Can it be that the tide has turned and sustainable style has officially gone mainstream? On the evidence of H&M’s just-released Conscious Collection, the answer is a resounding… kind of.
In what is certainly a significant development, the high street retailer today launches an eco-focused collection into UK stores. It’s not the first time fast fashion has toyed with sustainability—Topshop stocks a couple of eco labels and General Pants features some organic cotton tees as part of their in-house Arvust and Neon Hart labels, for example.
The Conscious Collection stands out for its sheer size—96 pieces for women, men and children. This is not some token range of tees (though given the scale of H&M’s offering it certainly qualifies for capsule status). Organic cotton, Tencel and recycled polyester feature across the range which comes in all shades of white for a pared-back, romantic vibe.
Dig a little deeper, however, and the thrill of fast-fashion’s eco awakening is dulled somewhat. The women’s and kids pieces featured on H&M’s UK website are fully organic or recycled (bar one). But the men’s range is a particular disappointment—only two pieces shown are 100% organic cotton—the remainder are ‘organic’ pieces with, at most, 55% organic cotton (blended with conventional cotton and/or polyester—the website doesn’t specify if it is of the recycled variety).
It’s a curious anomaly and one that diminishes H&M’s credibility somewhat. In an interesting article by Genevieve Fox at Telegraph.co.uk, the author question the company’s head of corporate responsibility on the range’s ‘Made In China’ tags, which she felt may appear at odds with their claimed People-Planet-Profit manifesto (no talk of the blended textiles, though).
I’m in two minds about this—it’s high time the high street got greener and, for the most part, H&M seems to have done a commendable job. That men buying from the Conscious Collection are in most cases walking away in garments with little more than half organic content, however, is bizarre.
I want to get excited about this collection, but it’s a letdown for consumers buying into a brand touted for its eco cred to still need to inspect the label’s fineprint to make sure they’re getting what they are promised. If you can’t do it properly, why do it at all? All the pure white fabric and sky-drenched promo shots in the world aren’t going to make it so…
H&M Conscious Collection is available from today in the UK. Check the labels before buying.
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