Swedish retailer H&M wants to be more transparent about the origin of the clothing it sells, and will offer additional information about this on the website and the app.
The fashion industry is often very sparse when it comes to information about the origin of the clothes it sells: in most cases only the country of production is mentioned on the label. Usually, very little is known about the factory or about the raw materials that were used. That was highlighted again recently, when the Swiss NGO Public Eye tried to find out the full trajectory of a 'sustainable Zara-hoodie, which was only revealed after a long time of trying and researching.
H&M now wants to be more open about the origin of its clothing: from now on, shoppers will be able to see additional information about this in the webshop under the heading ‘product sustainability’. It will include the country and factory (including address) where a certain garment was made. The chain also provides additional information about the materials used. In physical stores, customers can use the app to retrieve the same data.
H&M's initiative is fairly well received by NGOs, although at the same time they stress that its importance should not be overestimated either. A lot of information, such as the wages of textile workers, is not made public, they say. "Transparency is primarily a means to an end, but merely sharing information about where a garment is produced, does not guarantee meaningful changes in working conditions in the factory," Aruna Kashyap of Human Rights Watch told Belgian newspaper De Standaard. "H&M is a leader in transparency about their suppliers, and other companies should follow their example. But that does not mean they fixed a problematic industry that way."