H&M Launches Denim Line Made From Used Clothing

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Dhani Mau
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One man's trash...
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H&M's dedication to (obsession with?) sustainability doesn't seem to be waning. In the Swedish retailer's first big eco-friendly move of 2014, it's announced the launch of a new denim line, set to hit stores at the end of February, in which every piece is made from recycled fibers. There are jeans, vests and jackets in a variety of washes, and each item contains 20 percent recycled cotton, which is the maximum amount that can be used today when making new fabric without compromising the quality.

As for where those recycled fibers came from: Remember the program H&M launched in 2012, which allowed you to donate used clothes to an H&M store and receive a discount on your purchase? Of course, the program also incentivized more shopping (and in that sense was not very sustainable), but at least now we know they've done something with those donated clothes. As H&M puts it, they've "closed the loop." And it sounds like there's more where that came from: The retailer says it's collected an impressive 7.7 million pounds of used clothing. H&M also says it donates 0,02 Euro (three cents) for every kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of clothing donated, according to its international charity site.

It's the latest in a string of sustainability initiatives the retailer has launched. There's the ongoing Conscious Collection, which launched in 2011, as well as big announcements, like that it was going to start paying factory workers a living wage, and disclosing the names of its supplier factories in an effort to be more transparent. H&M also puts out a regular Sustainability Report detailing its efforts and progress.

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Separate from that, H&M also seems to be on a capsule collection kick. Perhaps to fill in space between its highly-publicized designer collabs (Isabel Marant being the most recent example), there have been several lower-profile lines: Most notably David Beckham's underwear collection, but also an Olympic-themed collection, a new activewear line, a tennis collection inspired by Thomas Berdych's Australian Open outfits, and something called Conscious essentials -- all of which were announced within the past couple of months.

What they're doing seems to be working: H&M was one of few retailers to beat analysts' holiday sales estimates, with a 10 percent sales jump for November and December.

We're not sure how the chain's sustainability initiatives have affected its bottom line, but from a PR standpoint, they're looking pretty good, especially when its competitors are frequently coming under fire for everything from toxic clothing to unsafe factory conditions to angora harm.