Fast fashion gets sustainable

Updated: 2014-05-05 08:16

By Gan Tian (China Daily)

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The throwaway fashion industry is often criticized for causing environmental damage, but retailer H&M is looking at ways to improve its green footprint. Gan Tian reports.

Fashion observers frequently criticize fast fashion for not being eco-friendly. However, one of the world's best-known high street brands, H&M, is committed to going green.

The company introduced its Conscious and its Conscious Exclusive collections to Chinese customers on April 10.

As the names suggest, these two collections are trying to raise the public's consciousness on environmental protection in the fashion industry.

The term "fast fashion" was first used by retailers to describe designs that move quickly from catwalk to stores.

Produced in large quantity, they are comparatively cheaper, yet still stylish. For consumers, it is a good thing: They can buy many items at good prices and can discard those garments and buy new products when the trends move on. The cheap and disposable nature of the clothes has also lead to the term "McDonalds fashion".

Fast fashion has come under criticism, with people blaming it for pollution, poor craftsmanship and its focus on short trends instead of classic styles.

Conscious and Conscious Exclusive collections, however, are breaking the stereotype of fast fashion. Garments from these collections are not only stylish, but also eco-friendly. Materials used are organic cotton, recycled cotton, recycled polyester, hemp and Tencel, a biodegradable fabric made of wood-pulp cellulose.

Conscious collection, which focuses on daily wear, features wide-cut pants in fluid fabrics and harem-style pants that are fitted through the leg with a tassel decoration at the waist. Bright colors can also be found, including a bright orange draped dress, a soft loose jacket in the shape of a kimono. zebra-print and hand-drawn animal prints are also highlights.

Another interesting aspect of this collection is some of the garments are made from recycled clothes.

H&M fan Wang Chuyang found that she could enjoy a discount at one of its stores in Shanghai, if she brought in some unwanted garments. She traded some sheets and old jackets for a discount on two brand-new skirts.

The old garments Wang took to the H&M boutique might reappear in H&M's Conscious collection. This season, a denim jacket and a pair of skinny jeans are made of recycled garments from customers.

Conscious Exclusive collection has more up-market, red-carpet looks. Materials used in this collection include recycled plastic beads, organic mulberry silk and organic leather. Even accessories are also very nature friendly: Exaggerated rose hair clips and a clean-cut bag are both made with organic leather.

The designers of the Conscious Exclusive collection are from Ever Manif