Why H&M is not a sustainable option

Let me preface this by saying that some of my favourite clothes were from H&M, which I wore regularly. However, in recent years, I’ve noticed a disappointing decline in their materials.

The backstory

I had two 15% off vouchers because I donated clothes to them, and the salesclerk for once was at the counter and he passed me the vouchers. Since I recently started working for a parenting site, where jeans is reserved for Fridays, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to check out what they had. So I tried on seven items of clothing. None of them worked.

Super Sheer Material

I tried on two shirts, two t-shirts, two tanks, a dress and a pair of shorts. Of these, the shirts and t-shirts were see through, and so was one of the tanks. By see through I mean you could see my undergarments through the material – it is THAT flimsy. I almost bought a tank top and a shirt, but then I wondered what was the point. The cost was nearly $50 – surely for that amount I could get a shirt that wasn’t translucent?

The cheaper tank was so sheer I might as well be wearing nothing underneath, as if I had entered a wet t-shirt competition. By the time I tried on the t-shirts, I was so disheartened to be proven right yet again.

These were from the Conscious collection and the linen. The cheapest tank was $7.95, and the t-shirts were up to $20. If cheapening out on the material is how H&M tries to be sustainable, (proudly claiming on their website that more than 50% of their clothes use recycled materials), then I don’t want any part of it.

Size is Arbitrary

A couple of years ago, I was immensely discouraged to find that all the S and XS dresses I tried on couldn’t fit me, despite me knowing that I hadn’t put on weight. A good friend consoled me, telling me that size was arbitrary. Here’s how arbitrary sizes in H&M are:

I’m a size 2 US, UK6, and I’ve been able to fit into two DVF dresses bought secondhand in this size as recently as yesterday. When I tried on the tanks at H&M, the size S was fitting, snugly hugging my curves and rolls, which was not at all flattering, so I’d have to size up to an M. A size XS pair of shorts (size 34 or US 2 apparently) did not fit me either. However, a size XS dress worked perfectly, although a bit snug in the tummy region. If I had bought anything from H&M, I would have had to buy a size M tank top, a size S pair of shorts (or shudder, a size M), and a size S dress. Two different sizes for the same person.

Not Worth It

While H&M seems to be doing worthy things for the environment, in producing organic cotton clothes, and using linen, the increased cost (a regular shirt costs about $24.95 while the shirt I picked up was $34.95) simply cannot be justified considering one would be paying $10 more for equally crap material. While thinner layers might be more suitable for our tropical climate, the fact that you’d have to wear another layer underneath to preserve your modesty seems to make this point moot.

I don’t think it’s that difficult to produce quality clothes at an affordable price point. Muji sells thick organic cotton shirts at around $30, and I can wear any undergarment of my choice under their white shirts. In conclusion, I won’t be shopping at H&M anymore.

My post doesn’t even take into account the conditions of the workers who make this fast fashion, which you can read about in the link above.

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