H&M: “We are Committed to Showing that Sustainable Fashion has a Place on the Red Carpet”

Emily Scarlett H&M
Image supplied by H&M

Swedish multinational clothing-retail company H&M announced last week the launch of their new sustainable line, The Conscious Exclusive collection, involving innovative new materials which are becoming popular in the world of cruelty-free fashion, such as alternative leathers made of pineapple and citrus fibres.

H&M operates in over 60 countries with more than 4,500 stores and in 2015 employed around 132,000 people, so this progression towards sustainability and cruelty-free materials has the potential to have a great impact on the fashion world. As it stands, fashion is the second most polluting industry globally.

We spoke with Emily Scarlett, Head of Communications US at H&M, about the new sustainable collection.

Please can you tell us about your new sustainable line, and what was the motivation behind it?
The Conscious Exclusive collection is inspired by the natural beauty surrounding us and nature’s importance for our well-being. Minerals, trees and plants have been translated  by the design team into beautiful prints and a matching color palette.

The H&M Conscious Exclusive collection is a reoccurring fashion collection aiming to move H&M’s fashion and sustainable development and innovation towards a sustainable fashion future

Please can you tell us about your new vegan / leather alternative fabrics?
Newly introduced sustainable materials include: Orange Fibre – made from citrus juice by-products, repurposing them to create silk-like cellulose fabric; Pineapple Leather (Pinatex) – a natural leather alternative made from cellulose fibres extracted from pineapple leaves, the waste of the pineapple harvest; and BLOOM Foam – a plantbased flexible foam using algae from freshwater sources at high risk of algal bloom.

Where is your recycled clothing scheme available and how can consumers get involved with this?
Our garment recycling program is available in all of our stores worldwide. Customers are able to donate any lightly worn or unused clothing from any brand to our garment recycling box in exchange for 15% off their entire purchase.

Can you explain H&M’s decision to stop using fur, mohair and skins? Do you foresee a reduction in the use of animal leather for H&M?
Animal welfare is very important to use here at H&M. As a company, we want to act ethically, transparently and responsibly, which includes ethical treatment of animals. H&M does not sell genuine fur. We only accept leather from animals raised for meat production.

What other vegan products will you launch in the near future?
At H&M, we are constantly on the lookout for innovative materials and processes that can make our products more sustainable. We are committed to showing that sustainable fashion has a place on the red carpet as well as making it part of the standard offer in our stores.

Today, 56% of the materials that H&M uses to make our clothes are organic, recycled or other sustainable materials. Our goal is to every year increase the share of sustainable materials in our total material use. In doing so, we make more environmentally friendly choices available to a larger group of people, help lift these materials to scale and create demand for further innovation.