The initiatives is part of the chain’s first ever Global Change Award, which sets “early stage innovators” the challenge of discovering new ideas aimed at recycling fibres without losing quality.

The group, which launches a new recycled denim range next week, hopes that this will prevent old clothes being sent to landfill and subsequently tackle the ongoing shortage of raw materials like cotton.

 Closing the loop for the fashion industry

The grant will be split across five winners, who will be provided with exclusive fashion industry access and offered a training and guidance programme to develop networks and try out the ideas within the industry.

H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson said: “Ground-breaking, game-changing ideas can come from anywhere, so the challenge is open to anyone. Each year the Global Change Award aims to find the truly brave and bold ideas that make change. I’m also eager to see how the fashion industry as a whole will embrace the challenge of closing the loop.”

The Global Change Award aims to create fashionable clothes for an expanding population while also trying to reduce the impact it has on the environment.


Green is the new black

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.

Last year the company topped the list of the world’s biggest users of certified organic cotton, a 29% increase, according to the Textile Exchange’s report.

In their last annual report the fashion giant stated: “One important goal for H&M is to close the loop on textile fibres. Along with experts and various innovative companies, H&M is working to find a circular model for use of these resources.”

Currently the high-street’s appetite for ‘fast-fashion’ means around 85% of discarded clothing ends up in landfill.

To combat this H&M launched the Garment Collecting initiative, which has seen more than 14,000 tonnes of used clothing collected for recycling since its launch in 2013. Levi Strauss has since launched a similar scheme.

The Global Change Award allows for other companies to get on board with closing the loop ideologies and help create a more sustainable fashion industry.

Rebecca Earley, professor in sustainable textile and fashion design at University of the Arts London, and member of the Global Change Award Jury, said: “The question for fashion is no longer “What is the new black?” but rather “What innovative ideas can close the loop? The Global Change Award is looking for ideas that will protect the earth’s natural resources.”

Last year edie spoke exclusively with H&M head of sustainability Helena Helmersson who reiterated the company’s support for a circular economy.

Matt Mace

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