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Waste Not
H&M, Houdini Eliminating More Waste from Fashion

H&M’s latest collection includes garments made from recycled metals; circular, bio-based fabrics and food waste; while Houdini Sportswear has open-sourced the design of its Mono Air Houdi, to guide the industry toward further circularity.

H&M’s new Conscious Exclusive collection creates beauty from waste

Zinnia Kumar in H&M | Image credit: H&M

The H&M Conscious Exclusive A/W20 collection features a range of dramatic pieces crafted from sustainably sourced materials made from waste.

The collection was shaped by innovative fabrics and processes — including food crop waste transformed into a natural fiber, creating fabrics made from sustainably sourced wood pulp and using a unique garment-to- garment process. H&M says the Conscious Exclusive collection brings the company one step closer to meeting its goal is to become fully circular, by allowing its design team to explore new materials innovations and technology that may ultimately shape the brand’s larger product offer.

This collection introduces four new materials/initiatives that are new to H&M: Hemp Biofibre™ from Agraloop™ — a 2018 Global Change Award winner and graduate of the Plug and Play — Fashion for Good accelerator — which transforms waste from fibrous food-crop production into textile fibers; Eastman’s Naia™ Renew — a fabric made from 60 percent wood pulp and 40 percent recycled waste plastics; sustainably dyed polyester yarns and fabrics from We aRe SpinDye®; and sunglasses made with Made of Air® — a carbon-negative thermoplastic made from wood waste; as well as other previously used sustainable materials such as VEGEA — which turns waste from the winemaking process into a plant-based leather.

Two H&M stores in Stockholm and Berlin will be offering a rental service of six pieces from the A/W20 collection — some that are unique to only the rental service, while others are made in exclusive colorways.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of this Conscious Exclusive campaign, especially as H&M is paving the way for sustainable collections to become the industry norm,” says model Zinnia Kumar, the face of the campaign. “As consumers, we will no longer need to differentiate between fashionability and sustainability, as they will become one and the same. As an ecologist working in fashion, this fills me with hope.”

The Conscious Exclusive A/W20 collection will be available at beginning December 3.

Houdini open-sources circular jacket to help foster industry circularity

Image credit: Houdini

Meanwhile, earlier this fall, Swedish outdoor clothing brand Houdini — in collaboration with Polartec, supplier of recycled-plastic fleece and other fabrics to a host of major apparel brands — made its award-winning "Mono Air Houdi" jacket open-source — available for anyone in the industry, basement designers or billion-dollar brands, to copy.

For the past decade, Houdini has been a sustainability pioneer within the apparel industry, challenging the way outdoor apparel is designed, produced and used — in 2018, the company released the textile sector’s first-ever Planetary Boundaries Assessment report, to understand the impact of its operations. The brand is leading the charge once again with the launch of Project Mono Air — a unique, open-source initiative where the work behind their latest innovation, the Mono Air fleece jacket, is shared online. On the Project Mono Air website, anyone can download a complete break-down of the garment's components, down to the last button. One can also follow every design decision, learn about the fabric technology, and explore the circular design principles that lay the foundation for all Houdini garments.

Houdini’s goal is to help the apparel industry become circular and waste-free — an ambitious vision that will require considerable collaboration.

”The apparel industry is advancing when it comes to sustainable solutions, which is great. But we need to speed up the pace,” says Houdini CEO Eva Karlsson. “The insight that sparked the idea of Project Mono Air was that, if we want to really change the industry for the better, we can’t keep our innovations and discoveries to ourselves. If we all share the problem, why not also share the solutions? One garment is not going to solve the problem, but we hope it can be one step on the way. Hopefully, we can make this initiative echo even beyond the textile industry.”

The Mono Air Houdi, which was first revealed in January and awarded gold at the prestigious ISPO Awards, was created by Houdini and Polartec to address the issue of plastic and textile waste on a larger scale. The garment is completely circular, made from mono materials and engineered to reduce microfiber shedding by 80 percent — which means a significantly reduced risk of microplastic waste ending up in the ocean. By making the innovation open-source, the hope is that other brands will embrace and implement a circular approach to design.

The biggest challenge for brands working with circularity is to design products that are sustainable without compromising on durability and performance — Houdini says it has solved for this with the Mono Air. The company says the goal with the open-source design is not for other companies to create identical copies of the garment, but to let the work behind it become useful in the development of new products.

Project Mono Air is part of a growing trend across industries in which leading companies are sharing their innovations widely, with the goal of speeding adoption of more sustainable materials and processes — examples include Kering’s environmental profit & loss methodology, Closed Loop PartnersNextGen Cup Challenge, Levi StraussWater<Less techniques; and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health’s compostable, 100 percent plant-based cleansing cloth fabric. Houdini’s open-source files and more information about the project can be found at the Project Mono Air website.