FEI and EFF upcoming events

 

I wrote earlier on the upcoming Fashioning an Ethical Industry Conference: Putting ethics into practice. It is an event that I am really looking forward to, as this year’s theme is well aligned with my research question (thesis due March 31st, Yikes!). There are lots of events going on at this time through both FEI and the Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF). Please check out these other three events:

 

Fashion+
Fashion+

 

Fashion plus workshops and masterclasses 

The Ethical Fashion Forum is running a seminar series called “Spotlight on Sourcing”, as part of their Fashion+ project, focused on how fashion can change lives.  The series includes:

Ongoing from 20th January 2009

1. Evening seminars on the 3rd Tuesday of every month (excluding fashion weeks) featuring presentations by leading practitioners and experts, updates from suppliers, and structured networking.

2. Masterclasses for smaller groups, going into more depth on each of the issues raised by seminars. Run by experts and practitioners. Masterclasses allow you to focus and work through sourcing challenges faced by your business.

 

This event information was taken directly from the FEI Events page, here.

 

Garment factory worker in Bangladesh, FEI, Credit Clean Clothes Campaign
Garment factory worker in Bangladesh, FEI, Credit Clean Clothes Campaign

 

9th March 2009

Open FEI workshops and staff training in Scotland

Staff Training 10.30am – 1.00pm and Student Workshop 2.00 – 4.00pm at Edinburgh College of Art.

Staff Training: This session is a unique opportunity for tutors and support staff at higher or further education instiutions to explore poor working conditions in the garment industry and learn how to integrate ethical issues into course curricula and student’s projects. This session will include presentations from Bangladeshi speakers about their work improving conditions for garment workers in Bangladesh and Liz Parker, FEI project coordinator and a co-editor of ‘Sustainable Fashion: A Handbook for Educators’, discussing different approaches to teaching ethical issues for a wide range of disciplines from design to fashion business and marketing. 

Student Workshop: This session will give students the opportunity to hear about working conditions in the garment industry and explore how the lives of workers could be positively transformed by changing the way the fashion industry currently operates.   

 

This event information was taken directly from this FEI Events page, here.

Ethical and Eco Fashion Show
Ethical and Eco Fashion Show
 
 
3rd April 2009

Ethical and Eco Fashion Show

Come and see some of the best in ‘eco’ and ‘ethical’ design including Howies, Enamore, Myella, SI:SU and Gringo at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea on the 3rd April 2009 from 6 to 9.30pm. Tickets cost £4.50 for adults and £3.00 for concessions and can be purchased from Swansea Environmental Centre, Pier Street, Swansea, SA1 1RY or call 01792480200. All proceeds from this event will go to Fashioning an Ethical Industry and Swansea Environmental Centre. 

 

Source: Posters and information from CSF, FEI and FEI, EFF

FIBERcast

 

Register for FIBERcast, taking place on Monday, Feb. 23, 2009 @ 1:30 pm Eastern. Registration is free, but if you miss it live it will be available for download afterwards:

 

“For our first FIBERcast, join Dr. Hye-Shin Kim of the University of Delaware in examining social responsibility’s role in transforming production and sourcing practices in the global apparel trade. Her guests include Marsha Dickson, University of Delaware professor and chairperson of the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies, board member of the Fair Labor Association, and co-author of the new book Social Resonsibility in the Global Apparel Industry, and Doug Cahn, of the Cahn Group, LLC, who has been a corporate responsibility and public policy executive for the past 30 years, including vice president of human rights programs at Reebok International. Learn why social responsibility is still needed in the apparel industry and how industry practitioners can align social responsibility initiatives with core business, bottom-line goals.”

 

I will be attending and will post notes on this site.

 

Source: fiber

Vivienne Westwood: PVC Debate

  

Lady Dragon
Vivienne Westwood: Lady Dragon

Vivienne Westwood recently teamed up with Melissa to create a new shoe collection. “The Fashion Audit: 02/02/09” in The Independent claims that these shoes are made from recycled rubber. The shoe company offers limited information on the details of the environmental factors associated with the plastic. One thing for sure, the shoes, like all Melissa shoes, are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Now, I am no expert on PVC, that’s for sure, but I seem to recall the material being associated with some pretty serious safety and environmental risks. What’s changed? Apparently, at least one PVC manufacturer (Grendene), has been producing sustainable PVC since 1996?

Vancouver based Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) takes a clear stand against the use of PVC in its products. According to MEC,

“Polyvinyl chloride, known as “PVC” or simply as “vinyl”, is a common compound used in thousands of products. But for us and the planet, it’s bad stuff. During manufacture it produces potent carcinogens and toxins including dioxins, chlorine residue, and heavy-metal pollutants. Over their lifespan, PVC products can off-gas and leak some of their dangerous additives. PVC is difficult to recycle; most of it ends up in landfills. When burned, it releases further dioxins and gases such as hydrogen chloride.”

 

According to Melissa,

 

“Plastic is the chosen medium to communicate technology and renewal”

“Because our products are created from mono-materials they can be easily disassembled and recycled. Solid, liquid and gas residues, left over from our production process, are recycled and dealt with in-house. Nothing leaves the factory without being treated, resulting in practically zero waste.”

 

The company sources its PVC from Grendene, whose site offers no real information on the material. You can read the company’s Code of Conduct here, and a statement on PVC here

 

I have sent in an email to the people at Melissa, Vivienne Westwood, and Grendene requesting more information on PVC and will hopefully hear back and write more on the subject at a later date.

 

You can find “The Fashion Audit: 02/02/09” by Harriet Walker here

You can read more on Melissa’s sustainable plastic dreams, and the designers working with the company here

 

Sweated Labour, Dell, Transparency and this Blog

 

The issue of transparency is an important one. So, here’s a little blogging transparency … I write this ethical fashion blog on my ‘Made in China’ Espresso Brown Dell Inspiron 1525.

 

The National Labour Committee released a report today titled “High Tech Misery in China: The Dehumanization of Young Workers Producing Our Computer Keyboards” Sure enough, Dell is one of the companies manufacturing products in the Meitai Plastics & Electronics factory highlighted in the report in Dongguan City, Guangdong China.

 

According to the report, the base salary at the factory is 64 cents/hour. Minus room and board, workers take home 41cents/hour. Tax all in, my ‘made to order’ laptop set me back $620.48.

 

Other companies producing in the factory include Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Microsoft and IBM.

 

You can view the NLC report here

FEI Conference

 

Clean Clothes Campaign via FEI
A home worker's work bench in Belgrade, Credit: Clean Clothes Campaign via FEI

Fashioning an Ethical Industry: Putting Ethics into Practice March 11th, 2009

 

This is a one day conference that will bring together experts in ethical fashion, as well as students and tutors, to discuss the current state of the ethical fashion industry, and ways to put ethics into practice. There is no question this will be an excellent conference.

 

You can read more about this year’s conference and speakers here.

To read a report on last year’s event click here, or to listen to a podcast, click here.

Source: FEI

Message from the Asian Human Rights Commission on the 60th Anniversary of UDHR

Many textile and apparel companies boast a commitment to operating within the legal frameworks of the countries in which they manufacture. It would seem only reasonable to expect as much (Congratulations! You didn’t break the law!). Considering the standard of human rights within such countries, should this fact be celebrated?

December 10th marked the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In this video, Basil Fernando, CEO of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), highlights the issue of “non-rule of law”. According to Fernando, the last 60 years of Human Rights has only worked to establish the conversation of rights. He hopes the next 60 years will see the realization and achievement of Human Rights. On this 60th anniversary, I hope that consumers will consider the standard of the law within the countries their garments are produced, and support companies that promote international labour standards rather than those that hide behind frameworks of corrupt legal systems.

The AHRC has released their annual report on the state of human rights in 11 countries (Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand). You can download country reports here

The AHRC also works to document the countless human rights violations taking place in Asia. To receive notification of the AHRC Urgent Requests, just subscribe to their mailing list. Once you receive an urgent request, it only takes a few seconds to follow the link and send the letter of complaint they have already written for you to the appropriate individuals. You can subscribe here.

re: manufacturing TOMS

 

Unsatisfied with the available information on manufacturing on TOMS site, I send the company some questions via email on Dec. 4th. Sean Scott, Chief Shoe Maker, responded today with some answers. Attached to the email was the company’s Code of Conduct. This information is not available online. If you are interested in reading the Code of Conduct, I suggest you send a request to sean@TOMSshoes.com, or send me a message and I will forward it over to you.

 

MH: How does TOMS define fair labor standards?

 

SS: Fair labor standards are defined largely by the local government but mostly by TOMS collective conscience.  We easily exceed worldwide legal standards.  “Fair labor standards” covers a broad spectrum of issues.  Please refer to attached TOMS Code of Conduct required of all our manufacturers.

 

MH: How does TOMS define fair labor wages? 

 

SS:  Please refer to attached TOMS Code of Conduct required of all our manufacturers.

 
MH: How often are your factories monitored? Your site simply states ‘routinely.’

 

SS:  TOMS employees are in our China and Argentina factories virtually every day.  So we can be sure there are no egregious human, social, safety, or environmental violations.  That said, we are not experts in these fields.  Therefore we contract factory audits by well-established, independent firms 1 or 2 times per year to enlighten us of any important issues.  

 
MH: What are “TOMS strict standards”?

 

SS:  Again, Please refer to attached TOMS Code of Conduct required of all our manufacturers.

 

MH: Who is the third party monitor used by TOMS responsible for factory audits?

 

SS:  Intertek (ITS)   http://www.intertek-labtest.com

 

MH: Congratulations on the success your company has had with your “one for one” campaign. My concern here is with transparency with respect to manufacturing.

 

SS:  Good questions all.  The above and attached info is available to anyone: Grad student, street musician, competitor, whomever…

Take care,

Sean

 

 

The obvious question now is why this information is not available on the company site?

goodprint vs. badprint

 

I had recently done a post on ebay and World of Good, Inc. After taking a closer look, I was surprised to find TOMS shoes categorized under “Economic Empowerment,” for shoppers interested in supporting “People Positive” consumption practices. For those of you who haven’t heard of TOMS, they are a California based shoe company that has received lots of buzz over their “one for one” campaign. According to company policy, for every shoe sold, one will be donated to a child in need. The shoe drop-offs are well documented through photos and video, available on the site. Unfortunately, the company has not been as transparent with respect to how their shoes are manufactured. Listed under FAQ’s you will find some information, however this information has in no way separated TOMS shoes from any other shoe company, and is hardly enough to qualify the shoes as sustainable/ethical. Despite this fact, World of Good and ebay have categorized TOMS shoes as an option for shoppers to promote economic value and empowerment.