by Slow Factory

Dear community,

A few months ago we received a request from an overwhelming majority of H&M USA employees to support Slow Factory’s work in Systemic Change. This type of employee activism is where Slow Factory’s work can be supported within the industry—especially within a brand that has a large footprint within the global fashion system. Teen Vogue have covered the story here.

We are interested in negotiating with a giant like H&M whose impact is massive.

We have invited them to commit to the following five year plan to transform their practices for the better.

We are still in negotiations for their leadership to commit to the following:

Building Blocks for Transformative Systems

  • Supporting Systems Literacy as part of Open Edu 2023-2028, an education series dedicated to the industry addressing systemic issues in both human rights and climate justice
  • Implementing Waste as a Resource program at scale (Materials, Systems, & Process)
  • Investing in tangible solutions that divert from fossil fuel
  • Focusing on the next generation with the launch of Open Edu Kids: A Climate education program Investing in our Future
  • Evaluating our Data Driven Progress by measuring our impact and implementing an informed strategy. Using learning & unlearning to move forward.

We have chosen to be extremely transparent with you all to avoid misinformation. We are not collaborating on any collection nor are we able yet to impact their supply chain. Our goal is to indeed have the ability to do so and to influence decision making from the Global North before it reaches the Global South led by professionals of the Global Majority.

This is major and quite honestly a fresh strategy that goes beyond band aid solutions and white saviorism. We have chosen to lift the veil and show you what kind of work we do beyond social media campaigns and spreading climate information; our work is grounded in systemic change. And systemic change requires the roles for collective liberation. Roles that you have no matter what your job is.

This is a developing project, we will update you as we move forward.

“Is this greenwashing?”

No. Greenwashing is making false or misleading claims about sustainability. We are not making any claims about H&M’s practices, and are not responsible or involved in their production, sales or business.

“But H&M is bad. How could you accept support from a fast fashion company?”

The fast fashion industry is a massively destructive global system, and H&M has a major footprint within it. Therefore, they have responsibility within this system. Systemic change must involve the current systems, and the institutions and organizations making the most impact within these systems.

Especially given that this support has been requested and voted on by such a large number of H&M employees, we aim to take this opportunity to engage with this giant to make a difference.

“How does this change Slow Factory’s work? Are there any obligations to H&M?”

Slow Factory has no obligations to H&M. H&M is providing a charitable donation for “charitable, educational or scientific purposes” in accordance with 501c3 regulations.

Because we want to drive systemic change, we want to work within H&M’s waste to create new systems around reducing and reusing waste, to reduce their carbon footprint and address and mitigate the human rights crises surrounding waste going to the global South.

“How is working with Fast Fashion addressing collective liberation?”

Slow Factory is dedicated to working for systemic change, and is working upstream in the Global North to curb waste going to the Global South particularly to places like Ghana, Vietnam, Chile, and Pakistan. Working upstream with global corporations who have an international negative impact allows for systemic change and the transformation needed at the top of the supply chain to “close the tap” on waste and unsustainable practices.

“How will you gauge your success, or measure any improvements that H&M makes within these new systems?”

While the terms of our engagement are still being negotiated, our hope is that we will be able to implement our Sustainable Standard, a new certification program where brands commit to human rights and environmental issues through equity-centered, science-based practices. The certification is a rigorous process that assesses everything from a brand’s carbon impact, life cycle analysis, material impact, labor practices, and more.

“Did H&M commit to funding Slow Factory’s Fund for Systemic Change?”

Not yet, that is what we are negotiating with them about. The Fund for Systemic Change is focused on: Building new frameworks across sectors through systems change, foresight and bridging the gap across industries for bold transformative change at scale.

Theory of change is simple: Traditional and laser focused investments are able to create impact in insular systems, scaling this impact to meet the climate emergency, a upgraded model of funding is needed, one that is not only laser focused on issues but interconnected across sectors and industries. A fund for systemic change for our collective wellbeing.

Slow Factory Fund is raising $100M to invest towards Climate Innovation in the following sectors:

  • Material Science
  • Policy
  • Media & Film
  • Arts & Culture
  • Education: Climate-informed skill training
  • Technology & Web3

Slow Factory

The Slow Factory team is a cross-disciplinary group of researchers, academics, artists, and scientists working at the intersection of climate justice and social justice. We work to provide anti-colonial climate education that has a direct impact on building a more just and sustainable world. With an emphasis on systems that have been intentionally created to produce waste, pollution, and injustice we aim to dismantle and design these systems to instead produce justice, equity, and a healthier planet.