I don’t know if anyone else ever has this problem, but if I ever need an item of clothing in a certain colour then I truly can’t anything of that particular colour in my wardrobe, even if I’m sure I’ve seen one a few days earlier. It’s even the same for patterns- if the kids have to wear spots for a charity event in school I will suddenly notice that all their supposedly “spotty” clothes were actually a ditsy heart print after all. Once I needed to wear red for Comic Relief. I felt confident that I was sorted as I had a lovely red top. To my surprise I found the top (it hadn’t gone to the land of odd socks where all the other “particular colour” or spotty clothes had) but it had changed colour and was now too orange to be classed as red.
Anyway, after half term, the kids will be in their last term in school which means Sports Day. At the moment my older girls are in blue house so I know they’ll need to wear a blue t-shirt on the day. I thought I’d be organised and make sure I have the shorts, t-shirt, trainers, sun hat and water bottle ready for the day. Knowing my luck, it would be impossible to find a plain blue tee anywhere. I didn’t have any luck with hand me downs, charity or local shops so I looked online. I found it difficult to find ethical plain basics so thought I’d try an old favourite HM Conscious and also, for the sake of The Ethical Collective I’d look into how ethical this range really is.
Fashion wise, I have always really liked HM. I can find edgier clothes in there for me than other high street brands. They were also a lifesaver when I had Danny over thirteen years ago as they were the only store selling more than just baby blue clothes for boys.
On the ethical side though, generally H&M, don’t do so well. They are still big buyers from Bangladesh- indeed even the Conscious range is made there, so are often slammed for being behind on their commitments to the Bangladeshi Accord. It is a disgrace that three years after signing the accord, the H&M factories are reported to still not be safe.
There are mainly positives on the Ethical Consumer table, with HM only not having a tick for the living wage or the best cotton policy. I’m disappointed with their living wage results and though HM do show willing with their roadmap for a fair living wage they need to improve this by defining precisely what a fair living wage is.
People’s views on HM Conscious are very mixed. They ask can you truly be an ethical company if you’re happy for the rest of the company to adhere to less ethical practices?
I’m not sure of the answer but I’m willing to look at how HM are making a more ethical range and hope eventually these practices would run throughout the whole brand.
The aim of the HM Conscious range is to make fashion sustainable and sustainability fashionable. These are their seven commitments (more information on each point can be found on their website):
1 – Provide fashion for conscious customers
2 – Choose and reward responsible partners
3 – Be ethical4 – Be climate smart
5 – Reduce, reuse, recycle
6 – Use natural resources responsibly
7 – Strengthen communities
Now usually I enjoy a good bargain, but the low price of the clothes in the HM Conscious range does worry me. The cotton t-shirts cost just £2.99, the jersey shorts are also £2.99 and Isabelle’s striped jersey dress (pictured) cost £3.99. I’d like HM to know that I would prefer to pay more if it ensured the workers would get a fair wage.
HM’s response to how they keep their prices so low is because they source their clothes from factories in Asia, particularly Bangladesh.
Helena Helmersson told Reuters:
“There is a misconception that lower prices in the stores mean bad working conditions or less pay, ‘Made in Bangladesh’ is something that I’m proud of. Our presence in Bangladesh is coming with so much positive impact if you think about the alternative jobs for women in Bangladesh.”
Like M&S, H&M aims for all its cotton to come from “more sustainable sources” by 2020. Their living wage goal is that all textile workers should have improved pay structures for fair living wages in place by 2018.
By buying HM Conscious are we supporting an unethical company or voting with our purse and showing that customers want to buy the conscious, ethical choice of clothing?
Why not join Mel Wiggins and Vicky from Owl and Accordion on the first Friday of every month as they share their favourite style and thoughts around ethical fashion. It doesn’t have to be a blog post, it can be a tweet, IG or facebook post using the hashtag #ethicalfashioncollective.