Will Beyoncé's H&M Collection Be Made in Sweatshops?


As rumored back in January, Beyoncé is the face of H&M for spring. She was shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. According to the company, Bey also “had input into the design” of some of the collection’s looks. [WWD]
And in other H&M news, the company just released its 11th annual sustainability report. For the first time, in a move towards even greater transparency, H&M made public a list of 95% of its suppliers — the contractors, mostly in third-world countries, that actually make its goods. That is normally regarded as proprietary information (although Nike also discloses it), so it’s unusual that H&M would share it.

A total of 1,798 factories manufacture goods for H&M. About 760 are in the Far East, 499 in South Asia and 539 in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

H&M is the biggest buyer of clothing from Bangladesh, the country with the lowest wages for garment workers in the world and a notoriously poor record on safety standards. Twenty-one workers died in 2010 at a factory that produced knitwear for H&M, a factory that the company had recently inspected and found to be in compliance with its code of conduct. The C.E.O. of H&M recently met with the Bangladeshi Prime Minister to discuss raising the country’s minimum wage. On environmental issues, H&M reports that it was again the world’s biggest buyer of organic cotton in 2012 and is on track to make 100% of its cotton garments from organic cotton by 2020. It also says that in 2012 it saved 450 million liters of water by using more efficient textile production. [WWD]
Net profit at H&M during the first quarter fell slightly year-on-year by 11.4%, to $378.84 million. [WWD]
But while retailers like H&M are inclined to paint a rosy picture of labor relations for their annual reports, labor rights groups would like to remind Americans that most of what they buy is produced under horrifying working conditions, and that in the international rag trade, abuses like wage theft, child labor, and forced labor are the norm, not the exception. Charles Kernaghan of the Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights recently visited two factories in Bangladesh, Rosita and Megatex. Salon reports:

The two factories produce expensive sweaters for an array of European apparel companies, companies which assure their customers that the workers are guaranteed the core rights established by the International Labor Organization (ILO), including freedom of association and the elimination of child labor.
Well, that turns out not to exactly be the case. And it turns out that most Americans still likely know very little about the conditions under which the clothes they wear were produced.
“It was ridiculous. In fact it was one of the worst factories we’ve seen,” says Kernaghan. “There was child labor, people were being beaten, cheated of their wages — and wages were very, very low. Male supervisors would constantly press young women to have sex with them.”

In 2011, Kernaghan reported on a Jordanian garment factory, Classic, where immigrant garment workers were raped by their supervisors and had their wages stolen. At the time, Classic filled orders for Macy’s, Target, Wal-Mart, Hanes, and Kohl’s. Two years later, most of those clients have stopped using Classic as a supplier — except for Wal-Mart and Hanes:

Management hired young women from Asia, stripped them of their passports, forced them to work grueling hours for awful pay under a managerial regime that subjected them to routine rape. One woman hung [sic] herself in the factory’s bathroom with her own scarf after allegedly being raped at the hands of a manager. The Jordanian Department of Labor, when informed of the abuses, did nothing.
After Kernaghan’s exposé, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Lands’ End stopped doing business with Classic (they represented 8 percent of its export trade), but the factory’s chief customer, Wal-Mart, was unfazed. One serial rapist manager was fired, but many of the other managers accused of rape are still employed there, and women continue to disappear from the factory under highly suspicious circumstances. (Colleagues believe they are being murdered or sold into sexual slavery). According to documents recently smuggled out of the factory, 75 percent of Classic-made apparel is still going to Wal-Mart and Hanes.


Marion Cotillard‘s latest ads for the Lady Dior handbag are crisp and elegant, as befits Raf Simons‘ ongoing aesthetic revamp of the house of Christian Dior. Jean-Baptiste Mondino was the photographer. [WWD]

Frank Ocean is the star of Band of Outsiders‘ latest campaign, which was shot, as always, on Polaroid. [Fashionista]

Coco Rocha sings and dances in this Web video for Roberto Cavalli produced by The Hunger Magazine. [Grazia]

American Eagle has launched a joke ad campaign for “skinny skinny” jeans, which are in fact painted on. There’s a moderately funny video. [LATimes]

  • The Model Alliance has launched a petition calling for child models to be given the same legal protections as child actors and other child performers. Currently, unlike child actors, child models don’t have to have access to tutors on set, limits on their working hours are modest and rarely enforced, and their earnings are not protected by law from occasionally predatory managers or even parents. Most runway and editorial models start their careers around ages 14-16, and many models end up having to drop out of high school in order to work. [Model Alliance]
  • Lululemon says the recall of its see-through batch of yoga pants will hurt its bottom line. For the current quarter, the company says same-store sales were up year-on-year by 11% up until March 17, when the recall began. But it now expects that for the whole quarter same-store sales will rise by a still-healthy 5-7%. It now anticipates sales of $333 million-$343 million, instead of the $349.8 million it had projected. Retail analysts doubt, however, that the recall will affect the value of the brand in the long term. [WWD]
  • And for the previous quarter, earnings results from which Lululemon just reported, the company did very well. Net income was up 48.8%, to $109.4 million, and revenues rose 30.7%, to $485.5 million. [WWD]
  • Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent‘s longtime partner, thinks highly of Hedi Slimane‘s grunge collection for Saint Laurent. “I adored it; it’s exactly what needed to be done,” says Bergé. Well, that makes one person who liked it. [WSJ]
  • Here are 1317 words dedicated to the transformation of Justin Timberlake‘s “style,” from that guy with the cornrows and pleather to that guy who be on his suit and tie shit. Representative passage:
  • If in style terms Mr. Timberlake has suddenly hit stride, he does so in step with a generation of contemporaries, men whose early style models ran a grim gamut from Tim Allen to Snoop Doggy Dogg. Raised on Dockers and sweat pants and the slobfest that was Casual Friday, that same generation has now stampeded in the direction of an indestructible form of male armor: the suit.
  • [NYTimes]
  • GQ‘s Glenn O’Brien confirmed on Twitter that he is taping new episodes of his cult ’80s public-access show, TV Party. The original series, which aired 1978-82, featured interviews with and live performances from the likes of David Byrne, Klaus Nomi, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Blondie. [@Lordrochester]
  • Victoria Beckham bought an old supermarket in Battersea, London. She plans to convert the space into a new headquarters for her fashion company. [InStyle UK]
  • Net profits at Hermès rose by 24.6%, to $951.5 million, from 2011 to 2012. [WWD]
  • J. Crew reported that net profits were up 86.7%, to $96.1 million, during the same period. It also topped $2 billion in annual sales for the first time. Net profits in the fourth quarter, however, were down 32.5% from the same period one year ago, to $10.2 million. [WWD]
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