Many clothing brands are taking up sustainable fashion to work towards a cleaner environment. Some act as inspiration while some may just be taking undue advantage.
H&M is one of the most easily recognizable brands globally, second in size only to Zara. It operates in 62 countries and has a dedicated client base. This is also a brand that seemed to take concern for the environment pretty seriously and proceeded to set a shining example for other brands to follow by launching a Conscious Exclusive line, that makes optimal use of the healing power of nature, simultaneously adopting the use of sustainable materials and processes to pave the way for a more environment conscious fashion industry. Everything seems peachy till now, but The Norwegian Consumer Authority(CA), an independent administrative body, has said that H&M deals in “illegal marketing” for the promotion of this collection and is misleading consumers with their false claims.
H&M have described this particular line as a “collection inspired by the wonders of planet Earth” and has introduced three new sustainable products: Piñatex®, a natural leather made from pineapple leaves, BLOOM™ Foam a plant-based flexible foam made of algae biomass, and Orange Fiber® a sustainable silk fabric made from citrus juice. H&M has also pledged to become 100% ‘climate positive’ by 2040 by switching completely to renewable sources of energy and increasing energy efficiency in all its operations. It will make the first two tiers of their supply chain climate neutral by 2030 and has also pledged to use 100% recycled or sustainable materials by 2030. It is also a member of the ‘Better Cotton Initiative’ which offers a recycling program where you can return clothes from any brand in-store and vows to eliminate hazardous chemicals and solvent-based glues in the manufacturing of its products by 2020. All of these initiatives have resulted in it being named one of the most ethical companies in the world by the Ethisphere Institute.
But, reports still suggest that they still operate under an unsustainable, fast-fashion model. By creating a very, very small line with eco-friendly materials and throwing around a few green buzzwords, it has set for itself a ‘green’ image. A few critics say it is supposed to be a classic strategic marketing tool.
Among other well-known luxury brands, Stella McCartney, Mara Hoffman are said to be dedicated to the use of sustainable materials. McCartney uses cruelty-free — no fur or leather and reengineered cashmere and ethically sourced wool, organic cotton and recycled textiles. While Hoffman uses recycled fabrics and fibres, hemp, linen, sustainable branding and packaging. In affordable brands, People Tree is known as a pioneer in the fair trade clothing industry. Their garments use organic cotton and other eco-friendly materials while simultaneously supporting ethical, fair-trade practices along with presenting affordable prices for the general public.
While the question of whether H&M is using this tactic to attract more customers is not known to anybody but official spokespersons have publicly defended the company from the Norwegian CA saying that the CA “doesn’t have the background or competence to evaluate [the apparel collection],” and is only challenging the precision of their information. What happens next remains to be seen.