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STOCKHOLM – A sweater that costs as little as €8 can be produced in a sustainable way, claims Swedish fast fashion giant H&M. In a discussion around living wages, the business suggested that “the sustainable option shouldn’t be more expensive, that would be extremely [counter] productive.” The company added: “The brands within H&M group can offer stylish garments at affordable prices, made in a sustainable way, due to the fact that we’re a big company with our own design teams, we order in large quantities and don’t have any middle hands.”

The business also suggested all workers earn the same regardless of the end price of the products they are working on. “The workers in the supplier factories make exactly as much whether they produce a €8 garment or a €80 garment,” said the business. “That’s because different brands in different price ranges produce in the same countries and the same factories, by the same people — one of the reasons why it’s so important to collaborate with other brands outside the group and encourage others to take responsibility. At H&M group, we want to make sustainable products available and affordable for all.”

The comments come at a time when the Bangladesh Garment and Manufacturers Export Association is calling for higher prices paid by brands to factories. BGMEA president, Siddiqur Rahman, claims 1,200 garment factories have been closed down over the last four years because of their lack of compliance and falling behind in the competitive landscape – and he fears more will follow. He told local reporters many have had to invest huge amounts in factory upgrades to meet the needs of the Bangladesh Accord and Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, yet have been unable to pass these costs down the supply chain.

The BGMEA leader also praised the statement of the Clean Clothes Campaign, the International Labour Rights Forum and the Maquila Solidarity Network, which is calling for 25 international retailers to increase the prices of garment items sourced from Bangladesh.

He added that the American Apparel and Footwear Association, which last year sent a letter to the prime minister of Bangladesh calling for an increase in the wage of workers, should now urge the buyers to increase the product unit prices.

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