How sustainable is 'sustainable fashion'?

Other | Tuesday 19th December 2017 | Ngachung

There is no doubt that the fashion industry is evolving. Despite, for some of us, it may not be changing quickly enough as we’d like, there is proof that consumer behaviour is shifting, and the role of the designer is growing.

At first glance, H&M’s ‘Conscious’ Exclusive 2017 Collection seems to champion “Green is the New Black”, with the aim for 100% of its cotton to be sustainably sourced by 2020. Every piece is made from sustainable materials, including BIONIC® - a polyester of plastics recycled from shoreline waste, thus showcasing the beauty of sustainability.

The images below show some of the pieces from the collection.

However, does H&M's said commitment towards ‘green’ fashion go beyond just using organic cotton?

As we know, H&M has a massive global presence, it has about 260 stores in UK and Ireland alone. This raises questions of their real intentions - are they truly behind sustainable fashion? Or are they using sustainability as good PR? Particularly since there have been a number of official reports in 2016 of how unethical their fashion is, as well as the impression of overcompensation, seen by their constant defence of their ethics in their YouTube videos.

For example, in Feb 2016, Quartz reported that a fire had occurred at one of their Bangladesh factories, which injured 4. After the factory inspection in May 2014, the factory was found to be lacking adequate fire doors, sprinklers, fire alarms, and fire hoses, among other deficiencies. It was reported that if the fire happened 60 minutes later, 6,000 workers would have been inside.

So can H&M set a new standard for sustainability if their business model is unsustainable? Comment your thoughts below.