sustainability 06 06236

Topics: Supply chain management, Sustainability, Fashion Pages: 14 (5736 words) Published: December 7, 2014
Sustainability 2014, 6, 6236-6249; doi:10.3390/su6096236

ISSN 2071-1050

Sustainable Fashion Supply Chain: Lessons from H&M
Bin Shen
Glorious Sun School of Business and Management, Donghua University, Shanghai 200051, China; E-Mail:; Tel./Fax: +86-216-237-3621
Received: 15 July 2014; in revised form: 15 August 2014 / Accepted: 19 August 2014 / Published: 11 September 2014

Abstract: Sustainability is significantly important for fashion business due to consumers’ increasing awareness of environment. When a fashion company aims to promote sustainability, the main linkage is to develop a sustainable supply chain. This paper contributes to current knowledge of sustainable supply chain in the textile and clothing industry. We first depict the structure of sustainable fashion supply chain including eco-material preparation, sustainable manufacturing, green distribution, green retailing, and ethical consumers based on the extant literature. We study the case of the Swedish fast fashion company, H&M, which has constructed its sustainable supply chain in developing eco-materials, providing safety training, monitoring sustainable manufacturing, reducing carbon emission in distribution, and promoting eco-fashion. Moreover, based on the secondary data and analysis, we learn the lessons of H&M’s sustainable fashion supply chain from the country perspective: (1) the H&M’s sourcing managers may be more likely to select suppliers in the countries with lower degrees of human wellbeing; (2) the H&M’s supply chain manager may set a higher level of inventory in a country with a higher human wellbeing; and (3) the H&M CEO may consider the degrees of human wellbeing and economic wellbeing, instead of environmental wellbeing when launching the online shopping channel in a specific country.

Keywords: supply chain; sustainable fashion; fashion operations; sustainability

1. Introduction
Global textile consumption is estimated to more than 30 million tons a year, which causes seriously social and environmental impact within supply chain [1]. Sustainability issues are crucial to the fashion industry [2]. In the pursuit of low production costs, apparel firms took advantage of lower environmental

Sustainability 2014, 6


awareness and looser environmental regulatory system in developing countries [3]. Fashion brands such as Benetton, Adidas, and C&A are blamed to develop their supply chain unsustainably [4]. Many fashion companies recognize the importance of sustainability in business and incorporate green practices into their supply chain. Examples of this kind of fashion companies include H&M, Uniqlo, The North Face, and New Balance.

Fashion industry has huge impacts on global environment [2]. The demand to minimize the environmental pollution is not only from fashion firms but also consumers [5]. From the fashion firms’ perspective, because the production process in fashion is particularly sensitive to environment in terms of making intensive use of chemical products and large quantities of water and pesticides, it is significantly important for fashion products to be produced in a sustainable manner and follow the guideline of sustainability such as ISO 14000 [6]. From the fashion consumers’ perspective, consumers are growing to have social and environmental awareness. Consumers’ environmental attitudes directly influence their eco-fashion consumption [7]. They understand that if supply chain is more sustainable, more natural resources are used and less CO2 are emitted, in return, retail prices might be also increased [8]. Previous studies reveal that fashion consumers are interested in purchasing sustainable fashion products and also willing to pay a higher price as long as the quality of eco-product is satisfied [5,9,10].

In this paper, we focus on introducing the operation structure of sustainable fashion supply chain and...

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