By Arwa Lodhi
It all started with H&M’s Conscious Collection, and now another high street giant has taken steps towards sustainability. Mango has launched a new collection called Mango Committed, comprised of 45 pieces (25 women’s and 20 men’s items).
Apparently, the brand has planning to be more sustainable for several years: “Mango has been working in different initiatives related to sustainability for many years now and this collection seemed like a natural step,” communications director Guillermo Corominas told Vogue about the launch. “We have carefully selected the materials and suppliers we wanted to work with, and it has been more or less planned at the same time as the rest of collections of the season. It’s a thoughtfully crafted collection for women and men featuring fashion pieces committed to environmental sustainability.”
But just how sustainable is the collection? Well, in terms of fabrication, the garments are made where most of Mango’s creates are produced, namely in factories in Portugal, Turkey and Morocco. Regarding materials, the collection’s deepest green credentials come from its recycled cotton fabric, followed by organic cotton (which is still water intensive and a monoculture crop), recycled polyester (recently proven to shed microfibres of plastic into our oceans when washed) and Tencel. At least all the clothing is coloured with environmentally friendly dyes, and each piece comes with individual international certificates “guaranteeing their sustainable origin”.
While 100 per cent of the Committed Collection is more or less sustainable, the brand says currently 44 per cent of Mango’s other collections are made of natural fibres and that it is currently working on a tool to calculate their water footprint to help identify water-saving strategies. Corominas commented: “Our Corporate Social Responsibility department has been working closely with the design team to ensure that the results meet the level of quality and sustainability planned for this collection.”
So what about that design? It’s rather minimalistic with a Nordic sensibility – think cool pastel shades, oversized, slouchy silhouettes and few embellishments. It was shot using real-life model couple Raquel Zimmermann and Mathias Lauridsen, which kind of enhances the clothing’s romantic vibe.
It looks good, and it will surely sell well. But whilst some would praise Mango’s efforts towards eco-friendliness, others are not so sure. Guardian eco-fashion columnist Lucy Siegle, for example, argues strongly that high street stores like Mango are, by definition, the worst thing that’s ever happened to the industry, as they are both the birth-givers and perpetuators of fast fashion, whose business models are based on sell fast, sell lots, and damn the consequences.
It’s also important to note that on 24 April 2013, when the eight-story Rana Plaza commercial building collapsed in Bangladesh, there were 29 brands identified as having sourced products from the Rana Plaza factories – and one of those was Mango. Worse yet, of all the companies who produced clothing in the building that collapsed, only 9 attended meetings held in November 2013 to agree a proposal on compensation to the victims. Several companies refused both to attend or sign, including Walmart, Carrefour – and Mango. Not cool.
On the other hand, some argue that most people can’t afford the $1000 or so price tag for a dress by a sustainable label like Maiyet or Svilu, so this is a good entry point for those who want to shop greener, but can’t afford it. But guess what? The Committed Collection is quite a bit higher than usual at Mango, ranging from £20-£100. That being said, Corominas claims “It is still an affordable collection which is part of Mango’s DNA, and we have adjusted the margins to be able to offer a fashion collection of great quality at affordable prices.” Hmm…not sure about that. Their other Tencel items are cheaper, and remember when
What are your thoughts? Are fast fashion collections like these a step in the right direction, or is it simply a way to greenwash us into believing that we can still shop, shop, shop, but this time with less guilt? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section, below.