Apparel and Textile Industry
Virtually the entire apparel and footwear industry is tainted by forced Uyghur and Turkic Muslim Labour.
Researchers in 2019 found that the Uyghur Region accounted for more than 20% of the world’s cotton output. China is also the world’s largest exporter of cotton yarn, fabric, and garments, some of which are produced in facilities in the Uyghur Region and elsewhere in China that use the forced labor of Uyghurs. Uyghurs are also forcibly transferred from the Uyghur Region to work in factories, including in apparel and textile manufacturing, in wider China. Potentially tainted yarn and fabric is also exported from China, to other garment manufacturing countries all around the world, where it is used by factories to make clothes and other textile-products. This means that 1 in 5 cotton garments in the global apparel market are at risk of being tainted with Uyghur forced labour, which creates a significant risk of regulatory and ethical violations by the fashion industry.
Only by taking the actions enumerated in the Call to Action, and the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act for companies importing into the U.S., can companies act responsibly and prevent their supply chains being linked to the forced labour of Uyghurs and other Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples.
As of March 2022, the following companies have shown leadership and committed to the steps outlined in the Call to Action, and have made their commitments public:
- ASOS plc
- EILEEN FISHER
- Marks and Spencer Group plc
- New Look
- OVS S.p.A
- Seasalt Cornwall
- TFG Limited (Hobbs, Phase Eight, Whistles)
- WE Fashion
August 2022 Update
The UFLPA, which went into effect in the U.S. on June 21, 2022, establishes a rebuttable presumption that the importation of any goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly, or in part, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Uyghur Region), or produced by certain entities implicated in forced labour, is prohibited by Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 and that such goods, wares, articles, and merchandise are not entitled to entry to the U.S. The presumption also applies to goods made in, or shipped through, China and other countries that include inputs made in Xinjiang. Companies must provide clear and convincing evidence that goods are not mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part by forced labor.
The Coalition is demanding that companies apply a single global standard, consistent with the requirements of the UFLPA, across their entire supply chain for all retail markets. We also call on companies to refrain from re-exporting any goods denied entry to the U.S. under the auspices of the UFLPA and attempting to sell in other markets, which would create markets for goods tainted with forced labour. Specifically, we demand that companies comply fully with the UFLPA and:
- Commit to apply a single global standard, aligned with the legal requirements set forth in the UFLPA, to exclude Uyghur forced labour across its supply chains, and to not bifurcate their supply chains.
- Commit to not re-exporting goods detained under the auspices of the UFLPA to other markets.
We encourage shareholders and advocates to join us in calling on companies to make these commitments by asking:
- Is the company applying a single global standard, aligned with the legal requirements set forth in the UFLPA, to exclude Uyghur forced labour across its supply chains, and to not bifurcate its supply chains?
- Is the company committed to not re-exporting goods detained under the auspices of the UFLPA to other markets?
- If the company is committed to the above statements, how is it implementing these commitments?
- If the company is not committed to a single global standard, how is it ensuring that goods imported into markets other than the US are not tainted?
In particular, the Coalition calls on the following companies, which independent research has credibly and publicly identified as operating or having business relationships in the Uyghur Region, or as at high risk of sourcing from the Uyghur Region, and that have a presence or sell goods in the U.S., to commit to these demands.
In September 2022, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre sought responses to the four above questions from these companies. Of the thirty-three companies, only sixteen (48%) responded. The Coalition will be following up with these companies about their actions to remove Uyghur forced labour across their supply chain. The American Apparel and Footwear Association was not sent a letter, but sent a response to BHRRC. See all company responses here.
- Adidas (response)
- Amazon (no response)
- Burberry (no response)
- Capri Holdings (Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors, Versace) (no response)
- Costco (no response)
- Esprit (response)
- Fast Retailing Co Ltd (Uniqlo, Theory) (response)
- G-III Apparel Group (DKNY) (response)
- Gap Inc. (Athleta, Banana Republic, GAP) (response)
- Guess? (no response)
- H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M, & Other Stories) (no response)
- Hanes (no response)
- Hermes (no response)
- Ikea (response)
- Inditex (Industria de Diseño Textil, S.A.) (Bershka, Zara, Inditex, Massimo Dutti, Oysho, Pull & Bear, Stradivarius, Zara Home) (response)
- Kering (Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Venetta, Brioni, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent) (response)
- Kontoor Brands, Inc. (Lee, Rock & Republic, Wrangler) (response)
- Levi’s (response)
- Lululemon (response)
- LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (Celine, Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton) (response)
- Macy’s (response)
- MF Brands Group SA (Aigle, Lacoste) (no response)
- Muji (no response)
- Next (response)
- Nike (Converse) (no response)
- PVH Corp. (Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein) (no response)
- Ralph Lauren (no response)
- SMCP S.A. (Maje, Sandro) (response)
- Sycamore Partners (Ann Taylor, Loft) (no response sought)
- Tapestry Inc. (Coach, Kate Spade, Stuart Weitzman) (no response)
- Urban Outfitters, Inc. (Anthropologie, Free People) (no response)
- VF Corporation (JanSport, Kipling, The North Face, Timberland, Vans) (response)
- Walmart (no response)
The Coalition equally calls on all companies, including those without a US market, to apply a single global standard, in line with the Coalition’s Brand commitment to exit the Uyghur Region and prevent use of forced labour of Uyghur and other Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples / UFPLA, which includes a commitment to not bifurcate their supply chains. This demand is made in consideration of existing and forthcoming laws in other jurisdictions, particularly the EU and EU Member States, and to raise business standards globally.
For apparel companies wishing to speak with the Coalition, please email [email protected].
- Coercive Labor in the Cotton Harvest in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Uzbekistan, Harvard Dataverse (May 2023)
- 5 Top Fashion Takeaways From Tuesday’s China Commission Testimony, Sourcing Journal (Apr 2023)
- 23 Major Brands Suspected of Illegally Sourcing Products Made by Forced Labor in China, Insider (Dec 2022)
- ‘Escalation of Secrecy’: Global Brands Seek Clarity on Xinjiang, New York Times (May 2022)
- Until Nothing Is Left: China’s Settler Corporation and its Human Rights Violations in the Uyghur Region, Sheffield Hallam University (Jul 2022)
- Laundering Cotton: How Xinjiang Cotton is Obscured in International Supply Chains, Sheffield Hallam University (Nov 2021)
- Uyghurs for Sale, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (Mar 2020)
- Global Supply Chains, Forced Labor, and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Congressional-Executive Commission on China (Mar 2020)
- Connecting the Dots in Xinjiang: Forced Labor, Forced Assimilation, and Western Supply Chains, Center for Strategic and International Studies (Oct 2019)
Photo by No Revisions on Unsplash