Retail expert and DRG contributor ALISON BISHOP attends the launch of H&M’s latest sustainability report and its new Conscious Exclusive collection
H&M is really upping its sustainability messaging at the moment. Last Thursday the Swedish fashion giant held its first live-streamed press conference to launch its most recent sustainability report. Rather than the usual bland technical processes stuff, I saw just how H&M is innovating and striving for real change in the fast fashion cycle.
The online report is easily digestible with video and infographic highlights showing key innovations, such as recycling old denim to create reconstituted fabrics for brand new ‘closed-loop’ jeans; or partnering with plastic bottle recycling companies to make pearl and surface embellishments from both pre- and post consumer waste products.
All this corresponds with H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection, a limited run range that drops in-store and online on 16 April. There’s a luxe, contemporary feel to the unashamedly sustainably produced collection with handcrafted prints, elegant ruffles, kimono-style tailoring and structured draping. The fabrics created through smarter manufacturing processes are what allow H&M to experiment with different, more premium looks (that keep finding their way onto the red carpet too).
But H&M needs to produce these collections on a much larger scale and eventually close the loop on fashion, according to Hanna Hallin, H&M’s social sustainability manager. She wants everyone to use the recycle bins for unwanted clothes in-stores, and to tell their friends that “sustainability can be cool – it’s the meaningful thing to do for the next generation”.
Here’s a quick preview of the H&M Conscious Exclusive collection before it hits next week. On my wish list are the black macrame stitch warrior blouse, the kimono style halter-neck jumpsuit and the organic hemp jacquard draped shift dress. Are we witnessing a new era of consumer-generated sustainably produced designer collaborations at H&M?