C.A.G. Gerlon was founded in 1964 and established itself as a well-known private label supplier of ladies’ jersey. Being in this business for more than half a century, we have learned that the fast fashion supply chain is one that comes with risks. C.A.G. Gerlon is dedicated to offer the best quality products that are made in a responsible way, from design to delivery, close to home.
Our products are made in Romania, Poland and Turkey; countries known for their skillful workmanship. By producing in Europe we can transform a sketch into a product and deliver it to our customers within 3 to 6 weeks. We are aware that producing close to home does not mean there aren’t any risks. We are obliged to avoid any risks under international guidelines such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for International Enterprises. We have to investigate the extent we are connected to human rights, environmental or animal welfare violations.
By being a member of the Amfori BSCI platform since 2009 and signing the Agreement on Garment and Textiles in 2017, we commit to working actively on eliminating and preventing risks on people and planet in our supply chain. Within both initiatives we join forces with other companies and different stakeholders in the garment supply chain regarding issues that are difficult to tackle alone.
How did we start?
In 2018 we developed a sustainability policy with social and environmental requirements.
Our sustainability policy is based on the 11 Amfori principles and the 9 themes of the Agreement on Garment and Textiles.
1) The rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining
2) Fair remuneration
3) Occupational health & safety
4) Special protection for young workers
5) No bonded labour
6) Ethical business behaviour
7) No discrimination
8) Decent working hours
9) No child labour
10) No precarious employment
11) Protection of the environment
Agreement on Garment and Textiles themes:
1) Discrimination and Gender
2) Child labour
3) Forced labour
4) Freedom of association
5) Living wage
6) Safety and health in the workplace
7) Raw materials
8) Water pollution and use of chemicals, water and energy
9) Animal welfare
We do not have 1 CR-manager to work on the above risks but created a multidisciplinary CR-team that exists out of 3 members: the head of production, the head of buying and the head of sales & styling. CSR-activities are part of the daily work within their roles.
By 2020 we will have rolled out our policy throughout our supply chain, informing our main business partners about the way we work. It is important to us that all of our partners share the same values so that we can identify possible risks, set objectives and take measures together. This is an ongoing process that we always have to improve and refine.
Transparency is key in our sustainability work. We would like to share some of our experiences, success stories and challenges.
In case you have any further questions regarding our sustainability policy, please contact us here.
We believe that the basis of the service and product we deliver is because of the
relationship we have with our suppliers, our business partners. The high level of trust and
commitment that is created over the years makes our sustainability efforts more effective.
By working with a small number of suppliers within Europe, we are able to monitor our
production better than when we would do business overseas. It makes it easier for us to visit
our suppliers regularly. Last year we made nearly 20 business trips to our suppliers in Turkey, Romania and Poland.
We have mapped the risks of all our production countries, based on country studies of Fair
Wear Foundation, the Modint country risk fact sheets and Amfori.
We work with one production facility in Romania, that is responsible for 35% of our total production. Although Romania is part of the EU since 2007 and therefore the labour legislation and worker standards meet the European Legislation there are still social compliance issues found in the garment sector.
Based on the country risk studies, the major issues of concern are low wages; trade union representation; and, to some extent, occupational health and safety issues. Occupational Health and Safety problems are mainly found in the area of fire and building safety due to a lack of knowledge about the topic. Trade Union representation in Romania became a concern after changes in the Romanian Labour code. Many factories still miss proper worker representation.
By conducting social audits at the factories in Romania and discussing the non-compliances found, Gerlon strives to increase the knowledge of social compliance at the factories. In 2019, all Gerlon production facilities in Romania received the best possible audit score (A).
We work with two production facilities in Turkey. They are together for 40% responsible of our total production. Most of the production for Gerlon is carried out in the Izmir region.
Based on the country risk studies compliance issues in Turkey vary from lack of social dialogue, functioning industrial relations and the obstruction of the right to organize and bargain collectively, to child labour and illegal refugee labour. The last two issues are mainly found in tier 2 and 3 of the supply chain. We did not yet identified risks further in the supply chain (yet).
Gerlon focuses in Turkey on conducting social audits at the factories and discussing the non-compliances found. Gerlon strives to increase the knowledge of social compliance at the factories.
Over the last 15 years, we work with one production facility in Poland that is responsible for 25% of our total production. We identified Poland as low risk country. Nonetheless we conduct social audits at this facility because we know that the most important problems are unofficial forms of employment, low wages and a limited role of the trade unions. In 2019, all Gerlon production facilities in Poland received the best possible audit score (A).
We visit Turkey and Romania more often as we identified these as countries with a higher risk. These visits are valuable for us as we speak to our suppliers face to face and see where our products are made. It gives us insight in how our suppliers work and where things can be improved.
It is our responsibility, together with our suppliers, to ensure that the workers who make our products are treated with respect and are offered a healthy and safe workplace – among other important conditions. By developing a Code of Conduct, we created a baseline for ourselves and for our suppliers. All our direct (1st tier) suppliers have signed our Code of Conduct 2.0. This Code is based on the Amfori principles, but we added requirements on raw materials, animal welfare, water, energy and chemicals as well.
The Code with Amfori principles is displayed in the local language for workers to read. When the Code is not respected, workers can (anonymously) send in a complaint via the Amfori online grievance form. We will communicate this complaint procedure throughout our supply chain in the local language. We will investigate ways to follow up on these complaints more actively than we do today.
Within our membership we have worked together with Amfori since 2009 to identify risks in the production facilities where our products are made. Third party social audits are conducted to verify if our business partner’s work align with our values. Today, we audit all our direct suppliers. It is the first step in identifying risks and it gives us guidance on where to collaborate with our business partners.
C.A.G. Gerlon is known for his hands-on-mentality, we want to take responsibility and action where needed.
In 2019, both our facility in Poland and Romania received an A-score (‘outstanding’). This is the best possible score, meaning that the supplier is working according the Code. We now focus on our facilities in Turkey and work with our supplier to improve from C- to B-score (good). We only source from suppliers that have received a minimum of C-score (acceptable) or equal qualification by any other a third-party audit. Most important is the will of the supplier to cooperate and improve if needed to already eliminate certain risks.
However, social audits do not cover all aspects and risks. Since 2019, we have involved different stakeholders that have specific expertise on country risks regarding human rights. In 2019, we learned about living wage during a workshop that was held by Fair Wear Foundation. Other examples of such stakeholders are NGO’s and labour unions. Their knowledge is very valuable for us as it gives us another perspective on possible problems in the supply chain.
If you have any further questions regarding our work on social sustainability, please contact us here.
We produce high quality and fashionable products in close collaboration with our customers. This is a process in which we carefully listen to our customers’ wishes.
By sourcing for the best matching fabrics, our decisions are not always based on sustainability. This is something we
have to actively work on. Our top 3 used materials are viscose, polyester and cotton. We have mapped the risks that are associated with these materials:
Viscose 50% of total material use
Viscose is a regenerated material that is based on wood pulp from beech trees. The making of viscose is a highly energy and chemically intensive process. The chemical process leads to hazardous emissions that cause health risks for workers.
Action: By making sure the raw material is sourced from sustainably managed forests and manufactured through closed loop processes (such as the lyocell process) we reduce our negative impact on the environment. The production of Lyocell uses a solvent which is non-toxic and can be reused.
Polyester 20% of total material use
Polyester is a synthetic material that is derived from non-renewable sources. Manufacturing polyester is a chemical process and has a distinctive carbon footprint (climate effect). The chemical process leads to hazardous emissions that cause health risks for workers.
Action: By sourcing for more recycled polyester we lower our environmental impact.
Cotton 20% of total
Cotton is a thirsty crop. Conventional cotton requires a lot of pesticides, water and land to grow. There is a high risk for negative impact on workers, local communities and the environment.
Action: By sourcing for more sustainable options such as organic cotton and better cotton, we can ensure better agricultural practices and working conditions.
Today, we offer fabric qualities in organic cotton and recycled polyester. We aim to source more sustainable alternatives for our customers, making sustainability more accessible. By offering our customers diversity and flexibility in fabrics, accompanied with sustainability information, an informed decision can be made.
C.A.G. Gerlon is a manufacturing partner and coordinates the process from design to delivery. This includes processes such as dyeing and printing of the fabrics, which requires chemicals and water. Wastewater contains leftover dye that can enter the environment when not treated in the right way. We make sure that our fabric suppliers are located in Europe and that they comply with global legislation on hazardous chemicals.
In collaboration with Modint, we developed a Restricted Substances List for our fabric suppliers,
ensuring that no harmful chemicals are used in making our products. By autumn 2019 all our fabric suppliers will have signed our Restricted Substances List.
If you have any further questions regarding our work on environmental sustainability, please contact us here.
C.A.G. Gerlon is a manufacturing partner and coordinates the process from design to delivery. This includes the transport of the finished goods from Turkey, Romania and Poland to The Netherlands. By keeping the production close to home, we can minimalize the environmental impact by using transport by truck. We carefully plan the transport as our transporter works mainly for Gerlon.
We make sure that trucks never drive back empty. The capacity of the truck is filled as much as possible. This process is continuously evaluated and improved.
If you have any further questions regarding our work on environmental sustainability, please contact us here.