I love lists. I love writing lists, I love ticking things off lists, and I also love adding things that I have already done onto the end of lists just so that I can cross them off. I know I'm not the only one. Well, Baptist World Aid Australia came out with a GOLDEN list last week: an updated Australian Fashion Report (click on link to download). Their last report came out in 2013, so this time 'round, they've added some new brands that have since landed in Australia and made their home here. H&M is amongst the newbies, as well as our buddy Uniqlo.
The report focuses on four areas: policies, traceability & transparency, monitoring & training, and worker rights. Each company involved is graded on each of these criteria, and then given an overall grade from A to F.
"But, Hannah, I thought that you said that H&M was baaaaaad - they have an A-rating!"
Ah, yes. Let's chat about this for a sec. I once wrote a little thing about fast fashion and H&M because I wasn't overly favourable about its establishment in Australia. Therefore regarding this particular argument, I should clarify that my main issue with fast fashion is the fact that it is not sustainable and that it creates so much waste each year. The Australian Fashion Report only focuses on manufacturing, and doesn't look at what happens afterwards. There are obviously many different stages in the life cycle of a piece of clothing, and whilst some stages might be positive, some others might be not so positive. So whilst this report shows that H&M has good manufacturing standards and practices, the quality and durability of their clothing, as well as their urging for customers to buy more (in terms of quantity and frequency, hence 'fast fashion'), affects their contribution to waste in turn.
And one last thing to consider is that many of the companies that were also featured in the 2013 report have improved since then. We need to allow ourselves to change our opinions of brands as their practices improve, and as more research is carried out. It is not about putting labels on companies and shaming them - it is about raising awareness, encouraging transparency, getting educated, and above all else, actually caring. In fact, the more change that occurs, the better!
Anyway, have a read and let us know what you think. Give your heart and your conscience permission to inform your consumption.