H&M Unethical manufacturers
When activist groups approach the subject of unethical clothing production, people presume they are revealing companies who use animal skins who maybe endangered. However, the subject covers a wide range of other unethical practices such as child labour, poor and dangerous working conditions, low pay and poor disposal of unwanted goods and leftover material.
Swedish fashion giant H & M were once found to order their staff to cut up unsold clothing and dispose of it like trash. The damaging story first broke in 2010 when H & M’s New York store were doing this, in the middle of an extremely cold winter, with an estimated 200000 homeless people in the city. This was obviously not great PR for the firm causing them to release statements claiming they will be added extra staff and resources to their sustainability team. Shortly after this exposure, The Financial Times ran a story claiming H&M were committing fraud by claiming their cotton was 100% organic. H&M must of thought the media where now gunning for them when they had a fire at a sweatshop in Bangladesh, killing a reported 21 people, the true figures of the victims are questionable. The workers had been ordered to work throughout the night to reach an order deadline when the tragedy happened. The fire safety equipment was later found to be faulty and most of the fire exits blocked. When manaufacturers like this take advantage of cheap, mostly in Asia, they can also cut costs as Occupational Health and Safety standards in these countries are low, or non existent.
Whether H&M have truly learned from these incidents remains to be seen.