It’s been about 10 years since H&M debuted its first collection made of organic cotton. Nowadays that is completely mainstream and expected. H&M is hoping to repeat this pattern with its latest eco-friendly materials, which debuted in their new Conscious Collection.
The Conscious Collection follows H&M’s push into bio-based materials and moving away from strictly recycled fibers. The most surprising is Vegea, a soft vegan leather alternative made from the byproducts of wine. H&M discovered it through its own Global Change Award in 2017. The Vegea “leather” is on chain-strap handbags and a few pairs of shoes. Pascal Brun, H&M’s sustainability manager explained, “Going forward, we need to be using more bio-based materials and use more waste in our collections. These collections are here to help enable the scale of these new innovations, and make them more commercial [to us and to other brands].”
Brun is excited about recycled materials but is focusing more on “fiber to fiber” recycling. A new material called Circulose is made from recovered cotton and viscose making it 100% natural and is making its worldwide launch with H&M. Brun hopes it will eventually become a permanent part of the collection, not just the Conscious Exclusive.
“In 2020 and beyond, we need to take the concept of circularity to another level,” Brun adds. “It’s the only way to think about our goals for natural resources [in the next decade]. It isn’t just about materials, though, it’s about how we can design clothes to last longer and to be eventually recycled, and how can we involve our customers to have more sustainable behavior? It’s a holistic approach.”