Fashion giant H&M is providing detailed supply chain information for individual products in what it claims is the first time that a global fashion company has shared such information with consumers.
The new ‘transparency layer’ initiative, launched yesterday, will apply to all garments, and the majority of home interior products, sold online.
Sharing details such as country of production, supplier names, factory names and addresses, as well as the number of factory workers, will enable the company’s customers “to make more informed choices,” it said.
Consumers will also be able to find out more about the materials used to make a specific garment.
The company’s website now contains a ‘product sustainability’ button where people can get supply chain information for the item in question.
People are also able to access this information in stores by using the H&M app to scan the price tag on a product to see its details.
The move has been prompted by the success of a pilot scheme, with the transparency layer initially trialled by H&M on its Conscious collections, which launched in 2017 with all products containing at least 50% sustainable or recycled materials.
The new transparency layer will not apply to on products produced and listed prior to the system’s launch.
Isak Roth, head of sustainability at H&M said: “We are so proud to be the first global fashion retailer of our size and scale to launch this level of product transparency. We want to show the world that this is possible.”
He added: “By being open and transparent about where our products are made, we hope to set the bar for our industry and encourage customers to make more sustainable choices.”
Roth commented: “With transparency comes responsibility, making transparency such an important factor to help create a more sustainable fashion industry.”
The move has been welcomed by those campaigning for more transparency within the fashion industry.
A spokesperson for Fashion Revolution, an NGO which campaigns for ethical supply chains, said: “This is a huge step forward and opens up a new layer of accountability in the industry that has not previously existed, enabling customers to make more informed decisions about the impacts of the products they buy from H&M.”
They added: “It is important to note that transparency is not a panacea for solving the fashion industry’s problems and cannot guarantee a company’s ethical business behaviour. Instead, transparency is a very powerful tool to drive greater accountability by allowing customers and external stakeholders to scrutinise the claim that a brand or retailer is making.”
Yesterday’s announcement comes just weeks after H&M announced that more than half (57%) of its raw materials used to make products were recycled or sustainably sourced in 2018.
The brand has also made a commitment to become 100% circular, using only recycled or sustainably sourced materials for its packaging by 2030.