In just over a month, the historic Accord agreement on garment worker safety in Bangladesh will expire, threatening to catapult the fashion industry back to the days when workers feared for their lives and died by the thousands in crumbling and fire-prone structures. Unions and brands are currently negotiating a new Accord agreement, set to expire on August 31, to keep the program in action. yet one brand has been surprisingly silent on committing to a new agreement so far: PVH Corp., the conglomerate that owns Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein and other brands.
PVH Corp. was in fact the first signatory to the first Accord agreement back in 2013, in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, where 1,132 garment makers died. And while the brand remade itself in the years since to appear socially conscious, in 2010, a Tommy Hilfiger supplier factory in Bangladesh went up in flames, killing 29 women and men, compelling the brand to join the Accord.
Concerned that the company is backsliding on labor rights, PayUp Fashion and Remake reached out to PVH Corp’s chairman Emanuel Chirico to press him to renew his commitment to Accord. As CEO, Chirico had a long track record of upholding human rights and fair labor standards in the supply chain. He was named the Responsible CEO of the Year and has even helped establish a business school at Fordham dedicated to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Our concern is that with a new CEO at the helm, PVH has abandoned its commitment to garment makers. Below is the letter we sent to Mr. Chirico. We will update the post and our Brand Tracker with any response we receive.
A 2010 factory fire in Bangladesh took the lives of 29 people who sewed clothes for Tommy Hilfiger, among other brands.
LETTER TO PVH CORP. CHAIRMAN, MANNY CHIRICO
Mr. Emanuel (Manny) Chirico, Chairman of PVH Corp.,
We hope that the staff of Tommy Hilfiger and PVH are safe and well. Our community at Remake and PayUp Fashion, many of whom are your customers, are closely tracking negotiations to renew the life-saving Accord agreement in Bangladesh, and we are hopeful that a new legally-binding and expanded Accord is possible to protect garment makers’ lives. After weeks of silence in response to citizens writing letters to PVH staff urging action on the Accord, I’m reaching out to you personally to take leadership on this urgent matter.
We are well aware of your strong track record on human rights and social justice as CEO. PVH was named one of the Most Just Companies by Forbes in 2017 under your helm, and you were named the Responsible CEO of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award from Corporate Responsibility magazine in 2016. As CEO, you were known to fight to ensure “fair labor conditions” in your factories. And of course PVH was the first signatory to the original Accord agreement, which has kept more than 2 million garment makers safe in 1,600 factories over eight years. Has PVH’s new leadership abandoned the values that you worked to defend?
While the Accord has made significant progress, the number of deadly factory disasters that have killed women and men working in apparel factories in recent months (Including in Pakistan, India, and in Morocco, where 28 garment workers died in a flooded factory and in Egypt, where a factory fire killed 20 workers) are a stark reminder of what’s at stake, and the importance of renewing and expanding the Accord to new countries. A lethal juice factory fire in Bangladesh early in July demonstrated how much progress the Accord has made for apparel-makers, as well as what’s at stake if progress is rolled back. 29 people lost their lives at “Now That’s It Sportswear,” a Tommy Hilfiger supplier, in 2012, and thus we ask you to remember that safety in the apparel industry is something that must be constantly defended. We cannot let the industry return to a race to the bottom, especially when it comes to garment makers’ lives.
On behalf of a global coalition of citizens, we are asking PVH to publicly commit to a renewed and expanded Accord with all three of the following features. ASOS, Tchibo, Kik, Zeeman and G-Star have already made strong public statements.
Can you please let us know by this coming Friday, July 30, 2021 if PVH will lead the fashion industry and publicly agree to a strong Accord with the following provisions:
1) Is PVH (parent company to Tommy Hilfiger) prepared to sign an Accord agreement that is individually enforceable against brands? Yes or No?
2) Is PVH (parent company to Tommy Hilfiger) prepared to sign a new agreement in which an independent inspectorate is accountable to the Accord Secretariat and the Accord would have a cooperation agreement with the RSC? Yes or No?
3) Will PVH (parent company to Tommy Hilfiger) support a framework to expand the principles and program of this life-saving program to other countries? Yes or No?
We will put your answers in the public domain so our community knows where you stand. Thank you so much.