The thousands of Israelis crowding Azrieli Mall in Tel Aviv last week, anxiously waiting as early as 6am for a grand H&M opening that didn’t take place until 11am, probably didn’t know that they were about to shop for (affordable) sustainable fashion.
H&M and sustainable fashion might not sound like they go together. H&M, the Swedish fashion retail giant, is internationally well known for offering super-trendy yet inexpensive (and therefore more disposable) clothing. Their clothes are imported, and therefore not locally produced.
But H&M’s widespread popularity (check out the video clip below of the Tel Aviv H&M, where customers young and old crowded the store) grants it the potential to make real change in the fashion industry. And that’s where H&M’s Garden Collection – now available in Israel – comes in.
The Garden Collection, which will be presented clearly in H&M stores as a sort of shop-within-a-shop, is H&M’s first collection made entirely of organic cotton and recyclable materials. (The company has been using sustainable materials in its ordinary collections as well until now, but this is the first full blown green collection.)
Unified by its eco-friendliness as well as its springy floral and romantic feel, the items in the Garden Collection are made out of organic, recycled, easily recyclable and reused scrap materials. The four materials used to create the Garden Collection are:
Organic cotton: Cotton grown without the use of dangerous chemicals
Organic linen: Linen grown without the use of harmful chemicals
Recycled Polyester: Polyester made from recycled bottles (similar to Bagir’s eco-suits) or textile scraps
Tencel: A manufactured natural fiber made sustainably out of wood pulp cellulose, and which feels like silk.
The collection puts a new spin on sustainable fashion, which is generally not designed for the mainstream consumer. It is currently geared towards women, with a range of dresses, shorts, skirts, blouses, scarves, and even shoes, but shoppers should keep their eyes open for sustainable items in the regular collections (which are clearly labeled with tags indicating their organic or recycled-ness).
H&M used nearly 3000 tons of organic cotton in 2009 and aims to increase its volume of organic cotton use by at least 50% per year over the next few years. The company has been blending organic cotton into the baby and kids’ collections since 2004, and has made a major investment in organic cotton fashion since March 2007 (which has been very well received by its customers, who are probably happy to buy more earth-friendly and people-friendly clothing for cheap).
So what’ll it cost you? Not more than any of the other H&M collections. And definitely less than items purchased at regular eco-friendly shops. The floral tank top above sells for 89.90 NIS, the dress to the right sells for 179.90 NIS, and the flat floral shoes below cost a mere 79.90 NIS.
Read more about sustainable fashion:
Lebanese Designer Ziad Ghanem Creates Recycled Couture
Bagir’s Recycled Plastic Bottle Suit Gives New Meaning to Euro-Trash
Is the Financial Crisis Making It Harder to go Organic? No Sweat Apparel in Trouble