So, you regular readers know I’ve written a few times about H&M. I’ve had a beef with this company before (most notably because of the outrageous waste they engaged in at their NY location, destroying and throwing out perfectly good clothing instead of donating it)…but that’s beside the point.
I now have a new grievance against H&M. And it’s because they’ve dropped their prices. Again.
Now on the surface this seems like a good thing. After all, we’re in a recession. Low prices are great, right?
Well, not really. Sure, it’s tempting to want to buy a beautiful $4.95 dress. A cool $20 trench coat. But think about this for a second…who’s making this clothing? How can they possibly be earning any kind of decent wage when the clothing is so cheap?
And not only that, but how good can the quality be if you’re only paying $5 for a dress? That’s cheaper than a scone and coffee at Starbucks!
EcoTerra highlighted this issue in today’s post, which is how I found out about H&M’s new low prices. And in their post they were able to interview Eliza Starbuck, designer of Bright Young Things. She says that if H&M is making clothing that cheap, the quality is completely lost.
And, I wholeheartedly agree with her. This is the kind of “disposable clothing” that is bad in every way. It’s bad for the fashion industry because it’s a race to the bottom in terms of pricing. It’s bad for the environment because H&M is constantly consuming resources (water, cotton, dyes, chemicals, oil used in shipping, ect.) churning out all this clothing, and it’s bad for laborers because they’re making double the amount of clothing that other manufacturers make.
Yes, to give them credit H&M does have it’s own Code of Conduct, EcoTerra reports, that’s based on the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and International Labor Standards. But you can’t argue that these workers are getting a fair wage for the work they’re doing. They’re surely not. And if H&M is doing anything to offset the majorly negative impact they’re having on the environment, I’ve never heard of it.
My point here is that we should all think before we step into a store to buy “a good deal”. Again, I know the appeal a $4.95 dress has. But we’re getting that “bargain” at the expense of so many other things we can’t see. When we pay extra for ethical clothes, we’re buying clothing and accessories that are built to last, and that take into account the environmental and social impact of that clothing.
Filed under: Eco Fashion on September 29th, 2010