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Experts about H&M Conscious ‘H&M is not the worst pupil of the class, but there is still work to be done’

The purpose of the H&M Conscious Exclusive collection is to the consumer to prove that sustainability and fashion can indeed can go hand in hand. A noble goal, but they are making their promises true?

Image from the H&M Conscious Exclusive campaign © H&M

Read also Head of sustainability H&M: ‘Our exclusive, sustainable collection is an investment in the future’.

The Swedish chain H&M in tackles this year with their extensive sustainability and Conscious Exclusive collection. “Our ultimate goal is to achieve a closed chain for the textiles to come, but can we as a brand are not only”, says Anna Gedda, head of sustainability at H&m With their Conscious Exclusive collection, the label wants to prove that sustainability does not mean that there is no unique, creative designs of good quality can be produced. So, they want the consumer and competition shake-up and sustainable fashion in the spotlight.

Weekend.be went to Niels Oskam, founder of Rank a Brand, and Sara Ceustermans of Clean Clothes Campaign Belgium consulted and asked their opinion about the objectives and progress of H&M in the area of sustainability.

Not transparent enough

In the sustainability report H&M earlier this month, claims to be the fashion chain transparent, to communicate about all aspects of sustainability. There is Sara Ceustermans of the Clean Clothes Campaign do not fully agree. ‘We focus mainly on the ‘fair living wages’. On that level, we find that H&M is not transparent communicates. They reject the addresses of the factories to release, and journalists are not allowed in the factories. In addition, we know not what the goal is from H&M, what a fair wage for them is about.’

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Vakbondsmilitanten be threatened with dismissal or will be dealt with by hired gangsters.

‘According to H&M to employers and employees on the plant level, decide together. That sounds nice, but is not in line with the practice in countries such as Cambodia and Bangladesh. Of real freedom of trade is hardly the case. Vakbondsmilitanten be threatened with dismissal or will be dealt with by hired gangsters. In January, there were still four activists shot dead during protests. The best approach would be that the H&M on a national level, negotiations start with the trade unions to a richtcijfer to come. It is quite easy to say that you are in 2018, a fair living wage will pay 850.000 employees without a target. That way, it is impossible to H&M to evaluate.’

How sustainable is H&M in comparison with other fashion labels?

H&M puts themselves in the front line of sustainable fashion. So they are the biggest buyer of organic cotton and they are entered into a collaboration with the International Labour to work together to promote fair working conditions and they went into the sea with Unicef to child labour fight. “H&M is certainly not the worst of the class,’ explains Sara Ceustermans .

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If the low price is the main criterion remains, structural changes are not made.

“For the whole sector is that the supply chain is very complex, and that there are very many people involved in the making of a single garment. Therefore, it is essential that the people within H&M with durability, keeping busy, really at the helm, and that the whole management is aware of the need for that. If the low price on the other hand the main criterion remains, structural changes are not made. This applies to the whole sector, not only for H&M.’

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If you look at the whole clothing is H&M itself in the forefront.

Niels Oskam of Rank a Brand responds sympathetically, but also emphasizes that this criticism in perspective . “Most clothing companies do not even have a policy of a living wage to kledingmakers to pay. H&M has to be one of the first ones who promise well done and put concrete steps in the right direction, even though there is still much room for improvement. If you look at the whole clothing is H&M itself in the forefront. Improvements in the clothing sector do not happen from one day to the other and can not exist without the support of large groups of consumers. H&M the Conscious collection is a recognizable, better alternative. That we should positively appreciate and not shoot. I would prefer to see that other brands are challenged to walk on the same road.’

How can a company that of fast fashion, produces yet durable?

Sara Ceustermans: ‘The problem of fast fashion is that orders are often very late to be placed, causing workers a lot of overtime to knock. It also happens that orders are passed on to subcontractors, where the working conditions even worse. H&M says on its purchasing systems to work that way overtime to avoid. In that respect they appear to have already made progress: in one of the pilot plants, they have the number of overtime by 40% to be able to reduce.’

‘Also the price that companies such as H&M to pay to the plants plays an important role. Often it is so low that there is not much left for investment in safety, let alone for the wages of the kledingarbeiders.’

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In one of the pilot plants, they have the number of hours of overtime by 40% can reduce.

“It is so important that H&M not only efforts to minimize the number of hours of overtime be kept to a minimum and to improve productivity, but also the price that the suppliers pay increases. The consumer do not need a lot of to note, because the wages of the kledingarbeider is 1% of the price in the shop.’

(Un)sincerely positive image?

Sara Ceustermans: “I’m confident that H&M sincerely concerned about the conditions in which their clothes are made. But that does not mean that they concern also immediately into actions or that she is sufficiently willing to invest in it. Although H&M is working really hard to create a positive image, they can on ethical issues were not enough results for that image also to earn. They want the icing on the cake, but there is still no cake.’

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They want the icing on the cake, but there is still no cake.

Niels Oskam: ‘I find the name ‘Conscious Collection’, well chosen, because it is not greenwashing. You may take it as a sign that H&M, aware of the challenges, try a more durable alternative to present.’

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