As a self-proclaimed Sustainability Advocate, I was absolutely gobsmacked when I learned that H&M Group was named the most 'transparent brand' by Fashion Revolution in 2019, with a whopping score of 73% on their ranking scale. This is the same fast-fashion giant that has been criticized for their detrimental impact on society and the environment. What's more, they were already named among the most transparent brands in 2018 with a score of 55%, dropped to second place in 2020, and further dropped to fourth place in 2022. The fact that they were still ranked higher than Adidas and Reebok, who have made real strides in sustainability, left me scratching my head.
Flawed Rankings: What Went Wrong?
Fashion Revolution claims to have a rigorous methodology for their ranking system, evaluating brands' transparency and sustainability practices on a 250-point scale. However, the results of their rankings seem questionable. How can H&M, a brand known for fast fashion and labor rights violations, be named the most transparent brand? Shouldn't transparency be a given in a responsible business?
It is important to note that transparency alone does not equate to sustainability. Being transparent about unsustainable practices does not make a brand more sustainable. Furthermore, Fashion Revolution's ranking system only considers information that brands choose to disclose, leaving ample room for manipulation and greenwashing. It is entirely possible for a brand to score high on the transparency index while still engaging in unsustainable practices.
Is there ACTUALLY a third-party verification of the information provided by the brands? A verification of whether their claims are true at all? For me, this type of ranking system used by Fashion Revolution appears to be deeply flawed and may be doing more harm than good.
By promoting brands based solely on their transparency score, Fashion Revolution risks confusing consumers and giving undeserved credit to brands that are not truly committed to sustainability. It is time for Fashion Revolution to rethink their approach and move towards a more comprehensive and objective evaluation of sustainability in the fashion industry.
H&M's Track Record - A History of Greenwashing
H&M has been accused of greenwashing numerous times in the past, using their sustainability initiatives as a marketing tool to enhance their image. Their 'Conscious Collection' and 'Circular Collection' have been criticized for being mere greenwashing attempts, diverting attention from their larger impact on the environment and society. With this in mind, can we really trust Fashion Revolution's ranking system and their recognition of H&M as the most transparent brand? B*tch, please....
How can they name a fast-fashion giant as the most transparent brand, while ignoring their larger impact on the environment and society? And how can their rankings be so inconsistent, with H&M dropping to second place just two years later? My guess is they realised of the mess they created and tried to correct it. Snarky comment aside –not really–, I loooooove their "disclaimers" in latest Transparency Index Reports of following years, take a look:
Differentiating Transparency from Sustainability
It's important to differentiate transparency from sustainability, as they are not the same thing. A brand can be transparent about their practices, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are sustainable. It's concerning that entities like Fashion Revolution can confuse readers by ranking fast fashion brands as the most transparent, potentially leading consumers to believe that these brands are sustainable. This can be harmful to the progress of sustainability in the fashion industry. We need to demand real sustainability from brands, not just transparency.
As a Sustainability Advocate and fierce supporter of transparency and sustainability in the fashion industry, I find it deeply concerning that organizations like Fashion Revolution can be so inconsistent and incoherent in their rankings. It is crucial for us as consumers to question the credibility of these rankings and hold these organizations accountable for their actions. It is not enough for a brand to simply claim transparency without backing it up with real, sustainable actions. We need to demand genuine sustainability from brands, rather than accepting greenwashing attempts and flawed rankings. It's high time for a real revolution in the fashion industry, and we must continue to push for more transparency, more accountability, and more true sustainability.