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Behavior Change
H&M's Clevercare Labels Helping Customers Extend Clothing Life While Saving Energy, Water

At the Copenhagen Fashion Summit last week, designer Stella McCartney made an appearance via video to announce the launch of H&M’s new Clevercare garment labels.

Developed in collaboration with Swiss global standard wash care label company Ginetex, the Clevercare labels provide explicit care instructions designed to help customers get the most out of their clothing through proper care — which also leads to water and energy savings through less frequent machine-washing and drying, as well as guidance on ironing and professional laundering techniques.

More than one-third of the total environmental impact of the average garment — taking into account material harvesting and production, through to packaging, transport, sales, etc — happens at the end, with consumer use, according to H&M.

"We can easily reduce this," says Catarina Midby, H&M's head of sustainable fashion, told the Guardian. "Our new Clevercare symbol, featured on all H&M products' wash care labels by the end of 2014, tells you how."

Customers may begin to see the labels on many brands in the future — Midby said the labels will be open to all of Ginetex’s licensees at no extra cost.

“Although we are the initiator of Clevercare, we are more than happy to share it with other brands,” she said. “Sustainability is about working together for a more sustainable future in our industry. In addition, this is a way to engage with fashion consumers who can participate in our sustainability work.”

H&M has made a number of moves toward lessening the impact of its garments in recent weeks — along with Zara/Inditex, the brand joined 17 other apparel brands in backing the “Fashion Loved by Forest” campaign, committing to eliminate ancient and endangered forests from all of their rayon and viscose clothing. The company also announced a strategic alliance with Solidaridad, an international organization dedicated to creating responsible agricultural supply chains, to achieve more sustainable textile production. The partnership will tackle challenges in the areas of cotton, water, better working conditions and fair wages throughout H&M’s supply chain.

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