Para leer este artículo en Español haz click aquí.
Placing a product in the store for retailers like H&M implies more than designing fashionable garments, the supply chain involves achieving the business objectives while ensuring benefit to employees, stakeholders, business partners, communities and the mother earth.
In this second part of the trilogy we will go over the programs H&M runs with the mission to mix wonderful design and creativity with sustainability. This mix demonstrates that being product focused is not enough; the attention and caution on the company operations must be reflected on the values it communicates through these programs, thus contributing to the acceptation and popularization of the brand in the market and the industry.
After the impact on the human rights and the environment due to the operations by global companies from the textile and fashion industry, H&M has taken responsibility and through its sustainability department defined goals and actions creating H&M Conscious, which is the name for all the work for a more sustainable fashion future. The group responded to Greenpeace activist manifests, and H&M’s work has been recognized ranking in 2014 number 64 on the Global 100 annual list of the most sustainable companies in the world, organization that qualifies and scores companies on twelve quantitative key performance indicators that range from energy and water use, to employee compensation and corporate tax strategy.
The continuous work of H&M is committed to seven ambitious goals:
- Provide fashion for conscious customers
- Choose and reward responsible partners
- Be ethical
- Be climate smart
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
- Use natural resources responsibly
- Strengthen communities
Among the many actions H&M Conscious runs aiming to sustainability, they publically declare:
As they are one of the world’s leading users of organic cotton, they target for all their cotton to come from more sustainable sources by 2020, having as strategy using organic and recycled cotton, and closely work with Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) to train farmers on techniques to use less water and minimize chemical, improving livelihoods and economic development in cotton producing areas.
- Committed to the responsible use of water, H&M in partnership with WWF seeks to improve their internal water efficiency, minimizing its suppliers’ impact on water while educate employees globally on water issues. In addition, they work to inspire its customers to use water responsibly.
- The use of chemicals is a sensitive topic to H&M, reason why they released a restriction list of 360 hazardous chemicals that making products suppliers must contractually comply to ensure product safety, meet industry standards and avoid environmental damage.
- H&M protects and pursues animal welfare, in its product specifications is restricted the use of material such as wool, angora, use of animal skin and hair, feathers, down and more; they also forbid testing any of their cosmetic products on animals.
- They created The H&M Conscious Foundation with the mission to reach beyond H&M´s value chain and contribute to positive long-term change for people and communities. In October 2013 customers and employees helped identifying the foundation’s focus areas through a global online voting process, selecting: Education in partnership with UNICEF, Clean Water in partnership with Water Aid, and Strengthening Women in partnership with Care.
- Through standards set to strategic suppliers, H&M strives to respect human rights on working conditions and to have structures in place to pay a fair living wage and impact around 850,000 textile workers in the mid term.
- The last link of the chain is the customer; reason why in 2013 a global clothes collecting initiative was launched. The program consists of involving the customer on the sustainability efforts by taking any pieces of unwanted clothing, from any brand and in any condition to be recycled, in return the customer gets a voucher for each bag brought, promoting that way the save of natural resources by avoiding textile waste.
As part of H&M Conscious and after the actions listed above, a party wear line was developed and we have seen on the Hollywood red carpets celebrities like Michelle Williams, Christine Harris, Helen Hunt and Penelope Cruz wearing it, preferring H&M dresses over the high end fashion houses as a manifest to support brands who are focused on the environmental protection.
These programs demonstrate the transcendence of a brand goes beyond its product, regardless H&M has trendy, affordable and attractive collections, we shall recognize that the success of a retail company is based on the combination of design and a strong business model that fosters the development of the individual, the society and the environment.
Through these programs the core principles of the company are preached, causing acceptance and recognition of the brand; reason H&M is a good example of a correct value-added Sustainable Fashion CASE.
Wait for the last part of the trilogy where I’ll analyze H&M’s key to success.
Learn more about H&M Conscious in these videos.