By now you must have heard of the horrible collapse of a factory in Bangladesh in 2013 where many workers died, got injured or were trapped, exposing the atrocity of slavery and/or poor work ethics of adults and children alike in the garment/fashion industry and also how many fashion names were exposed as the ones hiring these shops; H&M being one of them.
Well, with H&M releasing it's #conscious line of clothes made with recycled fabrics from old garments, many of us thought of it as walking towards the right direction. They even offer to accept our old clothes in exchange for gift cards at their stores. And I believed that was all good. Until last week. I went to H&M to purchase a pair of basic undershirts for little L from their #counscious line. They even have as of right now a huge poster by the cashier that says they donate a portion of the revenue of their #conscious line towards UNICEF. That sounds amazing too, right?! Not so much when I saw the label at home. The shirts are made in... Wait for it... Bangladesh.
So why do I find this hypocritical, you might ask. I'll gladly answer that for you.
Because they are voicing out a change towards humane approaches in their industry and yes, their are supporting UNICEF towards children's rights while doing the absolute opposite on the other side. It's like saying: " hey, we are approving of poor work conditions at the factories we hire, which also happens to have children working but it's ok! Because we are saving other children over here..."
Sorry H&M but that's not how it works. If you want to make a change, start by being sure that ethical practices are been done at your factories. Hiring the factories and saying you didn't know is not an excuse. If sustainable small businesses like are capable of checking this before hiring a factory, you H&M who happens to make a lot of money and a big name can do much better than that. I also know you are going to justify this as an excuse stating that assuring the workers have a fair compensation and fair health care will be reflected on the final cost of the garment for the consumer. That is wrong as well because we all know each garment's cost to make for you is well between the 5-10% of the cost the consumer pays. So what about this:
- revise and ensure the safety of ALL your workers, even those subcontracted through the factories.
- Inspect these factories before hiring them.
- pay them fairly
- stop trying to make the factories reduce the cost of each garment so they are not tempted to cut on workers salaries (that's how they can reduce the costs)
- stop being so greedy and keep the same price for the final consumer by decreasing your own revenue from each garment. I'm sure it won't hurt you as much and it creates more impact than a couple of donations here and there every opnow and then.
THAT is the way to make a positive impact in the world if it's really what you want to do. Unfortunately we know that is not what drives you H&M, but I sure hope someday soon you prove me wrong.