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H&M is lying to us

Fast fashion brands’ claims of sustainability are mostly misleading or not true

By Caterina Fumero

Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart via Flickr


Various fast fashion brands have made misleading claims in the past few years, where it seemed like they were becoming circular, sustainable, climate-positive businesses, and many other lies that I will spare you right now.


Today, the lucky winner of this humourless joke is my beloved H&M. Let me be crystal clear, H&M is neither the worse nor the only brand that has being selling us lies. Zara, Boohoo, Pretty Little Things (just to name few) are guilty of the same sins. But today, I will talk about H&M.


This great brand is aiming to become ‘climate positive’ by 2040 (a decade too late, if you listen to any scientists who have addressed climate change). What is interesting though, is to check their actual steps towards this change. Spoiler alert: they lied.


According to The Big Issue ‘H&M’s Conscious collection (…) was found to contain a higher share of damaging synthetic materials than its main line’ (11% more). The brand claims that it’s working towards circularity, and yet, it still is one of fashion’s biggest polluters in the world. According to The New York Times, H&M produces hundreds of millions of items each year, and yet, just in the year 2018, the company announced that they had about $4.8 billion of unsold inventory.


According to researchers, 96% of H&M’s sustainability claims are either unsustainable or misleading. All this data is not enough to stop the company from spreading lies and being hypocrites with their marketing campaigns. We don’t need H&M to advertise 11-year-old Ryan, founder of Ryan Recycling, as their ‘role model’ when, according to Child Slave Labour News, in Myanmar the company has kids as young as 14 working ‘12 hours or more a day’.


I don’t need a feminist t-shirt that was made by a 20-years-old girl who had repeatedly reported being harassed at work and was then killed by her supervisor. Despite H&M’s ‘zero tolerance for gender-based violence’, no action was taken when Kathiravel reported the harassment and intimidation that she was suffering at work.


Environmental activist Venetia La Manna, when interviewed by The Independent, explained that to introduce new material to consume is pointless. These companies, she claimed, should be focusing on reducing what they produce, and what we are consuming. That would actually produce a change.

To work towards circularity while still overproducing is not addressing the issue. It is gaining profit from the ongoing crisis, while still claiming that they are improving. H&M’s statements are simply outrageous. They are not working towards sustainability. They are polluting our planet. They are constantly violating human rights.


And yet, they have the audacity to talk about inclusivity, the environment, feminism or whatever social issue is trending at the moment, but then profiting from them, while still remaining one of their main causes.

H&M, and other fast fashion brands, should be stopped, and pay for their own crimes.