The Round Up: Another factory fire, how the coronavirus is affecting fashion & more

The Round-Up is ZERRIN’s weekly sustainable fashion and beauty news digest, keeping you up to date with all the latest updates worldwide. From reporting on the green moves of retail industry giants to uncovering the latest updates from emerging brands, innovations and ideas, we’ll be sharing it all in this dedicated weekly update!

Factory fire consumes the lives of seven garment workers in Ahmedabad, India

1. Factory fire consumes the lives of seven garment workers in Ahmedabad, India.

On the 8th of February, a fire broke out in Nandan Denim factory in Ahmedabad, India, with seven reported casualties. This factory produces denim for Zara, Target, and Ralph Lauren. While the cause of the fire is unknown, reports say that the factory was poorly ventilated, and the only exit was accessible by ladder. The owner and managing director of Chiripal Group, which owns the factory, are in custody for "culpable homicide and negligence”. 

This instance reminds us of the unfortunate collapse of the Rana Plaza, after which agreements between workers and brands were established, as well as the Accord on Fire and Building Safety put in place. As these agreements see improved conditions within factories in Bangladesh, it is hoped to be implemented in India and Pakistan to avoid such preventable accidents. 

Read more about the accident here.

2. The coronavirus is heavily impacting China’s economy and fast fashion, but maybe not much of the luxury sector.

China is a fashion hub, as the largest textile producer and exporter, with factories producing garments, shoes, accessories and more for high-street and luxury brands alike. So it comes to no surprise that the deadly virus, COVID-19, killing over 1300 in the country at the time of writing, will cause major halts and delays in production, orders, and consumption. H&M and Uniqlo have indefinitely closed stores across the country to counter the spread of the virus and protect employees.

 Even though luxury retail stores in Beijing and Hong Kong remain closed, brands are taking the strategic route to limit production to counteract the decrease in demand, and hope to make up in the second half of the year. Analysts believe the outbreak will ultimately have minimal effect on well-run businesses that can control cost, ensure high profits without the Chinese consumers.

This is what luxury brands say will help them overcome the virus’ impact.

Sustainability was trending on the Oscars red carpet, and it definitely did not disappoint, unlike the BAFTAs

3. Sustainability was trending on the Oscars red carpet, and it definitely did not disappoint, unlike the BAFTAs.

While the BAFTAs last week did have a few celebrities show support for the sustainable memo that was sent to them by the BAFTA committee, it doesn’t beat this number of eco-friendly attendees at this year’s Oscars red carpet. From re-wearing and recycling to stepping into sustainable, innovative and eco-friendly looks, the red carpet was made green as an effort to be more conscious of fashion’s role in the climate crisis. 

Little Women actress, Saoirse Ronan wore a Gucci gown that repurposed material from her BAFTAs gown. Louis Vuitton designed custom eco-friendly gowns for Kaitlyn Dever and Léa Seydoux, and the likes of Elizabeth Banks, Jane Fonda and Joaquin Phoenix (praise!) repeated their past gala outfits to emphasise the statement that “we don’t need more clothes”. 

See how other celebrities made their (green) mark on the red carpet.

4. Nike’s ‘Move to Zero’ initiative tackles climate change to protect the future of sports, here’s how.

Nike strongly believes the future of sports is in danger if the climate crisis escalates. And they aren’t wrong - with rising temperatures and humidity, shorter practices, wearing less equipment and even cancelling games are in foresight. Snowsports literally face losing playing field, with the number of quality days for snowboarding significantly dropping. 

‘Move to Zero’ is responding to these realities by eliminating single-use plastics, diverting plastic away from oceans and repurposing them, as well as promises to reduce global carbon emissions.

Learn more about the initiative here. 

Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, encourages mindful shopping and dissuades consumers from their buy-and-throw-away approach to fashion.

5. Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, encourages mindful shopping and dissuades consumers from their buy-and-throw-away approach to fashion.

Clothes should be cherished, reworn and passed along instead of throwing them away - if Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour says it, then it must be true. This emergence of throwaway culture is perpetuated by the many consumers who buy fast-fashion because of its cheap price and accessibility, and throw them away after one wear - just like single-use plastics.

Especially since Condé Nast’s sustainability pledge, it is part of their efforts to disseminate information about sustainable industry practices and inform the world about the need for wider and accelerated climate action. 

Read on about Anna’s thoughts here

6. Fashion’s waste problem is at the forefront of Gabriela Hearst’s collection.

Sustainable fashion designer, Gabriela Hearst launches new collection with ‘waste’ as the predominant theme. So instead of designing a collection and then placing a fabric order, the designer worked backwards by making runs to warehouses for unused stock and then deciding how they could be used. The ‘waste’ in her collection were excess cashmere and unused fabric stocks, and they got a second life as classic princess-line coats or patchworked multicoloured jackets strutting down this season’s show

Find out more on Gabriela Hearst’s sustainable fashion values.

Fashion embraces hackathons to find sustainable solutions for the current supply chain and overproduction problems

7. Fashion embraces hackathons to find sustainable solutions for the current supply chain and overproduction problems.

Luxury group, Kering, invited 80 tech developers, students and industry experts to participate in its inaugural ‘hackathon’. The 48-hour event was centred around sustainable solutions to the rapidly increasing environmental impact on the fashion industry. 

Competitors uploaded their prototypes to Kering’s existing app My EP&L. The app already collects data on the carbon emissions, water consumption, air and water pollution along the supply chain of the brands under Kering. There is still backlash as many prefer these hackathons be backed by research, and progress from just ideas to implementations and products. 

This is how fashion is aiming to crack the sustainability code with innovation and technology.

8. Did you know you’re wearing plastic? A guide on fashion’s most produced fabric - polyester.

Sustainable fashion might urge you towards natural fabrics over synthetic, but there are still a few categories that can’t afford to lose polyester from its production - say shoes, winterwear, and activewear. Now, before you think about how much pollution polyester production creates, we have to remember that polyester can be more sustainable from different angles - such as post-consumer care and recyclability.  

Since over 50 million tonnes of this fabric is produced each year, and we don’t really know a whole lot about what it is or how its produced, we created a guide that discusses all things polyester. In this fabric guide, you can learn about its history and how polyester dominated in the fashion space, as well as weigh the pros and cons of the industry’s “dirtiest” fabric. 

Check out our WTF: What the Fabric! guide to Polyester

Durva Simone Bose, writer at sustainable fashion and beauty platform ZERRIN

Like this article? Then check these out too: 

How to set up a sustainable fashion label

Laura Francois: On fashion's impact & designing for change

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