H&M Head of Sustainability Anna Gedda talks to Good about the global fashion giant’s Conscious Exclusive collection and the process behind its creation. The collection of timeless pieces is made from high quality and sustainable fabrics and demonstrates the beauty that can be achieved from working with more sustainable fabrics and innovative materials.
The collection is absolutely beautiful. What are some of the key pieces?
I really love this collection! It is a contemporary collection made from conscious materials to be dresses, in a variety of silhouettes, but so is the tuxedo reimagined as relaxed lounge jacket matched with pants with a stylish flounce at the leg.
What personally excites you the most about this range?
My absolute favorite is the sheer, plissé powder pink, gown dress made of our new sustainable material Bionic. I also love the soft blue jacket with embroideries. I’m also the mother of two small boys so I’m very excited that we offer Conscious Exclusive for children for the first time.
What makes H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection ‘conscious’?
The Conscious Collections are recurring fashion collections at the forefront of H&M’s sustainability work. The collections aim to move H&M’s fashion and sustainability development and innovation forward towards a sustainable fashion future. The collections are made from sustainable materials and offer our design team an opportunity to experiment with new interesting sustainable materials that we might then scale up and use in our regular collections. One such material is recycled polyester that we tried out a number of years ago. We have since then been able to scale up the use of recycled polyester and we are now one of the world’s biggest buyers.
The new sustainable material that we have been working with for this season is Bionic which is made from recovered plastic from shorelines, waterways and coastal communities. This is the first time Bionic has been used to make a beautiful and delicate evening wear such as the exquisite plissé gown dress.
Why can’t all H&M’s clothes be made like this?
We believe that conscious fashion choices should be available and affordable to everyone – without ever compromising on style. This collection is not the only conscious collection at H&M; we also offer our customers a continuous range of sustainable materials that can be found in our stores all year round. Today 26 per cent of the materials we use to make our clothes are either organic, recycled or in other sustainable fabrics. 31 per cent of all our cotton – which is the material we use most – is sustainably sourced. Our goal is for all our cotton to come from sustainable sources by 2020.
While we offer our customers extra sustainable options, like the Conscious Exclusive collection, it is important to know that all our products are made with care and consideration for the environment and for the people who make them. This is important to us and at the core of what we do, we want people to be treated with respect and that suppliers offer their workers fair wages and good working conditions. Our work includes a range of initiatives, alone and in collaboration with other partners – like our Fair Living Wage strategy, skill development programmes and health and safety training. The work we do within these areas embraces all the clothes we offer, in all our stores and all seasons. We are well aware of the challenges that exist within the textile industry and the work that remains – but we can see that the work we do makes a difference and that things are moving in the right direction.
What steps is H&M making as a business towards a more sustainable future?
The H&M group has been committed to sustainability for a long time, and we are proud of what we have achieved so far. But the fashion industry is still facing big challenges and we need to rethink how fashion is made and used. Therefore, we want to use our size and scale to lead the change from a linear fashion model towards a circular one. The ambition is to create fashion where nothing is wasted; where garments are collected and recycled into new collections so that we use what’s already in the system instead of using new raw material. There are still technical challenges to overcome before we are there, but we focus a lot of our work and resources on finding innovations that work on a larger scale so that we can eventually make a fully circular process possible. Creating collections such as the Conscious Exclusive collection offer our design team an opportunity to experiment with new interesting and innovative materials. In doing so, we make more environmentally friendly choices available to a larger group of people, and help lifting these materials to scale and create demand for further innovation.
The Conscious Exclusive collection is in store April 20.