Do you know what really bugs me? Fast fashion companies who prey on cheap third world labour advertising themselves as ethical, sustainable and caring. If you’re planning to make huge profits out of cheap clothing at least admit how you make your money.
Ethical fashion should not be a corner of a brands website. It should be the whole brand. If you’re shoving it in as a way to make extra money by having a slightly pricer section of your shop, you are doing it wrong. And you are conning people.
H&M Conscious is just another of these self congratulatory ventures which doesn’t actually care at all or else it’s just deluding itself. For all their proclamations and reams of documentation you can still buy a summer top in their ‘conscious’ range for under £8. Tell me how that covers ethics or sustainability? I want to see the cost breakdown! But you won’t find it anywhere.
For all the clickable links on their website (designed to bamboozle you into giving up no doubt) there is no actual hardcore proof that anything they claim to champion is actually happening. As for their recycle pledge, how does selling something just as cheaply as the regular brand encourage anyone to wear a garment more? If that top was £50 you would treat it with kid gloves but it’s only the price of a Wetherspoons reheated dinner and drink deal.
According to H&M they have:
‘…set ourselves the challenge of ultimately making fashion sustainable and sustainability fashionable. We want to help people express their personality and feel proud of what they wear.’
Clearly it only applies to the ‘conscious’ part of their brand and not the other billion or so garments that they stock on a daily basis otherwise headlines like this which appeared in my inbox on 7 July wouldn’t be there.
Their supply chain is another interesting document. At managerial level it’ll tell you everyone is European based. These workers are covered by basic standards, minimum wages and various other human rights if they are following the law. Once it hits Supplier level it all starts to get a bit vague and by the end they could be talking about anywhere in the world. They admit that in some links in their chain they ‘have less direct influence.’ And whilst they do include a suppliers list it is literally pins on a map. It doesn’t tell you anything about numbers of employees, or hourly wages, or hours worked per factory worker under their umbrella.
You are looking at a website with a lot of words, and not a lot else.
Whatever your place in fashion, whether you’re the CEO or the girl who heads into town on a Saturday morning for her next ‘haul’, it is completely pointless holding the sustainable and ethical banner unless you are actively doing it.
As a consumer that means NOT buying from fast fashion including their ‘conscious’ labels because you cannot prove it IS ethical. And if that means you can only afford two new garments a month and you just repaired that top you love, then so be it. Because that is what buying consciously means, not sporting some ridiculous label whilst third world workers continue to suffer abuses and the garment industry continues to contribute to landfill and worldwide pollution.