Blog: Leonie BarrieH&M takes matters into its own hands

Leonie Barrie | 2 December 2013

Frustrated by slow progress towards the process of implementing fair living wages in the apparel supply chain, Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz has decided to take matters into its own hands.

The company last week set out plans to pay a fair living wage to some 850,000 workers in its clothing supply chain by 2018 - a move that in its own words "takes the wage issue to the next level."

Working in Bangladesh and Cambodia with three of its best suppliers, H&M will look at the best way to implement a living wage that covers workers' basic needs. This will then be rolled out to 750 factories producing around 60% of its products over the next five years.

H&M has also joined IC Companys, owner of the Tiger of Sweden, By Malene Birger and Peak Performance brands, in banning the use of angora in all of its products after an investigation by animal rights group PETA exposed "shocking" conditions in the industry.

Having spent the past two years building up massive cotton stockpiles that now account for around half of the world's supply, the Chinese government last week began selling off some of its reserves. But with the sale priced about 50% higher than this year's average, it is unlikely to have a major impact on the market.

Hong Kong-based quality cotton shirt manufacturer Esquel Group has successfully navigated the Chinese cotton issue, as its vice chairman and CEO John Cheh told just-style in an interview. He also explained how the group continues to grow, sustain and innovate.

But controversy continues to be generated by the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan, where 11 people are said to have died this year. The Central Asia country, which is one of the largest exporters of cotton in the world, continued to use forced and child labour in its harvest, according to a new report.

New research has also been released on the inexpensive private label apparel market, coming to the conclusion that growth is ending as the sector becomes less and less competitive.

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