H&M launches conscious denim

Posted in Style
by Kim Svedberg on 3 September, 2015

There are no rules in fashion but one - recycle your clothes

Illustration: HM.com

Along with their closed-loop-system initiative, H&M just launched a new series of denim garments made of 20% recycled cotton, as an extension to their Conscious garments. Today also marks the premiere of a campaign video, encouraging consumers to recycle more; “There are no rules in fashion but one – recycle your clothes“. We’ve asked Jon Loman, designer of the collection, and Cecilia Strömblad Brännsten, global project manager of the initiative, to tell us more about the project, and what the future holds.

Could you tell us briefly about the new collection?

Jon Loman:

– It is ten new denim styles made using recycled cotton from textiles collected in the Garment Collecting initiative in H&M stores. This is our latest step toward our goal towards creating a closed loop for fashion.

– When using new and innovative fabrics, we need to develop the fabrics that we plan to use in advance. With this collection we have created a number of new materials together with our suppliers. We have pushed the limits of what has been possible to do previously, in terms of different weights and looks of the fabrics. As an example we wanted and needed to develop a fabric with leather-like shine, this was achieved with a new coating that is more sustainable. Sometimes it is necessary to adapt the design to the fabrics available to us but in most cases our ideas has instead pushed development further.

– Personally I really like the black denim jacket with black denim pile. It is a really cool and soft autumn piece, cut a bit longer and great to layer longer layers with. The boilersuit and the dungarees are two cool pieces for women to create an edgy contemporary look.

Illustration: HM.com

How will H&M go about to further increase its use of recycled cotton?

Cecilia Strömblad Brännsten:

– Our size and our success put us in a position to push development in a positive direction. H&M was the first fashion company to launch a clothing collecting initiative worldwide with the mission to close the loop of fashion. By collecting old clothes and turn them into new updated styles, instead of letting them go to waste, we can completely change the way fashion is made and massively reduce the need for extracting virgin resources from our planet. We want to create a closed loop for fashion, where used garments and textiles are converted into new fashion. This will reduce our dependence on new resources and take us a step in the right direction from a linear to a circular economy.

– Today the textile-to-textile recycling technology is limited to mechanical recycling of natural fibers such as wool and cotton. Therefore we have chosen to start to use closed loop recycled cotton from collected garments in our collections. In 2014 we launched the first denim products made with 20% recycled cotton from collected garments and in 2015 we want to increase the use of post consumer waste recycled cotton from collected garments by 300%. The closed loop recycled cotton from collected garments will be used in the denim Reborn collection launched on 3 September.

What are the most important steps towards closing the loop?

Cecilia Strömblad Brännsten:

– There are certainly challenges on the road towards a closed loop for textiles. Both when it comes to recycling and sorting technologies and national waste legislation and trade barriers, as well as changing the mindset of the consumers to seeing old damaged and worn out clothes as a resource instead of waste etc.

– By creating demand for solutions and actively working with innovators and scientists, we are positive to overcome the challenges on the way towards a closed loop. We are currently involved in a number of different promising initiatives and projects. For example, together with Kering, we have entered a partnership together with UK-based innovation company Worn Again, which is developing promising technologies for textile-to-textile recycling. It is currently possible to blend in 20% recycled cotton fibers from post-consumer waste in our garments without reducing the fabric quality. To increase this share without losing quality we need more technological innovation. In the mechanical recycling procedure we use when recycling old garments, the textile fibres are being recycled in a fiber-pulling machine (that tears the textile apart) in a way that makes the textile fibres shorter and of lower quality than virgin fibre. Our goal is to recycle as much as possible into new garments.

Facts about H&Ms new denim collection:

The new denim pieces, made from recycled cotton and organic cotton, include three styles of jeans for women, from skinny to distressed ‘girlfriend’ jeans, plus a denim jacket, flared dungarees and a denim jumpsuit. For men, there is a zip-up denim jacket, alongside two distressed slim leg styles. There are kids pieces too, including a zip-up hoodie with cute animal ears, along with stretch jeans sequined at the knee, a street style hooded shirt and distressed jeans.

In stores and online now.

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