Yes, H&M is a fast fashion brand.
H&M is multinational clothing retailer. It was founded by white Swedish businessman Erling Persson, and now predominantly owned by his son, Stefan Persson (worth £18.5 billion). H&M is a fast fashion brand due to the speed of production and scale of clothes that it sells. H&M has seven sister brands: & Other Stories, Afound, ARKET, Cheap Monday, COS, Monki, and Weekday. Together they make up H&M group. The group works with with more than 120,000 employees, and over 2,000 factories worldwide.
Fashion Revolution Transparency Rating: 66/100
Good On You Sustainability Rating: 3/5
Remake Fashion Accountability Report Rating: 39/150
Additional Reasons Why H&M Is A Fast Fashion Brand
- H&M Group’s transparency rating has slowly declined, ranking at 73/100 in 2020, 68/100 in 2021, and now 66/100 in 2022, according to Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index.
- In late 2022, H&M was found to be sourcing polyester from a manufacturer using Russian oil, despite having suspended sales to the country in protest of the illegal war on Ukraine.
- In 2022, H&M Group was found to have multiple links to JBS, a Brazilian firm responsible for much of the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest through cattle rearing and leather production.
- In the same year, the Changing Markets Foundation found that 96% of H&M’s green claims were greenwashed.
- In the UK, H&M reported a gender pay gap of 43% in 2021, meaning that women earn 57p for every £1 that men earn when comparing median hourly pay.
- The H&M website has been found to use two types of dark pattern, encouraging visitors to make purchases in a manipulative manner.
- In Remake’s Fashion Accountability Report 2021, they question H&M Group’s ideals of “sustainability for all,” which “greenwashes its existing business model of churning out increasing volumes of clothes made with slightly less damaging materials”.
- Between 2020 and 2021, the brand removed their Supplier Compliance data from their Supplier List, meaning it is no longer possible to see whether all comply (or in the case of previous years, do not comply).
- In 2020, H&M announced aims to “reach net zero by 2040“, 10 years after the impending climate crisis based on UN predictions.
- In the same year, H&M stopped paying its contracted garment factories using covid-19 as an excuse. After external pressure, they promised to pay their garment factories – but the incident should never have happened in the first place.
- In 2019, H&M was caught suspending employees in New Zealand who were campaigning for a living wage. Conversely, in 2013, H&M’s Global Head of Sustainability committed to paying their garment workers a living wage by 2018 but it still doesn’t pay them a living wage either.
- In 2017, clothes sold in H&M stores (and its sister brands) were found to have been made by 14 year old children in Myanmar for as little as 13p per hour.
- In 2016, H&M Group allegedly tried to overshadow Fashion Revolution Week and the Rana Plaza Disaster by launching ‘World Recycling Week’ across the same week.
- In 2015, H&M South Africa was criticised for only using white models, and later implied that white models convey a more “positive image”.
- In 2011, it was reported that nearly 300 workers passed out in one week at a Cambodian factory supplying H&M.
- In the same year, H&M was amongst major European and American retailers who rejected plans for a legally-binding detailed safety proposal that “entailed the establishment of independent inspections of garment factories” in Bangladesh.
This post is part of a larger guide to UK fast fashion brands, which goes into more detail about the issues with fast fashion, why it will never be sustainable, and how to make your wardrobe more sustainable.
Data for this review is taken from the brand’s website, corporate website, Wikipedia, and sites linked throughout. All information is assumed correct at date of publication. Last updated: September 2022.