When it comes to sustainability, the standards and practices of fast fashion brands often come under the closest scrutiny. In an effort to become — or at least appear — more sustainable, in recent years several of those brands have launched recycling programs and collections made up of more eco-friendly fibers. One of these is H&M's Garment Collecting Initiative, launched in 2013, which asked shoppers to donate unwanted clothing items to in-store receptacles so that they could be recycled and used in future collections.
Since the program launched, over 14,000 tons of clothing have been donated globally and used, beginning with a denim collection that launched in February 2014, to make clothing under the retailer's "Close the Loop" label. Sixteen new denim styles for men, women and kids will launch under that label this September. Women's styles range from a shearling-collar denim jacket to a flared jumpsuit (see sketches above and below) in a number of dark, distressed washes.
Only 20 percent of the cotton used in the collection comes from the collected clothes, but H&M says it's working on fabric-salvaging technology that will help it increase that percentage. The retailer has also set a goal to significantly raise the amount of pieces offered in stores and online created with at least 20 percent recycled material.
So, as you begin your fall shopping, be thoughtful about what you do with your old jeans. They could eventually become a new pair you (or a stranger across the globe) will wear for years to come.