Reduce, reuse and recycle, Brand H&M tells fashion world (IANS Interview)

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) The fashion world should follow the mantra of reduce, reuse and recycle to save Mother Earth, says Elin Åström, sustainability manager at Swedish fashion retail giant H&M.

Towards this, the brand is on a mission to reduce the environmental impact from the fashion industry by limiting the amount of textiles that end up in landfills and hence has come up with its first sustainability line for Indian market.

The brand has shipped its Conscious Exclusive 2016 Collection to stores globally and to India. This is the first time the line’s been brought to the country.

Created in collaboration with the iconic Museé des Arts Décoratifs, Palais Du Louvre, the Conscious Exclusive 2016 Collection is inspired by the archives of the museum and is fabricated entirely from sustainable material.

“We have a strong ambition to lead the fashion industry to become more sustainable and respect the planet we live on. One example is our use of raw material. Cotton is the material that we use the most. Although cotton has many good qualities as a material, the intense water and chemical use in cotton processing is a concern with negative social and environmental impact.

“However by choosing more sustainable alternatives such as organic cotton, we have 46% less climate impact as compared to conventional cotton. We have set a global goal at H&M, to ensure that all cotton comes from sustainable resources by 2020,” Åström told IANS in an interview.

She also said the brand plans to save the Earth in as many ways as possible.

“We want to reduce the environmental impact from the fashion industry by limiting the amount of textiles that end up in landfills. Today, a lot of garments unfortunately are thrown away even though about 95 percent could be recycled. To continue to expand in a sustainable way, we need to address this – reduce, reuse and recycle.

“Reduce waste, reuse textile in new products and recycle fibres to get new more sustainable raw material. Through this we close the loop for textiles and reduce negative impact. For example, one recycled t-shirt can save 2,100 liters of water. To scale this up requires innovation but is for sure the way into the future of fashion,” she said.

The brand has also launched World Recycle Week campaign globally as a step to close the loop in fashion. It started on April 18 and will run till April 24.

“World Recycle Week campaign is an aim to collect 1000 ton of unwanted garments from customers worldwide helping to close the loop in fashion. We want to reduce the environmental impact from the fashion industry by limiting the amount of textiles that end up in landfills as well as offer an easy solution for customers to recycle fabric.

“During this week we work towards creating awareness towards recycling and encouraging customers to bring in their old garments to the store throughout the year, in return for which they get discount vouchers for their next outing,” she said.

The brand, which forayed into India last year, has been receiving wonderful business in the country. This is evident from the fact that there are five stores in India, inclduing one that is opening at Noida’s DLF Mall of India, in a short span of six months.

Åström believes that India has always been the source of inspiration for the brand.

“H&M has been sourcing from India for over 30 years now, we are delighted to have stores in the same market from where we have been sourcing for so long. This is the right time for India, there is so much potential in retail today,” she said, adding that the brand could come up with a collection inspired by India.

(Nivedita can be contacted at



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