HONG KONG — A dozen major players in Hong Kong's fashion industry have formed a consortium on sustainability, marking a significant effort to address environmental issues plaguing the Pearl River Delta, long the heart of China's manufacturing region.
The Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium, launched here today to coincide with Earth Day, will also look to develop ways to use more recycled products, increase energy efficiency and reduce the impact of manufacturing on the environment.
Pat-Nie Woo, director of denim maker Central Textiles, which has four factories — two each in Hong Kong and China — is chairman of the group, which includes Ace Group chairman Andrew Sia, Crystal Group chairman Kenneth Lo, Fountain Set Holdings Ltd. executive director Gordon Yen and TAl Apparel managing director Harry Lee.
Woo said the group's formation goes beyond just a marketing effort focused on organic products.
"Even at Prime Source, when we talked about sustainability, at the beginning there was a lot of focus on and a big bandwagon for organic textiles and bamboo," Woo said. "But that's only a very small part of the story. It's the processing of the textiles, that is where the impact comes in. It's not just at the material level, but all the processes in between — the dyeing, the spinning, weaving, knitting, fabric finishing and garment finishing. The supply chain is made up of three or four very different businesses and what best practices and sustainability means for each part is very different."
Woo believes marketing will happen in an organic way. He added the objective is "not to start from a marketing point, but on attaining measurable goals." To that end, the SFBC's early efforts will be placed in two areas: reusability and energy efficiency, which he notes is already bearing fruits in the form of recycled denim fabrics. He said 15 to 20 percent of fabric used in garment making is scrapped.
"A large garment house will use 100 million yards of fabric," he said. "That's 20 million yards wasted."
Central Textiles and other manufacturers have developed a way to collect the scrap, break it down, re-spin it and produce new fabric."We don't want to bleach, so right now it has to be 100 percent white or mostly white," he said of the recycled cotton being used for such items as workmen's gloves and duvet covers.
Energy efficiency is another focus of SFBC's initial efforts. Woo said, throughout the supply chain, a lot of cost can be attributed to energy.
"An average factory uses 35 million kilowatts each year compared to the average household, which uses 4,000 kilowatts," he said, pointing out that SFBC hopes to develop efficient energy usage, to reduce waste and to capture waste and reuse it again. "It's not difficult to save 20 percent of energy. That means saving 7 million kilowatt hours, enough to power 1,750 houses for a year."
One of the key aspects of SFBC's endeavors is the sharing of information, both among members and through dialogue with retailers and brands.
"We share our findings with the rest of the industry because only then can we get closer to sustainability," Woo said.
Members of the consortium are also sharing the costs of organizing and running such a body. Woo said the initial investment is "a few million Hong Kong dollars." He said the group is also likely to receive support from the Hong Kong government under its Project Blue Sky project and is talking to potential sponsors.
The Clothing Industry Training Authority, a quasi-governmental body that promotes sustainable development in Hong Kong's fashion industry, is on board as one of SFBC's founding members, and two politicians — Roy Tang, deputy secretary for the Environment, and Christine Loh, chief executive officer of Civic Exchange — were set to give addresses at the consortium's launch today.
"Hong Kong is a special place, it's really the gateway to China," Woo said. "The advantage we have is that we can reach the West and China. The Beijing central government has come out many times to say that the environment is a focus area....by coming together as an industry we have a big voice to talk to them."
With raw material and oil prices escalating, while the U.S. dollar declines against the Chinese currency, cost issues might overshadow environmental concerns. But Woo said such thinking is shortsighted."With the industry working in a more efficient way, there are savings to be had," he said. "Whether they are high enough to compensate for cost increases is another matter. We can't do anything about cotton prices, but sustainable development can not only reduce our impact on the environment, it can also ensure that we're employing best practices. What we will actually achieve only time will tell, but all of us strongly believe it's the right thing to do."
My character, Dinah Madani, is just the coolest, [most] badass woman imaginable," says @amberroserevah. The actress stars in @marvel's newest series on @netflix, @thepunisher. To prepare for her role, Revah sat down with Homeland agents to get a real sense of with Dinah's day-to-day life is really like. Read our full interview on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
A scene from the 91st annual @macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade, which boasts 50 million TV viewers and 3.5 million on-site spectators, is considered one of the largest and most watched parades in the world. (📷: Jason Szenes/EPA-REX)
The circus came to @bloomingdales 59th Street on Tuesday night and lit up Lexington Avenue with acrobatic dancers, death-defying knife throwing, sword swallowing and aerial acts with no net. The 45 minutes of theatrics built up to unveiling the holiday windows depicting @swarovski crystal-encrusted circus pieces and scenes from “The Greatest Showman” – songs from the soundtrack included. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Joshua Scott)
The psychedelic fashion that pervaded the ’60s is back with an exhibit at the @museumofcityny. “Mode New York: Fashion Takes a Trip” chronicles the changing styles from 1960 through 1973 and features designers such as @ysl, @oscardelarenta and more. The exhibition, which is on display through April 1, is organized into four periods: First Lady Fasion, Youthquake, New Bohemia and New Nonchalance. Pictured here is model Pat Bardonella during the Garvey Day Parade in 1968. (📷: @kwamebphoto) #wwdeye #wwdfashion
“People should be a lot more honest in expressing both the dark and light of themselves. We need to give each other the space to do that because it’s the only way we can grow and evolve,” says @noelwells of her new film “Mr. Roosevelt,” which is largely based on her own struggles. Unexpectedly leaving @nbcsnl in 2014 after just one season, Wells felt set back in her self-esteem and career trajectory. She quickly refocused her energy to more personal projects, which led to the completion of “Mr. Roosevelt.” Read the rest of WWD’s interview with the “Master of None” actress on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
@barbrastreisand is giving fans a chance to see her perform up close in a new concert series, which makes its debut on @Netflix today. From behind-the-scenes takes to her concert performance in Miami last December, the two-hour streaming special captures Streisand in her element. Pictured here is the singer/actress photographed for WWD in 1963. (📷: Palmieri Tony) #wwdeye #wwdarchive
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)