The UK fashion industry is massive, with a total UK household consumption on clothing and footwear priced at £59 billion per annum[Fig1]. With this in mind, most of the clothing purchased in the UK is manufactured in USA, Japan, Russia, France, Italy, Middle East, Hong Kong, and China [Fig2]. The kind of working environments within these countries are over very poor, using methods such as child labour and underpaying their employees severely.
With this in mind, H&M recently (2013) began introducing their ‘Conscious’ line to stores. Whilst also reducing their CO2 emissions through factories, H&M are working to increase their in-store electricity efficiency, use renewable energy such as wind power and solar panels, and equip the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ idea to recycle old garments into new collections [Fig3].
Landfill is a primary target for H&M’s concern, with signs around the stores rewarding customers for handing in unwanted garments by the bag, and by creating recycled plastic shopping bags.
H&M’s conscious denim line, whilst being a brilliant idea, has struck the dull chord, however. Many of the collections pieces are beautiful, but they’re almost all basics. Plain t-shirts, staple denims and unimaginative lingerie seem like a safe bet to begin with, but to create attention for H&M with the ‘Conscious’ line, it would be to include statement pieces.
By creating several maternity garments, they’re targeting the ‘new mum’ group, which will always be a massive consumer, as many families aim to eat organic and dress sustainably, but maternity lines will never be frontrunners for a multi-billion pound company such as H&M, and I believe the company needs to broaden their horizons and target the faster fashion aesthetic with their ‘Conscious’ line, else their sustainability won’t be sustainable formuch longer.
“I think the consumer ultimately wants more ethical products, but they’re not willing to sacrifice what they’re used to and what they like,” said Jason Keehn, CEO and founder of Accompany, a fair-trade and philanthropic online retailer. “The consumer will grab the ethical item as long as it’s not a trade-off.” [Fig6]
Fig 1 & 2. – Facts and Figures in the UK fashion industry – statistics about the fashion business in England – size of economic activities. 2014. Facts and Figures in the UK fashion industry – statistics about the fashion business in England – size of economic activities. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.fashionunited.co.uk/facts-and-figures-in-the-uk-fashion-industry. [Accessed 10 December 2014].
Fig 3. – Ladies | Selected | Conscious – Sustainable Style | H&M GB. 2014. Ladies | Selected | Conscious – Sustainable Style | H&M GB. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.hm.com/gb/subdepartment/LADIES?Nr=2000132. [Accessed 10 December 2014].
Fig 4. – Product Detail | H&M GB. 2014. Product Detail | H&M GB. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.hm.com/gb/product/52260?article=52260-D. [Accessed 10 December 2014].
Fig 5. – Product Detail | H&M GB. 2014. Product Detail | H&M GB. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.hm.com/gb/product/45457?article=45457-A. [Accessed 10 December 2014].
Fig 6. – . 2014. . [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.forbes.com/sites/aliciaadamczyk/2014/11/20/why-brands-and-retailers-are-running-with-the-slow-fashion-movement/. [Accessed 10 December 2014].