In today’s world, Fashion industry is one of the fastest growing industry. People can’t seem to get enough of fashion and couture. The whole Fashion industry is said to be valued at a whopping 3 trillion dollars with a share of 2% in World’s Gross domestic product. This is one industry where the law of demand defies the most, majorly because of the presence of “high-end brands” in the market.
Where at, one hand people are wooed by and chase after these high-end brands’ products, at the other hand, they don’t know the real truth behind them. In this blog, you will be reading about two of the most popular and well-known brands globally, H&M and Zara. I’m sure everyone of us have at least one of their products in our wardrobe and we love them.
Who knows that H&M actually stands for Hennes and Mauritz? There is a total of 5,076 stores of H&M worldwide with a global sale of $24.3 billion. It is one brand that we adore the most, partially being the reason that most of the people can afford it. Following are the some of lesser known facts about this brand: –
- More than 540 workers at factories that supply H&M have described incidents of threats and abuse, according to reports published by Global Labour Justice on gender-based violence in the brand’s supply chains. And these female workers are not just physically and verbally abused, but also, they are sexually harassed. H&M lists 235 Indian factories among its suppliers. In Bangalore, a female tailor was grabbed by hair, punched and was verbally abused. One more female worker was yelled at and pushed on the floor for not meeting production quotas. And, this all is just the tip of the iceberg.
- Journalists have revealed that H&M has burnt approximately 12 tonnes of clothing in Denmark. And, H&M is said to have incinerated 60 tonnes of new, usable clothing since 2013. H&M claims that this was because of “stopped orders” whereas some reports claim it was because of overproduction.
- H&M’s conscious collection is ethically sourced and uses recycled and organic materials for ladies’, men’s and kids’ fashion. With clothes as cheap as $5, is this just promoting our short-term habits of clothing? This sustainable range accounts for only 5% of their overall products, so how conscious are they of our planet? Some people questioned if this was all just a publicity stunt to increase sales or did, they really care?
- In September 2020, H&M was reported to cut ties with Chinese supplier over the accusations of ‘forced labour’ involving ethnic and religious minorities from China’s Xinjiang province.
- US director of Global Labour Justice said, “H&M’s and Gap’s fast fashion supply chain model creates unreasonable production targets and underbid contracts, resulting in women working unpaid overtime and working very fast under extreme pressure.”
Zara SA, stylized as Zara, is a Spanish apparel Retailer. In 2019, the Zara brand was valued at approximately $18.4 billion. H&M’s share of the global apparel market is 1.6% compared to 1.2% for Zara, according to UBS. Zara may not be as popular as H&M in India as of now, but still people want to own every product of this brand. As for people wanting to own its clothes, Zara is not quite ready to own up to its issues.
- The brand was found to be sourcing clothes from Brazilian workshops with modern slavery conditions but fought against sanctions in court – showing how corporations seek to avoid liability by hiding behind complex supply chains. In 2015, Zara was also accused of discrimination against black employees. Reports have emerged about the condition of workers in Zara’s Brazilian factories. The company was accused of “Slave Labour” in the factories.
- At least 500 workers in Zara’s Myanmar factory were laid off in the middle of this pandemic. The workers were reported to be earning only $3.50-$4.74 per day whereas Zara made a revenue of $15 billions in 2019.
- The company has earned a reputation for production of flood of clothes and wastefulness as ultimately overproduced clothes are thrown away. Zara on average, releases 500 new designs a week and 20,000 per year. Zara prides itself on giving fashion trends every 13 days. The promotion of such rapid consumption is harmful to both people and planet. As a global leader in retail, Zara needs to be setting the standard for sustainability and make the throwaway culture of clothing over.
- There is no evidence that Zara minimises textile waste when manufacturing its products. And although Zara has set an absolute target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its own operations and supply chain, there is no evidence it is on track to meet its target.
As fashion industry is getting bigger and bigger, the “must-haves” on our “wish lists” this winter should be the explanation to these serious issues and horrific situations.