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Brief Published: 19 Aug 2014

H&M: Cotton King

H&M Coscious Collection Spring 2014

Swedish high street chain H&M has once again cemented its position as the world’s largest user of organic cotton. 

According to non-profit organisation Textile Exchange’s recently published Annual Organic Cotton Market report, H&M took back the title of top organic cotton user from C&A in 2013 by using almost 11% in its production – up from 7.8% in 2012.

In a statement, H&M environmental sustainability manager Henrik Lampa said: “We have set a clear goal to further increase our usage of certified organic cotton. This is part of our strategic target to use only more sustainable cotton by 2020.”

This year, a State of Sustainability review by the Sustainable Commodity Initiative documented the development of cotton initiatives. It estimated that by 2020 organic and standard compliant cotton could account for a quarter of global production, mirroring Lampa’s projections for H&M.

The company is increasingly using recycled cotton, which requires fewer raw and natural resources, and is also an active member of the Better Cotton initiative, which promotes good farming practices to use less water and chemicals in production. 

Outside of cotton, H&M is also exploring other sustainable textiles such as organic hemp, which requires little water to grow, and recycled wool, which it showcases in its sell-out, celebrity-endorsed Conscious Collection.

In addition to its pioneering work on sustainable textiles, H&M’s Fair Living Wage Agreement, launched last year, aims to provide a credible roadmap to the provision of a living wage within its supply chain.

With its pioneering environmental and social initiatives, H&M continues to set the sustainability agenda providing key insights for high street retailers wishing to emulate their success.

With sustainable lifestyles expected to become a market-dominating force by 2018 – see Eco, Ethical, Sustainable – H&M is set to capture significant market share, enabling Millennials in particular to make more ethical purchasing choices.

For more information, see H&M Pioneers Global Recycling SchemeFashion’s Sustainable Future: Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2014, 2014: Ethical Fashion’s Year, Craft & Production in Contemporary Fashion and Ethical High Jewellery