H&M closes the loop with recycled denim range

Swedish clothing giant H&M is making strides towards its goal of creating a closed loop for fashion with the launch of a new denim range made from recycled and organic cotton.

Available in stores and online from September, the new collection comprises 16 denim styles for men, women and children, ranging from distressed jeans to hooded shirts and zip-up jackets.

Each item is made using cotton recycled from textiles collected through H&M’s ‘Garment Collecting’ initiative, which sees shoppers donate unwanted clothes to designated containers in H&M stores.

Growing trend

H&M chief executive Karl-Johan Persson said: “Creating a closed loop for textiles, in which unwanted clothes can be recycled into new ones, will not only minimize textile waste, but also significantly reduce the need for virgin resources as well as other impacts fashion has on our planet.”

H&M has moved to the forefront of the debate on sustainable fashion, driven by a company-wide target to use only sustainable cotton in its products by 2020. 

In the past year alone, the group has collaborated with rival retailers to develop a circular business model for producing polyester and cotton fibres; unveiled a ‘Conscious Denim’ range to tackle water and energy use; and worked with WWF to reduce the impact of textile production on the world’s water supplies.

Underpinning all of this is the Garment Collecting initiative, which has seen more than 14,000 tonnes of used clothing collected for recycling since its launch in 2013.

Speaking exclusively to edie last year, H&M’s head of sustainability Helena Helmersson reiterated the company’s support for a circular economy, claiming it is “embedded in our long-term profitability”.

“It’s really close to the business and to use natural resources in this way is actually cost-efficient,” said Helmersson. “For us, this is a clear long-term business case to keep on being profitable in the long-term. We will have to find ways on being less dependent on natural resources.”

In the spotlight

H&M is currently able to use 20% recycled cotton from clothes collected through the Garment Collecting scheme, but the company is investing in new technology to increase this share without losing quality. H&M has a target to increase the number of garments made with at least 20% recycled fabric by 300% compared to 2014.

A flurry of other new sustainability initiatives has thrust the fashion industry firmly into the sustainability spotlight, but is this just a passing fad? In a recent feature article, edie took a closer look at four ground-breaking sustainable fashion innovations that forward-thinking fashion brands were using to slash their environmental impact. Read more here.

Luke Nicholls

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