Photography courtesy of H&M

Every Single Piece from H&M’s New Conscious Exclusive Collection

I arrive in Stockholm to preview H&M’s latest Conscious Exclusive, the Swedish brand’s line of earth-friendly eveningwear; I’m barely in the door and I’m already smitten. On the other side of the room—backlit against a wall of glass overlooking the city’s cobblestone streets—I spot a sleeveless, full-length evening gown in millennial pink. It has cascading floral ruffles that fall into a pool of bubble gum pleats. It reminds me of the vintage blouse that inspired my wedding dress, but instead of silk, it’s made from Bionic, a new polyester material created from plastic picked from shoreline waste in China.

H&M launched Conscious Exclusive in 2011 as a way to experiment with recycled and organic materials, explains creative adviser Ann-Sofie Johansson, adding that the company then “trickles its learnings from making the collection down into the rest of H&M.” One example is its use of recycled polyester. It was first used in the Garden collection in 2010 (a precursor to Conscious Exclusive) but is now used year-round in the other lines. Today the brand is the second biggest buyer of recycled polyester and Tencel, which is an organic material made from eucalyptus trees. H&M has also been using organic cotton since 2004 and is the largest purchaser of responsible down.

The 56 pieces in the 2017 Conscious Exclusive collection will be available online, but only in 160 stores worldwide, starting on April 20. New this year are six children’s party outfits and a set of perfume oils for women. Clothing price points are slightly higher—between $35 for a pair of earrings made from recycled plastics and $350 for the online-exclusive deep-V-front wedding dress made of 100 per cent recycled polyester tulle. In keeping with its customers’ desire to know more about the conditions in overseas factories, H&M has started to post profiles online of the people who produce the clothes.

During my tour of the collection with Anna Gedda, head of sustainability, I am drawn to a pink sequined minidress with a ribbon-tie neck that looks like something Edie Sedgwick might have worn in her heyday. The lining is 100 per cent recycled polyester, and the paillettes are 70 per cent recycled plastics. Beside it is an asymmetrical bias-cut gown in organic silk, Lenzing viscose and recycled polyester that Gedda told me was inspired by the work of German abstract painter Gerhard Richter. Another standout in the collection is the tuxedo jacket made from organic silk and Tencel.

At one point in the preview, Cecilia Strömblad Brännsten, H&M’s sustainability expert, discusses the importance of taking proper care of clothes and being mindful to either pass items on or recycle them. This is something Gedda knows well: A few years ago when she was getting married, she wanted to wear a white dress from a past Conscious Exclusive collection, but the dress had long been sold out. Instead of having one made, she went online and did a very sustainable thing: She bought it on eBay.
“When you do something as spectacular as get married, you should really choose something that has a great value—not only in terms of fashion but also in how it has been produced.”

Check up every single piece from the 2017 collection below.

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