Fast fashion retailer H&M has teamed up with three of its best suppliers in Bangladesh and Cambodia to create model factories where it can test new ideas and standards before rolling them out to its wider supply chain.  

Details of the initiative are still sketchy, with the retailer telling just-style it is still in the start-up stages.

However, a company spokesperson explained: "We have teamed up with three of our best suppliers, so called strategic partners, and created model factories."

At these model factories, H&M will commit to secure full capacity for five years.

"The goal is to develop together with the suppliers, to set standards for our industry in many areas, for instance sustainability, quality and wages, and see how we can push it out on a larger scale."

The spokesperson added: "H&M wants to be a responsible partner to our suppliers and we strive for long-term relationships with them."

The retailer isn't necessarily seeking greater control of production or trying to change the way it sources - but appears to be following a wider industry focus towards closer collaboration with key vendors.

The shift away from a transactional relationship towards a value chain involving a more integrated relationship is likely to have knock-on benefits in terms of value, just-in-time, speed and flexibility.

Sharing information, and providing some stability in terms of a long-term sourcing commitment will also help to deliver improved productivity, efficiency, and a better price.