Swedish retailer H&M is opening up its supply chain to customers in a bid to drive transparency across the fashion industry.
Shoppers will be able to see details including suppliers’ names, production countries, factory names and addresses across all garments and the majority of H&M Home products.
The new transparency layer will be rolled out across H&M’s 47 online markets from today.
Customers shopping in store can access the same information by using the H&M app to scan price tags.
The retailer said sharing more details on where its products are made will make it easier for customers to make informed decisions.
“We’re opening ourselves up to scrutiny because that enables accountability and drives change,” Giorgina Waltier, sustainability manager for UK and Ireland (see box below) told Drapers.
In its last sustainability report published earlier this month, H&M revealed that more than half of all the materials it used in 2018 come from recycled or sustainable sources, up from 35% in the year before.
H&M’s transparency strategy
Giorgina Waltier, H&M sustainability manager for UK and Ireland
Why is the new transparency layer an important initiative for H&M?
Transparency is a key factor in being able to work more sustainably. H&M is 100% committed to a more sustainable future for the fashion industry and this is a big step forward for us – we’re telling customers that we’re willing to share and make our supply chain open.
How did you implement the transparency layer?
We launched a testing phase with the H&M Conscious Collection to try out the technology in 2017. We’ve had the information [about where product comes from] for some years, so it wasn’t that this data wasn’t available to H&M, but we had to build a way of sharing it that resonated with the customer and didn’t alienate them.
Has the initiative been driven by consumer demand?
It is something that we’ve heard from customers that they want, but this decision goes beyond consumer demand. We believe we have to share this information because it is our responsibility to empower customers and create sustainable shopping experiences. We also want to push the rest of the industry to act in a similar way to help drive out injustices. H&M is the second biggest fashion retailer in the world and we know that if we take some big bold decisions, it helps the rest of the industry move along a little bit. We all know that there are some big issues when it comes to sustainability, and collective action is needed for systemic change.