Monday, 11 January 2010

H&M's ethical identity crisis

What to make of the recent behaviour of H&M? On one hand we have the shocking news, reported in the New York Times on Tuesday, that the Swedish company's New York store had been slashing unsold clothes so that they could not be sold or worn again. This kind of mindless waste makes me feel ill. A speedy PR response from H&M stated that their policy is to donate unsold clothes and that this would not happen again. Still, it does leave a nasty taste in the mouth.

On the other hand, H&M's Garden Collection, which will be available from March, is produced entirely using sustainable materials, including organic cotton, organic linen and recycled plastic bottles. And I have to say, it looks great: oversized painted florals fuse a summer-of-love feel with a bohemian Bloomsbury aesthetic.

So what to do to send H&M the right ethical message? Encourage the good behaviour by supporting the recycled collection? Or boycott them for failing to even cycle, let alone re-cycle what they already have? And whatever we do, is the message even likely to have any real impact? What do you think, dear readers?

Anyway, if you do decide to support H&M's sustainable range, here is my pick of the best from the Garden Collection:

LOVE this dress: the hand-painted print, the Fruit Gum colours, the swathed fabric avec perfect gathered waist. All divine. But most of all those KIMONO SLEEVES. I would wear this for swanning around, having afternoon tea and painting by the lake, while pretending I am a. a member of the Bloomsbury set; b. in an episode of Poirot; c. both. Best of all, it will be on sale for a bargainous £14.99:



Also really loving this look: small floral print dress avec bold floral contrast pockets (£12.99), given a sharper edge with a linen biker-jacket (£24.99). I would belt this with a magic belt from American Apparel (note to self: must post on the life-changing qualities of the AAMB asap):



Finally, I ADORE this simple jersey dress with ruffled shoulders. It would be perfect for any summer occasion: with heels and gold accessories for a June wedding, or flats for a casual lunch date. And at £19.95, it's a veritable steal:



In other news, Saturday was a whiteout here in snowy Sussex, which meant desastre for my plans to attend the International Day of Swishing with Madame la Moue. As MLM put it with inimitable eloquence in a message on Saturday morning: 'If we went to London today we would be MENTALISTS.' And so we would have been. *The heartbreak.*

Even worse, swishing.org is now tweeting that someone got a CHLOE HANDBAG. If you are that someone, please leave now: you are henceforth banned from Paper Flowers. I'm sorry, I must break off now as the thought of designer handbags being given away without me is making me feel physically unwell...

H&M Garden Collection found via Oh Joy! and Refinery 29.

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