SENSE AND SUSTAINABILITY
IT’S THE BUZZWORD OF OUR TIMES, BUT MORE AND MORE LABELS ARE PUTTING THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR MOUTHS ARE WHEN IT COMES TO THE FUTURE OF FASHION
H&M proves you can go green without compromising style.
Fashion and sustainability. A contradiction in terms? Fashion is, by nature, cyclical. Built on desire. Fuelled by our need to Buy. New. Stuff. Sustainability is the ability to sustain, not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources. It means we want our planet to be around for a long time. Fashion companies like H&M want to be around, too. And they understand that being around means there needs to be a world worthy of being around in. The fashion industry is one of the world’s most polluting; it’s also a $3 trillion industry that isn’t likely to suddenly grind to a halt. But the most visionary players are trying to find ways to close the loop, shifting their focus to renewable materials, finding smarter ways of working, and supporting safe and fair working conditions down the supply chain.
One of those ways is H&M Conscious Exclusive, a limited capsule that acts as a testing ground for innovative textiles that have the potential to be scaled up throughout the main collection and across the industry. This year, along with organic linen, Tencel and recycled polyester, H&M has introduced recycled silver and Econyl, a 100 per cent regenerated nylon fibre made from fish nets and other nylon waste. The aim is fashion without compromising on quality or price. So when a delicate fabric with dramatic embroidery that once passed as fishing net turns up in the collection, woven into a beautiful white lace dress, you know it’s been put through its paces.
Working with fabric developers to create renewable alternatives takes time, and the research is ongoing. Wherever possible, the design team, overseen by H&M’S creative adviser Ann-sofie Johansson, opts for the friendlier version, right down to the recycled plastic beads adorning earrings and bags. Experimentation is vital if H&M is to reach its goal of using only fabrics from sustainable sources by 2030, and collaboration with scientists and stakeholders is crucial. Initiatives in the works include vegan leather, made from grape skins or mushrooms, and Orange Fiber, which is silk-like and made out of citrus juice by-products. And a recent breakthrough with a Hong Kong research centre in how to recycle donated clothes looks a promising solution to an ongoing challenge for H&M.
The new collection is inspired by the tapestries and paintings of Swedish artists Karin and Carl Larsson, which translate beautifully into modern-day floral jacquards, abstract embroideries and colourful prints. There’s not a piece that’s been compromised, and in fact some designs, like the flared trousers transformed from recycled PET bottles, are better for their storied past. “There doesn’t have to be a contradiction between sustainability and trends,” says Johansson. “[It’s] about pieces you can wear over and over, and that’s what it’s like with trends overall now. People are so aware and they grasp new trends quicker than before, but at the same time these trends stick around for a longer time.” Sustainable style at its best.
Tencel scarf, $44.99, H&M CONSCIOUS EXCLUSIVE, hm.com/au CONSCIOUS STARS: H&M’S 2018 campaign stars Aamito Lagum, Giedre Dukauskaite and Christy Turlington Burns (top left)