Blog: Hannah AbdullaSustainability is fast fashion’s Achilles heel

Hannah Abdulla | 26 November 2019

Two aspects of sustainability – environmental impact and worker well-being – are often buried under greenwashed marketing and feel-good statistics; the seeds of where fast fashion's demise have taken root.

A pilot project that combines on-product markers and blockchain technology to trace organic cotton from farm to consumer has been deemed so successful that it could be implemented on a wider scale in the organic cotton sector and shows "enormous potential" as an end-to-end traceability solution for other preferred fibres in the fashion supply chain.

E-commerce giant Amazon has disclosed the names and addresses of suppliers of its Amazon-branded products, including apparel.

Better Work, a joint collaboration between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to improve garment worker conditions, plans to expand its operations in Bangladesh.

And Swedish fashion retailer H&M Group has committed to digitalising all its supplier payment systems in Bangladesh by 2020, following its participation in a summit addressing the need for the industry to move away from cash wages.

After eight months of negotiations, factories in Myanmar that produce for brands who are members of the Action, Collaboration, Transformation (ACT) living wage initiative have agreed on a Freedom of Association (FoA) Guideline.

While the European Commission has given the Cambodian government a one-month deadline to respond to its findings on the alleged human rights situation in the country before it decides whether it is pulling its duty-free trade benefit.

Two potential windows of opportunity are simultaneously opening for the East African cotton-to-clothing supply chain: the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the expected shift of garment production from Asia to Africa.

And Sri Lankan apparel and textile manufacturer MAS Holdings is set to open a new factory in Kenya in January, that will create between 3,000 and 3,500 jobs directly, according to the head of the Kenyan export processing zone that will host the facility.

Meanwhile US sportswear giant Nike has made a strategic investment in Handsfree Labs, a specialist in hands-free footwear technology that enables consumers to step in and out of shoes more easily without lacing or the use of hands.

British retailer Marks & Spencer has re-hired Richard Price, currently CEO of Tesco's F&F Clothing, as managing director of its struggling clothing and home division.

And US specialty apparel retailer Gap Inc is to proceed with the process of spinning off Old Navy as a standalone company, despite recent industry speculation the move could be abandoned following the departure of long-standing CEO Art Peck.

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