Is the Denim Industry Keeping Pace With the SDGs?

For James Bartle, Outland Denim is basically the first Sustainable Development Goal—end poverty in all its forms everywhere—decked out in blue jeans. “Poverty is the root cause of so many issues,” said Bartle, who founded the Australian-based B Corp in 2016 to train and employ women who were sexually trafficked but has since “widened its…

How Fashion is Taking on the Plastic Crisis, One Polybag at a Time

There’s no getting around it: the fashion industry is drowning in plastic, and the single-use polybag is a big part of the reason. Thin, lightweight and derived from low-density polyethylene, roughly 180 billion of these bags, both large and small, are employed by the apparel supply chain every year to protect stock in warehouses and…

Why Less Might Be More When it Comes to Factory Audits

In a globalized supply chain where clothing production is typically outsourced to developing nations with low-wage labor and shaky social and environmental protections, audits have become a non-negotiable means of managing risks and protecting brands from potential scandal. With multiple, often disparate standards for assessing compliance, however, it isn’t unusual for one supplier to field…

Leather Lowdown: Fruit, Fungi and a Focus on Planet-Friendly Processing

News of traditional leather’s demise has been greatly exaggerated. Despite spiking demand for vegan and other eco-friendly alternatives—a trend that tracks with the growing consumer predilection for plant-based diets—cowhides, a byproduct of beef and dairy consumption, have continued to conduct brisk trade. This is especially true of the luxury sector, where high-quality leather remains synonymous…

Now or Never: Sustainability is Denim Industry’s Covid-19 Lifeline

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown fashion retailers in a state of frenzy, and the denim industry is no different. Shoppers, largely battening down at home, aren’t as eager to crack open their wallets for non-essentials, let alone splurge on bottoms that aren’t visible on Zoom calls. The coronavirus doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon,…

Xinjiang Confidential: What Auditor Exodus Means for Apparel Sourcing

A number of supply-chain auditing firms say they will no longer conduct inspections in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of northwestern China, where state-sponsored efforts to coerce and assimilate predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities have rekindled questions about the limits of corporate self-regulation and business-driven social compliance initiatives, particularly in hostile environments ruled by fear….

Higg Index, Without Transparency and Incentives, is a ‘Scale Without a Diet’

For the apparel sector, which has traditionally struggled to measure, let alone manage its burgeoning environmental footprint, the Higg Index has been nothing short of transformational. Certainly this was the case in 2011, when the Walmart- and Patagonia-founded Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) rolled out the suite of assessment tools to allow brands, retailers and facilities…

Is Lost Stock Helping or Hurting Bangladeshi Garment Workers?

By many accounts, any attempt to bail out struggling Bangladeshi garment workers facing starvation and ruin amid the COVID-19 pandemic would be a good thing. And for the most part, Lost Stock, a U.K. scheme that repackages jettisoned garments from canceled Western orders as “mystery boxes” for resale, appears to be a brilliant way to…

Rethinking Materials for a Circular Supply Chain and ‘Systemic Shift’

Before material innovation can save fashion, sustainability must save material innovation. And not just any broadly sweeping definition of sustainability: In today’s climate-sensitive milieu, cutting-edge and breakthrough materials made from agricultural waste, biodegradable plastic or mushroom roots must not only tread less heavily on the environment at the outset, but also avoid becoming landfill or…

‘Virtually’ All Apparel Industry Is Complicit in Uyghur Human Rights Abuses

The world’s fashion brands need to confront—and abandon—their complicity with human-rights atrocities being perpetuated against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of northwestern China, a coalition of more than 180 human-rights groups announced Thursday. With Xinjiang producing more than 80 percent of Chinese cotton, according to Washington…