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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Compostable Jeans, Single-Stitch Ts, H&M Recycling Contest the Latest in Sustainable Apparel

From startup designers to major retailers, the fashion world continues to battle our culture of fast fashion and wasteful wardrobes with innovative designs and recycling efforts.

First up, the world’s first 100 percent compostable denim jeans have arrived. According to Ecouterre, Swiss upcycled bag and clothing brand Freitag is expanding its F-abric line of European-grown and -produced workwear with a new, entirely cotton-free jean made from a material “like no other in the fashion and textile world.”

The E500 jean line will comprise 81 percent linen and 19 percent hemp. The jeans will contain neither rivets nor nylon thread, making each pair 100 percent compostable after the removal of buttons. The denim conforms to Oeko-Tex standards, which test textiles for harmful substances throughout production.

The company claims the jeans will also be more comfortable. “The moisture- and thermo-regulating, antibacterial and antisynthetic fibers make them more comfortable to wear,” Freitag told Ecouterre.

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The jeans will debut in men’s stores on August 27, while the women’s will debut October 1.

Another innovation in low-impact clothing comes in the form of a T-shirt by London Denim’s new open-source label, Intelligent Design.

The Intelligent Design Tee, launched last week on Kickstarter, features two pieces of fabric sewn together in a simple, single-stitched process. The fabric is made from certified organic cotton with a transparent supply chain: sourced from Turkey, spun in Portugal and manufactured locally in Britain.

The designer behind London Denim, Simon John King, explained the brand’s commitment to advancing sustainable production: “It’s not enough to use organic materials and local production, it has got to be that the product is designed in a light-touch way, and the customers add something totally new to their wardrobe,” he says in the Kickstarter video. “We’re calling this approach intelligent design.”

On its website, Intelligent Design says it plans to launch each product via Kickstarter, to focus on only “producing product that we know our customers will want, saving the wasteful production of product that no one wants.”

If you like the design, you can also make your own. Three months after the product launch, the brand will post downloadable production spec sheets under a creative commons license, so “other makers can take our Intelligent Design ideas and run with them a little further.”

Finally, just days after announcing the impending launch of its “Close the Loop” collection of recycled cotton denim pieces, H&M announced today a competition offering an annual €1 million prize for new techniques to recycle clothing. The company says it is running the contest to deal with a throwaway culture and looming resource shortages of cotton.

"No company, fast-fashion or not, can continue exactly like today," CEO Karl-Johan Persson said in a statement. "The (prize's) largest potential lies with finding new technology that means we can recycle the fibers with unchanged quality."

The award is being launched by a foundation established by H&M that is funded by the retailer and the Persson family.


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