Who doesn’t want to shop all day long and wear the most fashionable yet affordable clothes? And that’s how the culture of H&M was born. Let’s have a look at ‘Is H&M Ethical?’.
Fashionable to its core and at par with any international brand, H&M provides its clothes with the most standard price available in the market and ace it. But wait, wait, wait, does affordable also mean ethical? And does affordability overrules ethicality and sustainability? So, let’s analyze and determine how ethical this brand really is.
Is H&M more Sustainable than its Ethical?
H&M is a Swedish multinational clothing brand that is also a fast-fashion brand and the biggest competitor to renowned brands like Zara and Gap for its higher inventory of new and existing products. But this second-largest fashion retailer, the budget-friendly brand, is not Eco-friendly, and here is where the problem lies. The business model of H&M is unsustainable and promotes disposable fashion.
Low-quality clothes are produced at cheaper prices making customers buy and discard more clothes than ever. After wearing these clothes a few times, they are thrown in landfills and later burnt. Only 35% of its clothes get recycled, causing a massive impact on the environment and the health of the workers. The manufacturing process of H&M includes the usage of pesticides toxic dyes and is responsible for higher carbon emissions and water pollution. Therefore, these tempting cheap price tags are nothing but a hazardous warning for low-quality clothes and down standards of the company.
Labor Law violation in H&M
In 2018, shareholders of H&M had promised to pay living wages to its 850,000 garment workers but failed miserably in meeting the promise and turned a blind eye to the plight of these workers who had to suffer from harsh working conditions, leading to the death of more than a hundred people. The average wage that the brand’s supply chain provides is still far from a living wage for a worker. In Bangladesh, factory owners have reported that H&M buyers negotiate to lower the prices aggressively and make it difficult to raise the wages of garment workers. Even after working for more than 13 hours a day and six days a week, workers cannot pay their rent and afford daily necessities for their families and children.
Workers of H&M clothing in Bangladesh live in poverty and get punished for demanding higher wages. It is high time for the shareholders to steer H&M in the right direction and propose a living wage fund for its garment workers. Why would the workers only crumble in poverty when the company making enough profit to pay twice the living-wage amount to all its workers?
H&M has only made bogus claims over the years and has not put words into action. The brand has failed to show leadership on minimum wage in Bangladesh and other supplier countries of cheap and reliable labor. The company did organize Clean Clothing Campaigns, but it was a publicity strategy only on the surface. Campaigners against the exploitive policies of H&M have demanded a transparent and more reliable wage distribution plan. Over the years, the company has only scored 71% in the Fashion Transparency Index and has been responsible for forced labor, gender inequality, and workplace harassment.
Gender Inequality and Sexual Harassment of Women in H&M
H&M is the Worlds largest buyer of garments from Bangladesh, and around 80% of its workforce are women. In the reports of Global Labor Justice in 2018, H&M was called out for the abuse of female garment workers and asked for immediate action to end the violence and harassment against women. The reports claimed that many female workers got assaulted physically and sexually. Women who are desperate for a job are taken advantage of and become prey to violence in numerous ways.
It is high time for H&M to turn around and revamp its wage structure to fulfill the promises it made to its workers. It should start donating its unsold clothes rather than burning them and increasing carbon emissions. As customers, we must stop supporting this fast-fashion industry and start looking out for more sustainable clothing brands instead. We need to analyze that these cheap clothes lead to the growth of textile waste, land pollution, and depletion of natural resources. Issues like Human Rights violations are also raising with the popularity of this industry. Therefore, start shopping from the brands that are ethical and friendly to Mama Earth.
Q1) what is a Fast Fashion brand? Is H&M a Fast Fashion brand?
A1) Yes, H&M is a Fast Fashion brand. A Fast Fashion brand produces high volumes of clothing throughout the year and at a fraction of the price they used to be. It helps consumers in reorganizing their wardrobes seasonally and affordably.
Q2) How to recognize a Fast Fashion brand?
A2) Cheap prices and a surplus collection of updated designs every month are indicators of a Fast Fashion brand. But they must be avoided at all costs, for they are harmful to the environment and the laborers making them.