World no.2 fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz said half its clothes will by year-end be made of fabric from mills which it has inspected, marking progress in a programme to improve working conditions in plants typically in India and Bangladesh.
Poor working conditions in the textile industry were thrust into the limelight by the collapse in 2013 of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh in which more than 1,100 workers were killed.
H&M, which ranks second globally by sales to Spain's Inditex , has extended its inspections from factories making its clothes to those supplying fabric and yarn.
H&M's social sustainability manager Hanna Hallin said its purchasing policies would benefit those sub-suppliers who measure up to its code of conduct.
In its annual sustainability report published on Thursday, H&M said the proportion of its clothes being made from fabric made by audited mills would rise to 50 percent this year from 35 percent last year.
"It's about them having a safe work environment and ensuring human rights with regards to remuneration and overtime for example, and that there is no child labour," Hallin said.
"We will place more orders and book more material with those that take responsibility and where we see a continuous development," Hallin said. "So, this is our business tool to drive a positive development. Of course it will make a difference for workers."
H&M said that unlike direct suppliers in the garment industry, most mills have never been exposed to demands or compliance standards from brands and its challenge was to educate them.