The story behind fashion


We chose the LifeCycle of the H&M clothes as we are both very interested in fashion and want to know where our clothes come from.
H&M promotes a huge recycling project. The H&M stores collect old clothes and according to H&M these clothes should be brought back to their origin. But where do they actually come from?

Fashion Recycling Box H&M
Fashion Recycling Box

The birth of our project

We thought that it would be interesting to find out how many clothes we have from H&M. So we both looked for H&M clothes in our closet. We realized that we don’t have many clothes from H&M. Here you can see the results of our research:

Shannen Marija
Leggings 2 1
T-Shirts 5 4
Trousers 2
Pants 2 1
Dresses 1 1
Sweaters 3 1
Scarfs 1 1
Blouses 5 3
Jewellery 5 3
Bags 1
Socks 10

H&M Sustainability Promises

We had a lot of questions and were very interested in how their project works in detail. Unfortunately we didn’t get any statements through e-mail, nor phone, nor in person. Therefore we decided to dig deeper and found some material from a reporter group from 2015. The main question of the movie is «How aware is H&M really of their responsibility ?». We were very shocked after we had finished watching the film. Apparently behind their nice promises huge scandalous production are hiding.
Following we tell you the truth about the production and the corporate law tricks H&M uses for their embarrassing success.

The journey to Bangladesh

H&M produces clothes in Bangladesh since 30 years. The filmmakers visited a production company in Bangladesh. According to the film the conditions for the people who are working there are terrible. Every day they work more than 12 hours. While they are working they are suffering of hunger.
Because of the interview with two anonymous men the filmmakers experienced that some people start their work at 8 am in the morning, eat lunch at 1 pm and afterwards continue working until 10 pm while they are very hungry. They never finish work before 10 pm. Their eyes are desiccated and they are suffering from hunger. The minimum wage for workers is 50 euro per month. The filmmakers tried to talk to a manager of H&M on these topic. The manager said that it is very difficult to antagonize the overtime because it is a trend. After the film was published the filmmakers realized that this particular company was removed from the H&M component supplier list. [1]

When the filmmakers went to Bangladesh there was another building which was also in danger to break down because it had a lot of cracks and it was built in an area where there was a bog before. All architects have a license number. When the filmmakers wanted to talk to the architect of this building “we realized that the person who draw this building had just bought his diploma and wasn’t really an architect”.
In 2012 the CEO of H&M visited Bangladesh. There he talked to a lot to politicians and tried to lift wage floor although H&M does everything to save money. [1]


The filmmakers also visited Ethiopia where they can find workers who will work for less money than the workers in Bangladesh because Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. The address of H&M’s production company in Ethiopia is not known. As the filmmakers talked to H&M about this “we realized that it causes discomfort for them to talk about the production in Ethiopia”. The wage bill in Ethiopia are the lowest of the world and the private sector has no wage floor. People earn between 36 to 50 euros per month. [1]


H&M has a production company in Bangladesh which is called Pals trading far east limited. This company does not earn any money in Bangladesh because it is financed by checks from H&M. From this money they buy raw materials of which they make clothes. When the team who was making the video asked H&M about that, they did not receive an answer. [1]

Here the link to our video source: [1] Film “Die billige Masche von H&M”

So once they got produced as told, they get shipped over the hole world to more than 4’200 stores of H&M for sale. For more infos about Container Shipping we recommend the video “The real price of shipping” (

H&M launched a Project to recycle old clothes to close their circle of lifetime from clothes. I:CO (I:CO Partner) is their Partner in this matter and sorts the old clothes given back in the H&M stores in to the 3 following categories:


Tipps from H&M how we can improve the sustainability of Fashion:

Re-wear it! Sometimes an old favourite is destined to have a comeback. Look in the darkest corners of your closet – and you might just find your Saturday night outfit.

Someone’s trash might be your treasure. Have a swap-party with your friends. Bring a few items each and create your own free shopping spree!

Don’t automatically throw out clothes that are too small. Jeans that are too short can be cut into shorts for summer. A top which is too small and shows off a little bit of your belly can be cut into a crop top.

Replacing zips, taking up hems, patching jeans – get your mending kit ready and re-wear your favourite pieces time after time.

Did you know that washing at 30 degrees instead of 60 reduces your energy use by half? By skipping the heat you save both energy and money – and make your clothes’ dyes and colours last longer.

Or, even better; skip doing laundry this week and just air your clothes. Garments are often washed many more times than necessary.

These Things H&M should change if they want us to buy clothes from them again:

Take responsibilities for the conditions during the production of the clothes

Inform the world about their production conditions

Publish a code of ethics in which the salary of the production stuff is declared

Work out arrangements for the implementation of the code of ethics and publish them

Work out salary Arrangements


In conclusion, we are happy that we learnd and experienced so many things about the LifeCycle of fashion. We both decided that we will stop buying clothes from H&M until they prove that they are a fair employer. We also decided that we will select carefully the stores where we are going to buy our clothes in the future.

“Being conscious in every part of the fashion production is important”, sais H&M on their Website. But how does this fit together with their production in Bangladesh? Unfortunately we don’t have an answer but a strong feeling that still a lot of dark secrets are hidden behind the good looking recycling project of H&M.

Vocab List

desiccated = ausgetrocknet
antagonize = entgegenwirken
bog = Sumpf
wage floor = Mindestlohn
Code of ethics = Verhaltenskodex

Reviewed by:

Claude Douguet and Brigitte Fischer

☷ See the project teams here »
☵ Some words about the contributions »

9 thoughts on “The story behind fashion

  1. Hello : )
    I just came across your article and I am very impressed. The whole article is informative and well structured. I think the main problem is that people who buy their stuff from fast fashion brands are uninformed. The misleading advertising of these brands is insidious. I’m not talking about the advertising of H&M itself (or any other fast fashion brand), but of the people who make trends, our role models. Especially young people try to emulate their role models. In most cases, they don’t have enough money to buy eco-friendly clothes and resort to cheap clothing. The whole world needs to change!

    I’ve also been researching fast-fashion lately for my school project. Did you know that fast fashion not only has an impact on our environment, but also on our health?

    Thank you for your hard work, it really paid off.

  2. Dear Project-Team

    Thanks a lot, that you invested your time for this project.
    The way of how clothes are produced is a huge problem in our world. It is very sad to hear about how the people from poor countries get capitalized. I try really hard to get to know how the clothes I buy are produced. I think it is very difficult to find some clothing stores which look after the working environment. I don’t know a lot stores that look after fair wages, good work environment and also for environment-neutral production. It would have been really interesting if you could give us a list with stores that look for a good and fair production of the clothes they sell. For example the social fashion label “Love Your Neighbour” ( could have been on this list.

    I think it is very important that we inform ourselves from where our clothes come from. Because when we buy clothes from H&M which are, as you showed, bad produced, it would not be that useful when we recycle them, because the production was already bad for humans and environment. We can’t change that. So we have to solve this problem by the roots. We have to buy fair clothes! And when we want to buy fair clothes we should also be ready to pay more for our clothes. Because fair production ist always more expensive. One reason for this is, that the wages are better and also higher. When we look at the connections we should realise, that cheep clothes can’t be fair produced. So we have to keep your eyes open and use our brains, when we buy clothes.

    It was very interesting to read your article. You showed really good how the clothes from H&M are produced and you tried to give some ideas to improve our handling with clothes. I learned that also H&M don’t look after a good production even when they convey this. Thank you, that you approach this important theme. I hope more and more people get to realize this.

    Best wishes and keep on going!
    Lisa, Switzerland

  3. Hello

    I did really enjoy reading your article. What I liked most was your attitude towards getting Information, although you were being confronted with difficulties regarding to a couple refusements of potential interviewees.

    In my view, it would have been a perfectioning aspect of the article, if you would have looked for an own tip or way to recycle different types of clothes so we could learn new ways of protecting our environement. For example I dont really know what to do with my own clothes despite of giving them to friends or selling them online.

    Kind regards,


  4. Hi Shannen and Marija

    Firstly, Thanks for your report! It’s great!

    I found your report very informative. You also write your own opinion, your thoughts and feelings. Now I know what you are feeling. Thanks for letting us know how your feel.

    You didn’t give up even though you didn’t get any answers from H&M. Gratulations. You found another way to find Information about the production of the clothes. I’m impressed by your conclusion and your decision of stop buying clothes from H&M until they didn’t tell the truth and prove that they are correct and fair employer. My respect for it!

    To inform us how many pieces of clothes you have, was an interesting and great idea. I found it very impressive the comparation of Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Switzerland.

    It would be very interesting to discover, how the recycling project works. You could for example compare H&M with others high street brands. What can we do to improve this situation and to help workers from poor countries?

    Good report!
    Best Regards

  5. Hey, thanks for wrtiting this very interesting report.
    I think its really good and finally time that some light is being shed on this topic! There are some really good points being made here and im glad that you are spreading awareness.

    The one issue i have with this report is that it is so extrememy focused on the one store and that no other stores where focused on. I think it wouldve been great to see a variety of stores and more people in the statistic.
    All in all this report shows us that we should be more aware of how our clothes are made and that we should think twice where to buy them.

  6. Hello!
    I really like your article. You used a very good english and great vocabular. I especially like that you gave us tips on how to improve the sustainability of Fashion, I think that these tips could be incorporated into our every day life. Do you think that H&M has chanced since you wrote the article in 2016? And if so, do you shop there again?
    The only thing that could be improved in my opinion is to use more synonyms, as using the same word over and over can make the reader a bit bored after a while.

    Keep the good work up and Kind Regards

  7. Hi there, great text!
    It’s unbelievable how one of the biggest high street brands neglects their production especially because they could do it differently. As they “stand” for conscious fashion they should also talk about their standards and they should definitely improve them. I really liked your conclusion and that you decided to stop buying clothes at H&M until they produce their clothes under fair conditions. Maybe this step would also improve the quality a bit 🙂
    Kind regards, Carmen –

  8. Congrats Shannen and Marija on your report!

    Your report gives good and important information and it has a personal touch by letting the readers know your thoughts, impressions and feelings. What I especially like, is, that everybody gets awareness and practical advice how to handle clothes responsibly.
    Although you didn‘t get any answers from H&M you didn’t give up and found information about the production of H&M clothes. To reveal the working conditions in garment industries and to make it public, generates pressure on companies as H&M. Stay updated with I’m very impressed by the consequences you are going to take for your personal shopping behavior. My compliments and respect!

    You took a closer look on the first part of the life-cycle of clothes. It would be also very interesting to discover what happens with the clothes giving them back at H&M or at the textile collection site of the Municipality. We are not only consuming a lot of clothes we are also producing a lot of second-hand-clothes which are taking their way in different parts of the world. What are the consequences there? Maybe this is going to be another report.

    Best Regards

    Brigitte Fischer – Abfall ist unser Thema!

  9. Hi! An interesting list of your H&M pieces! 🙂 And I am on your side with your unconventional & critical view of the things in your contribution – including your consequences. Still things happen that could and should be better. I thought a while about all that and I believe it will improve. Why? Because today there is everything that’s needed to do the things VERY 🙂 good. Dominique.

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