National Geographic Channel and C&A : Documentary about Organic Cotton

“For the love of fashion”

C&A is supporting a documentary that provides a window into more sustainable cotton practices. “Ultimately, we would like to inspire Brands and consumers that more sustainable cotton has significant advantages for people and the planet Alexandra Cousteau, National Geographic Emerging Explorer, filmmaker and globally recognized advocate on water issues, travels the world to present a picture of the cotton industry, with a focus on its history and the modern-day challenges and innovations. She will discover the threats and the solutions facing our fashion industry.”

“Organic is a harbinger of happiness and peace of mind”. 

The 60 minute documentary reveals to viewers how crucial the shift is to more sustainable methods of production. 2.4% of the world’s crop land is planted with cotton and yet it accounts for 24% and 11% of the global sales of insecticide and pesticides respectively. Organic cotton delivers substantial economic and environmental benefits, but represents less than 1% of the world’s total annual crop.

“Approximately half of all clothes manufactured globally are created with cotton, but conventional cotton farming risks harming our planet irreparably”  says Alexandra Cousteau.


MPs call for better pay and conditions for people in the fashion industry

Industry chiefs joined MPs and a Government minister in Parliament for a Fashion Question Time seminar aimed at “achieving global justice for garment workers”.

Getty Mary Creagh, labour MP Mary Creagh who hosted the event said: “Not one of these companies publishes a list of their suppliers or vendors, nor do they publish any social and environmental sustainability reports.

“In the future, brands will have to be able to answer the question, ‘Who made my clothes?’

“Answering this question requires transparency, and this implies honesty, openness, communication and accountability.”

Further she added that “It is vital for the UK fashion industry to understand how we can punch above our political weight, achieve change and improve the lives of garment workers around the globe.”

Fashion Revolution co-founder Carry Somers said: “Almost nobody has a clear picture how the fashion supply chain really works, from fibre through to disposal. In order to create a sustainable fashion industry for the future, the myriad of stakeholders along the supply chain from private and white label manufacturers to brands and retailers must start to take responsibility for the people and communities on which their business depends.”

Industry leaders are being urged to take action to improve the lives of foreign workers who make clothes around the world and clothes manufacturers will come under pressure to give foreign workers better pay and conditions .

Mirror April 2016

G-Star and Ted Baker Commit to Public Sustainability Scoring

“A major step forward for fashion industry’s sustainability drive”, reports MADE-BY.  For the first time, the fashion industry can present sustainability scores for fashion brands and retailers which are truly transparent and independently verified.

The performance of the four pioneering brands Ted Baker, G-Star, Vivobarefoot and Haikure are made public using MADE-BY new scoring tool MODE Tracker.


G-Star’s CR Director Frouke Bruinsma said:

“As well as giving us a comprehensive overview of the strengths and gaps in our approach to sustainability, this process has led to a strategic insight on how to further improve our sustainability performance. MODE Tracker enables us to be transparent in a credible way; to our customers, the industry and critical stakeholders. We are proud to be among the first group of companies to work with it. It represents the way forward for the industry and we therefore invite other fashion companies to also take this step.”


MADE-BY’s mission is to make sustainable fashion common practice. To achieve this, it works with fashion brands to develop and implement sustainable strategies that improve the environmental and social conditions across their operations and entire supply chains in a commercially sensitive way.


Gstar Score cards product

G-Star Mode-Tracker, Product score, 2015


Ted Baker Score card

Ted Baker Made-By Material Score Card, 2015

Lenzing Achieves a Significant Leap in Earnings

Demand for high-quality Lenzing fibers was strong in 2015, encompassing all regions and product groups. For this reason, the pulp and fiber production capacities of the Lenzing Group were well utilized against the backdrop of high production output. In particular, sales of the specialty fiber TENCEL® with its unique closed loop process increased significantly.

The share of specialty fibers as a percentage of total group revenue was 40.5% in the 2015 financial year, compared to the 35.0% in the previous year. Expenditures for research and development were increased by 47% to EUR 29.8 mn, in line with the company’s strategy of focusing on the development, production and marketing of innovative specialty fibers.


Lenzing Press Release March 2016

Primark Joins Sustainable Textiles Alliance

While some retailers criticize Primarks entry to the sustainable textile alliance, other businesses welcome Primark being such an industry giant. “The alliance is there to move the entire industry forward. By joining the sustainable textile alliance, all companies need to comply with and implement well-defined standards. The guidelines are under development now and each company will be measured by these standards “, explains Hess Natur-Chef Vivek Batra. Vaude Managing Director Antje von Dewitz sees Primark’s membership positive, too: “The low entry threshold was chosen to take the MNC on board.  I understand the Textile Alliance as a team sport, it can only work if we all work together (…). ”

Textilwirtschaft March 2016

Stories to tell – Stories to sell

More than half (55%) of online consumers across 60 countries say they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact, says Nielsen (Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility 2014).

Brand loyalty is also important to Millennials. 75% said that it’s either fairly or very important that a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit. Millennials love brands that support communities and would rather purchase from them than competitors (Elite Daily Millennial Consumer Study 2015).

The Fashion Revolution Day is coming in 1 month. Last years engagement during April 2015 Fashion Revolution Day got more than 64 million tweets with #whomademyclothes.

With an organic cotton and fair trade supply chain brands and retailers can tell the stories to give consumers trust and value to the brand.


carrying cotton to warehouse Chetna 16

House of Fraser Creates New Head of Sustainability Role

House of Fraser has appointed Dr Dorothy Maxwell as its first head of sustainability, to lead and implement its corporate sustainability strategy.

Nigel Oddy House of Fraser CEO said: “Dorothy is one of the true experts in her field. We understand that our success is directly linked to the approach we take to our customers, the communities we operate in, the environment, our employees and all of our partners and suppliers. Dorothy’s expertise will be invaluable in supporting us in these areas.”

Executive chairman Frank Slevin added: “As we develop and position House of Fraser for the future both in the UK and internationally, we recognise that we must be at the forefront of the retail industry in key areas such as our approach to the environment and wider sustainability. With this new role within the company, we look forward to realising our sustainability ambitions.”

House of Fraser has recently started their first sustainable initiative with ‘Bags for Life’ offering organic and fair trade shopping bags instead of plastic bags.

House of Fraser


Discount Love is not Total Love

While the market share of discounters in Western European countries, such as Germany, remains strong, growth seems to be slowing as shoppers are increasingly demanding a greater choice of food products, including premium perishables. In response, both the discounters and the mid-market supermarket chains have upscaled their offerings. German consumers “want sustainability, they want organic, they want the best quality and still at a reasonable price”, the CEO of Rewe, a mid-market chain, told Reuters.

With giant pre-Christmas spending spree days now established, brands have to contend with subsequent consumer discount fatigue. But there are negative consequences for consumers. In Chile, where people usually get into debt during the holidays, published “Six keys to reaching Christmas with healthy finances”, recommending budgeting before going shopping and avoiding “ant spending”—the act of piling up expenses by constantly buying very cheap products.

Downturns boosting savvier, local shopping

In Argentina, according to Patricia Sosa of market-research firm CCR, with inflation spiralling, consumers “supervise, control, compare and punish retailers”, keeping a close eye on price fluctuations. Moreover, many refuse to buy full-priced products, whether they are white goods or travel packages. Consumers make full use of their negotiating power and boldly “flaunt their sheer disloyalty to channels, flags and even brands,” she adds. Speaking to Venezuelan daily El Mundo, Yamlusi Agostini of fashion company In Moda notes that Venezuelans are shifting from mainly buying foreign clothing brands to choosing local designs. Chinese shoppers are beginning to grow more accepting of cheaper goods that offer quality, despite a long-running national obsession with designer brands, according to internet retailer Biyao. Today, the Brazilian consumer’s “taste for top-of-the-line goods has been checked by economic reality”, the Financial Times newspaper asserts, adding that premiumisation is now “under relentless pressure”.


Mindfulness: The trend

The fascination with promoting the wellness of their inner selves shows that consumers are looking beyond physical health. The pursuit of mindfulness is apparent in bestseller lists, in app choices and holiday options and even the yoga pants fashion staple. The trend for looking workout-ready beyond the gym echoes the consumer embrace of a holistic attitude towards optimal physical and mental health. Persuaded by claims of stress reduction and increased mental clarity, mindfulness has been keenly adopted by major companies like Google and Apple. There is also a greater awareness of the minds of others, evident in diverse trends such as crowdsourced therapy and more sophisticated emoji.

Consumption is not just about things

The interest in mental wellbeing is part of a sustained broader rejection of consumption as merely the acquisition of more products. Dr. Teresa Belton, author of “Happier People Healthier Planet: How putting wellbeing first would help sustain life on earth”, advocates the benefits of non-material things like decluttering. This chimes with other writers, such as James Wallman in “Stuffocation: Living More With Less”. This interest in striving for mental wellness is also a response to pressured lives. It includes a tinge of nostalgia and offers a way for workaholics to pause. An awareness of the need to disconnect from things digital is clearly part of this consumer interest. Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post lectures on her transformation from fast-lane addict to evangelist for reflection, sleep and digital detoxing. London’s Barbican arts centre recently hosted the world premiere of Rolf Hind’s Lost in Thought, a “mindfulness opera” incorporating meditation and yoga.



Why department stores see ethical fashion as an opportunity

In the last few months, the concept of Ethical Fashion has become a key theme for Japanese department stores. Whilst a number of small-scale brands with Ethical Fashion approaches had occasionally showcased their products at some department stores, this is the first time that so many Japanese department stores hosted large-scale collections in their top-location branches.  Selling ethical fashion brands allows department stores to differentiate themselves and appeal to shopper desires for products with an emotional connection.  To be successful, though, department stores need to treat ethical fashion as long term trend, not a short term fad.

Department stores embrace ethical fashion

Mitsukoshi Isetan took lead in showcasing ethical fashion brands when its Isetan Shinjuku branch hosted a campaign ‘Isetan Ethical Fashion Week’ from 11th to 26th May 2015. Other department stores shortly followed suit; Tokyu Department Store hosting ‘Ethical Days’ in their key shopping centre Shibuya Hikarie from 14thMay, and Sogo’s Yokohama branch hosting ‘What’s Ethical? / Let’s start Ethical Fashion’ from 19th May. Seibu’s Shibuya branch also exhibited some fair trade accessory brands within their ‘Art meets Life’ campaign.

Isetan Ethical Fashion Week at Isetan Shinjuku Branch


Source: Euromonitor International

Fair Trade Accessories at Seibu Shibuya Branch


Source: Euromonitor International

During these campaigns, the department stores showcased a number of brands across such product categories as clothing, jewellery, handbags and other fashion accessories, sometimes with additional events like workshops and art exhibitions. The participating fashion brands take various approaches to Ethical Fashion – fair trade, organic and natural materials, upcycling and even promoting the Japanese traditional craftsmanship.

Corporate social responsibility activities are nothing new to Japanese department stores; many have engaged in such schemes as reducing packaging materials, minimising energy usage and more innovative approaches like Seibu Shibuya’s monthly talk sessions called Think College featuring people committed to social causes since 2012. Alternatively with the concept of Ethical Fashion, it seems that Japanese department stores have found a cause that not only matches but also enhances the premium brand value of department stores.

Why department stores see ethical fashion as an opportunity

Over the years, Japanese department stores have recorded poor sales performance, largely influenced by the long-lasting recession. Retail value sales of department stores shrank from ¥8.8 trillion in 2001 to ¥6.1 trillion in 2011. Whilst the positive economic outlook and the increasing number of foreign tourists contributed to the positive performance from 2012 through 2014, sales are projected to turn into a decline again in 2015 by 0.5% in value sales terms. In such a tough business environment, particularly with the intensified competition against other types of retailers and increasing luxury online channel, it is clear that Japanese department stores are making attempts to differentiate themselves by repositioning themselves as premium, fashionable, and now ethical.

Japanese consumers and Ethical Fashion

Generally, the concept of Ethical Fashion has yet to become widely understood by Japanese consumers. Japanese consumers are known for their high standards for quality and most principles of Ethical Fashion traditionally exist in the Japanese culture as demonstrated by the Japanese term Mottainai. This term conveys a sense of regret concerning waste, and discreetly promotes maintenance and long-term use of an item. However in the recent years, and contrary to the principles of Mottainai, fast fashion has been commonplace in Japan and taken over such traditional ideas.

Nevertheless, seemingly after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake in March 2011, Japanese consumers are increasingly steering away from fast fashion consumption patterns. Instead, Japanese consumers are seeing more value in shopping experiences with a meaning and storylines through products they purchase. In other words, Japanese consumers are increasingly seeking emotional connections with others rather than simply finding the lowest prices. This is presenting a timely opportunity for department stores to embrace Ethical Fashion.

In-Store display at Isetan Ethical Fashion Week, Isetan Shinjuku Branch


Source: Euromonitor International

A mutually beneficial partnership for department stores and Ethical Fashion is needed

Department stores will likely continue experimenting on unique attempts to differentiate themselves in the increasingly crowded Japanese retailing industry; namely to position themselves as premium, fashionable and ethical. In order for this to be a sustainable movement, however, department stores need to build a mutually beneficial partnership with ethical fashion brands that is sustainable for the long term. The ethical fashion brands benefit from the ability of department stores to promote those brands as premium and trendy while department stores gain the ability to differentiate themselves with new products that resonate deeper with shoppers.

However, there is a risk in department stores seeing Ethical Fashion as simply one of the ephemeral trends whilst Ethical Fashion needs more profound approaches. For the long-term success of this attempt, department stores need to work closely with designers and entrepreneurs with passion and stories behind these products whilst utilising their strengths like influence on the fashion industry, brand value, their stores and resources.

If department stores make a real commitment to Ethical Fashion, this will likely turn into a mutually beneficial partnership that is unique and sustainable. Given the changing consumer demands for emotionally powerful brands and high level of media interest seen in 2015, it is likely that ethical fashion will continue to grow in 2016 and beyond.


“At The Heart of Our Business Philosophy is ‘The Human Element'”

This month in January 2016 Selfridges launched the „Bright New Things“-initiative with the focus on sustainable fashion.

“We want to use our position to inspire our people, partners and customers to respect our environment, buy responsibly and champion sustainable products that contribute to healthy and happy communities. In short, we want to buy better and inspire change.”

With 5 key drivers Selfridges is leading the way to a sustainable fashion retail environment:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Our People
  3. Our Partners
  4. Our Business
  5. Our Environment


Selfridges has set a target to reduce 15% of their carbon footprint by 2020.


“Selfridges are world leaders, and if you change what people see and what is in fashion, you start to change everything- and we have to change things (…)” Professor Dilys Williams, Director of Centre for Sustainable fashion



Sustainability Matters?

Producing goods in a way that is sustainable to the environment is becoming more and more important to consumers and the environment itself.

The survey from West Monroe in 2014 found that more than half of the consumers surveyed (54%) are willing to pay at least 5% higher prices for a sustainable product and interestingly  most commented that the extra amount they would be willing to spend would depend on how “green” the product is. In terms of delivery the survey found that the largest percentage of respondents were willing to accept a one day inconvenience (34%). A slightly smaller percentage (30%) were willing to accept a three day delay.

Nielsen 2014

Nielsen reported that more than half (55%) of global respondents are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact—an increase from 50 percent in 2012 and 45 percent in 2011.

With consumers looking for more sustainable ways of acting, important questions are starting to be asked by organisations about whether sustainable practices should be the norm for their wider supply chains. In 2015 West Monroe and the Supply and Value Chain Centre at Loyola University Chicago surveyed multi national companies to find out their current business tendency towards sustainable practices.


The motivations for implementing sustainability initiatives vary greatly. The top motivator was brand image improvement, followed by innovation in products or processes and then executive management decision. Sustainability can be a clear differentiator and source of competitive advantage, in addition to its other benefits.


Approximately 56% of respondents are intensifying their efforts in green supply chain. Awareness and, more importantly, action are becoming commonplace and are increasing in both quantity and intensity.  Only two indicate there are no plans to add any sustainability initiatives.

Contact us if your company is looking for transparent sustainable production to gain a competitive advantage.

Consumers Are Increasingly Demanding More Than A Comfortable And Fashionable Product

The today’s global cotton industry has seen significant trends however the main driver is still the consumer demand.

The primary message delivered by panelists during the Third Open Session of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) was that consumers are increasingly demanding more than a comfortable and fashionable product at a reasonable price – they want to know the product’s story, too.

“Price and functionality are the primary drivers of consumer demand and will be for the foreseeable future, but sustainability is steadily growing in importance for buyers,” said Prem Malik, a partner with Techware Consultants.

“Our customers love everything about cotton,” said Pascal Brun, global supply chain manager for H&M. “However, their concerns about sustainability are not going to go away. People want to know the story behind the products they buy: what they are made of, where they come from, and what impact they have on the environment.”

Pramod Singh, cotton leader at IKEA mentioned “Retailers need to be able to tell that story or the customers will go to someone who can,” he said. “Being able to talk about sustainability isn’t enough to gain customers, but not being able to talk about sustainability is enough to lose them.”

Ultimately, all stakeholders in the cotton value chain have a role to play when it comes to increasing transparency and traceability.  The actively engage the end consumer in the process could pay big dividends in the long run.

“The cotton industry needs to take advantage of consumers’ hunger for knowledge by involving them in the sustainability movement,” Brun said. “For example, educating consumers about the benefits of recycling their clothing and textiles is not only beneficial for the environment, it makes people feel good when they purchase products made from cotton.”

International Cotton Advisory Committee (Dec 2015)

Organic Cotton ready for ginning (Chetna Organic)