Social Justice

Sustainability performances: introduction to the Milano Unica classification (5)

This is the fourth of a series of 5 articles illustrating the classification of the sustainability performances of the samples of fabrics and accessories that will be exhibited in the "Sostenibilità Creativa" project. Sustainability performances are defined starting from 5 value areas: 1) Climate Action, 2) Chemical Safety, 3) Biodiversity Conservation, 4) Circular Economy, 5) Social Justice.


The recurrence of March 8, International Women's Day, was established in remembrance and warning for a serious fire that in 1911 in a New York textile factory, killed 146 workers. The accident was due to precarious safety conditions. Poor working conditions and human and labor rights violations in agriculture and the manufacturing industry are still a reality today in several countries. In 2013, the fashion supply chain was shaken by the tragedy that occurred in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in which more than 1,200 workers died and another 2,000 were seriously injured by the collapse of a building that housed factories and laboratories that produced clothing for international brands (ILO, and New York Times articles on the Rana Plaza Tragedy).


The growth of concerns for environmental sustainability and the defence of the planet sometimes overshadows concerns for social sustainability and the need to universally guarantee human and workers' rights, which instead remain a fundamental factor in any path to sustainability. Social sustainability embraces different areas, from fundamental human rights to workers' rights, up to the promotion of social inclusion and non-discrimination, which today are codified by United Nations conventions on human rights, conventions and standards of the International Labor Office, international standards such as SA8000 proposed by NGOs and private organizations and by ISO standards such as 45001.


The reference to compliance with conventions and standards on social sustainability is now also included in many certifications that do not have social sustainability as their primary focus but which have included human and labor rights requirements in their standards, such as GOTS, FSC , GRS, Oeko-tex Step, Master or Linen.


In this context of rapid change, the selection criterion Milano Unica adopted in the Social Justice value area focuses on three areas:

  • The affirmation of workers' rights in the agricultural stages of textile fiber production
  • The affirmation of workers' rights in the textile manufacturing phases
  • The affirmation and development of human rights in general


In line with these principles, in the Milano Unica classification system, the Social Justice label is awarded to a sample if the exhibitor's declarations reveal compliance with one or more of the abovementioned categories.


Finally, we remind the reader that the evaluation of the samples' compliance with the selection criteria is based on the exhibitors' declarations, for which a consistency check is envisaged and a verification of the correct attribution of the certification labels.