Current developments in the organic cotton market: Interview with Simon Ferrigno

NETZWERK FAIRE MODE partner Jana Kern (kernkommunikation) talked to Simon Ferrigno about the current developments in the organic cotton sector. Also see Jana’s recent article “Crisis for Organic Cotton?” in the Newsletter of the Texpertise Newsletter “Sustainability & Textiles” 2/2012.

„The situation is not necessarily negative“

Uncertainty is widespread in the cotton market: Textile Exchange published organic cotton production figures. The current Farm & Fiber Report shows a drastic decrease. Jana Kern talked to consultant and cotton expert, Simon Ferrigno, about the current developments of the organic cotton sector and about his predictions for the future of the eco fashion market.

According to the report the world production of organic cotton fell by 35 %. The greatest decline has occurred in India where almost 70% of organic cotton grows. How could this happen?

Simon Ferrigno: The decline in India has been significant but this may reflect a readjustment following speculation, over-reporting of figures and some spurious numbers based on possible fraud or poor practice. In other words, this may be a welcome development as these rumours have been damaging the sector for some time. The impact of the introduction of the Tracenet in India by the APEDA agency is beginning to have an impact, fulfilling its goal of stopping export of ‘spurious’ product. There is also decline in demand and reduced production because producers still do not clear and timely commitments from buyers. Other countries are maintaining their production so it is clear that much of the problem is indeed focussed more on India, although the claims for increase in the report do not always reflect back that in some cases the increases are back to the levels of a few years ago, as there has been volatility in the market for some time and the problems in India of artificially low organic prices and over-reported production had badly hurt some producer groups in places such as West Africa and Turkey.

What does that development mean to the eco fashion sector?

The situation is not necessarily negative – it represents an opportunity for organic cotton to rebuild itself on more solid foundations based on the serious and committed long established producer groups in both India and around the world; the industry needs responsible trading and sourcing guidelines and behaviours that are monitored and if necessary enforced, something I have been calling for for several years.

This includes addressing prices and the real costs of producing sustainably, which cannot be done at the same price as conventional cotton. Indeed, McKinsey, the consultancy, have put a figure on the negative external costs of cotton which if reflected would make organic cotton not more expensive but more affordable if these costs were included in cotton prices. But the organic cotton sector needs to face up to its responsibilities as it is being challenged in the market by Fairtrade and even more so by Better Cotton and Cotton Made in Africa, all of which address price, labour and trading issues.

Is the market destabilized?

The market has been unstable for several of the past 7 or 8 years as demand is often unclear and short term with last minute orders, little structure, a lot of price volatility and some price speculation. The sector has grown too fast with too little thought to structure or planning or long term approaches to price, contracts and planning of production to farmers. It takes 2-3 years for farmers to convert and 7-8 years for small farmers to build the right production and support system, yet most brands do not communicate orders in advance and few set up long term supply arrangements with producer groups. The organic cotton sector has been treated more and more like the conventional supply system despite its very different needs.

What are the effects on the supply situation?

The supply situation will be tight in the short term but in the market, at least here in the UK, organic continues to grow among small and medium sized brands while there are declines for some larger brands, partly driven by a move towards Better Cotton, so things will not be too bad.

How do cotton organizations react?

There is concern among organisations that organic cotton has had too high a profile in recent years but even more that organic cotton has been campaigning negatively against other cottons and not working constructively enough. Some of them are thus taking a certain delight in these figures but on the other hand, the door is open for cotton as an industry to work collaboratively to promote sustainability and continue progress. For many traders, organic cotton remains an option as long as there is demand but for all working at the fibre level there is a need for industry promoters of organic to work to improve the trading environment, which needs more stable conditions and an ability for producers, ginners and traders to be able to earn a living and plan more for the long term.

How do the big companies like Marks & Spencer, Walmart, C&A, H&M operate?

For cotton companies with a relatively high use of cotton in their products, organic cotton remains a strategic choice and commitment. Nowadays, they are adding other options such as Fairtrade, Better Cotton and CmiA to try and reach 50-100% levels of sustainable cotton use. However, some retailers are switching more to Better Cotton and dropping organic, and this usually reflects brands with lower retail prices and higher use of synthetic fibres.

How is the price development for organic cotton right now and how might it be in future?

Prices for organic cotton remain quite volatile reflecting both the movements in conventional cotton but also the fact that many producers do not have long term contracts and so charge what they can. I have seen some lower prices for those producers in long term business relationships, who prefer the stability of this rather than short term gain, as they know they will be protected should prices fall but this is not the norm. Generally, organic cotton currently sells for the same or 10-20% more than conventional when sold as lint, although there are a few cases when it sells for less in India than some premium cotton.

Will alternative sustainable cotton or sustainable fibres in general be more important in future?

Definitely, sustainable cotton sourcing is part of the strategy of many large international brands and it is hard to see this trend reversing even if growth may fluctuate slightly according to global economic conditions.

How are the future scopes for the eco textile market in your opinion?

The cotton sector at fibre level has seen dramatic reductions in the use of pesticides and insecticides, as well as the growth of sustainable cotton initiatives, beginning with organic but now including Fairtrade, Cotton Made in Africa, Better Cotton Initiative, Sustainable Cotton Project as well as brand specific initiatives by people like C&A. The sustainability question is important to sector survival: water, land and energy are now scarce resources, so making as much or more from less and ensuring that the productive base is secured for the future are economic imperatives.

Simon Ferrigno is the owner oft he consultancy „Sustainable & Organic Farm Systems“ in Derbyshire/UK. He is the author of “An Insider’s Guide to Cotton and Sustainability”, which he co-published with John Mowbray from British publishers MCL Global in March. The publishing of the guide was supported by the Aid by Trade Foundation, GOTS and Cotton Inc. In his guide Ferrigno looks at cotton and sustainability including all the certified options such as organic and Better Cotton.



Dear readers, lot’s of news! Here are our highlights from our newsletter No. 10 (PDF):

  • A big press-echo was caused by Dan Mozena. The US Ambassadors warns that Bangladesh’s restive developments in the garment sector could undercut the countrys apparel exports to the US market – and this has been a big talking point in international CSR-News since. What we see here might be nothing less than a break – multinational companies and their buyers show themselves worried about the fact that the image of anti-labour states could ruin their brands instead of flocking to this countries. Hopefully this trend will improve the workers’ situation.
  • Maybe the concerned global players get as well another push to switch their sourcing strategies as the new UN-guideline for economy and human rights forces corporations to show a fair supply chain.
  • For almost all managers of the companies mentioned above it might have been a big gain if they would have been attended the Karma Konsum Konferenz in Frankfurt. „Common good economy“ has been the working title of the two-day conference and a vast number of inspiring presentations were held. May a lot business leaders be influenced by the idea and positive energy of the common good economy.
  • On the eco-fashion front some black clouds darken the sky. Does organic cotton undergo a crisis? Jana Kern illuminates the situation in her Texpertise-article.
  • John Eklington and Mark Kramer discuss Porter’s & Kramer’s „Shared Value“ idea in the Guardian.
  • There is a lot of talk about living wages in Asia – see the regions section.

NETZWERK FAIRE MODE & KERN KOMMUNIKATION Read the rest of this entry »


Dear readers, it’s relatively quiet on the news front. These are our highlights for the second half of May:

  • In the „Regions“ section you can nicely see how, on the one hand, workers strike in demand for higher wages, particularly in Cambodia and Myanmar this month. Workers in Myanmar seem to earn even less than in Bangladesh ($11 a month), demanding threefold $38. And on the other hand, articles indicates that countries (China, Vietnam) lose investments, and that factory managers argue that they themselves should fix the wages …
  • In this context, the new Worldbank stuy on women’s wages in Cambodia might be interesting for you.
  • Again the German TV showed a quite shocking report on „ poisonous“ shoes. Hence, we decided to very soon issue a „good shoe guide“.
  • New reports: Bank Sarasin is taking a very critical look at the luxury sector, arguing that sustainability is not taken very seriously by many luxury brands. And Solidaridad & FLA took a look at the Sumangali Scheme in Tamil Nadu.
  • One article (or marketing coverage?) on Bt cotton shows how the Bt cotton yields grow in India and how much India’s government supports this. You might also look in newsletter no. 8 to view a more critical perspective by Mr. Sainath in The Hindu.
  • … and professionals: don’t forget to get your tickets for the Ethical Fashion Show in Berlin.

Here you find the PDF of the newsletter.

And finally, Banksy left his critique of overseas child labour in London.

All text below is taken directly from the according articles. We highly recommend to follow the links to an article, if you take interest in an article.

Enjoy reading!

NETZWERK FAIRE MODE & KERN KOMMUNIKATION Read the rest of this entry »


Highlights from our Newsletter Fashion, Textile & Sustainability No. 8 (PDF version):

  • A couple of days ago all eyes turned to Copenhagen, as the Fashion Summit converted the Danish Capital into the hub of the eco-fashion-world. Now the dust has settled, we give our readers a brief overview about the main issues of the conference. To connect the dots and see what the buzz is all about we asked the Berlin based author Maik Günther for an exclusive article about the Nordic Initiative, Clean, and Ethical (NICE). You’ll find his controversial insider-view below and on our blog.
  • The London Olympics forshadow on the most diverse areas. Sad but true it comes as no revelation, that sportswear brands entering the public limelight belie their high promises regarding business ethics, sustainability and fair labour. So in the upcoming months each of us might not only talk about records in football stadiums and on Olympic grounds, but as well put the business models and their worldwide effects that sponser these events and keep the games going in mind of his environment. (Nevertheless we’re looking forward to celebrate all the sportive successes this summer might bring.)
  • P. Sainath accused the Times of India of arbitrarily downplaying the negative effects of BT cotton. P. Sainath writes for The Hindu and he is an expert for rural development.
  • Unsurprisingly Springer-paper „Die Welt“ and liberal weekly „Der Spiegel“ took up different positions on the personnel policy of German discounter Aldi. We show you both of their standpoints in our Brands section.
  • Last but not least: A short & brilliant aricle on how ancient Greek philosophers could postively influence our modern business life by Jules Evans.

Enjoy the newsletter!

Please right-click on the links.

Kind regards,


PS Please note that below you only find literal quotes from the articles. If you like an article, we recommend to follow the links behind the orange titles.

Read the rest of this entry »


Dear reader

Highlights from our Newsletter Fashion, Textile & Sustainability No. 7:

  • Harsh and interesting critique by Ulrich Thielemann on what he calls the „market logic“, which, he argues, dominates our thinking. Thielemann used to be the vice director of the business ethics institute in St. Gallen, and according to my information was dismissed one day – after criticizing Swiss tax policies in the German Bundestag. He argues that markets must be embedded into societal values, otherwise the stronger will win and suggests that only global politics can do this.
  • The Independent ran a cover story criticizing labour expoitation for the Adidas British Olympic Team wear
  • A new report by varous NGOs connects more than 40 brands with environmental pollution in China. There is also a new website of the „Zero Discharge Project“. And the former Guardian environmental correspondent in China provided some more insights into the situation in the country.
  • The T&E farm and fibre report is out, which shows that there much less organic cotton was produced in 2011 than in 2010. At the same time, GOTS reports that the number of certified factories is growing.
  • While sales of FT cotton internationally grew, it dropped in Germany. Maybe interesting in this context is a scientific review article on fair trade consumption.
  • Walmart issued its new CSR report. Almost at the same time, the New York Times runs a facinating 21-page Grisham-like story on how Walmart Mexico managed its vast growth by systematically bribing. The person apparently responsible for the bribes was the new star at Walmart Int.
  • Patagonia pimped up its Footprint Chronicles website, which looks like a model-case – and in May Yvon Chouinard publishes a new book „The responsible company“ – a must read!
  • PPR announces a 5-years sustainability plan, while Kik introduced reduces its ladies jeans to 9,99 Euro.
  • Finally, there are some really fascinating articles rethinking the future of sustainable fashion consumption.

If you have any wishes, please do not hesitate to contact us ms(at)

Look for the PDF here.

Kind regards

Netzwerk Faire Mode & Kern Kommunikation

IMPORTANT: We did not write any of the text below ourselves. ALL text below is directly quoted from the linked articles. We define all text below a direct quote and do not directly paraphrase. We encourage you to read the articles, if you find the quotes interesting, as the quotes do not show the context.


Der ökonomische Sündenfall

Tagesanzeiger, Ulrich Thielemann, 17.04.2012

Die Wirtschaftswissenschaften sind eine normative, eine ethische Theorie. Es ist eine Theorie der Rechtfertigung der Marktlogik. … Dass diese Fürsprache für die Marktlogik normativ und darin ethisch höchst fragwürdig ist, kommt den allermeisten Ökonomen gar nicht in den Sinn. Denn sie glauben, sie betrieben eine rein empirische, eine «positive», sprich «wertfreie» Wissenschaft. Damit entlasten sie sich von unangenehmen Fragen, die das ganze Lehrgebäude zum Einsturz bringen könnten. … Der Markt muss in gesellschaftliche Wertgesichtspunkte der Sinnhaftigkeit und Fairness eingebettet werden. Ansonsten gilt das Recht des Stärkeren, nämlich des Zahlungskräftigeren und Wettbewerbsfähigeren. Dies ist eine individuell handlungsbezogene Aufgabe und eine übergreifende politische Aufgabe.

Why business leaders should lobby politicians to lead on sustainability

Jo Confino for the Guardian Professional Network, 18.4.2012

Given that companies now have a clear sense of the catastrophic consequences if they fail to act on climate change, resource depletion and ecosystem degradation, why is it that they are doing so little to confront them. … why are companies not doing more to engage in the process of political change? Her answer to me was very simple. While companies that are heavily dependent on fossil fuels are highly effective in preventing change by being well funded and tightly organised, progressive businesses are shying away from political engagement, are not putting in the necessary resources and are not effectively collaborating.

Global retailers press Dhaka on unionist’s murder

AFP, 25.4.2012

In a joint letter to the Bangladesh Prime Minister, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, the retail organisations demanded a “comprehensive, impartial, and swift investigation” into the death. … “The apparent circumstances leading up to and surrounding Mr Islam’s death could be perceived to be part of a deliberate campaign to repress efforts to raise and address issues related to unsatisfactory working conditions.”

Family claims. Workers leader tortured dead.

Daily Star Bangladesh, 10.4.2012

The family of Aminul Islam, a workers leader who was found dead in Tangail on Thursday morning, alleged the law enforcing agencies tortured him to death and dumped the body in a far away place so that it remained unidentified.


CSR conference at German Ministry 15.12.2011: presentations

Speches, presentations of the conference, April 2012

Corporate responsibility trends and leadership in 2012

TobiasWebb, 18.4.2012

CR trends in 2012: Integrated reporting – Not clear as yet; John Ruggie’s work – genuinely workable framework for companies, governments and others on human rights as a management discipline; ISO 26,000, IFC Performance Standards, OECD Guidelines, Global Reporting Initiative etc; data on water & carbon.

Made to measure: ethical fashion

Guardian SustainableBlog, Pamela Ravasio, 16.4.2012

Pamela Ravasio runs through the legal tools and voluntary compliance that fashion companies can use to prove their ethical credentials to cynical consumers: … what tools other than legislation, certifications and consumer labels does the fashion industry have?

Business lawyers are not up to date on corporate responsibility

Claes Cronstedt of Gaemo Group

The human rights lawyers who are fighting to make the conventions work are admirable. In countries where violations of human rights are widespread these lawyers are often the only independent force that fights for democracy and the rule of law. They are heroes, but without impact on the corporations. It is the business lawyers who have access to the corporate boardrooms and can influence, but human rights are seldom or never on their agenda.


Migrant workers not happy about living in Shanghai

Eastday, 26.4.2012

CHINESE migrant workers say Shanghai is one of the places where they feel least happy, according to a survey by Beijing-based Tsinghua University.  … There are some 4 million migrant workers in Shanghai – about 40 percent of the city’s total employed population. China has more than 240 million farm laborers who have left their hometowns to work in the cities. “A major reason that depresses the local migrant workers could be the financial pressure stemming from Shanghai’s high living cost. And they may also feel the lack of equality in job opportunities and the difficulty of being understood by the Shanghai local communities,” said Sang Biao, a psychology professor with East China Normal University in Shanghai.

Young Dalit women exploited in Indian garment industry

Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and
India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), 25.4.2012

Despite corporate promises and a range of well-meaning initiatives, workers, mostly very young women, continue to suffer exploitative working conditions. Up until today, thousands of women in the garment and textile industry in Tamil Nadu work under recruitment and employment schemes that amount to bonded labour. These are the findings by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) presented in the report Maid in India”, published today. … ‘Maid in India’ features case studies of Eastman Exports, KPR Mill, SSM India, and Bannari Amman, four large Tamil Nadu–based garment manufacturers that produce for Western brands. Click here for the full list of brands that feature in the report.

The battle for the soul of the Olympic Games (leading article)

The Independent, 14.4.2012

The working conditions reported at factories making Team GB Olympics kit are truly appalling. … Workers tell of pitiful wages, unreasonable production targets, appalling hours and even outright abuse. The London 2012 Organising Committee – which supposedly requires its suppliers to adhere to higher standards – should be ashamed of itself. That being so, it is the responsibility of the IOC to ensure that the original spirit of the Games is not entirely crowded out by the forces of commercialism.

ILO launches comprehensive new database on labour standards

ILO, 12.2. 2012

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has launched a comprehensive new database providing open access to the latest information on ILO international labour standards as well as national labour and social security laws.


Government of Uzbekistan Continues to Silence Human Rights Defenders, Despite Release of Prominent Uzbek Human Rights Defender

Cottoncampaign, 17.4.2012

According to, human rights activist Alisher Karamatov was released on 12 April after completing six years of a nine-year prison term. The torture suffered by Mr. Karamotov and nearly simultaneous detention of other Uzbek human rights defenders indicates the gravity of human rights abuses by the Government of Uzbekistan. The GOU silencing its citizens, whose voices flicker as a spark of democracy in a state of repression, ensures continued human rights abuses, including the state controlled forced labor and forced child labor in the cotton industry.

à also see: Human Rights Watch, “Uzbekistan: Activist Free but Crackdown Widening” for more coverage


Brands outline zero discharge progress

Ecotextiles News, 24.4.2012

In response to the Greenpeace ‘Detox’ report on the pollution of Chinese rivers by the textile industry, adidas Group, C&A, H&M, Li Ning, Nike, Puma and newest member G-Star have released the first update of a joint roadmap towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals in their supply chains by 2020. … Highlights so far include the publication of the stakeholder consultation as outlined in Ecotextile News magazine (February 2012 edition), the completion of a factory selection process for a benchmark study into the nine classes of hazardous chemicals the brands intend to outlaw from supply chains; and the employment of a project manager.

Public updates will be quarterly in 2012 and then annually from 2013 to 2020.

à Website Roadmap to Zero

Röttgen hält kritische Studie des Umweltbundesamts zurück

AFP, 19.4.2012

Das Bundesumweltministerium hat nach einem Bericht der Wochenzeitung “Die Zeit” die Veröffentlichung eines kritischen Berichts des Umweltbundesamtes (UBA) zur EU-Klimaschutzpolitik gestoppt. Dem Blatt zufolge wies das Ministerium das UBA an, das zehnseitige Hintergrundpapier nicht zu veröffentlichen. Das bisherige Klimaschutzziel der EU sei ein “verheerendes Signal an die internationale Staatengemeinschaft”, das “die Glaubwürdigkeit der EU-Klimaschutzanstrengungen erheblich infrage” stelle, zitiert die “Zeit” aus dem UBA-Papier.

Fashion houses ‘need to clean up their act’

China Daily 18.4.2012

… A recent report called Clean up the Fashion Industry, published by five Chinese grassroots environmental organizations, which alleged that 46 Chinese and international clothing brands are being supplied by textile companies that violate the country’s environmental laws. The brands named in the report include a slew of internationally famous fashion houses such as Levi Strauss, Burberry, Polo Ralph Lauren, Guess and Zara, along with China’s 361 Degrees, Anta and Youngor. … the findings have prompted renewed concern about whether the high price it is paying, in terms of the environment and health, is worth it, especially now that China is the world’s second-largest economy and could provide more funding for environmental protection. … textile industry discharged 2.5 billion metric tons of sewage in 2010, making the sector the third-biggest water polluter among 39 industries. … A more worrying phenomenon, he said, is that as provinces tighten their supervision of the laws, some companies are simply moving their operations to regions where the regulations remain lax.

à see also: More brands accused of China textile pollution

Ecotextiles News, 11.4.2012

Interview: Patagonia founder on why there’s no ‘sustainability’

Marketplace, Interview by Kai Ryssdal, 17.4.2012

Chouinard: Yeah, I never thought I’d come to this at all. I do this because I’m very pessimistic about the fate of the planet. I think there’s another way of doing business that is less harmful. … Within a few years, a customer will be able to go into a department store and they can zap the barcode with their little electronic gizmo, whatever it is in a few years. And it’ll give a grade on how the labor practices were in making that pair of jeans, and all the environmental impacts, and there will be a grade. So the customer will be able to say, ‘Oh this is a two, this is a 10. I’m going to buy the 10.’

Verbrauchertäuschung von Aldi und Rewe mit kompostierbaren Einkaufstüten

Deutsche Umwelthilfe, 11.4.2012

Aldi und Rewe täuschen Verbraucher mit vermeintlich nachhaltigen Einkaufstüten. Die als kompostierbar beworbenen Tragetaschen aus Bioplastik bestehen zu mehr als zwei Dritteln aus Erdöl und werden weder kompostiert noch recycelt klagt die Deutsche Umwelthilfe und fordert ein sofortiges Ende der Werbelüge und Umstellung auf umweltfreundlichere Alternativen. REWE wehrt sich gegen die Vorwürfe.

Future Shapers: TextileExchange 10th Anniversary pays tribute to TE members

To help us celebrate 10 years of Textile Exchange we have asked ten of our member companies to take us on their journey; to share their stories of support to people and planet through their procurement of organic cotton and their wider sustainability agendas.

à No. 1 Veja

6.   COTTON and other fibres

Chair of TE Europe comments on TE’s new Farm & Fiber Report:

TextileExchange Blog, 22.4.2012

But that easier entry point must be just that – an entry point. The danger is that conventional producers come in to one of these programmes, get the ‘badge’ of sustainability, and then relax – meeting the entry requirements but no more. Most of the programmes counteract this by promoting ‘continuous improvement’  – a series of training and development processes that mean that farm techniques should get better as each year passes. The programmes are so new – only 1 or 2 harvests in some cases – that it’s difficult to gauge how well this is working, but the positive intention is certainly there.

Question A Day: What does it really mean to be ‘organic’?

TextileExchange Blog, 19.4.2012

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) defines organic agriculture as: “…  a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. … social side of organic production. First, many of the requirements behind organic certification depend upon farmers achieving a degree of social cohesion (unlike a purely commodity-marketed product which doesn’t generally require farmers to work together to trade). It will come down to the values and practices of the producer group, and – most importantly – to their financial stability, as to how well the social principles of organic become part of the DNA …

Organic cotton shows dramatic fall

Ecotextilenews, 19.4.2012

A sharp decline in the production of organic cotton in India and the rise of ‘sustainable cotton’ is being blamed for a massive 35 per cent fall in the global production of organic cotton from 241,697 metric tonnes (mt) in 2010/11 to 151,079 mt this year. This decline, together with droughts last year in the USA, is also expected to lower organic cotton production by 5 per cent next year, according to a new report from Textile Exchange. … Ferrigno also said that the situation is not necessarily negative – as it represents a real opportunity for organic cotton to rebuild itself on more solid foundations based on the serious and committed long established producer groups in both India and around the world.



German Fairtrade cotton sales fall

Ecotextiles News, 23.4.2012

Sales of Fairtrade certified cotton textiles in Germany dropped last year for the first time since 2008, which was in stark contrast to an overall 18 per cent rise in sales of Fairtrade certified consumer goods in the country.  … in Germany fell by 11 per cent in 2011 compared to the previous year, according to the annual report of Transfair e.V. (Fairtrade Germany). Around 2.3 million Fairtrade cotton items were sold last year, worth around €16.3 million compared with 2.6 million Fairtrade cotton textile items in 2010.

à see also: Transfair Report

Nachhaltige Textilproduktion liegt voll im Trend – Zertifizierung nach OEKO-TEX® Standard 1000 auf bisherigem Höchststand

Ökotex, 12.4.2012

OEKO-TEX® Standard 1000: Mit 57 gültigen Zertifikaten für textile Produktionsbetriebe aller Verarbeitungsstufen … höchsten Stand seit seiner Einführung im Jahre 1995.

Neue OEKO-TEX® Prüfkriterien endgültig in Kraft getreten – OEKO-TEX® Zertifikat als hilfreicher Baustein zur Erfüllung der REACh-Konformität

Ökotex, 12.4.2012

Nach Ablauf der dreimonatigen Übergangsfrist sind die von der OEKO-TEX® Gemeinschaft Anfang Januar veröffentlichten Kriterien und Grenzwerte für die textilen Schadstoffprüfungen nach OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 am 1. April nun für alle Zertifizierungsvorgänge endgültig in Kraft getreten. Die neuen Prüfanforderungen berücksichtigen wie gewohnt auch alle für die Textilproduktion relevanten Substanzen der ECHA-Kandidatenliste mit besonders besorgniserregenden Stoffen (SVHC), einschließlich der zuletzt am 19. Dezember 2011 ergänzten 20 Chemikalien.

à Die wichtigsten Neuregelungen des OEKO-TEX® Kriterienkatalogs 2012 hier.

Der Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) wächst bereits im fünften Jahr

Forward textiles technologies, 18.4.2012

Vier Jahre nach Gründung des Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) sind weltweit über 2.700 Betriebsstätten in 57 Ländern nach dem Standard für Biotextilien zertifiziert, die 14. Zertifizierungsorganisation hat sich für GOTS akkreditiert und das amerikanische Landwirtschaftsministerium hat den Standard als Warenauszeichnung für Naturtextilien anerkannt. … 450 Färbereien, über 220 Spinnereien, Strickereien und Webereien sowie rund 160 Druckereien und Nähereien.

Fair Wear Foundation, Update on Burma Policy


Is recycling revamping retail rules?

Oliver Balch for the Guardian Professional Network, 24 .4.2012

High street retail used to be easy. The idea was to get punters through the door, sell them as much stuff as possible and then persuade them back for more. That basic model still stands. But now there’s a subtle difference. … The scheme is “working well commercially,” says Mike Barry, head of sustainable business at M&S. “Customers come back to shop with us for their next piece of clothing rather than going off to one of our competitors.” … Retailer recycling programmes aren’t without their problems, though. … Logically, however, the biggest boost for the environment would simply be for people to buy less. Such a scenario presents a fundamental challenge to consumption-led growth, so it’s little wonder few retailers have entertained the idea. Except for Patagonia, that is. … The counter-intuitive message has gone down a storm with the public. Common threads has gained more than 62m media impressions since its launch.

Leasing could provide the route to a circular and self-supporting economy

Guardian Professional Network, 20.4.2012

A leasing society model would give manufacturers an economic incentive to design sustainable products

decade we are put to a choice. Either we continue to rely on politically unstable but resource-abundant second- and third-world regimes and proceed to follow the dead-end road of a linear material-intensive economy, or we embrace a circular model where external costs are accounted for and acted upon, in order to get in pole position for a sustainable future. …… We propose an alternative model. One that incentivises manufacturers to maintain responsibility for their wares through the end of their useful lives, in order to gain access to mass amounts of materials they can use in place of virgin materials. A leasing society model …  Companies thus will benefit from investing in ways to extend their products’ lifespans and be de-incentivised to launch — say — a new tablet computer every few months. Therefore a company could outpace its competitors primarily by developing a range of durable devices that could be exploited by receiving monthly fees during their whole leasing periods.

The benefits of letting consumers lead

Guardian Professional Network, 20.2.2012

Consumers are rarely engaged in developing a company’s social mission, but there is opportunity if business gets it right. Letting consumers lead is something that the public sector is doing with increasing frequency and success. … If you really want to bring about positive change, you must involve your audience from the outset. By doing this, not only will you deliver social benefits, but create stronger customer relationships and more cost-effective services. … So why don’t businesses tend to involve their customers in defining and devising social missions? Is it because consumers don’t care or would prefer to be left alone? Not according to Asda’s Julian Walker-Palin. And even if we accept that some consumers’ intentions to do more to improve society don’t translate into action, there remains a significant proportion of people who will act if they are engaged in the right way. The Co-operative Bank, for example, routinely empowers its customers to lead its social agenda by letting them vote on which courses of action it pursues.

Ethik-Ranking durch die Konsumenten

Der Standard, Thomas Herzig, 16.4.2012

Da sich die Politik wohl weiterhin bemühen wird, das Vertrauen der Märkte zu gewinnen, möchte ich einen Vorschlag zur demokratischen Mitbestimmung machen, die auch die Märkte stark beeinflusst: das Konsumverhalten. Wie können wir Konsumenten Großkonzerne und Investoren zu ethisch und gesellschaftlich verantwortlichem Handeln bewegen? … Statt einem Logo mit fröhlichem Schwein in der grünen Almenwiese, müsste in diesem Beispielfall dann ein realistisches Schwein aus einem Massenbetrieb, im engen Kastenstall und in den eigenen Exkrementen liegend, dargestellt werden.

Konsumforscher über Nachhaltigkeit: „Die meisten Kunden denken zu wenig“

TAZ, 15.04.2012

Interview mit Uli Burchardt: Jahrgang 1971, ist im CDU-Wirtschaftsrat und bei Attac, war Förster und Manufactum-Manager und arbeitet als Managementberater. Sein Buch „Ausgegeizt! Wertvoll ist besser – Das Manufactum-Prinzip“ ist im Campus Verlag erschienen.

Thinking fast and thinking slow: how our minds make us behave sustainably

Guardian Professional Network, 3.4.2012

In the first of a three part series, Joe Arvai argues that understanding the way we make decisions can help nudge us into making sustainable choices. The purchasing decisions we make daily are increasingly influenced by concerns beyond cost. More so now than ever the environmental, ethical and social aspects impact our decision making. … how people think and feel about options is highly dependent upon how they are presented to them. On the other, the choices people make, and the preferences they express, are largely at the mercy of a broad array of mental shortcuts that are routinely applied during decision making. … The name of the game here is move from structuring a decision making process to structuring the environment in which decisions get made. This process, known as “choice architecture” or “nudging” allows people to make decisions at high speed — Kahneman’s thinking fast with its judgmental shortcuts and biases intact — but aligns positive, desirable outcomes with routine decision-making processes.

M&S to ‘revolutionise’ clothes shopping

Ecotextile News, 26.4.2012

Marks & Spencer says it will create a new, more sustainable closed loop business model where its customers hand over old or unwanted garments whenever they buy a new one. The move comes in a bid to stop around 1 billion items of clothing and textiles going to landfill in the UK each year. The UK high street retailer is calling its new concept ‘Shwopping’, which Head of Sustainable Business Mike Barry says is a “way of making the consumption of clothes much more sustainable than it is today.”

‘Shwopping’ will see us extend the great partnership we have developed with Oxfam to encourage the donation of used clothing in their shops so that our customers can also donate used clothing any day of the year in our 342 UK clothing stores,” he said. “All the clothing we collect will still go to Oxfam for re-sale, reuse or recycling to raise money for their vital work around the world to tackle poverty.”

10.       REGIONS

INDIA: Apparel exports sector working to remove ‘child labour’ taint

The Hindu, 26.4.2012

India’s $14-billion apparel export sector and the Textiles Ministry have begun an initiative to help manufacturers focus on good work practices and prevention of child and trafficked/forced labour. This is part of their efforts to improve India’s image as an ‘ethical sourcing destination’.

CHINA: “The world’s most important story”

Chinadialogue, Jonathan Watts, 17.4.2012

Guardian environment reporter Jonathan Watts has spent nine years in China covering everything from pollution protests to species extinction. About to leave for pastures new, he shares some parting thoughts. “The carbon-fuelled, capital-driven model of economic growth, which started in my country 200-odd years ago, has spread across the planet and is now, I believe, reaching its apex here in China.” … I have learned: Environmental stress is often exported  … Poor environmental management can be lethal … The collapse of an ecosystem can lead to the collapse of an economy … Environmental disruption can lead to social disruption … The Chinese government has tended to focus on top-down, engineered supply-side solutions to environmental problems … The transition to a low-carbon economy in China is far from assured. Action often comes too late …

CAMBODIA: Big brands pressure Cambodia on protest shootings


Retail giants Puma, Gap and H&M have urged Cambodia to fully probe the recent shooting and wounding of protesting garment workers as the sole suspect, a local governor, remained at large Monday. … The international buyers voiced “deep concern” over the February 20 incident in which a gunman opened fire at a rally by thousands of workers demanding better working conditions at factories in eastern Svay Rieng province.

Myanmar garment sector to gain as EU lifts sanctions

Fibre2fashion, 25.5.2012

Myanmar’s garment industry is set for revival, including creation of new jobs, as the European Union has announced lifting of the sanctions that it imposed on Myanmar since late 1990s, owing to recent political reforms carried out in Myanmar.


Indonesian workers making Adidas Olympic kit 65-hours a week for 34p an hour

Playfair Campaign 2012

A recent investigation by The Independent reveals workers at nine Indonesian factories contracted to produce Olympic shoes and clothing for Adidas are working up to 65-hour weeks and earning as little as 34p an hour.

Over 6000 action postcards and petitions delivered!

Playfair Campaign 2012

Following some months of collecting cards and petitions from supporters around the country, Playfair campaign representatives held an awareness raising action in Covent Garden last Wednesday (4th April). Over 6000 signed postcards and petitions were delivered to adidas, Nike and Speedo shops in the vicinity calling on brands to: pay workers a living wage, take a positive approach to trade union rights, and ensure workers have job security.

Cotton Campaign Seeks U.S. Support for ILO Monitoring in Uzbekistan

Cottoncampaign, 24.2012

“Action Plan” of Uzbekistan Government Signals Need for Independent Monitoring

Cottoncampaign, 4.4.2012


Luxury brands group PPR announces a five year sustainability plan

Guardian Sustainable Business Blog, 27.4.2012

The five year plan, which covers all the company’s brands, ranging from Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen to Balenciaga and Stella McCartney, includes reductions of CO2, waste and water, the sourcing of raw materials and hazardous chemicals and materials. At the time, PPR made it clear that current accounting systems are responsible for degrading the planet’s eco-systems and irresponsibly depleting natural resources and needed to go through fundamental change.

Why collaboration is key to advancing sustainability (Levi’s)

Made-by Blog, 20.4.2012

Alert to the potential of maximising awareness around global water shortages, leading clothes company Levi’s collaborated with by launching “Go Water<Less,” a campaign designed to challenge the public to reduce water consumption and adopt a Water<Less lifestyle. The collaboration is proving to be effective, as it is helping consumers learn more about the small steps they can take each day to use less and give more. … Sporting giant Nike‘s partnership with DyeCoo, a Netherlands-based company, could bring about a huge positive environmental impact, thanks to DyeCoo’s waterless textile dyeing technology.

Patagonia: Introducing the New Footprint Chronicles on

Patagonia Blog, Lisa Polley, 25.4.2012

… I’d been learning about the cost of our products ever since Footprint’s inception. After the first iteration was published, the main critique from Patagonia’s upper management was to worry less about polishing what we were publishing, and to keep pushing the boundaries of transparency. At the time it was hard to understand, hard to take, but when I look back from the vantage of today, I applaud the vision and courage and wisdom that kept us going. … It is hard to fully explain the feelings that overwhelmed me at the moment I realized a factory was actually somewhere, and not somewhere else. But what I now know is this. It is ultimately my decision as to what I buy, how much I buy and where I purchase my clothes. It is me, as part of a collective we, that is dictating how business takes place on this globe.

KIK senkt die Preise

OTS, 17.4.2012

der Textildiscounter die passenden Standardartikel für die ganze Familie zu noch günstigeren Preisen an. So sind z.B. unsere Herren Bluejeans aus 100% Baumwolle sowie die Damenjeans von 10,99 EUR auf 9,99 EUR im Preis gesenkt worden … “Um unseren Kunden für Ihre Treue zu danken, haben wir unser Preislagenkonzept noch einmal überarbeitet und unsere Arbeitsprozesse optimiert. Deshalb können wir allen KiK- Kunden eine gleichbleibend  gute Qualität bei geringen Preisen zusagen und wir werden weiter hart arbeiten, um trotz steigender Energie- und Produktionskosten die Preise günstig zu gestalten”, so Bernhard Payer, Geschäftsführer von Kik Österreich

Puma führt Produkt-Recycling ein

Fashion United, 17.4.2012

Das Sportlifestyle-Unternehmen Puma hat Recyclingbehälter in seinen Stores und Outlets in Deutschland aufgestellt. Kunden können ab sofort ausgediente Schuhe, Textilien und Accessoires aller  Hersteller dort abgeben…. 50 Prozent der Kollektionen sollen bis 2015 aus nachhaltigeren Materialien gefertigt werden.

Nachhaltige Mode: “Es hilft, keinen Trockner zu benutzen”

Berliner Zeitung, Interview mit Helena Helmersson, H&M, 21.4.2012

Unabhängigen Berechnungen zufolge erhält ein Arbeiter von einem für fünf Euro verkauften T-Shirt gerade mal 0,13 Cent. Würden Sie zustimmen, dass da die Relation nicht stimmt?  Diese Berechnungen möchte ich nicht kommentieren. Aber ich versichere Ihnen, dass das Thema Löhne bei Zulieferern seit Jahren ganz oben auf meiner Agenda steht und dass es eines der komplexesten in der gesamten Lieferkette ist. … Außerdem versuchen wir in Niedriglohn-Ländern, die Arbeiter dazu zu ermutigen, für gerechte Bezahlung einzutreten, sich zu organisieren. So, wie wir es in Europa tun, wenn wir uns ungerecht behandelt fühlen. … Sie gehen davon aus, dass die Arbeiter höhere Löhne erhalten, wenn wir mehr für Aufträge zahlen. Daran glauben wir nicht, nach den Gesprächen, die wir geführt haben. … Ein Lieferant hat mehrere Einkäufer. Unabhängig von den späteren Verkaufspreisen lassen alle Marken bei den gleichen Firmen produzieren. Die Arbeiterin erhält also immer den gleichen Lohn, egal, für welchen Anbieter sie die Kleidung herstellt.

M&S to launch Sustainable Fashion Lab“

By The Stories Team, 18.4.2012

… Now, we are taking our quest for greater sustainability in fashion one step further by opening the UK’s first Sustainable Fashion Lab in the heart of East London, at the Old Truman Brewery. As well as Oxfam, we’re working with London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion to bring together an exciting array of designers, stylists and thought-leaders who will be exploring and debating the future of a more sustainable fashion industry. The project will give M&S customers a behind-the-scenes look into the world of 21st Century fashion and offer the opportunity to witness the stars of environmentally friendly fashion at work. Eco-conscious visitors will even be able to try their hand at designing and creating their own items through expert-led master classes.

The M&S Sustainable Fashion Lab, in partnership with Oxfam and LCF’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the Old Truman Brewery, London, is open between 10am – 5pm every day (except Mondays) from 26 April – 9 May 2012.

Vast Mexico Bribery Case Hushed Up by Wal-Mart. After Top-Level Struggle

New York Times, 22.4.2012

Confronted with evidence of widespread corruption in Mexico, top Wal-Mart executives focused more on damage control than on rooting out wrongdoing, an examination by The New York Times found.

Walmart on way to achieve its green goals

April 17, 2012 (United States of America)

Walmart released its fifth annual Global Responsibility Report (GRR) entitled “Beyond 50 Years: Building a Sustainable Future,” highlighting Walmart’s global top 10 list of achievements to reduce its impact on the environment, improve efficiency in its supply chain and stores and address social issues.

Globetrotter fürchtet Branchenkrise

Financial Times Deutschland, 10.4.2012

Exklusiv Das Angebot der Outdoorhersteller übersteigt deutlich die Nachfrage. Im FTD-Gespräch warnt der Globetrotter-Geschäftsführer vor einem bevorstehenden Händler- und Markensterben. von Gregor Kessler und Henning Hinze Hamburg

13.       CSR REPORTS

Walmart: 2012 Global Responsibility Report


Project: Profit through Ethics

It is no longer justifiable for business to exploit people or offload costs onto society and the environment in order to maximise profit.

Further, it is no longer necessary. By sharing details of the ethical dilemmas they face, as well as their success stories, businesses can engage with stakeholders, gain public trust and chart a course that balances the pursuit of profit with the health, wealth and happiness of everyone else.

The ultimate aim of the Profit Through Ethics project is to create: (A) a platform for businesses to demonstrate an unequivocal commitment to transparency, accountability and public dialogue on all important responsibility issues; and (B) an identification mark enabling people to identify and support those using it.

Over the coming months, project participants will help determine the key characteristics of the new platform and the criteria for listing on it.

Report: 2011 Farm & Fiber Report


The 2011 Farm & Fiber Report covers the significant decline in organic cotton fiber production, the reasons behind it, and the need for industry action. For the first time, we’ve also covered other sustainable cotton initiatives including Better Cotton Initiative (BCI, Fairtrade, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), and customized cleaner cotton programs with notes from ICAC and Cotton Inc.). The full report is 131 pages and provides in depth case studies and with the Executive Summary coming in at 27 pages. Organic cotton production declined 35 percent from 241,697 metric tonnes (mt) in 2010/11 to 151,079 mt this year. It covers 218,966 farmers growing on 324,577 hectares.  … As always, the Textile Exchange Farm and Fiber Report is available as a free benefit of membership.  Members can access this and other benefits here .  Non-members are encouraged to learn more about membership by visiting or by contacting Daren Abney, Member Services Manager.  The Farm and Fiber Report as well as the Executive Summary of the report are available to non-members for purchase by clicking on the respective titles.  Please also see the accompanying Cotton Briefings 2012.

Report: Understanding the Plight of the Young Worker in China

BSR, 12.4.2012

As the Chinese economy continues to develop, new issues have arisen around the relationship between employers and young employees in the manufacturing sector. To understand these issues, the China National Textile and Apparel Council and the Center for Child-Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility came together in July 2011 to examine the plight of young migrant workers in six different factories. The initiative was carried out with support of the Swedish Embassy, and ultimately offered advice for employers to improve management strategies by enhancing communication with young workers. Earlier this year, they released a study based on this initiative, which indicated that young migrant workers face problems in the factory and in private life. Some of the problems in the factory included:

Book: The Responsible Company

Yvon Chouinard & Vincent Stanley

Publisher: Patagonia Inc. (2012) Binding: Paperback, 150 pages

Book: Overdressed. The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

Elizabeth L. Cline

Hardcover $25.95 add to cart. ISBN 9781591844617, 256 pages, 14 Jun 2012, Portfolio, 5.31 x 8.50in

Book: Fashion & Sustainability: Design for Change

Kate Fletcher & Lynda Grose

Paperback, 150 illustrations, 192 pages, 240 x 170 mm, ISBN 978 1 85669 754 5, £19.95, Published March 2012

15.       SCIENCE

Consumer Demand for Fair Labor Standards: Evidence from a Field Experiment on eBay

Michael J. Hiscox et al. April 12, 2011

Surveys indicate that a majority of consumers would prefer to buy products made in workplaces with fair labor standards rather than alternatives and would be willing to pay a higher price for such products. There is no clear evidence, however, that many people would actually behave in this fashion when shopping. We provide new evidence on consumer behavior from experiments conducted on eBay. We find that labels with information about certified fair labor standards in factories making polo shirts had a substantial positive effect on bidding. On average, shoppers paid a 45% premium for ethically labeled versus unlabeled shirts.

Research on Fair Trade Consumption-A Review

Andorfer, V.A., Liebe, U.

2012    Journal of Business Ethics, 106 (4) pp. 415-435.

Consumers’ attitudes toward labelling of ethical products: The case of organic and fair trade products

Annunziata, A., Ianuario, S., Pascale, P.

2011    Journal of Food Products Marketing, 17 (5) pp. 518-535.

Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implications for Companies

Surya Deva, City University of Hong Kong, European Company Law, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 101-109, 2012

In June 2011, the UN Human Rights Council endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (GPs) drafted by Professor John Ruggie, the former UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations. The GPs are based on the ‘protect, respect and remedy’ framework proposed by Ruggie in 2008. In addition to offering a contextual analysis of he GPs and the Framework, this article critically examines the implications flowing from these for companies. In particular, it highlights the steps that companies are expected to take in order to fulfil their ‘responsibility to respect’ human rights and the challenges that they are likely to experience in doing so. It is argued that although GPs do not offer any robust or ready-made solutions to the current situation of corporate impunity for human rights violations, they offer some guidance to companies – especially those with good intentions – on how to conduct responsible business.


We received no job offerings.

17.       WORKSHOPS ETC.

MAI 2012

NICE Pre-Fashion Summit

COPENHAGEN, 02.05.2012

Copenhagen Fashion Summit. Launch of the first sectorial initiative under UN Global Compact

COPENHAGEN, 02.05.2012

Modepalast Wien (LINK)

WIEN, 04.-06.05.2012

Evolving Textiles Conference at North Carolina State University

RALEIGH (USA), 17.05.2012

Impactt Conference 2012: Finding the Sweet Spot: Smarter Ethical Trade that delivers more for all

LONDON, 25.05.2012

ISEAL Conference 2012

BONN, 29.-30.05.2012

KarmaKonsum Konferenz

FRANKFURT, 31.05-01.06.2012

JUNE 2012

EBEN Research Conference Newcastle, Newcastle University:
‘Accountability, transparency, sustainability’

NEWCASTLE, 07.-09.06.2012

The Continuum Show

NEW YORK, 24.-25.06.2012

JULY 2012

Berlin Fashion Week Berlin BERLIN, 04.-06.07.2012

Green Showroom

BERLIN, 04.-06.07.2012


BERLIN, 05.07.2012



HOFHEIM / FRANKFURT, 04-06.08.2012


oeko-foire (fair)

LUXEMBURG, 14.-16.09.2012


Sustainable Textiles Conference. Messe Frankfurt, Textile Exchange, Ecotextile News

HONG KONG, 04.-05.10.2012

Ethical Fashion Night 2012

GENEVA, 28.10.2012


Hi again!

Sorry for the long pause, I have been working intensively on developing a “network fair fashion” in the German speaking world (“Netzwerk Faire Mode“). The platform – to be launched later this year – will be a label- & shopfinder for ethical fashion in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, which helps consumers find “ethical fashion” more quickly and which makes transparent what is ethical about a company. So far, (in German) has been (1) blogging about companies that produce fashion according to the criteria we defined; (2) issuing shopping guides like the “good jeans guide“; (3) issuing the bi-weekly newsletter “Fashion, Textiles and Sustainability“, which collects interesting newsbits and links for individuals, companies and institutions interested in fashion & sustainability.

We now separate (a) the “knowledge” part – that is rather directed to professionals working in fashion, textiles and sustainability – from (b) the more consumer-oriented part that provides transparency about ethical fashion brands and will result in an ethical labelfinder and more. You will find the knowledge-part here ( It will include the newsletter “fashion & sustainability” and will be written in English. The consumer-oriented part (on will be kept in German. Please note that the whole process is still on the way.


Here are some highlights from Netzwerk Faire Mode‘s newsletter “Fashion, Textile & Sustainability” No. 6, which is done in cooperation with Kern Kommunikation:

  • Last Thursday H&M presented it’s tenth annual Sustainability Report (2011). The publication was followed by a huge press-response. Some articles suggest that the report might only be some kind of green washing activity, some others report more positively. However, Textile Exchange ranks the vertical integrated fast-fashion retailer as the single biggest buyer of organic cotton world wide. And the swedish company itself speaks about some hard figures for the first time – so maybe each should build up his or her own opinion by reading their CSR-Report themselves.
  • Two weeks ago Netzwerk Fairemode published its Good Jeans Guide. Now an article about „Killer Jeans“, printed in one of Germanys biggest newspapers, the Frankfurter Rundschau, and a report by the CCC on sandblasting proved yet another time why our guide was crucial. We are on track including more companies into our Good Jeans Guide.
  • Ever startet a line of thoughts with Apple (yes we do mean Mac) and ended with fair-fashion? We neither. But in the past months we all had to read about sweatshop-like working conditions found in the electronics production chain. These common hardships make this comparsion essential: And we believe Apple even can learn from some examples given by ethical-fashion producers.
  • Heads up! All you (product) managers, pr-creatives and eco-hipsters: WGSN has compiled the Top 10 sustainable textile trends for 2012 – you’d better look out for them.

You can download the newsletter as PDF.

If you have any wishes, please do not hesitate to contact us ms(at)

Please note that most of the text below is directly quoted from the linked articles without directly paraphrasing. However, you will quickly notice this, as soon, as you follow the links and dig into the articles.

Read the rest of this entry »

Victoria’s Secret & Bloomberg’s Secret (updated)

Today I came across the Bloomberg story „Victoria’s Secret Revealed in African Child Labor“ by Cam Simpson, who stayed in Burkina Faso for 6 weeks to report about child labour in cotton fields.

Here are some remarks regarding the article:

  • The article stresses that cotton farmers in Africa work very hard. This is very true. However, the main focus of the article is to show that the 13-year-old girl Clarisse Kambire (which is supposed to be representative for many others) is exploited on Fair Trade (FT) / organic cotton fields. It also connects the underwear giant Victoria’s Secret to the FT/organic cotton fields on which Clarisse works. This might not yet be a scandal, because when you look for child labour, you always find it. What I found more scandalous was that my questions/comments on the Victoria’s Secret facebook site to comment on this article were immediately deleted. So how seriously does this company take CSR?
  • When talking about child labour, the author refers to children below 18 working. I wonder why he does not differentiate this more strongly, since 18 is not the internationally set age for child labour. He also does not properly distinguish between hazardous and systematic child labour and normal family labour. In many places in Africa, children work on the fields (last week I worked on the fields with 15 years old children in Malawi) – but these children also go to school and are happy about their work.
  • The article does not really answer the question, whether this is a single case or whether child labour is widely used in a systematic way. It indicates that there are also other children working, but we do not get much information to evaluate whether this is exploitative child labour. And it does not explain what FT/organic organizations do to prevent this in a systematic manner.
  • The article causally connects child labour to be a result from organic/FT cotton – “lucrative premiums for organic and fair-trade cotton has – perversely – created fresh incentives for exploitation”. The claim that child labour is endemic in the region is not new, as a 2008 study quoted in the article shows. However, the author reasons: the profits promised by organic/FT cash crops made farmers grow cotton (for which they required the hands of the children). So the authors claims that organic/FT makes more profits, and thus it leads to child labour …?! Making this causal connection seems pretty absurd. What, in Simpson’s eyes is better? Leave the region poor? He does not give any answer to how this – in his words “perverse” situation – can be treated better.
  • One problem is surely that the farmers of the Fair Trade cooperative in the southwest seem to have either received little training on child labour or didn’t understand the message. Basically, the article claims that the message that FT/organic cotton should not involve child labour does not get through to the farmers. This is a serious matter. But the article does not say why this was not the case, which is very disappointing, considering that the author spent a long time in the country.
  • I do not understand why the article mentions the hard work on cotton fields without mentioning with one single word the US subsidies that prevent African cotton farmers from getting a fair price for their cotton. In Simpson’s logic the stop of subsidies would also lead to child labour, so maybe this is why the US is promoting US cotton farmers … And maybe we should follow the money behind Bloomberg and see where it leads us to (at least the article sounds a lot like: Victoria’s Secret – buy US cotton!).

Ethical Fashion Digest 12. Dezember 2011

For the last 14 days, I was on some cotton fields in Malawi and didn’t have time to blog. Here are some news of these last days.

My favourite news is actually an ad – Patagonia’s excellent “buy less” ad in the NYT on November, 25th:

October / November 2011

3.10.2011: HBR Network Blog: Patagonia’s “Buy Less” Campaign May Lead to More Revenue:

26.11. BBC News: Who, What, Why: How could Reebok sell trainers for $1?

30.11.2011. Triple Pundit: Patagonia’s Black Friday Message: Don’t Buy This Jacket:

December 2011

1.12.2011: AP: Workers mass at Shanghai factory in latest unrest:

2.12.2011: Reuters: Hundreds strike at Singapore-owned plant in China:

4.12.2011: The Observer: Revealed: true cost of the Christmas toys we buy from China’s factories:

6.12.2011: The Guardian Blog: We need a sustainability movement to make ‘green living’ the norm

6.12.2011: British High Commission New Delhi: New training scheme promises to bring benefits to both garment exporters and garment workers

6.12.2011: Ecotextiles: China ponders green manufacturing tax

8.12.2011: The Guardian Blog: Talk point: could less choice be better for the consumer?

8.12.2011: AFP: Hundreds strike in latest China labour protest

8.12.2011: China Daily: End begging for wages

9.12.2011: Bundespreis Ecodesign: Erstmalige Vergabe durch Bundesumweltministerium und Umweltbundesamt in 2012:

11.12.2011: Handelsblatt: Puma will Produktion in Afrika ausbauen:

12.12.2011: Strike continues at south China factory:

Ethical Fashion Digest November 2011

This is my second digest of interesting news, articles etc. within the last few weeks. Sorry that I don’t sum them up, but that would be too much. Read whatever sounds interesting.

By the way: Would you prefer to have this digest once a week, every second week or monthly? Thanks for your replies.

Newspapers & Journals

12/2011: The Atlantic: How Walmart Is Changing China.

28.10. Ökotest: Kinderschlafanzüge Druckfehler:

05.11. Berliner Zeitung Magazin. Kambodscha. Die Geschichte einer Näherin:

13.11. The Guardian: Puma aiming to produce compostable trainers and T-shirts. German sportswear manufacturer working on designs for shoes and clothing that can be buried at the bottom of the garden:

16.11. Handelsblatt: PPR-Luxus-Marken auf den Öko-Spuren von Puma:

16.11. Economic Times (India): GAP, Walmart, C&A, H&M warn their Indian suppliers against textile mills that involve child & bonded-labour:

19.11. The Hindu: Opinion » Columns » Harsh Mander  Barefoot – An unfinished agenda – on child labour in India:

23.11. Manager Magazin: Nachhaltigkeit bei Adidas. “Schwachstellen gibt es immer”. Interview with H. Henke:

24.11. The Guardian: Howlers and omissions exposed in world of corporate social responsibility. Study points to slapdash fact- and figure-checking in companies


1.11. Guardian Green Living Blog: Has campaigning for an ethical fashion industry had any impact? Progress might be slow, and a sweat-free high street is still a long way off, but it’s not all doom and gloom:

7.11. Textile Exchange Blog: If you want to address Climate Change make your cotton Organic:

11.11.: Peter Williams on ETI Blog: Certification is a blunt tool for implementing workers’ rights.:

23.11. Frau Jona&son Blog: Charle Vögele in Schwierigkeiten- Es ist Zeit für die Revolution!

Studies, reports

16.11. GfK Studie: GfK Global Green Index – Wie grün ist der Verbraucher wirklich?

09.11. SustainAbililty: Signed, Sealed … Delivered? Behind Certification and Beyond Labels.

Call for Papers

Call for Papers: Corporate Social Responsibility and Irresponsibility. Corporate Social Responsibility and Irresponsibility. Call for Papers for Journal of Business Research  (JBR) special issue. Deadline: January 15, 2012.


Dezember 2011: »CSR – Gesellschaftliche Verantwortung im internationalen Dialog«. 15.&16.12. Berlin.

June 2012: 2012 EBEN Research Conference. Welcome to the website for the 2012 EBEN research conference. ‘Accountability, transparency, sustainability’. Thursday 7th to Saturday 9th June, 2012. Newcastle University Business School, England

July 2012: Call for Conference Papers: The Changing Role of Business in Global Society. European Group of Organization Studies. EGOS Colloquium, Helsinki, Finland, July 5–7, 2012

Oktober 2012: 5th International Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility. October 4-6, 2012. Berlin. (no CfP yet)


Burckhardt, Gisela (Ed.): Mythos CSR – Unternehmensverantwortung und Regulierungslücken.

Magnus Boström; Mikael Klintman (2011): Eco-Standards, Product Labelling and Green Consumerism . Palgrave Macmillan , 09/2011. 272 Seiten.

Busch, Lawrence (2011). Standards. Recipes for reality. MIT Press, Cambridge. 390 Seiten.

Standards: Recipes for reality

Everyone is confronted with standards every day. Lawrence Busch, Professor at Michigan State University, argues that standards, shape not only the physical world around us but also our social lives and even our selves. Busch shows how standards are intimately connected to power–that they often serve to empower some and disempower others.

Busch recently conducted a research project on standards which aimed at:

  1. Developing a general theory of standards.
  2. Documenting the shift of governance from nation-states to various and diverse forms of private and private-public governance.
  3. Better linking standards to (a) ethics, and (b) democracy.

The book “Standards. Recipes for reality” came out of his research and was recently published at MIT Press. You can listen to Busch discussing his book in this Podcast.