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Artistic Milliners’ $60 Million Factory Boosts Efficiency

Artistic Milliners is expanding its presence in Pakistan with a new $60 million state-of-the-art facility that follows through on its values. At full capacity, the 500,000-square-foot facility will employ 3,500 workers—70 percent of which will be women—and boost production capacity by 30 percent.

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Already in operation and shipping product, the factory will be able to produce 600,000 pieces per month, totaling 43.2 million pieces per year. It’s expected to reach full capacity by the first quarter of 2023. With digitized processes, the factory is aligned with supply chain 4.0 principles that keep it at the forefront of innovation.

The facility is part of the company’s nine-acre AM-4 apparel park in Karachi, which employs more than 10,500 workers.

“The opening of this facility is an opportunity to put into practice our vision for the future of apparel production,” said Murtaza Ahmed, Artistic Milliners managing director. “We see this as a model factory, one where the latest technological innovations in efficiency and sustainability meet the best employment practices in terms of women’s empowerment and well-being.”

 

With this kind of scale, the company’s commitment to sustainability is more important than ever. The facility is LEED Platinum certified, the highest level currently attainable, and features 850KW solar panels. Advanced membrane bioreactor (MBR) water recycling technology increases the company’s daily water recycling capacity to 1.5 million gallons, helping it achieve its water recycling goal of 90 percent.

It also uses ZDHC-certified chemicals and has achieved Higg FEM 3.0, ISO 14001:2015 and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certifications.

With this facility, Artistic Milliners is putting a spotlight on women workers. It’s equipped with on-site daycare and employee training facilities in line with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Family Friendly Program, an initiative for increasing the number of women in the workforce. The company plans to employ women in non-traditional roles such as dry processing and pressing.

Artistic Milliners has a legacy of elevating women, with Ahmed named of one Financial Times’ “50 Global Male Champions of Women in Business” list in 2018 for providing benefits like literacy programs and employee training for women. At the time, half of Artistic Milliners’ top management was female. Last year, the company partnered with fashion brand partner Bestseller to roll out HERessentials, a pilot program from global nonprofit BSR, the organization behind HERproject, a collaborative initiative that strives to empower low-income women working in global supply chains. The program aimed to help women within Artistic Milliners’ factories develop “adaptive capacity,” or the social and technical skills needed to respond to environmental and socioeconomic changes, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With a workforce of 3,500, the new facility follows the highest safety standards, and features a fully automated fire protection and detection system. It was designed in accordance with seismic standards to protect the workers and prevent structure damage in event of an earthquake. Added benefits include free on-site lunch and transportation, as well as a 100 percent digital wage system making payment more efficient and eliminating the physical exchange of money.

The factory is another part of the company’s expansion plans, which included the acquisition of a Los Angeles wash facility, Star Fades International, at the beginning of 2021. The facility provides U.S. customers with 360-degree design capabilities and has already launched a number of sustainably made denim collections, including Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga.

Earlier this year, the company opened Artmill to offer retailers, manufacturers and brands turnkey solutions for their casualwear programs and tailor custom offerings for startup and premium labels. The first LEED Platinum certified piece-dye mill in the region, the facility will have an annual vertical capacity of 6 million garments.

 

Founder’s Letter: A New Chapter for Uzbek Cotton and Their National Textile Industry

I recently returned from a trip to Uzbekistan, where I had a chance to tour cotton farms, spinning mills and denim mills and jean factories. It was an eye-opening experience and I want to share what I learned with all of you.

 

 

 

 

But first, some perspective.

Back in late 2019, I was approached by an Uzbekistani denim mill I had never heard of asking if they could exhibit at Kingpins. Thoughtlessly and by rote, I responded negatively, telling them that due to forced labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry, no fabric buyers at Kingpins could buy their products. The factory contacted me again in early 2020. But before replying, I thought I should educate myself first. At the time, I was working a lot from home and I had time to read about Uzbekistan and its history of forced labor and the changes that had been going on in the country. 

In 2016, Uzbekistan elected its second president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who won the election with 88.6 percent of the vote. After he was sworn into office, Mirziyoyev removed most of the previous president’s officials and urged the government to employ “new, young people who love their country.” 

After a year in office, Mirziyoyev moved away from many of his predecessor’s policies. For textiles, that meant new labor practices and a shift from just being a cotton grower to mechanizing the industry and beginning to export yarn and full-package products.

During my March 7-12 trip, I spent the majority of my time in and around the nation’s capital, Tashkent, as well as a day in Bukhara. Much of my time was spent driving around from garment factories to textile mills and cotton farms, which provided a great chance for me to learn about this seriously important cotton-growing nation. Where else can you drive a short distance from a major city to cotton farms, spinning factories and jean factories? 

The highlight of the trip was a press conference hosted by the Ministry of Labor, where it was announced that the international boycott of Uzbek cotton was over. Reports of forced labor in the Uzbek cotton industry had led the Cotton Campaign to enlist support from 331 brands and retailers who pledged to boycott Uzbek cotton until the practice of using forced labor ended. And now, 12 years later, the Cotton Campaign — joined by the Responsible Sourcing Network and other NGOs — are now encouraging everyone to buy Uzbek products made from cotton.

It’s a wonderful story where the protagonists are committed advocates who diligently work on what they believe is the right thing to do. Their efforts helped change a nation’s policies concerning the treatment of their children and labor force. Anyone who thinks a few people cannot change a nation should read more about what has gone on in Uzbekistan over the last 12 years. Congratulations to everyone involved.

Today, Uzbekistan is the seventh-largest cotton producer in the world, putting it on par with the crop-size of Pakistan and larger than that of Australia and Turkey. The country employs between 2.5 million and 3 million farmers and makes almost 1 million metric tons of cotton. For those bad at math, that’s about 2 billion pounds  — or enough for 4 billion T-shirts or 1.3 billion jeans. But what’s amazing is that Uzbekistan’s spinning capacity now exceeds its cotton production and in 2023, they will begin importing cotton. From what I could tell, we are seeing the very beginning of the Uzbek denim story. The country currently has only three denim mills and four jeans factories but I was told both Jeanologia and Tonello have sold equipment to one factory.

And for those that love organic cotton, Uzbekistan’s cotton farms do not use GMO seeds at all. Although the country currently produces no organic cotton, it is on track to become a huge producer over the next few years.

I am sure in 2023 Kingpins will have Uzbek exhibitors and I am confident that Uzbekistan is on the threshold of being an important jeans supplier to the textile industry. 

-Andrew Olah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RadiciGroup establishes a network of Italian textile excellence to create a spacesuit for analogue Mars missions

 

The Space Economy is launched in Bergamo. Mars Planet analogue astronauts to take part in the SMOPS Mars mission simulation wearing suits made of RadiciGroup yarn
 

5 April 2022 - A group of companies in the Italian textile industry, headed by RadiciGroup, has created the first spacesuit for analogue simulation fully designed and engineered in Italy for the Space Medicine Operations (SMOPS) Mars mission. This endeavour was promoted and organized by Mars Planet – the Italian chapter of the Mars Society headquartered in the province of Bergamo – under the patronage of the Italian Space Agency.
The SMOPS analogue mission is mainly focused on space medicine: health monitoring of future astronauts and development of support technologies for the simulation of life in space and planet environments.
adiciGroup teamed up with major Italian textile companies, such as Eurojersey, Vagotex and DEFRA, to realize the spacesuit project. The Group supplied the materials to make the suits for the six analogue astronauts participating in the mission and coordinated the development of the technologies needed to realize technicalwear for extreme environmental conditions.
From 10 to 23 April, the spacesuits will be used in a series of experiments carried out at the Mars Desert Research Station in the state of Utah, USA, that will simulate the life and work conditions mission crews will face on the Martian surface.
“By participating in the SMOPS mission, RadiciGroup and the other textile companies involved in the project have had the opportunity to approach the frontier sector of aerospace, thus expanding and strengthening their know-how by experimenting with innovative solutions that may, in the future, be applied in business sectors, such as biomedical or others that require high safety standards,” commented Filippo Servalli of Radici InNova, the RadiciGroup Research & Innovation company. “Working on this mission, we were able to capitalize on the skills related to the development of personal protective equipment (PPE) acquired during the pandemic and then applied to the industrial sector, taking them to a higher level.”

The team headed by RadiciGroup contributed to the SMOPS mission project by developing and producing three items of technicalwear, featuring high health, comfort and performance standards, to allow the analogue astronauts to move easily and safely outside the base station, with the support of advanced control, monitoring and communication systems.

Press release

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