A new report accuses several American and European fashion chains, including Esprit, New Look and Continue, of inadvertently funding Russia’s war on Ukraine by using polyester derived from Russian oil.
The Changing Market Foundation, a non-governmental organization that aims to expose irresponsible corporate practices and promote a sustainable economy, has released a Dress to Kill report linking Russian-sourced Indian polyester producer Reliance.
While the US, EU and UK have imposed sanctions on Russia, Indian businesses are still free to trade with the country.
Since the escalation of the war in February 2022, Reliance has increased its oil purchases from Russia 12-fold.
British department store Next has announced it will end its retail operations in Russia this year because of the war. UK-based New Look and California-based Esprit both launched in 2010. Both fled the country in 2014 when Russia invaded eastern Ukraine.
The report said Esprit, New Look and Next Source were sourced directly from Reliance, while other fashion brands were also involved in finding manufacturers to buy polyester from the company. Asos, Marks & Spencer, Adidas, Mango, Zalando and Target are indirectly sourced from Reliance.
The report also revealed brands working with Chinese polyester producer Hengli said it had increased Russian oil purchases this year. Esprit, Next and New Look from Henley are said to be available directly from Dutch jeans brand G-Star Raw and Italian clothing chain United Ladies of Benetton.
But when G-Star Raw was approached for comment, there was a rift between them and the Changing Market Foundation. Henley is an indirect supplier of G-Star raw material through their mill partners, Jacobros International, and that G-Star Raw material only uses recycled polyester from them. “Jacobros sourced GRS (Global Recycled Standard) certified and recycled polyester for G-Star from Henley, meaning only waste material was used,” said Suzanne de Jong, Corporate Communications Director of G-Star Raw. We will also notify you of changing markets. About these misinterpretations.
As we are a Danish brand, we generally use very little polyester. By 2021, polyester will account for 7% of all recycled materials. Needless to say, the total share of virgin polyester was 1%, neither do we support nor accept it. The use of Russian oil in our products.”
Esprit, New Look, Next and Benetton United colors were also asked for comments.
George Harding-Rolls, campaign manager at the Changing Markets Foundation, said: “Fast fashion is based on cheap fossil fuel-based materials that are fueling plastic pollution and the climate crisis. Now, for the first time, we see another human cost of this dependence. Synthetic clothing purchases of Russian oil are bolstering their economy during the disastrous occupation of Ukraine. At a time when the fate of Ukraine hangs in the balance, I urge these brands to stop using contaminated polyester to line Putin’s wallet.
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