The truth about H&M being the most transparent fashion brand
Recently Fashion Revolution has released its transparency report of fashion brands. Maybe surprisingly, H&M scored the highest transparency (74%) out of all brands, following with Adidas/Reebok (69%) and Esprit (64%) and brands like Tom Ford, Mexx, Max Mara and Fashion Nova, were placed at the other end. Soon after that, H&M posted on its social media, the claim of it being the most transparent fashion brand. But are they really?
As soon as they published the post, it disappeared. People started to criticize them, that it’s not so quite true. First of all, what is transparency? In short, it means the brand is being honest to the customers. But they’re not so honest to us. Telling the world the real truth about their suppliers would be devastating for them. People would stop buying their clothes and therefore they could go bankrupt. However, being the most transparent brand doesn’t mean being the most eco-friendly one. A lot of times, the brand isn’t aware of the whole supply chain. They mostly reach out for the lowest production costs, without giving any attention to where do production centres take materials from. And here the problem comes.
What about people?
Back in 2018, 62 people were interviewed, in six supplier factories and according to campaigners, none of them made anything near a minimum living wage. After the Rana Plaza disaster, in Bangladesh in 2013 H&M committed, that by the year 2018, suppliers will pay to their workers at least a minimum wage and the working conditions will be better. Do you think any of that happened? The answer is nope. Even though they’ve made some improvements, it still isn’t good. The wage of workers have been raised, but still without reaching a minimum living wage. In some sweatshops, workers are being paid somewhere as little as 30$ per month. Just imagine you would have to live with such a low income. They have families and children they need to take care off. Unlike the low salary, the number of hours spent in the factory isn’t so low. Many are forced to work 14–16 hours a day, six or seven days a week. It makes a minimum of 80 hours per week (legally maximum of 72 is allowed by law). As if that wasn’t enough, production halls are usually filled with dangerous fumes, causing serious health problems. People dying in fires, passing out due to the lack of ventilation or excessive heat — all of this was reported by the workers. Protective equipment is not even given to them. Conditions of buildings, they work in, are very similar to that, that were in Rana Plaza just before the accident. Cracks in the walls are easily market with plaster. And nobody cares about the risks. That’s a shame! I recommend watching The world According to H&M documentary.
Recently, H&M introduced conscious collection with clothes made from organic cotton. Everyone knows, eco-friendly cotton is expensive and clothes made from it, are more expensive too. How is H&M able to sell organic clothes for as little as 14$? It’s quite simple. They simply cut the workers salary. And speaking of organic cotton, what about environmental impact? It’s nowhere near good. Every day textile manufactures (making textiles for H&M) pour their sewage directly into the river. It is full of heavy metals and dangerous chemicals. The river changes its colour depending on which dyes they use. There are around 500 textile manufacturers located along Citarum (name of one of the most polluted rivers in the world and each of them pours around 13 000 gallons of polluted water every day! And again, I highly recommend you to watch The world’s most polluted river|DW Documentary. H&M has pledged to become “climate positive” by the year 2040. What does it mean? They would like to produce zero carbon footprint and greenhouse gasses. And maybe help to reduce other sources of pollution too. Their big goal is to run from 100% renewable energy, including their suppliers. They even said, they will reduce its hazardous chemicals usage by 2020. We’ll soon see if they did what they promised. Only 13.7% of their production is organic cotton. Maybe you didn’t know, but you can bring your used clothes, to any of their stores and they will recycle them.
Recycled clothing has only a 1% share in their production. This is the way H&M is trying to be more sustainable.
Even though they are trying to be environmentally friendly, they’re not anywhere close to it. But still, their website is telling customers how sustainable they are. The big title says The way to sustainable fashion, and then when you read the article more carefully you’ll see it’s just a plan. They’re not doing it right now. And that’s misleading to the customers! Kids slavery is still being used somewhere in their supply chain. Especially in cotton landfills in developing countries. The best way to help the planet is to stop buying new clothes every week. Just ask your self every time you’re buying new clothes: Do I really need it? A lot of times you don’t. It’s just because it looks cool. If you have an opportunity to shop for second-hand clothes, do it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. This goes to show that you can’t trust everything the brand publishes on its website and social media. And even when it gets to be the most transparent brand, it doesn’t mean it’s that good.
Thank you for reading. Have a great day! And be aware of where your clothes do come from :).