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H&M joins the ‘open innovation’ craze with a plan to share its production chain with rivals

H&M, a company criticized for fast fashion, wants to bring sustainable supply chains to competitors.

H&M joins the ‘open innovation’ craze with a plan to share its production chain with rivals
[Photo: Becca McHaffie/Unsplash]
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This season, while H&M is hawking the ubiquitous dress-and-sneakers look (why?), it is also debuting Treadler, a new supply-chain sharing service that will allow smaller brands to utilize its infrastructure from development to delivery, reports the Financial Times.

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The program will begin as a pilot for mid- and large-sized brands and expand. The clothing industry is notably scrappy, where brands painfully piece together their own development, supplier, factory, and logistics connections, often across a handful of countries. The recent coronavirus outbreak has revealed just how shaky those arrangements can be.

This news comes weeks after Helena Helmersson took over as CEO. Her previous roles include a five-year gig as H&M’s sustainability manager. Fast-fashion brand H&M has long been criticized for fueling an economy of frequently replaced clothing, while also aiming to be carbon-neutral in 10 years.

Sharing challenges with other companies, called “open innovation,” is the latest evolution of the sharing economy ethos. It is an increasingly popular business move by industry giants: Last week, Amazon announced that it would share its cashless checkout system with retail rivals.