* Report challenges luxury brands on environmental standards
* No EU rules on sale of textiles containing chemical
* 20 brands so far signed up to Greenpeace "Detox" campaign
By Emma Thomasson
BERLIN, Feb 17 Environmental campaign group
Greenpeace has found traces of chemicals that can pollute
waterways in children's clothing and shoes made by luxury
brands, challenging the sector's reputation for higher standards
than those of mass fashion.
In a report issued on Monday just before Milan Fashion Week,
Greenpeace said it found the substances in products from Dolce &
Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Hermes, Christian
Dior, Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs.
Greenpeace has been campaigning against pollutants used in
the textile industry since 2011. It wants major brands and their
suppliers to commit to stop discharging potentially harmful
chemicals in waste water by 2020.
Concerned about toxicity to aquatic organisms and the fact
some do not biodegrade easily, the European Union has restricted
the industrial use of some of these chemicals but there are no
rules on the sales of textiles containing their residues.
Greenpeace said 12 of the 27 articles it tested contained
residues of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), used in textile
manufacturing which it said can break down into
hormone-disrupting chemicals when released from garments during
In five items, the group said it also found per- and
polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) used to make garments water
repellent. Five articles tested positive for phthalates, used in
printing designs on clothing, and three for antimony, a compound
used to manufacture polyester.
The chemicals Greenpeace tested for have been commonly used
in textile manufacturing, but are gradually being phased out by
some brands due to concern about their polluting impact.
Reuters could not independently confirm Greenpeace's
findings, which two of the companies sought to play down.
Armani said its products were "absolutely safe for
consumers" as it complied with international guidelines that
were more restrictive than EU environmental requirements.
Armani said it has committed to abolish all chemicals which
could cause environmental damage to production sites by 2020 and
is in discussion on this with environmental groups.
Louis Vuitton said all its products fully complied with
international environment and safety standards, including the
children's ballerina shoes and sneakers that Greenpeace tested
positive for PFCs. Louis Vuitton said both had lower
concentration levels than international rules required.
However, Louis Vuitton said it shared Greenpeace's concerns
as it recognised "the intrinsic hazardous properties" of the
chemicals used in the industry and said it was working hard to
exceed current environmental standards.
Hermes, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Dior and Marc Jacobs were
not immediately available to comment.
An industry consultant privately criticized the Greenpeace
campaign, but declined to speak publicly.
Some big brands have become highly sensitive to scrutiny of
their environmental standards as shoppers demand more
information about how products are made, with companies like H&M
and Adidas keen to portray themselves as
They are among two of the 20 brands Greenpeace has already
persuaded to make the "Detox" pledge, helped by supporters
bombarding the firms via social media. The only luxury names to
sign up so far are Britain's Burberry and Italy's
Greenpeace said many of the products in its study were
labelled as "Made in Italy", usually a by-word for quality, but
still contained similar chemical residues to garments made in
"It's time these luxury brands lived up to their reputation
as fashion trendsetters, and started leading the toxic-free
fashion revolution," said Chiara Campione, a campaigner for
Many clothing retailers have already agreed to make their
clothing PFC-free but some outdoor brands have said there are
currently no PFC-free technologies that would provide the same
lasting level of weather protection.
(Additional reporting by Isla Binnie in Milan and Astrid
Wendlandt in Paris; Editing by Anthony Barker and Erica