More and more fashion is getting timeless, says H&M Creative Advisor Ann-Sofie Johansson.

With the release of H&M’s 2014 sustainability report and the new Conscious Exclusive collection launch around the corner, Make it last sits down with H&M’s Creative Advisor Ann-Sofie Johansson to talk about balancing trends and timelessness, the ”de-genderisation” of fashion – and why most people have too much respect for fashion. 

Whether it is collecting 65 million t-shirts worth of fabric from customers’ unwanted clothing; dissecting new technological advancement to develop tools for separating polyester from cotton; or extending the published list of suppliers to include names of fabrics and yarn mills, there is some stubborn optimism reflected in H&M’s work to become a more responsible retailer. The Conscious Exclusive collection is mirroring this sentiment, defined by the use of innovative materials and experimental designs, all at price points matching those of the conventional lines. Though loosening the laces of the profit margin slightly, this is strategy in the name of democracy, they cheer rebelliously – because sustainable fashion should be a democratic option for all and has nothing to do with price.

Safe to say these are progressive moves coming from your median fast fashion retailer, which Ann-Sofie Johansson is quick to point out that they are not – but rather a fashion brand that is quick at picking up trends. And what’s trending for Conscious Exclusive SS15 is a mixed bag of cultures, materials and times, blending Japanese origami with African embellishment; Swedish-sourced organic leather with 100% organic mulberry silk and linen; and masculine tailoring with the essence of feminine sensuality. But is it not all very dressed-up? We asked Ann-Sofie Johansson what she thinks.

– I think it is quite a versatile collection. It does include a lot of dresses obviously with it being a line of special occasion pieces, but there are also some core versatile separates in there which can be dressed up or down; used for different occasions and styled in different ways. These really make the collection more wearable.

hm-conscious-exclusive-3 conscious-exclusive

Four favorites from the H&M Conscious Exclusive Spring 2015 collection

At Make it last we are all about fashion that stands the test of time. How do you balance trend and timelessness for the Conscious collections?

– More and more fashion is getting timeless, I think. It doesn’t go so fast anymore, I think there is just more fashion and more trends going on at the same time today compared to when I started with fashion when there was more like one trend at a time. I think as long as you do really beautiful clothes, they will be timeless – they will be something that you can return to from season to season and use again and again. Timelessness also has a lot to do with what the individual thinks is timeless. It is up to you how you want to wear a garment – how you want it to fit, how you want to style it, and how you want to feel when you wear it. I encourage people to try things out. Feeling good about what you wear yourself is key.

We feel people have too much respect for fashion.

Totally. While there is actually no rights or wrongs.

We also wanted to hear your thoughts on some current sentiments relating to ethics and sustainability and how or whether they apply to H&M. Firstly, the rise of unisex to ”de-genderise” fashion and make it inclusive to all – could unisex clothing be for H&M?

– I think genderless fashion could be the future. The unisex feeling is very interesting – a sign of the times and something that we have discussed and might take further. We have already made a unisex collection for newborns and played with the idea of gender with female models wearing menswear at the most recent H&M Design Award, for example.

How about innovations within technology and science? How could they make H&M a more sustainable brand?

I think that new science and technology will enable us to close the loop and I have great hopes for the next generation.

Finally then, in your own words, how would you say that the Conscious Exclusive collection is made to last?

Conscious Exclusive comprises of beautiful, fashionable pieces that you can wear from season to season, again and again.

The H&M Conscious Exclusive collection will be available in around 200 H&M stores worldwide and online from 16 April 2015. 

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