We’ve fallen in love with every single H&M Conscious Collection release since this division’s inception at the renowned high-street retailer. With the introduction of Conscious Denim, a collection with clean styling and contemporary fits, we not only see a greater commitment toward more sustainable materials, but also a more conscious process. For the first time ever for H&M, the washes used on its denim have been graded to assess their environmental impact, including energy and water use. The collection includes pieces for women, men and children, and will be available worldwide in around 1,000 stores for women and 700 stores for men, as well as online.
The result is a full collection with modern cuts in deep indigo tones. For women, Conscious Denim has the essential styles of the season, from low-waisted or high-waisted skinny jeans to boyfriend cut and tapered ankle. Alongside these denim essentials, there are also pieces made from conscious materials that wear just like denim, to create the full look.
Jogger jeans in knitted indigo have the softness of sweatpants, while an indigo boiler suit in Tencel has a sharp, slim fit. For men, classic 5-pocket styles in raw denim are joined by jeans in different cuts and washes. As well as a deep indigo denim jacket, there’s a twill worker’s jacket while an indigo wool coat is the perfect outer layer for the season. Meanwhile for kids there are different styles, including jeans and dungarees, all in Conscious materials.
When creating Conscious Denim, H&M used criteria from Spanish denim consultants Jeanologia to test its denim washing processes, including water consumption and energy consumption. To meet the Conscious Denim standards at H&M, the materials have to be sustainable, and the washes have to achieve the highest status according to Jeanologia’s criteria. Each garment in the Conscious Denim range will feature the Clever Care label, with details on sustainable wear and care, while in store hang tags will describe the Conscious qualities of each piece. It’s all part of H&M’s long-term commitment to more sustainable fashion, details of which can be found at hm.com/conscious.
bazaar speaks exclusively to Erik Karlsson (Environmental Sustainability Coordinator, H&M) and John Loman (Product designer Men’s wear & Denim, H&M) about the H&M Conscious Denim Collection.
Tell us about how the ‘Conscious Denim’ collection was born?
We at H&M and more specifically, the denim team, have been working for a while on the next step for sustainable denim. At H&M we normally speak about fabric but with denim there’s a need to also focus on the finishing of our jeans. We needed a new tool to evaluate our different treatments and washes and have decided to work with a tool developed by a company called Jeanologia. After seeing the results of what we could achieve with this tool, in terms of saving water and energy as well as nice looking denim washes, we felt inspired to make a complete collection and to tell our customers about it.
Tell us more about CleverCare, will it prompt wearers to follow more green practices? How will you encourage that?
Research shows that a large portion of the environmental impact in a garment’s lifetime comes from the consumer’s use, i.e. washing, drying and caring for your clothes. With the CleverCare symbol we hope to encourage customers to follow some common sense steps to reduce their at-home footprint, for example washing at lower temperatures and line drying instead of tumble drying.
Does denim made from recycled clothing still retain the same luxe feel as other types of denim?
There are limits to making fabrics out of post-consumer recycled cotton but we have made sure that it does not affect the quality of our garments in a negative way. In some cases it can even give the fabric unique characteristics that are really nice and not possible in “conventional” fabrics.
How did you ensure that sustainable would still be fashionable?
Our mindset, for a long time, has been that there’s no reason that sustainable fashion cannot be as fashionable as conventional fashion. Of course, working with conscious denim has had its limitation and obstacles but we’ve always been confident that we could create a strong look. Being sustainable is simply not enough; it has to be a desirable product and at the same time have a nice look.
From within H&M, more people have been involved in this project than usual when it came to designing the collection. With the involvement of more people in the process, we became more confident in the look of the entire collection. We have received a lot of positive feedback so far for this collection, both from within the organization and more importantly from outside sources, such as the media.
In the end though, it is the customer that will decide if it’s fashionable and if they like it. We feel confident that a lot of us are looking forward to the collection’s international release on October 2nd!
What are the most harmful ‘green’ sins fashion lovers commit?
We think they probably wash and dry their clothes too often. Denim is meant to be worn for a long time between washes to get the right look, which will also reduce the environmental impact significantly. Also, tumble drying your clothes will not only wear them out more quickly but uses a lot of energy, which leads to large emissions of greenhouse gases.
The H&M Conscious Denim Collection will be launched in Kuwait on October 2nd 2014, in Marina Mall & Grand Avenue – The Avenues. For more information, log on to www.hm.com/kw.