Shareholders Want Answers: Is H&M Losing Sales by Not Ditching Down?

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Update (March 7, 2024): H&M’s rampant use of down denies countless ducks and geese any respect or consideration. The demand for ethical animal- and planet-friendly fashions continues to skyrocket, with the market projected to surpass $11 billion in 2027. Yet H&M—with steadily declining sales of late—keeps selling products made with down despite multiple exposés that reveal the industry’s cruelty. Is the company driving away compassionate customers by stocking its shelves with down? That’s what PETA’s new shareholder resolution aims to find out.

PETA—which owns stock in H&M in order to pressure it from the inside—submitted the resolution ahead of the company’s spring 2024 annual meeting. We’re calling on its board of directors to commission a report that examines whether the retailer is damaging its reputation and losing sales by producing and selling products made with down. The resolution points out that exposés of the down industry have revealed that filthy living conditions, intense suffering, and violent slaughter are the norm. “Responsible” labels on down products are nothing but blatant humane washing.

ducks hanging upside down from their feet at a Vietnamese duck farm, as observed during a PETA Asia investigation
An image from PETA Asia’s investigation into Vietnamese duck farms and slaughterhouses

“Every down jacket is stuffed with feathers violently torn from the terrified birds they belonged to. As a shareholder, PETA is calling on H&M to reveal the real cost of alienating kind shoppers who prefer to stay far away from the cruelty on the company’s shelves.”

—PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman

A PETA Asia investigation into Vietnamese duck farms and slaughterhouses—which provide suppliers, including one that listed H&M as a customer, with purportedly “responsible” down—shows ducks suffering from gaping and bloody wounds inside dirty sheds and on lots strewn with feces and being stabbed in the neck while still conscious. Many of the birds continued to move for more than a minute after workers slashed their necks and cut off their feet. Following the investigation, H&M has removed the “responsible” down label from its online offerings in the U.S.—indicating that it knows the designation is a sham—but it continues to sell down.

Originally published March 9, 2023:
If H&M really cares about animal welfare as it claims to, the company needs to prove it by not selling down feathers, which are ripped from birds’ skin after they’ve been violently killed. As a shareholder in the company, PETA’s asking H&M’s board for the bare minimum: transparency. Our shareholder resolution asks H&M to prepare a report on the slaughter methods used to obtain down feathers for the company, given that down production is inherently cruel to birds.

The resolution points out that H&M depends on the Textile Exchange’s demonstrably ineffective Responsible Down Standard (RDS) to make claims about animal welfare. But recently, it also began removing the RDS label from its online offerings, indicating that it knows the RDS is a sham. H&M also provides no information about the farms and slaughterhouses that supply down for its products—completely debunking its own misleading statements that it has prioritized both traceability and transparency across supply chains.

H&M claims that no animals should be harmed for its clothes, so it should jump at the chance to hold a microscope up to its supply chain to ensure just that, as PETA requests. Every down item represents the pain and suffering of terrified birds, and labels and lip service only serve to absolve companies and dupe well-meaning consumers.

Tell H&M to Ban Animal-Derived Materials

You can help birds who are exploited and killed for their feathers by urging H&M and other companies to stop selling cruel down:

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