Blog: Beth WrightNew project to benefit garment workers in Ethiopia

Beth Wright | 10 June 2019

The growing interest of international brands to source garments from Ethiopia provides an opportunity to develop the sector in a sustainable way, the founders of a new project in the country say. Launched last week, the new EU-funded project, Bottom Up, is designed to benefit some 2,000 cotton farmers, 2,200 rural workers, and 17,000 garment workers in Ethiopia by creating a sustainable, transparent and inclusive value chain.

While an initiative that aims to eliminate audit fatigue by replacing current proprietary tools with a single framework for social and labour compliance has officially launched in India, China, Sri Lanka and Taiwan. The Converged Assessment Framework (CAF) has been developed by the Social & Labor Convergence Program (SLCP) with input from companies such as Nike and Timberland.

In the US, jeans giant Wrangler has launched the first-ever collection produced using Indigood foam-dye technology, which virtually eliminates the amount of water used in the conventional denim dyeing process and instead transfers dye onto yarn using foam.

And specialty apparel retailer Gap Inc has announced it is working with supply chain partners to source all cotton for its brands from sustainable sources by 2025.

Meanwhile, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) says cotton produced in line with its Better Cotton principles and criteria now accounts for19% of global cotton production, with 2m licensed BCI farmers having produced 5.1m metric tonnes of Better Cotton in the 2017-18 cotton season.

But Cotton Egypt Association (CEA), the organisation behind Egyptian Cotton, is doubling down on efforts to tackle fraud in the cotton supply chain by naming and shaming manufacturers who fail its rigorous accreditation scheme.

The organisers of the upcoming Kingpins denim trade show have responded to requests from buyers and brands by listing the top sustainable offerings at its events.

While a new survey has identified five individual areas that UK and US consumers consider important for fashion companies to address in order to be more sustainable.

Following success in the US, the online personal styling service Stitch Fix has launched in the UK. However, convincing consumers to change their shopping habits will be tricky – limiting its ability to make a real impact in the UK clothing market.

In France, efforts are being made to combat clothing waste, with President Edouard Philippe mulling legislation that will prevent retailers from destroying or disposing of unsold apparel.

In the world of trade, the latest re:source monthly trade programme roundup covers updates to key free trade agreements and trade preference programmes involving the US, EU and Canada covers developments in May 2019. Trade agreements, rules of origin, tariffs and schedules are all covered in depth in the re:source by just-style strategic planning tool.

The chairman of one of India's textile trade bodies is calling on the government to implement new policy support measures to help grow the sector as it works to fend off competition from other suppliers including Vietnam and Bangladesh.

While the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and the National Council of Textile Organisations have penned a letter to US President Donald Trump expressing their concern regarding the recently proposed tariff hike on Mexican imports and warning the move will hurt US workers and consumers.

Elsewhere, supermarket retailer Morrisons is not yet being taken seriously by UK clothing shoppers, with just 2.7% purchasing from the company in the past year – significantly underperforming the rest of the big four supermarket retailers.

We also look at how the world of fast fashion can exploit lessons gleaned from the automotive industry, with the answer lying in design-to-cost.

In other news, John Lewis has named Sharon White as its new chairman; Charlotte Russe's new owner has announced plans to relaunch 100 outlet stores; and New Look's founder Tom Singh is to retire.

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