H&M And M.I.A. Launch Recycling Collab, But It Poses Some Serious Questions

Marketing trick or real positive change?

British-Sri Lankan artist M.I.A. is known for being outspoken about political and social issues. Just a couple months ago, she released a self-directed video for her new single "Borders," in which she publicly criticized the way immigrants are treated.  

Now, M.I.A. is back with another powerful music video titled "Rewear It." The song was created in collaboration with H&M as part of the brand's World Recycle Week initiative, which takes place April 18-24. 

According to H&M's press release, the fast-fashion giant aims to collect 1,000 tons of unwanted clothing during the campaign, which will be later used to create new recycled fabrics.


"My mom is a seamstress, so I think I always respected clothes," M.I.A. says in an Instagram video.

And her "Rewear It" song is all about celebrating sustainable fashion consumption.

"I rewear everything," she told Vogue. "The jacket I wear in 'Paper Planes' at the end, the blue sheepskin, I wear in the "D.B.T." ["Double Bubble Trouble"] video. I even wear [things] in videos again! I have no shame about it, and I'm definitely not a pop star who has to wear something once and throw it away."

Given that fast-fashion is the second-largest polluter in the world right after the oil industry, the messages in M.I.A.'s new video are very important. 

While many celebrities avoid being seen in the same outfit twice, M.I.A. is setting a positive example by doing just the opposite and encouraging similar behavior for the sake of the planet. The same message applies not only to red carpets, but also the streets. With the rise of cheap disposable garments, many of us toss our clothes away without giving it a second thought, whereas instead we should be taking pride in wearing them as many times as possible or recycling them.

Yet H&M's World Recycle Week was heavily criticized by a number of activists.

As part of the initiative, H&M offers vouchers to all people who bring unwanted clothing to its stores, which only encourages further consumption and does not "close the loop in fashion."

"Using publicly available figures and average clothing weights, it appears it would take 12 years for H&M to use up 1,000 tons of fashion waste," writes The Guardian's Lucy Siegle. "Meanwhile, if 1,000 tons is recycled, that roughly equates to the same amount of clothes a brand of this size pumps out into the world in 48 hours. Then there are the voucher schemes, which often fuel more purchasing."

 Julie Zerbo, the founder and editor of Fashion Law blog, seems to agree.

"H&M's recycling efforts are extremely commendable if we consider them in a vacuum without any larger sense of context as to who the retailer is and the practices upon which its business model is based," she told TakePart.

Others also pointed out the untasteful timing of H&M's World Recycle Week, which comes the exact same week as Fashion RevolutionThe latter initiative marks the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy, which took the lives of more than 1,200 garment workers in Bangladesh and campaigns for their rights.

"This week, of all weeks, H&M should be working in solidarity with the rest of us to mark the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy. It should be a time for us all to honor garment workers, those who have died in all industrial tragedies in the garment industry and those who are still suffering in the fashion supply chain today," said Orsola de Castro, a co-founder of Fashion Revolution, in a statement released in response to H&M's World's Recycle Week.

H&M marketing trick or a genuine attempt to make positive change? 

You can be the judge, starting by watching M.I.A.'s entire video below:

Let us know what you think in the comments.


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