What Experts Say About Swapping Animal Leather for Vegan Versions

Luke Haverhals, founder and CEO of Natural Fiber Welding, a materials-innovation company in Illinois, sees himself as equal parts scientist and chef. ”We look at different inputs similar to how a chef uses eggs, milk, sugar and butter to make exactly what he wants, whether it’s a souffle that is light and airy or something…

Roscomar’s Sneakers Take ‘iPhone-Like’ Approach to Sustainability

Johan Olsson didn’t set out to sell sneakers, let alone so-called “sustainable” ones. “I was a private-equity guy who invested in brands,” he told Sourcing Journal. Somewhere along the way, however, Olsson became enamored with the idea of launching a direct-to-consumer company. He had some friends in the business, it seemed like fun and he…

‘Exploitative’ Brands Are Crushing Garment Workers and Suppliers

The first wave of Covid-19 dealt garment manufacturers a devastating blow. Now, with the pandemic resurging across North America and Europe, triggering further lockdowns and sending whole economies crashing into existential despair, the odds of their survival—let alone recovery—remain dim. Brands and retailers in the global north are generally taking a wait-and-see approach to the…

The Industry’s Complex Uyghur Cotton Problem

As China continues its brutal crackdown on the Muslim-majority Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, apparel sourcing in China is becoming increasingly fraught. In early December, the Trump administration unveiled its tightest restrictions on the country’s cotton and textiles yet, citing a desire to prevent U.S. complicity in human-rights abuses in Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has…

Why Pangaia Doesn’t Believe in Hogging Breakthrough Materials

For Pangaia, a London-based startup that combines street-style elan with tree-hugging sensibilities, materials play a starring rather than supporting role. It’s part of its philosophy of “high-tech naturalism,” taking materials abundantly found in nature and augmenting them with science and technology to solve the apparel industry’s most pressing social and environmental problems, such as animal…

Fake Meat Has Gone Mainstream. Can Biofabricated Fashion Follow Suit?

What’s in a name? When it comes to biomaterials—think yeast-engineered silk or mushroom-root leather—quite a lot. And like the trend itself, confusion about how they differ, how they’re made and what they offer is growing. Buoyed by burgeoning ethical concerns from consumers, fashion brands are seeing the promise of lab-developed materials as functional alternatives to…

Why Less Might Be More When it Comes to Factory Audits

In a globalized supply chain where clothing production is typically outsourced to developing nations with low-wage labor and shaky social and environmental protections, audits have become a non-negotiable means of managing risks and protecting brands from potential scandal. With multiple, often disparate standards for assessing compliance, however, it isn’t unusual for one supplier to field…

Leather Lowdown: Fruit, Fungi and a Focus on Planet-Friendly Processing

News of traditional leather’s demise has been greatly exaggerated. Despite spiking demand for vegan and other eco-friendly alternatives—a trend that tracks with the growing consumer predilection for plant-based diets—cowhides, a byproduct of beef and dairy consumption, have continued to conduct brisk trade. This is especially true of the luxury sector, where high-quality leather remains synonymous…

Xinjiang Confidential: What Auditor Exodus Means for Apparel Sourcing

A number of supply-chain auditing firms say they will no longer conduct inspections in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of northwestern China, where state-sponsored efforts to coerce and assimilate predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities have rekindled questions about the limits of corporate self-regulation and business-driven social compliance initiatives, particularly in hostile environments ruled by fear….

Higg Index, Without Transparency and Incentives, is a ‘Scale Without a Diet’

For the apparel sector, which has traditionally struggled to measure, let alone manage its burgeoning environmental footprint, the Higg Index has been nothing short of transformational. Certainly this was the case in 2011, when the Walmart- and Patagonia-founded Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) rolled out the suite of assessment tools to allow brands, retailers and facilities…

Is Lost Stock Helping or Hurting Bangladeshi Garment Workers?

By many accounts, any attempt to bail out struggling Bangladeshi garment workers facing starvation and ruin amid the COVID-19 pandemic would be a good thing. And for the most part, Lost Stock, a U.K. scheme that repackages jettisoned garments from canceled Western orders as “mystery boxes” for resale, appears to be a brilliant way to…