H&M makes sustainability cooler than ever with its new collection of recycled denim

In the fashion world, declaring black is back is just about as revelatory as suggesting florals for spring. The perennial colour never disappears; it just gets reinvented. Kind of like denim. This September, H&M is bringing two of these classics together with Denim Re-born, an 11-piece capsule collection of recycled denim, made exclusively in shades of black and grey. Taking a page from fashion’s decade-hopping playbook, the women’s collection breathes new life into skinny jeans with the addition of ankle-length raw hems, while also introducing some new players into the mix. The ’90s-inspired girlfriend jean—a Goldilocks hybrid: not too tight, not too loose—is just right, given this season’s gender-bend on the runways. Meanwhile, hip-hugging flared overalls bring this ’70s mainstay into early ought territory.

Stylish innovations are always at the top of the to-do list for this fast-fashion brand, but its eco-minded strides are changing its global footprint. Every piece in this new denim collection is made of 20 per cent recycled materials, which is just the latest step in the Swedish brand’s growing eco-consciousness. Since launching its in-store recycling program in 2013 (customers deposit gently used clothing at H&M stores, H&M or otherwise), the company has collected 14,000 tonnes of clothing. Its eco-roots go back even further, with the brand’s first organic cotton collection released in 2005 and a collaboration with eco-activist Stella McCartney that same year. “Stella really spurred us on,” says Catarina Midby, H&M’s sustainable fashion adviser. The brand even catapulted the cause onto fashion’s biggest stage, the red carpet, with its eco-minded gowns appearing on celebs like Michelle Williams, Ginnifer Goodwin and Penélope Cruz.

“Creating a closed loop for textiles, in which unwanted clothes can be recycled into new ones, will not only minimize textile waste, but also significantly reduce the need for virgin resources, as well as other impacts fashion has on our planet,” says H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson. Consider this fashion’s answer to the grade school motto: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

More Style