The fashion industry has been criticized for decades due to the negative effects it has had on the environment. Not only does the industry use an enormous amount of water to produce materials, but the textile factories that produce the garments you’re wearing right now produce toxic wastewater that is dumped into rivers. This pollutes the earth and damages our ecosystems. Most of our clothes are easily disposable due to the synthetic plastic-like fibers found in our fabrics, which can take up to 200 years to fully decompose. The industry has negatively impacted many current issues, so younger generations are calling for a boycott of this industry. However, one company has decided to go against the norm and take a stand for our planet.
The Company and the Advertisement Campaign
H&M has been representing the idea of “responsible marketing” for a while, and has been named as one of the most ethical companies by the Ethisphere Institute. They’ve released ads marketing their uniqueness of a brand by using eco-friendly fabrics and sustainable techniques. This all started in 2015 with an advertisement that rocked the fashion industry. The video, titled “H&M Conscious: Sustainable fashion through recycled clothes” begins by addressing viewers all the ways clothing can be worn: Care about what you’re wearing or don’t care at all, dress like any age, blend into the background with your outfit or even stand out in a crown of one hundred, dress boring or dress in an adventurous manner. Throughout the video, the point is that there are no rules in fashion and anyone should wear whatever they are comfortable in. However the main message comes at the end, which perpetuates that there is only one rule to govern fashion: Recycle your clothes. The advertisement then ends with H&M saying any unwanted garments can be brought to one of their locations to be recycled, where even one shirt that is recycled can save 2,100 liters of water.
How Guerrilla Marketing is Involved
Guerrilla Marketing is essentially a technique that companies use to reach large audiences without spending too much money. This fits right in with H&M’s advertisement. One of the unique tactics H&M used in their advertisement is they had an incredibly diverse cast of actors who appeared in the video ranging from different ages to ethnicities to personalities. What’s great about this video is its ability to connect with viewers who come from diverse backgrounds who can relate to the actors portrayed in the video. Additionally, society has always had rules for fashion such as men shouldn't wear pink, women should dress feminine, red heads should never wear red, and loud colors should never be mixed. Because men and women have heard these rules and regulations of fashion their whole lives, seeing a big company stating that one can dress whatever way he or she would like is a fresh of breath air to viewers and draws them into H&M’s ideology. When customers watch this video, they are not only seeing a revolutionary fashion company that’s taking a stand for the environment, but a company that portrays relatable people in their video (which makes them want to represent a relatable company by supporting and buying clothes from H&M). Having a diverse range of actors in the video paired with having a strong punch line of the ad, the only rule of fashion is to be sustainable, leads to a great guerrilla marketing campaign that has proven to be successful in the subsequent years.
Aftermath and Impact
Since the campaign launched, H&M has been making even more strides to work towards complete sustainability. The company uses renewable energy for its supply chain and is working towards the complete elimination of hazardous manufacturing by 2020 and use of renewable energy in all operations by 2040. Their recycling program is still going strong, which is a big help to the environment. While H&M is definitely making an effort to help the planet, there are still so many ways H&M and other fashion companies can go above and beyond to help the environment. The clothing industry as a whole is responsible for around 5% of the world’s carbon emissions. We, as consumers, have the power to choose where to shop and to what standard these companies should be held to. While H&M is becoming a pioneer in its industry, we still are not at a point where we can say that the fashion industry is doing more good than harm. The truth is, we need more initiatives, more people to speak up, and more companies to take action. If we ignore and pollute our planet, the consequences will be irrevocable.
I'm Nisha, a junior studying Economics at Boston University, and while I love fashion and design I think it's important that we educate ourselves on the detriments of this industry.
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