In an effort to reduce the fashion industry’s environmental impact, Swedish fashion giant H&M launched a B2B service called Treadler that will let rivals access its global supply chain, the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer announced on Wednesday (March 4).
“Treadler will enable its clients to benefit from H&M Group’s expertise, long-term supplier partnerships and strategic sustainability work, thereby helping them to overcome initial business barriers and accelerate sustainable change,” the company said.
Gustaf Asp, managing director of Treadler, said in a statement that there is a demand for the service. “We see the opportunity to utilize the full potential of H&M Group’s extensive investments and progressive sustainability work by catering to clients’ needs and contributing to driving long-term growth for H&M Group while driving change in our industry,” Asp said
H&M’s new CEO Helena Helmersson was its head of sustainability from 2010 to 2014 before becoming head of production and then chief operating officer, Fortune reported. Helmersson’s trajectory is a possible signal that retailers are starting to understand the connection between sustainability and the supply chain.
The fast-fashion company considers sustainability as a key performance area. “This means that each central function and brand is measured on a set of sustainability KPI’s, alongside and in equal weight to sales figures, customer satisfaction, etc.,” reads H&M’s 2018 Sustainability Report.
Deborah Drew, the lead researcher on sustainable fashion at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C., told Fortune it is “good to have avenues to sustainable action be paved a little bit, especially for smaller companies [but] ultimately the volume being produced [by the fashion industry] can outweigh the efficiencies of sustainability practices.”
H&M buys its products from suppliers, the bulk of which are in Asian countries such as China, Bangladesh and India.
Fast fashion has been a big player in retail for years, but that part of the commerce-and-apparel world is facing some serious challenges. A good third of consumers in the U.S. and U.K. think the fashion industry should have better corporate responsibility policies, according to recent eMarketer research, and such consumer desires are causing some retailers to try to fit into these changing times.