Tag Archives: Responsibility

Designing values, Cradle to Cradle

No matter where we sit—consumer, designer, marketer, researcher, educator, etc.—on the global apparel supply chain, our understanding of responsibility stems from our values, individual or shared.

By design, we start with values (William McDonough)

We must constantly ask ourselves: “What are my values? What are my intentions? Do they align? How do they translate in practice?” Easier said than done? Not with Cradle to Cradle (C2C) design theory: C2C encapsulates values in design, by design.


Designers Accord – Sustainability in 7 – Bill McDonough from Core77 on Vimeo.

Image Source: “Am I happier now?” image by Carlotta Cataldi, of Slow Fashion Forward

Video Source: Core 77, Sustainability in 7 (via the Designers Accord)


Community News

Shifu, via Sri Threads

If a product is not considered, they call it an inconsiderate design (Lorrie Vogel, on Nike designers creating their own vocabulary, Opportunity Green)

A roundup of some of the stories, headlines, and updates you may be interested in from in and around the community of socially responsible fashion design. This week’s roundup has a ton of videos—there is a lot going on in our community!


Next: “user centered ecosystems designs”

New production method: Enslaved spiders produce huge tapestry



Does Greenwashing Exist in the Fashion Industry?

Ecotextile News

Eco-Textile Labelling Guide 2010

Ethical Style

‘18 Degrees of Inspiration’: 6 Degrees of Cool

More videos like this on www.t5m.com

My question is—will apparel brands and retailers demand new designers, merchandisers, and others who have committed to sustainability? Or will they continue hiring only those prepared to make financially cut-throat decisions for the sake of profits and margins? (Marsha Dickson, Discussion Forum: Just Style.com)

CSR Questions Arise About Project RED

Joel Makower: Two Steps Forward

Copenhagen Gets Down to Business


Discussion Forum, INSIGHT: Design education is key to sustainable fashion


Happy 100 Days to the MakeShift Project! SA had the chance to interview designer Natalie Purschwitz—click here to listen to this podcast, and others.

The Story of Stuff

Remembering Bhopal

The Story of Cap & Trade: Why you can’t solve a problem with the thinking that created it

The Uniform Project

Holiday Drive, double your donation: “eBay will match every dollar you donate during this holiday season up to $15k. If you’ve been waiting to donate, there is no better time than now.” (The Uniform Project) Click here to read more about the project.

The Uptake

Hopenhagen? No, thanks: Naomi Klein on COP15


Versace, Valentino, and Prada Packaging Supplier Cuts Ties With Rainforest Paper Producer

The Catwalk at COP15: Sustainable Fashion Design Competition in Copenhagen (Video)

Nike Considered’s Lorrie Vogel at Opportunity Green on Creating a Sustainable Design Ethos (Video)

University  of Delaware, UDaily

Fashion and Apparel Studies instructor promoting sustainability worldwide

Sri Threads

The Art of Shifu: Hiroko Karuno’s Original Interpretation of Traditional Woven Paper

Social Alterations has been in the news over the past few weeks for our upcoming interview with Noko Jeans (stay tuned!), and for Fashioning the Future:

Caution: Shameful Self Promotion Ahead!

CSR Asia

Your jeans are from North Korea

Ex-CSR Asia intern wins Sustainable Fashion Industry Award


London College of Fashion Draws Designs for the Future

Arts Thread

Fashioning the Future 2009 Awards, London

Glass Magazine

Fashioning the Future 2009

Winners Announced! Fashioning the Future

Miriam Rhida

Miriam Rhida

I’ve got some exciting news to share with you! On November 25th I won the “Systems for a Sustainable Future Award” in the Fashioning the Future international student competition. This competition is run through the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion. There were 5 winners in total, each representing five separate categories, with forty finalists over all. I’m excited to have had the opportunity to showcase and share my graduate research, and this website.


Emma Rigby

Emma Rigby

Zoe Fletcher won the Enterprise & Communication Initiative for a Future Fashion Industry Award (Highly Commended: Ruby Hoette and Julia Crew)

Varun Gambhir won the Role of Materials in a Sustainable Fashion Industry Award (Highly Commended: Karina Micheal)

Mary Hanlon won the Systems for a Sustainable Fashion Industry Award

Miriam Rhida won the Design for a Thriving Fashion Industry Award (Highly Commended: Eleanor Dorrien-Smith and On Ying Lai)

Emma Rigby won the Water – The Right for All Citizens of this Planet Award (Highly Commended: Anne Prahl).



International competitions such as the Fashioning the Future awards offer students the chance not only to showcase their work, but to benchmark themselves against other students in their field at the international level.

Please visit the Centre for Sustainable Fashion to check out the details of the competition, and the full list of finalists! For more images, check out this photo gallery from The Guardian.

On Ying

On Ying

Also, if you are in London, be sure to stop by London’s City Hall and London College of Fashion to check out the highlights from the 2009 awards. Here are the details:

FASHIONING THE FUTURE AT CITY HALL, 19 November – 4 December 2009
Highlights of the 2009 awards to be showcased at London’s City Hall, with thanks to the London Sustainable Development Commission.
Open to the public, free of charge.
Greater London Authority, City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA

Highlights of the 2009 awards to be showcased at London College of Fashion.
Open to the public, free of charge.
London College of Fashion, 20 John Princes Street, London W1G 0BJ

 Congratulations everyone! And thank you for your support!


Images via The Guardian

Heirloom: Style, Materials and Sustainability

Heirloom “The 11th Annual New York Fashion and Design Conference considers the link between sustainability and stewardship as embodied in the broad concept of ‘Heirloom,’ the process whereby one generation’s creations become the valued patrimony of those that follow.

“Our examination will be inclusive, focusing not only on objects that are traditionally conceived of as heirlooms such as watches, wedding gowns, and jewelry, but also on the materials used to create them (fibres, for example) and on other, less obvious heirlooms (fragrance, for example). Eco-consciousness, differing approaches to the transmission of craft, and fair trade are considered, as is the notion that enduring design and craft are a form of preservation.

“Linking all are rituals that transform materials and objects into heirlooms. The ultimate heirloom is the Earth itself, and attention to eco-friendly principles and practices is important to the custodianship that heirloom status implies and requires. We consider a central question for the 21st century: How do we carry on the traditions of the past while meeting contemporary challenges such as the need for conservation of the earth’s resources?” (Initiatives in Art and Culture)

For more information, you can download the PDF here.

Title: Heirloom: Style, Materials and Sustainability
Location: New York
Link out: Click here
Start Date: 2009-12-03
End Date: 2009-12-05

Update III: Uzbekistan’s Cotton Trail

Yet another update on forced and child labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector.

The Cotton Campaign continues to report on the flagrant abuse of human rights by the Uzbek government.  There have been some unfortunate incidents linked to this year’s harvest (to read more about them click below) including:

Another post gives a quick overview of the findings in the Veritas  preliminary report saying that:

The Cotton Campaign, through Ferghana.ru, has posted a list of representatives that were present at the Tashkent Cotton Fair.  According to the Cotton Campaign, “contracts were signed for over 600,000 tons of this year’s crop alone, and the list of attendees was the largest ever.”

Take a look at the list and see if you recognize any names. Please let us know who they are and which companies they service.  This is a big step in the ability to trace this harvest.

Finally, in case some are still wondering what the big deal is, here are some videos showing what life is like for the cotton labourers.

A Big Step for Russell Athletics, A Giant Leap for Best Practices

On November 17th, 2009, United Students Against Sweatshops announced its historic victory against Russell Athletics with an agreement to reinstate 1200 Honduran workers that had been laid off when Jerzees de Honduras factory shutdown shortly after unionization.

The Case:

As outlined in the previous post by Mary Hanlon:  “Over a two-year period, Russell managers carried out a campaign of retaliation and intimidation in order to stop workers at two of the company’s Honduran factories from exercising their right to form a trade union and bargain collectively.”

Jerzees de Honduras which was directly owned and operated by Russell was one of the targeted factories.  A report by the Worker Rights Consortium details that:

“Prior to the closure announcement, the WRC, as part of an ongoing inquiry into code compliance at Jerzees de Honduras, had identified persistent violations of workers’ associational rights, including multiple threats from management personnel that the factory would close because of the decision of workers to exercise their right to unionize. The WRC brought these violations to the attention of Russell’s senior management in the United States on multiple occasions, but the problems continued. Thus, at the time of the closure announcement, on October 8, 2008, the WRC already possessed substantial credible evidence that the decision to close the facility was, at least in significant part, a product of ongoing animus by the company toward workers’ exercise of their associational rights. The WRC reported this to universities on October 10, 2008.”

In a letter addressed to their collegiate partners, Russell emphatically denies these accusations stating that:

“The recent decision to close Jerzees de Honduras (JDH) had nothing to do with unions. In fact, we previously recognized that plant’s union status on October 3, 2007 — more than a year prior to the closing. As the Fair Labor Association (FLA) noted in its report: “If the primary motive of the company had been to frustrate the union, it could have closed JDH earlier and even switched production from Honduras to Mexico.”

We made the painful decision to close this plant due to deteriorating economic conditions that caused a severe global slowdown in the demand for fleece products. We are not alone in facing a decline in business. Approximately 25 different Honduran factories closed in the last year, including many apparel manufacturers. Furthermore, JDH was our only facility with a lease that permitted us to vacate immediately. The choice was that black and white, and an independent investigation commissioned by the FLA found that basing our decision on the lease saved the company $2 million, enabling us to protect jobs in our other plants. It’s also important to note the decline in the apparel market forced us to announce the closure of seven other company facilities in the U.S. and Central America, all of which were non-union.”

The Movement:

Following the shut down of the factory, USAS successfully lobbied around 100 universities to terminate or suspend their licensing contracts with Russell Athletics.  According to the NYTimes, USAS used other pressure tactics and activist strategies:

“Going beyond their campuses, student activists picketed the N.B.A. finals in Orlando and Los Angeles this year to protest the league’s licensing agreement with Russell. They distributed fliers inside Sports Authority sporting goods stores and sent Twitter messages to customers of Dick’s Sporting Goods to urge them to boycott Russell products.

The students even sent activists to knock on Warren Buffett’s door in Omaha because his company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns Fruit of the Loom, Russell’s parent company.”

The students also worked with 65 members of Congress to draft a letter that expressed their “grave concern” and requested a response from the company to the allegations of misconduct.  The letter can be found here.

While USAS was working hard to bring attention to the issue, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) decided to conduct a series of investigations into the allegations against Russell.  In June, the FLA put Russell on a 90-day special review which “requires specific actions by Russell to address issues related to the closure of the Jerzees de Honduras factory and to be in good standing with the FLA.” The FLA then worked with Russell to create a remediation plan which the company must follow in order to be removed from special review status which was extended another 45 days.  This status continues until the end of the current special review period which will be in mid-December.

The Conclusion:

On November 17th, after a series of talks and negotiations a statement was released that stated:

“Russell Athletic and the union of workers of Jerzees de Honduras S.A. de C.V. SITRAJERZEESH and the General Confederation of Workers are pleased to announce the completion of an agreement that is intended to foster workers rights in Honduras and establish a harmonious and cooperative labor-management relationship. This agreement represents a significant achievement in the history of the apparel sector in Honduras and in Central America.”

Highlights of the agreement are Russell’s promises to reopen the factory, reinstate 1200 former workers and recognize SITRAJERZEESH.  Perhaps the most important promise is that of non-interference and union neutrality in all facilities owned by the company in Honduras.

Rod Palmquist, USAS International Campaign Co-ordinator, was quoted in the USAS press release describing the significance of this agreement:

“This is the first time we know of where a factory that was shut down to eliminate a union was later re-opened after a worker-activist campaign. This is also the first company-wide neutrality agreement in the history of the Central America apparel export industry – and it has been entered into by the largest private employer in Honduras, the largest exporter of t-shirts to the US market in the world.”

SA would like to congratulate everyone!!!  Thank you for your hard work to make an unjust situation right again.  This is an interesting example of work being done on multiple fronts to improve labour conditions.  While this conclusion only affects workers in Russell and Fruit of the Loom factories in Honduras, it may become a big step in best practices in the Central American apparel industry.

Community News

A roundup of some of the stories, headlines, and updates you may be interested in from in and around the community of socially responsible fashion design.


[Image: Beyond Green, via Modebewust]

Coco Eco Magazine

Issue 8

Don’t be afraid to start a change, change can happen in very very small places. 

 (Kate Fletcher, speaking at Beyond Green)


Design Thinking is the Flavour of the Month

CSR Asia

CSR Asia Weekly Vol. 5, Week 47

–  Does microfinance always lead to development?
–  Health and safety for the business and the community
–  Codes of conduct: The view from the small end of town…

Ethical Style

Issue # 26 “The British Invasion”

Fashion Loves People

The Fashion Loves People Store: Open now!

Fashion Takes Action and Evolution Green

Shop Sustainable

How about not designing that thing? (SlowLab, speaking at Beyond Green)




Ascension Opens the First Ethical Fashion Store in Central London

Global Sourcing Marketplace Draws Sustainable Designers and Suppliers

Nau CEO Gordon Seabury Talks Sustainable Fashion

The Story of Stuff….in Spanish!

La Historia de las Cosas

University of Delaware

Dr. Marsha Dickson is awarded the Apparel Magazine All Star Award by the International Textile and Apparel Association



Meet// Reyna Martinez: Stitched up in Honduras Speaker Tour

Over a two-year period, Russell managers carried out a campaign of retaliation and intimidation in order to stop workers at two of the company’s Honduran factories from exercising their right to organize and bargain collectively. (People & Planet)

Below is a message from Fashioning an Ethical Industry (FEI):

People and Planet and Labour behind the Label present Reyna Martinez – sharing her story of the mission to defend the human rights’ of factory workers supplying Fruit of the Loom in Honduras.

On November 7, 2008, a 36-page report documented serious violations of workers rights by the Russell Corporation, a company wholly owned by Fruit of the Loom. Over a two-year period, Russell managers carried out a campaign of retaliation and intimidation in order to stop workers at two of the company’s Honduran factories from exercising their right to form a trade union and bargain collectively.

The courage of workers in Honduras and a university boycott has forced Fruit of the Loom to listen to the pleas of their employees, and they are now negotiating with the union in Washington DC, which they previously refused to do.
Buy Right
Hear Reyna Martinez’s story:

24th November: Edinburgh University David Hume Tower, Conference Room
25th November: Birmingham University, Guild Council Chambers
26th November: Oxford University
27thNovember: Bristol Kino Cafe, Nice Tree Hill
30th November: London UCL University

For further information on the speaker tour please see the People and Planet website

Source: People and Planet, via FEI



Be part of the {Shift}Title: THEKEY. T(W)O
Location: Germany
Link out: Click here

THEKEY.TO was successfully launched in July 2009. Its start leads back to the visionary idea of an international team of interdisciplinary professionals who decided to give birth to the first international event for green fashion, sustainable lifestyle and culture in Berlin.

THEKEY.TO is the ideal event to spot new trends and visions in the fashion industry. It aims at showcasing a strong selection of future minded brands that stand out for their style and for their green approach. Through the labels’ selection and the intense cultural program THEKEY.TO aims at spreading the signal that the shift towards an era where coolness and a strong sense for quality and responsibility are naturally interlinked, is already possible. It’s now!

THEKEY.TO is a forum of sustainability providing a platform for the interchange of information, culture and spontaneous networking, with an intense event program including expert workshops and forums with international guest speakers.

According to their website, THEKEY. T(W)O’s full program will not be up until Dec. 14th. We’ll be sure to keep you updated when the info is available-stay tuned!

Start Date: 2010-01-20
End Date: 2010-01-23

Source: THEKEY. T(W)O and Ecotextile News

Summary of the CSR – Asia Summit 2009

CSR Asia 2009

Panel Disucssion: Karamjit Singh (Editor, The Edge), Dato’ Yusli Mohammed Yusoff (Chief Executive Officer, Bursa Malaysia) and Richard Welford ( Chairman CSR Asia)

27th-28th October 2009 CSR – Asia held its 7th summit “Sustainable Business as the Road to Recovery” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  on the most cutting edge CSR issues facing businesses in these turbulent times of trading. 

As I came to the conference with a fashion background, with knowledge of the direct implications CSR has on the textile and apparel industry, my perspectives and knowledge was over the course of two intense days challenged and greatly advanced.

 I therefore want to share with you some of the main topics and issues which were discussed throughout the summit.

 Richard Welford, Chairman of CSR – Asia kicked off the summit by highlighting what the recession has meant for CSR.

He started out by stating that “as many business leaders as well as other stakeholders and the general society assumed that the “trend” of ethical business practises would subside as a result of the recession they were wrong!  As it is now is more relevant than ever”.

He supported this by explaining how the recession has put a stronger focus on irresponsible business practises, which has resulted in consumers now demanding and expecting companies to take responsibility for how they make their money with transparency being key.

 CSR is also stronger than it was a year ago there has been budget increases within some CSR departments. However others have seen cuts in accordance with other departments as businesses have been hit by the recession.

 Further Richard announced the publication of Asian Sustainability Rating™ on www.csr-asia.comwhich provides an indepth assessment of CSR related disclosure of 200 of the largest companies across ten countries in Asia.

 In the panel discussion which followed where Richard Welford, Dato’ Yusli Mohammed Yusoff (Chief Executive Officer, Bursa Malaysia) and Karamjit Singh (Editor, The Edge) agreed that CSR will determine the winners and losers in the aftermath of the recession. A W recovery was predicted which was underpinned with the importance of companies looking internally for their competitive edge to enhance their brand reputation.

One issue, which was a coherent throughout the whole summit, was the importance of stakeholders.

Richard concluded the panel discussion by specifying “You cannot do CSR without stakeholder engagement and community investment”.

 Terence Lyons from Augure held a session on the future of stakeholder engagement. He stressed the importance of identifying your stakeholders within your value chain through an actionable framework. Further he provided a model of how to convince board of directors to provide recourses to CSR. One has to have a compelling story, position the big picture and then tie the big picture.

Ever heard about naked CSR? Well I had not, or at least until Ashley Hegland from Edelman explained the power and influence of viral marketing. As our generation is far more exposed to and engaged in opportunities of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, blogging ect the slightly older generations (which normally are CEOs) are now identifying the potential and opportunities which the interactive media can have on their businesses.

Viral marketing is a great tool for companies to use to engage stakeholders with their CSR practices.

I was lucky to meet Allison Murry, former Head of Responsibility at T-Mobile which explained how T – Mobile created an interactive website where:

We want your help to design new mobile applications that will help tackle a social or environmental issue we all care about. 

Everyone can get involved by helping us choose the issues to focus on and share ideas for mobile applications. We then look into turning the ideas into mobile apps that will be launched for people to use that have a real impact. 

 Allison then told me about the first application they launched which was the:

Recycle Guide – save time, money and help the environment with our new mobile app

By using the Recycle guide you can discover where and when you can recycle within the UK. For more information visit http://thespark.t-mobile.co.uk/about/our-mobile-apps.

 A great initiative – and an inspiration for others to think outside the box!

 The issue of transparency and governance was quite engaging as to how this allow for better risk management and therefore will enable companies to identify their ESG risks. David Smith from RiskMetrics Group explained how adopting transparency would protect companies against “swimming naked when the tide goes out”. He also stressed the importance of this, as investors’ now wants to know the good and bad of a company’s CSR performance.

This was just a very brief summary of the summit and some of the key points which I took from it. However when I get the rest of my notes in order I will post another post with some further thoughts and ideas which was discussed.

Finally I would just like to thank CSR Asia for hosting such a inspiring and challenging summit and if anyone gets the chance to go next year when it’s held in Hong Kong – I would strongly recommend it!


Source: T-Mobile, CSR – Asia Summit 2009