Young Consumers Are Essential in the Fight Against Fast Fashion

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Millennial consumers have started to question how their clothes are made but consumers of all ages need to do more to tackle fashion labor abuses, according to a British lawmaker and sustainable fashion campaigner. Baroness Lola Young said young people are increasingly engaged with political and economic issues and willing to fight on social causes – and labor abuses in the garment industry were no exception.

Young said harnessing this energy was vital to revolutionize the fashion industry which has come under pressure since more than 1,100 workers died in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013. “A lot of young people are very concerned about a whole range of social justice issues and therefore are quite willing to go into the fray when they know what is going on,” said Young, who founded an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion.

She further states that transforming consumer behavior in the West and changing the model of the “throwaway disposable society” is an important way to tackle labor abuses, particularly in the fast fashion sector.

Many big fashion brands have been criticized for failing to improve the conditions for workers in their global supply chains – from poor health and safety standards and long working hours to low pay and bans on forming trade unions.

The Way Forward

According to Young, while young people could often not afford more expensive clothing, she hoped exchange ventures at retailers such as Sweden’s H&M – where customers return old clothes for recycling in return for vouchers – could show a new way forward. She said they are also getting more engaged even as many have concerns over a period of global instability.

“Paradoxically, what feels like current political volatility has made some people sit up and think: ‘What are we doing here? We’ve got to take more control over what’s happening in this world and fight some of these injustices much more openly,'” Young said in an interview. She said different sectors of the fashion industry – from fast fashion to haute couture – had different challenges and will have to take different approaches to the problems.

Yet Young added that fully addressing the issues surrounding the supply chain was a “big ask” for the industry as “we need to look again fundamentally at how the garment industry works.” She further noted, “You really need to look at your business models because they’re not delivering this ethical industry that many of us would like to see.”

Young said that while Western awareness of the issues has grown recently, many people still do not think about where their clothes come from until their attention is drawn by a large-scale event such as the Rana Plaza disaster. Young said one of most effective ways to tackle the problems would be to support organizations working on the ground to implement an effective monitoring system that would empower workers and enable them to fight for better conditions.

She emphasized the urgency of tackling these issues. “Time is running out in relation to the environment, time is running in terms of the dreadful impact that it’s having on various communities and individuals around the world. So you’ve got to get on and do something really really quickly,” she said.

*This story first appeared on The Fashion Law

Image: Zara


World’s Leading Apparel Brands Combine Forces to Transform Global Labor Conditions

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Today, a Social and Labor Convergence Project led by the world’s most well-known brands, retailers, industry groups and civil society was launched with the aim of improving working conditions in the global apparel and footwear manufacturing sector.

The project seeks to achieve real, sustainable change through the collective development of an industry-wide, standardized methodology for social and labor performance assessment in the apparel and footwear supply chains. The industry believes that through convergence of assessment tools, costs on duplicated auditing will be significantly reduced, and the money saved will instead be used to improve social welfare for millions of people employed in the sector.

This collaborative effort is being facilitated by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and supported by leading organizations and companies, both SAC members and non-members. Signatories to the public statement include Nike, H&M, VFc-Timberland, Levi Strauss & Co., PVH Corp., Gap Inc., Target, Columbia Sportswear Co. and adidas Group, standard holding organisation WRAP, the non‐profit supply chain improvement experts Sedex, NGO Solidaridad, auditing firms Bureau Veritas and SGS, the International Apparel Federation and many others stakeholders at all levels in the value chain. The signatories invite other stakeholders to join this collaborative effort.

The Social and Labor Convergence Project follows the development of a successful assessment framework created by the SAC and its members.  The initiative seeks to respond to the calls from the European Commission, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and a number of European countries for a standardized global approach to social and labor assessment.

Baptiste Carriere-Pradal, Vice-President Europe of SAC says: “The industry, having heard the call from so many different stakeholders, is convinced that the time has come to create greater alignment. We want to check less and act more: This initiative will accelerate a race to the top in social impacts within apparel and footwear manufacturing countries by shifting resources away from redundant and misaligned assessments to performance improvement and enhanced transparency. Convergence is the key to successfully increase transparency and to improve working conditions in global supply chains.”

“As a company with a pioneering record on labor rights and a long history of industry collaboration, we welcome the opportunity to explore how to support more effective and efficient ways to raise labor standards in the apparel supply chain.” Michael Kobori, VP of Sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co.

“Social and labor assessment convergence to get to “one assessment” is an often repeated request of Sedex members, especially manufacturers, which is why Sedex is delighted to be a part of this new project.” Jonathan Ivelaw-Chapman, CEO at Sedex

Public Statement – Amsterdam, 21st October 2015

We, signatories to this Statement, recognize that the proliferation of differing codes, audits, protocols and approaches are hampering the improvement of social and labor performance within global supply chains.  We believe that there is both a need and an opportunity for collaboration. Our common goal is to drive opportunities for harmonization and convergence in social auditing, as a means to improve social performance in global supply chains.  We call on others to join us.

Since the rise of social auditing in the apparel and footwear supply chain more than twenty years ago, we have seen the number of social audit standards and methods increase dramatically, some with only minor differences. With brands and retailers each applying their own slightly different standards, manufacturers are allocating valuable resources to manage a steady stream of audits.  In addition to contributing to “audit fatigue,” this duplication reduces the value of audits and consumes resources that could otherwise be applied to making improvements.

Some initiatives have recently highlighted the need for broader acceptance of shared assessment approaches and methods.  Many voices from government, industry, and non-profit organizations are calling for a convergence of social and labor auditing practices in the supply chain.

We, the signatories, understand that the solutions to these problems will require close co-operation between all tiers of the supply chain, as well as with multi-stakeholder initiatives that have developed assessment tools and methods.  We call for collaboration among these actors to reach a common social assessment standard, method or tool for social and labor performance measurement in apparel and footwear supply chains.  We believe that this effort could later be applied to other industries.

A new dialogue will enable the industry to:

  • Enhance transparency while dramatically reducing the number of social and labor assessments in our industry;
  • Shift financial resources away from assessment to performance improvement;
  • Accelerate a race to the top in social impacts within apparel and footwear manufacturing countries.

The collaboration will work under the umbrella of the “Social and Labor Convergence Project”, facilitated by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.  The SAC is committed to facilitate this project in an equal partnership approach by bringing together all segments of the value chain, including manufacturers, brands, retailers, non-governmental organization, workers unions, government representation, auditing firms and all relevant stakeholders, and by working with other multi-stakeholder initiatives which have developed assessment tools and methods.

We, the signatories, acknowledge that convergence is a critical enabler for increasing transparency and improving working conditions in global supply chains.  We are committed to this goal and will focus the next six months to clarify the scope, desired outcomes and success criteria for this collaboration. We urge others to enter into our collaboration with us – and hasten the transition to harmonization, convergence in social auditing across the apparel and footwear supply chain.

Organizations that would be interested to participate in this initiative should contact baptiste@apparelcoalition.org.

Brands / Retailers

  • adidas Group
  • Asics
  • Bestseller
  • Burton
  • Columbia Sportswear Co.
  • Gap Inc.
  • H&M
  • IC Group
  • Inditex
  • Levi Strauss & Co.
  • MEC
  • Nike
  • Patagonia
  • Puma
  • PVH Corp.
  • REI
  • Target
  • VFC- Timberland


  • Avery Dennison
  • W.L. Gore & Associates, Fabrics Division
  • Hanbo
  • L&E International, Ltd.

Organizations – NGO

  • European Outdoor Group (EOG)
  • International Apparel Federation (IAF)
  • IDH
  • Outdoor Industry Association (OIA)
  • Sedex
  • Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC)
  • Solidaridad
  • Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP)

Auditing Firms

  • Bureau Veritas
  • Control Union
  • SGS

*This story first appeared here.