H&M called out for their sustainability marketing. ‘Sustainable’ is one of fashion’s favourite buzzwords at the moment as the industry is waking up to its environmental strain on the planet.
However, because there’s no certifying body to decide what ‘sustainable’ is, brands can market their products as sustainable without having to back it up.
In Norway, it’s not so simple, as H&M discovered.
The country’s Marketing Control Act outlines practices that are off-limits to brands, one of them making claims that are misleading.
H&M’s use of the word ‘sustainable’ to describe one of its summer collections is being questioned as the Norwegian Consumer Authority claim that the brand’s Conscious Collection misrepresents its ‘sustainability credentials’ with ‘symbols, statements and colors’.
“Our opinion is that H&M are not being clear or specific enough in explaining how the clothes in the Conscious collection and their Conscious shop are more ‘sustainable’ than other products they sell,” Bente Øverli, deputy director general at Norway’s Forbrukertilsynet – or Consumer Authority – said in a statement.
“Since H&M are not giving the consumer precise information about why these clothes are labelled Conscious, we conclude that consumers are being given the impression that these products are more ‘sustainable’ than they actually are.”
A spokesperson for H&M said that a meeting is scheduled with the Consumer Authority and that the brand will comply with all Norwegian marketing laws.
The company said in a statement: “We are pleased the Norwegian Consumer Authority shines the light on marketing and communication of sustainable alternatives and we have already established a healthy conversation with them to see how we can be even better at communicating the extensive work we do.”
“We are transparent in everything we do and have nothing to hide.”
Øverli explained: “The problem is that businesses—and we would like to underscore that this in no way applies to H&M only, or that H&M in any way is among the worst offenders here—tend to over-sell their products.”
One of the governments top priorities at the moment is marketing based on environmental benefits, she noted.
H&M called out for their sustainability marketing