In what (if proven true) is slowly but simmering to become one of the biggest scandals in fashion this year, it’s recently come to light that Swedish clothing chain H & M has a little known practice of discarding and making unwearable unsold merchandise. While many large labels like the Gap have a similar practice for samples used in the design showroom (so they can’t be copied by competitors, or stolen from the studio), this revelation sheds a particularly disturbing light on the launch of their new Garden Collection. The collection is supposedly H&M’s attempt to “go green” which according to a recent press release:
“…is made using organic and recycled materials. All the garments have been produced using sustainable materials or using recycled PET bottles or textile waste. Sustainable materials include: Organic cotton, cotton that has been grown without the use of hazardous chemicals; Organic linen, linen that has been grown without the use of hazardous chemicals; Recycled polyester, polyester made from PET-bottles or textile waste; and Tencel silky, renewable material produced with minimal environmental impact.”
While this line is certainly a step in the right direction for H&M, the point will be nullified if it’s confirmed that they are disposing or destroying still wearable goods when they could easily donate them to local charities or even their own employees. While it would be convenient to see this as a case of ultimate corporate hypocrisy, something doesn’t quite smell right about this scandal seeing as how H&M is so careful about the image it projects, and even of Sweden’s own reputation for being one of the most sustainable countries in the world.