Gap Score

H&M made significant progress towards positioning itself as a sustainable fashion brand in the past year. Public perceptions have been picking up, while on the sustainability performance front, the company increased disclosure around end-of-life programs for products; and it once again disclosed greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or energy use data in its 2012 sustainability report, which was released in March. Standing out in a fast-fashion category with a reputation for “rapid-fire turnovers, rueful longevity, and a dismal human-rights record,” Ecouterre hailed H&M for conveying “earnestness” in its 2012 sustainability report. Whether or not H&M has successfully rebranded itself as an “ethical fashion company” will hinge, to a great extent, on how the public perceives its response to recent events that impacted the entire garment industry. In the hot seat along with all apparel and retail brands in the wake of the recent tragic garment factory collapse in Dhaka, H&M signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, and was the only brand to participate in a government hearing about safety in the garment industry. (Fashionista earlier declared H&M’s 2012 Sustainability Report as “its most informative, transparent one yet,” and commended H&M for being “the first fashion retailer to release factory names.”) H&M has gained recognition for sustainable sourcing of cotton, its largest product input. In addition to its eco-chic Conscious Collection, the world’s biggest user of certified organic cotton aspires to have all its cotton originate from sustainable sources by 2020. In March, H&M launched a line of evening wear made from sustainable materials like organic cotton, recycled polyamide, and Tencel. Fashionista also praised the brand for its commitment to teaching farmers sustainable farming practices.