Is H&M the new home of ethical fashion?

Is “fast fashion” business model compatible with “sustainability” ? It seems fashion company never inspire consumers to lower their consumtion, post-purchase unsustainability practices is commonly see and we have flood of fashion brands claimed themselves as “eco-friendly” (Niessen, 2011).

One interesting article from the Observers about H&M’s green strategy.

To read the fulltext, click here

Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

4 thoughts on “Is H&M the new home of ethical fashion?”

  1. H&M is the second largest clothing retailer in the world. They are a fast-fashion retailer. H&M is making a sustainable line. They want to be ethical and fast still which seems like an oxymoron. They have to first solve the labor rights and then environmental issues. It seems almost impossible for fast fashion to be sustainable, ethical and fast. BUT H&M has already started their movement. They created 2.5 million pairs of shoes from lower-impact water-based solvents. Building contractors have also taken a code of conduct to be sure working and environmental conditions are good. In order to be entirely sustainable and responsible, H&M must keep track of their entire supply chain. The Conscious Collection was launched last year which features eco-fibers.
    Where this is a start, this is not a completed goal and there is still much work to be done by H&M.

  2. H&M are faced with a pretty big problem as they try to become a more “ethical” fashion apparel company. That problem is directly attacking one of the most unethical parts of textile and apparel making, production and manufacturing. H&M has been doing well to maintain its status as a fast fashion retailer while becoming more sustainable; with an increase in use of organic cotton and recycled polyesters H&M has done well to become more eco friendly. However when it comes to manufacturing and production H&M is still finding new ways for improvement. H&M doesn’t deal with manufacturing and production directly, instead they hire companies to deal with both manufacturing and production while keeping on eye the companies through auditors. But as our case study one shows the effort to maintain safe yet effect work environments can sometimes be lackluster. As the company tries to become more ethical they must find ways to maintain low cost of production and still find ways to keep up its status as a fast fashion retailer. But in the textile and apparel industry it seems that low production cost the word ethical are like oil and vinegar.

  3. H&M is making progress in becoming a more sustainable fast fashion brand. They are the largest user of organic cotton and predict to use it even more often in the future. They are also limiting water during the production of items such as shoes. However this efforts are just small steps towards becoming a “green” company. The retailer also wants to become for “ethical”, since they do not own their own factories I do not see this goal as a guarantee. They cannot control the labor conditions if they do not own and see them first hand. Coming out with eco-friendly lines does offer consumers the chance to purchase more sustainable products, which not many fast fashion retailers offer. I think this sustainable business model can be accomplished by fast fashion retailers if they make eco-friendly changes to production methods. I see the main issue as these fast fashion retailers are not moving towards sustainability in the sense that consumers should lower consumption. The goal of fast fashion retailers is to produce something trendy for a season at a low cost for consumers, in no way does this encourage consumers to buy less. If H&M could find a way to do this, they would be more successful at becoming a sustainable retailer.

  4. I think that while H&M is making moves to become a more sustainable fashion brand, there is still quite a bit of work to be done. while they use organic cotton and produce shoes from lower impact water based solvents and their Conscious Collection came out last year, they need to continue to keep up their “green” practices. I believe that H&M will continue to keep up with their sustainable practices, especially since they have plans to use even more organic cotton in the future, when they are already the biggest user.

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