Fashion retailer H&M Hennes and Mauritz has come under pressure to break ties with clothing suppliers that buy cotton from Uzbekistan, where large quantities of the fiber are produced using forced and child labor.
Anti-Slavery International said that despite pledging not to source Uzbek cotton, H&M is refusing to take steps to guarantee no companies in its supply chain “profit from slavery in Uzbekistan”.
According to the human rights group, around 90% of Uzbek cotton is harvested by hand, with half of all cotton picked by state-sponsored forced labor and children as young as nine forced to work for up to three months a year to fill the shortfall in voluntary adult labor.
The country is the sixth largest producer of cotton in the world, and the third largest exporter, earning over US$1bn through the export of around 850,000 tons of cotton each year.
According to the charity, Korean conglomerate Daewoo International runs three large cotton processing facilities in Uzbekistan. Daewoo processes cotton from all over the world, and sells cotton yarn and clothing to apparel companies, which means it is difficult to know which products come from Uzbekistan.
While H&M has pledged not to buy cotton from Uzbekistan, and denies that it buys clothes from Daewoo International, the cotton processing company has told the South Korean press that it does sell to the Swedish apparel giant, Anti-Slavery International said.
Responding to the claims, a spokesperson from H&M said that it has worked actively for “many years” to eliminate Uzbek cotton from its supply chain.
“Our company policy prohibits the use of Uzbek cotton in our products which is also communicated to all our suppliers. In order to support a more sustainable cotton industry we joined Better Cotton Initiative and Textile Exchange in 2004.
“We are working continuously to improve traceability of the cotton used for our products and we aim for all cotton to come from more sustainable, fully traceable sources by 2020 at the latest.
“For the last two years in a row we have been the biggest buyer of organic cotton according to Textile Exchange,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson emphasized that the retailer signed a pledge facilitated by the Responsible Sourcing Network to not knowingly use Uzbek cotton. It plans to strengthen this commitment in the near future, calling on its suppliers to sign similar pledges.
“The suppliers that don’t sign the commitment will not be allowed to work with H&M,” the spokesperson added.
by Mandie Mutchie
In December, H&M was being scrutinized after admitting that they paste models’ faces onto “humanized” pictures of mannequins wearing bikinis, with the alleged intention of wanting to focus the consumer’s attention on the garment instead of the model or her body. This was criticized, as many people thought the mannequins were too skinny (and H&M has been criticized before for models who are too skinny), and that it placed the image of an impossible ideal into the minds of the viewers – a subject I’ve covered several times in this blog… They claimed to alter the skin tone of the mannequin so it would match the faces of the models that they pasted onto the bodies, which brings me to my next point (though I’d love to discuss how ludicrous it looked, as well as how it really decreases a model’s pay if she just has to take a couple headshots before she is added to a swim campaign)… H&M is on the naughty list already again, this time for showing Isabeli Fontana in their swim campaign with… too dark a tan!
I have mixed views on this. The complaint has been made by the Swedish Cancer Society and several other notable Swedes, and the issue is that it promotes the idea that people on the beach should be that tan. “Tanorexia” has recently been named a medical condition for people who are addicted to tanning, and it is believed that ads like this will only encourage that behavior, causing young or naive people to try their hardest to get that tan, even if their skin type doesn’t allow it.
After that mother who took her 5-year old daughter to the tanning salon, what do you think? Are we too tan obsessed? Is H&M selling more skin cancer than they are bikinis? I’d love your opinion!
Amanda Mutchie began her professional modeling career nearly ten years ago, and has appeared in many national and international publications, and commercials. Over the course of her modeling career, she worked with many acclaimed makeup artists, learning from them along the way. She eventually became a makeup artist herself and started FaceScape Artistry. Now she works with incredible photographers, models, brides, and other clients to create glamorous as well as natural makeup looks. She also channels her passion for fitness and nutrition and desire to help others into her work as a beachbody coach, and is pursuing her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction.
For more information on Mandie go towww.MandieM.com, www.facescapeartistry.com, email Mandie at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @mandelicious. Don’t forget to “like” her pages on facebook, too! www.facebook.com/MandieLM &www.facebook.com/FaceScapeArtistry www.lipglossnlace.com
*Photo by Rafal Krolik of Seville Media
Some 48 apparel brands and retailers including H&M, Nike, Wal-Mart, Levi’s, Adidas, Gap and Marks & Spencer have been accused of purchasing clothing from suppliers who illegally discharge polluted water in China.
Chinese environmental campaigners also listed Tesco, Li Ning, Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, Zara and JC Penney as among those who buy products from Chinese textile firms with illegal discharge records.
The report, produced by Friends of Nature, the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPEA), Green Beagle, Envirofriends and Nanjing Greenstone, noted more than 6,000 environmental violations by Chinese textile enterprises.
The data, recorded in a China Water Pollution Map compiled by the IEPA found problems including secret discharge pipes, direct wastewater discharge, improper use of wastewater treatment facilities, and pollutant discharge amounts in breach of authorized standards.
China’s textile industry accounts for half of the global total, while its fabric and apparel exports have a 34% share of world trade. However, the textile industry produces close to 2.5bn tons of wastewater and other pollutants annually, which pollute rivers, lakes, the atmosphere and the oceans, even the soil and groundwater.
The report found the amount of wastewater discharged from dyeing processes accounted for 80% of the textile industry’s total wastewater discharge and contains a number of harmful substances.
Additionally, the re-use of water in the textile industry lags way behind that of many other industries, “creating a situation where water efficiency is incredibly low”.
The environmental groups are calling on the companies included in the report to investigate their supply chains and make greener purchases.
They also see collaboration as key to overcoming the textile sector’s pollution problems, including stronger government supervision, greater transparency of information, pressure from apparel brands and retailers on their suppliers to reduce pollution emissions, and “a sense of environmental responsibility” within the textile industry.
The research follows similar investigations by Greenpeace last year, which also found clothing suppliers in China were releasing a cocktail of chemicals into the Pearl and Yangtze River deltas.
As a result of the subsequent global ‘Detox’ campaign, six leading brands and retailers – Adidas, C&A, H&M, Li Ning, Nike and Puma – have all agreed to work together to achieve the goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals in their supply chains by 2020.