp plant are said to "indicate full compliance to the Puma restricted substances list and legal requirements," but the company is also checking to see whether non-compliance with Puma's Code of Conduct, overtime work or poor air quality might have been to blame.

For sceptics who view corporate social responsibility as being more about talk than action, a look through the 167 pages of the latest sustainability report from H&M Hennes & Mauritz provides a valuable insight into just how seriously some fashion firms take their obligations.

The Swedish retailer outlined the progress it has made over the past year in achieving its sustainability goals - including using more organic cotton than ever before in its products and turning 1,600 tonnes of recycled materials into new clothes. But its 'Conscious Actions Sustainability Report for 2010' also highlighted some of the challenges faced during the year.

Marks & Spencer, meanwhile, has launched what it claims is the high street's first ever carbon neutral bra - and hopes its research will also lead to more sustainable manufacturing options. The bra has been made at its eco-model factory at Thurulie in Sri Lanka, and is part of the new Autograph Leaves lingerie collection which has had its entire carbon footprint independently certified by the Carbon Trust.  

A survey of children's body shapes in the UK has found that the waist measurement of both boys and girls is around 10cm bigger than it was 20 years ago - providing retailers with new data to create better fitting clothes. The study carried out by Shape GB, which is part sponsored by high street clothing retailers including Next, George at Asda, Monsoon and Shop Direct Group, used 3D body scanners to measure 2,500 children aged 4-17 across the country.

And jeans giant Levi Strauss & Co is to expand its low cost Denizen brand to the US and Mexico this summer, one year after the label was launched in Asia. Discount retailer Target will sell the line for men, women and kids in the US, while distribution will be extended to various retailers in Mexico. A pair of Denizen jeans on sale at Target will cost from US$20 to US$30.


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