I shared my recent blog about H&M’s Conscious Collection in a couple of online forums dedicated to sustainable fashion. Some responses were thoughtful and balanced, but some suggested I must be an evil person if I was even considering buying from H&M, or implied that I clearly don’t care that the brand uses ‘slave labour’. [NB while very valid concerns have been raised about weak protection for workers’ pay and conditions in the garment industry, there’s no proof that H&M use slave labour. In fact, The Fashion Transparency Index rated H&M highest scoring brand in 2020.]
Many sustainably-minded people would only shop second hand or from a brand which has sustainability in its DNA. It’s true that these are the preferable options. In 2020 I did a year-long experiment in which I bought only preloved clothing. Even so, the fashion industry won’t be sustainable until the megabrands (Zara, H&M, Primark etc) where most people shop adopt sustainable practices. That’s why I decided on the below two recent H&M Conscious Collection purchases – one second hand, one brand spanking new. I’m really pleased with both.
The joggers are made from organic cotton and recycled polyester. They were made in China. I know this may ring alarm bells but H&M do say that, ‘All suppliers and factories must sign our strict Sustainability Commitment, which includes requirements for fair wages and good working conditions for all’. They are lovely and cosy. As they’re oversized, I can even fit some leggings on underneath for added warmth as I slob on the couch watching old films and stuffing my face (lockdown).
The mustard blouse is H&M Conscious Collection and will be perfect if I ever go back to an office. (Remember offices?) This I bought second hand on Depop. It’s also made in China, using recycled polyester.
These purchases are not perfect. Polyester is a form of plastic, and washing clothing made from polyester can release micro-plastics into the ocean. (I use a special laundry bag to prevent this.) They’ve been transported a long way, which generates carbon. I don’t know which dyes were used to achieve this very nice mustard colour – they may or may not have been environmentally damaging.
However, I recently heard a podcast in which the CEO of TAL Apparel, who make clothing for some of the world’s biggest brands, said that fashion will become more sustainable when brands demand more recycled fabrics be used to manufacture their garments. This in turn will only happen when we, their consumers, demand it. So, if you are shopping for new clothes choosing something recycled – or made from Tencel™ – sends the signal to the brands that you care about sustainability, and so should they.
#sustainablefashion #ethicalwardrobe #hm #preloved #fashion