Sustainability beyond the conscious collections

Timeless classics made from recycled PET bottles

The H&M Fall 2019 Conscious Collection launches in September and will feature cosy, yet sophisticated, pieces made from more sustainably sourced materials. But did you know that H&M’s commitment to sustainability goes way beyond the Conscious Collections? We’ve interviewed our Global Sustainability Manager, Pascal Brun.

The Fall 2019 Conscious Collection is here, with beautiful, long-lasting pieces made from recycled materials or materials with a lower environmental impact, such as recycled polyester made from used PET bottles, organic cotton and TENCEL™ lyocell. The collection is built around timeless autumn must-haves, like softly tailored checked separates, animal print dresses and oversized hoodies, coming in a colour palette featuring light neutrals, black and a popping orange-red.

Besides offering an addition of sophisticated staples that bring immediate chicness to your everyday wardrobe, the Fall 2019 Conscious Collection also highlights H&M’s commitment to sustainability — including the goal of only using sustainably sourced materials by 2030.

“H&M’s commitment to sustainability is fully integrated into our business idea, which is ‘fashion and quality at the best price in a sustainable way’. It is part of who we are and our values,” says Pascal Brun, Global Sustainability Manager at H&M Group.

“The Conscious Collections, and scaling our sustainable materials, contribute to the reduction of our environmental footprint. It also helps to make fashion sustainable, and sustainability fashionable, which ultimately could encourage our customers to make conscious choices.”

“The aim,” says Brun, “is to have a positive impact on people and communities, to become fully circular with a climate-positive value chain and, finally, to inspire and make it possible for everyone to make good choices.”

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR H&M TO BE AN INDUSTRY FRONTRUNNER WHEN IT COMES TO SUSTAINABILITY?
“The main driver for H&M is simply that we recognise that the fashion industry can’t continue to operate using its current model; the planet doesn’t have enough natural resources for this to be feasible. Working to move our business to a circular model is non-negotiable.

“With our size, we also have an opportunity to create a change. We are well positioned to impact our industry in a positive way. I have seen on the ground the positive impact we have on people, communities and the environment by making the right decisions and doing the right thing.

WHAT PREVENTS H&M FROM BECOMING A FULLY SUSTAINABLE BRAND TODAY?
“A single brand cannot create change alone. We need collaboration between governments, NGOs, brands and customers. A lot of great impactful activities and achievements so far come from collaborations, such as our Cotton Goal, Fair Living Wage Roadmap and Chemical Management.”

HOW WILL H&M REALISE THE GOAL OF ONLY USING SUSTAINABLY SOURCED MATERIALS BY 2030? 
“To achieve 100 per cent sustainably sourced materials by 2030, it requires a lot of effort on all levels — from design to the end of use. We started that journey in 2010 with our Cotton Goal —  that by 2020 all our cotton will be recycled or sourced in a more sustainable way. We can proudly say today that we are at 96 per cent through industry collaboration and innovation.”    

“Achieving the 2030 goal will require at least the same amount of effort in terms of testing and scaling new innovations and engaging with the industry. 

WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF A “SUSTAINABLY SOURCED” MATERIAL?
“Sustainably sourced materials are fabrics that require significantly less water, energy and chemicals to produce or grow than conventional materials. Besides the Conscious Collections, we also have Conscious garments that can be found across all our departments all year round — just look out for our green Conscious hangtags!”

“Now, what do we count as Conscious? To qualify for a green hangtag, a product must contain at least 50 per cent sustainable materials, such as organic cotton or recycled polyester, but many of our garments contain more than that. The only exception is recycled cotton, which can only make up 20 per cent of a product due to quality restraints. We are, however, working with innovations to increase this share as soon as possible.”

“All of the materials that we class as sustainably sourced or Conscious are accredited by relevant third-party material standards.”

HOW WILL NEW TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION HELP CREATE A MORE SUSTAINABLE FASHION FUTURE?
“Material innovation such as garment-to-garment recycling is still limited today, but will definitely be a game changer for the industry. Through the H&M Foundation Global Change Award we are also exposed to some of the best groundbreaking innovations, such as Orange Fiber or Grape Leather.”

“Optimising technology around renewable energy will also be key. This sector is in constant development and we are already seeing solar power in some countries that is cheaper than the power grid. The next step is to optimise its capacity and storage.”

“AI is one of the most powerful tools we have in the transition toward a circular and sustainable fashion system. With AI we can make better decisions that impact our world in a sustainable way. One central aspect is to avoid over-production, which leads to for example unnecessary transports and warehousing. With the help of AI, we can align supply and demand much better, with the goal of only producing what we are selling.”


The Fall 2019 Conscious Collection is available worldwide, in store and online. To learn more about H&M’s sustainability work, visit hmgroup.com/sustainability.

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