BEIJING — The China National Textile and Apparel Council released its annual report on corporate social responsibility, stressing both the ethical and economic importance of cracking down on illegal overtime and child labor in the industry.
"Let's not fixate on what we produce, but how we produce it," Ou Xinqian, vice minister for Industry and Information Technology, told attendees at a conference last month unveiling the report. CNTAC surveyed nine large-scale textile companies' corporate responsibility practices through a series of on-site visits, interviews and other research.
The language of the report indicates China is taking a tougher stance on CSR, avoiding vague terminology and clearly identifying terms such as: "child workers," "compulsory labor," "discrimination" and "harassment and abuse."
The report identified working hours as one of the biggest CSR challenges facing the textile industry. Although the situation for overtime has shown some improvement, all but one of the companies surveyed failed to comply with legal working hours.
The majority of employees questioned confirmed a decrease in overtime to less than 40 hours a month. Still, 22 percent of employees surveyed stated they work between 66 to 90 hours of overtime a month, exceeding the Chinese legal limit of 36 hours a month.
In the area of child labor, results were mixed. All the enterprises surveyed employed legally registered juvenile workers (defined in Chinese law as workers over the age of 16 but under the age of 18), but roughly half the companies failed to provide proper medical records for these workers. Only one enterprise had a child worker, identified as "an inherited case." Nearly all the companies were found to be in compliance with CSR guidelines when it came to issues of discrimination and compulsory labor. The two exceptions were a firm whose labor ad bordered on residency discrimination and another that asked employees to turn in IDs to prepare documents and passes (holding employees' IDs is often an indicator of forced labor). No widespread or serious cases of harassment or abuse were identified in any of the companies.
Council representatives expressed concern that rising costs, linked to rapidly rising oil prices and the appreciation of the yuan, could force some companies to put CSR on the back burner.Soaring oil prices are putting a strain on China's chemical fiber industry. Meanwhile, the country's currency revaluation is biting into exports. For every 1 percent appreciation of the yuan, the industry loses 7.2 billion yuan ($1.05 million) in profits, according to the report. The yuan is expected to rise an additional 8 to 10 percent in 2008, according to the Bank of China. Also, small and medium-size textile and apparel companies have suffered from some government policy changes, such as the scaling back of export tax refunds for the third time in as many years.
"CSR helps your bottom line," said David R. Kelley, a former senior research fellow with the National University of Singapore's East Asian Institute, who attended the conference. "It may not help the bottom line in every case, but without that incentive, it has no future in China."
At present, the industry is focusing on the environmental commitment issue. The report cited energy saving and emission reduction as the industry's top development priority. One target is to lower wastewater emission per unit of output by 22 percent over the course of five years. CNTAC statistics show the dyeing and printing sector has the second-highest water consumption among manufacturing industries, but only recycles 7 percent of its used water.
A notice from the Ministry of Commerce and State Environmental Protection Industry should provide plenty of incentive for companies to clean up their act. The notice, issued late last year, promised harsh punishment for environmental violations, the most serious being the suspension of export licenses.
@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)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)