On Monday, an announcement that Adidas was radically restructuring its leadership landed in journalists’ inboxes. In a surprising move, the German sportswear giant has apparently appointed a Cambodian former garment worker and union leader to serve as its co-CEO and oversee efforts to ensure ethical manufacturing practices.
The press release was not real. It was sent from a fake Adidas email address by stunt activists The Yes Men and labor rights group Clean Clothes Campaign, part of an elaborate hoax that also included a “derelicte”-style fashion show during the week of the Berlin fashion. Several news outlets and fashion blogs fell for it and rushed to report the story before it became clear that the ad was false.
The point of it all was to draw attention to alleged rights violations in the Adidas supply chain and pressure the sportswear company to address them.
The stunt is part of a rising wave of disruptive, confrontational and sometimes controversial activism, from throwing soup to stopping traffic, fueled by a growing sense of frustration and anxiety over inaction on increasingly pressing issues like the climate and social justice.
Fashion is far from exempt. Activism in space has been growing since before the pandemic, along with increased awareness of the negative environmental impact of the industry. Covid-19 gave a dark boost to labor advocacy in the sector, as pressure on workers grew and incidents of wage theft and union crackdowns increased.
Activists say new tactics are needed because nothing has changed and things are getting worse.
“This is a life and death issue,” said Ilana Winterstein, an urgent appeals activist with the Clean Clothes Campaign. “We need to resort to tactics that really catch people off guard and say, ‘This is reality. You can’t ignore it anymore.’”
To be sure, the impact of such initiatives is rarely as explosive as the headlines they generate: systemic change is never quick or simple. But such hard-hitting tactics can help change the popular narrative, set the agenda for action, and increase momentum for ongoing campaigns.
Beyond advertising, the Clean Clothes Campaign seeks to pressure Adidas to sign a binding agreement that would commit the brand to tackling wage theft in the industry and protect the right of workers to form a union. The proposed Pay Your Workers deal has widespread support from labor groups and unions, but a major brand has yet to sign it.
Adidas has denied allegations of union breaking and wage theft in its supply chain and said it has established monitoring standards and processes to ensure fair and safe working conditions in the factories it works with.
The spotlight on the brand comes at an awkward time, as former Puma CEO Bjorn Gulden has just started his tenure with a mandate to restore the company’s fortunes and reputation after a painful breakup with Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) and mishaps. in the key Chinese market. Investors didn’t seem concerned about this week’s deception, and the company’s share price closed slightly higher on the day it made headlines.
However, the industry may need to brace itself for more creative and forceful efforts to drive responsibility around its environmental and social impact. The regulation is also adding new tools to activist arsenals, raising the possibility that advocacy groups could take legal action against brands.
Winterstein was coy about what else the Clean Clothes Campaign might have planned.
“I can confirm that it does not end here,” he said. “The plan is to continue to call on all brands to take workers’ rights seriously and to continue to use all available methods to increase the pressure.”
THE NEWS IN BRIEF
FASHION, BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
Richemont and Burberry say China sales fell amid Covid surge. Richemont’s China revenue fell 24 percent last quarter, while Burberry’s comparable sales fell 23 percent in that crucial market, the companies said Wednesday. Both said sales were up elsewhere but struggled to make up for the drop.
Report: Shein in talks to raise funds at lower valuation of $64 billion. The latest valuation would be nearly 36 percent below the $100 billion the company was reported to have been valued at in a funding round last year.
US Christmas sales miss estimates as inflation weighs on demand. The National Retail Federation said holiday sales, which are not adjusted for inflation, rose to $936.3 billion during November and December. It had previously forecast an increase between 6 and 8 percent during 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion.
THG Warns of Profits After Major Loss of Revenue. The British group, which owns beauty and nutrition brands, said it expected to report adjusted core profit of £70-80m by 2022, compared with its October forecast of between £100m and £130m.
P&G relies on price hikes to boost sales as volumes shrink. Total volume of goods sold fell 6 percent in the three months ending in December, worse than the 2.6 percent drop analysts had estimated.
Nordstrom cuts annual earnings outlook as off-price rack sales fall. Nordstrom Inc slashed its full-year profit forecast after steep discounts failed to convince people to shop at its Rack stores, leading to weak holiday sales and a 6 percent drop in its shares in after-hours trading. from Thursday. The company said it now expected annual revenue growth to be on the lower end of its earlier expectation of 5 to 7 percent.
UK retail sales had the worst year on record for reduced spending. UK retail sales fell unexpectedly last month, capping the worst year on record after the cost of living forced consumers to pay more for fewer goods. The volume of goods purchased fell 5.8 percent from a year earlier, the steepest December drop since records began in 1997, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday, more than the 4 percent drop they had expected. the economists.
Dr. Martens Warns of Gains, Stock Drops More Than 20 Percent. British bootmaker Dr. Martens Plc issued a profit advisory on Thursday, citing major operating problems at its new US distribution center that sent its shares plunging by more than a fifth.
Bode launches women’s clothing. The American craft-focused brand designed by Emily Adams Bode Aujla will present its first women’s collection at its menswear show in Paris on January 21, Vogue reported.
J.Crew launches resale site. In partnership with ThredUp, the US retailer is now offering customers a way to buy and sell used J.Crew products online, the company announced Tuesday.
Vivienne Westwood Foundation Launch. The Vivienne Foundation, a nonprofit company first established by the late fashion designer in 2019, launched this week following Westwood’s death in late December.
Met Gala announces co-chairs and dress code. Actress and screenwriter Micaela Coel, actress Penélope Cruz, tennis legend Roger Federer and pop star Dua Lipa will co-chair with Anna Wintour the gala surrounding this year’s exhibition: “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty”. The dress code is “In honor of Karl”.
THE BUSINESS OF BEAUTY
Makeup by Mario secures a minority investment with a valuation of 200 million dollars. Provenance and Silas Capital acquired a minority stake in Makeup by Mario from Mario Dedivanovic, valuing the brand at more than $200 million.
Climate commitments from major beauty brands lack credibility, says report. The world’s biggest beauty companies aren’t doing enough to tackle their emissions, according to a new report from the net-zero intelligence unit of climate consultancy Carbon Trust.
Elizabeth Von Der Goltz Joins Farfetch on Executive Change. The former commercial director of Matches joined Farfetch’s executive team as director of fashion and merchandising. She will also take the reins at Browns and become chief executive of the London-based luxury retailer, owned by Farfetch.
Neiman Marcus appoints chief brand officer and head of retail sales. Nabil Aliffi and Stefanie Tsen Ward have been appointed to the newly created roles of head of brand and head of retail sales, respectively, the US luxury retailer said in a statement on Monday.
MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY
Singapore’s Zilingo to be liquidated after crisis at fashion startup. Zilingo Pte is going into liquidation, capping off a months-long crisis that has rocked Asia’s tech and start-up industries. The once-high-flying company fell into a downward spiral after complaints of financial irregularities, culminating in the firing of high-profile co-founder and CEO Ankiti Bose in May.
Digital fashion platform founded by former luxury executive raises $9.5 million. Syky, created by a fashion veteran who has held senior positions at Ralph Lauren and Burberry, closed a funding round led by Seven Seven Six, the venture fund of Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Compiled by Joan Kennedy.
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