Fashion is a big part of our world. I love being able to express myself through interesting, fun, beautiful pieces. Unfortunately fast fashion is also a massive problem for our environment, impacting water systems, creating large quantities of waste and exploiting cheap labour. As individuals we can all do our bit to support responsible fashion practices but ultimately the big changes need to come from the mass retailers. That’s why I was really excited to hear about the latest collaboration between Jackie Burger from Salon 58 and H&M.
Jackie Burger and H&M collaborated on Salon 58’s latest soirée that focused on sustainability in fashion held this past Saturday (8 April) at Cape Town’s Gallery Momo.
“H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection shows how the best style can be mindful of the planet to help protect it for the future,” says Natalia Vodianova, the face of H&M’s new sustainable collection. “It’s such a desirable collection, with pieces made from sustainable materials that you want to wear for seasons to come.”
The aim of the Soiree was to talk about conscious consumer practices when it comes to the fashion industry. According to Burger, “looking and feeling good is not about empty-headed consumption, it is all about creative liberation and empowerment. It starts with being comfortable with your personal and authentic self-expression. Fashion should never dictate what we can or cannot wear.”
She believes that this requires us to be sustainable in everything we do, something the Swedish retailer has committed to in its 2016 Sustainability Report. The range of trousers, shirts, dresses and skirts is all made from recycled and/or sustainably produced fabrics and materials. Centre stage was a gossamer pink evening gown made from soft chiffon that once was plastic bottles washed up on a beach.
In addition to this trademarked Bionic fabric, H&M is the world’s biggest user of cotton certified by the Better Cotton Initiative. Their goal is to use only recycled or sustainably sourced fabrics by 2030 and to be climate positive throughout the company by 2040. This undertaking starts with using only renewable energy in the production chain.
Burger and H&M’s Amelia-May Woudstra were joined by select panellists for the conversation around conscious living and what it means for each of them. As SARIE editor Michelle van Breda put it, “there is a way of doing things differently in life. There is a way of thinking differently in life.” From a fashion point of view, fashion researcher and anthropologist Erica de Greef pointed out that this requires slowing down instead of constantly racing to keep up. “The industry will change with us if we choose more carefully, responsibly, consciously.”
To illustrate how easy it can be to take a more sustainable approach to fashion, guests were asked to bring unwanted clothes and drop them into the recycling bins provided by H&M’s global Garment Collecting initiative. Since its launch, over 35 000 tonnes of garments have been collected. In exchange, shoppers are rewarded with vouchers to use towards their next H&M purchase.
The H&M Conscious Exclusive 2017 collection will launch in stores on 20 April