As one of the most visible fashion retailers in the world, with vast resources at its disposal, the H&M Group (H&M, COS, & Other Stories, Weekday and Monki) has the capability to truly sway commerce. The Swedish firm, which was founded in 1947, grew immensely in the ’90s by offering runway-ready pieces at bargain price points, altering how clothes were purchased by the masses. Indeed, along with Inditex (which owns Zara), Gap Inc. and others, the H&M Group—particularly H&M—made looking stylish accessible to those couldn’t afford the astronomical sums presented by designer labels.
As a result, fast-fashion took hold of the industry, and with that came the appetite to offer apparel and accessories at a rapid rate—to feed the best, so to speak. And to do this while still remaining profitable, many companies began cutting corners, administering unsafe labor practices abroad and using synthetic fibers that have proven to be ecologically damaging.
Arguably, according to the brand, H&M has stayed above the fray. In a 124-page report, the firm outlined its history, strategy and trajectory on leading the charge for sustainability in fashion. It’ll also be launching the seventh edition of its Conscious Exclusive Collection—a line that uses 100% regenerated nylon fiber and recycled silver—on April 19th with Christy Turlington Burns as its face. After a string of controversies over a racially insensitive image and a copyright lawsuit, this announcement looks as if it is trying to temper the public outcry. Though, supposedly, fostering an eco-friendly mindset has been a longstanding policy.
How would you describe the state of the fashion industry today?
The fashion industry today has a big voice in the world, which is great because that means we also have the ability to be heard and effect change that can be beneficial for the whole planet. We are at a time when access to information is everywhere and people can be more involved with brands and designers via social media like never before, and this, to us, is very interesting. Without a doubt, we are living during interesting times due to technological progress that are changing what the industry looks like. Looking ahead, we see great innovations in materials and great breakthroughs in chemical textile and textile recycling technologies that will redefine the industry in the future.
Where would you categorize the H&M Group in the industry?
We want to be and be seen as leaders in the industry; that we are making big goals in order to work toward a more sustainable fashion future. We want to lead the change towards circular and renewable fashion while being a fair and equal company.