The big guns in affordable fashion are generally seen as companies who provide quantity - caring little about sustainability, responsibility and reusability. However, H&M are disdaining this stereotype and have made a list of seven commitments that support their belief in a better fashion future, which include:
1. Provide fashion for conscious customers
2. Choose and reward responsible partners
3. Be ethical
4. Be climate smart
5. Reduce, reuse and recycle
6. Use natural resources responsibly
7. Strengthen communities
H&M signpost all sustainable fashion choices through their use of a green “conscious” hangtag. Additionally, this fashion powerhouse was the first company to initiate a “global garment collection” scheme, which sees old clothes transformed into new pieces. For all true fashion lovers this is incredible because no clothes should be going to waste. H&M have discovered that, “of the thousands of tonnes of textiles thrown away every year, 95% could be re-worn and recycled.”
The company is very open in saying that many of their products are made in some of the poorest countries, but defend their decision to do this because they are opening up the job market, creating potential prosperity opportunities for these nations. However, they do ensure their partners of choice are treating all workers properly. This includes working closely with governments, not-for-profit organisations and trade unions to ensure fair treatment is executed.
Conscious action achievements include: implementation of Fair Trade method in selected factories which they are working to have in all supplier workplaces by 2018 and initiating a framework agreement with the International Labour Organisation. Additionally, H&M have established a training program that assists all employees to implement their Human Rights Policy that was paralleled against the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.
In keeping with the sustainability theme, the company strive to use water responsibly, have a goal to obtain all their cotton from “sustainable sources” by 2020, are committed to using less chemicals by continuously seeking out alternatives and are against using products like exotic animal skins as well as avoiding the use of cosmetics tested on animals.
After such enlightenment on a large company striving to better their ethical footprint, I set myself a challenge to style an outfit comprising of items from their ethical range. I was drawn to the Long Denim Shirt (what I believe is a staple item and is even better that it is part of the conscious range http://www.hm.com/au/product/84175?article=84175-A) with the Super Skinny Low Jeans (appear leather-like http://www.hm.com/au/product/20112?article=20112-A). To accessorise, I picked out the Wool Hat (not strictly from the conscious range but made from premium quality http://www.hm.com/au/product/12054?article=12054-A) and the Patent Shoes (once again not from the conscious range http://www.hm.com/au/product/32835?article=32835-A).
The notion of a completely sustainable fashion market is very idealistic, but it is companies like H&M who are gradually introducing small projects and initiatives that are working towards a more sustainable industry. With H&M being a very powerful fashion force, their influence in the right direction is going to be nothing but valuable for tomorrow’s world.
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