There is life after death. That is, if you’re a discarded piece of clothing amongst the 18 million kgs’ worth that has so far been cast into H&M’s Garment Collecting Initiative containers.
Because it’s only a matter of time before you’ll get sent to a sorting plant, where after a careful 350-step evaluation you’ll be granted a new lease on life: To either be reworn, reused or recycled.
If you fall into the last category, you’ll come into the capable hands of Jon Loman, the designer for H&M’s Close The Loop collection that aims to create a “closed loop” for textiles by recycling unwanted clothes into new ones.
(Sixteen new styles dropping tomorrow, including a mechanic-chic jumpsuit and a super cute quilted jacket for kids with animal ears that we’re sure we can squeeze into!)
The Swede, who’s designed for the brand for over a decade, has helmed Close The Loop since it started last year. “Our goal at H&M is that more sustainable clothes should have the same level of fashion as garments made in a conventional way,” he says.
Here, Loman shares more about how he and his team bring the concept and clothes to life.
1. How is creating clothes using recycled materials different from the process using new fabrics?
If you mean designing there is no difference as such and products made out of recycled materials have the same high quality standards. The difference is when it comes to the environmental advantages, such as less use of virgin materials, when you use recycled materials.
2. What are some things you have to bear in mind when creating the Close The Loop collection?
We need to develop the fabrics that we want use in the collection in advance. Recycled cotton from our garment collecting in our stores needs to be sorted and delivered to our suppliers, for example. For this collection we are pushing the development even further when it comes to new types of fabrics. When doing this, one must be prepared that not everything works, maybe due to technical reasons. Therefore it’s important to have a few back-up ideas or to adjust your idea according to fabric at hand.
Not only do our garments contain more sustainable materials but they are also washed more sustainably. It’s important to know your fabric to be able to make smarter and more sustainable washes to the garment you’re creating.
3. What’s your favourite piece in this collection?
I really like the black denim jacket with the black denim pile. It’s a really cool and soft Autumn piece which cuts a bit longer and is great to layer longer pieces with.
4. In Asia, the general mentality is that new is better than old when it comes to shopping. How do you hope that projects such as this will change mindsets?
When you see the garments you’re going to see something new rather than old, I’m sure. And of course, all clothes follow H&M’s quality standards.
As for the general mentality that you’re referring to, to me, Asia is a region in great development; both great development economically but also changes in attitudes and mindset.
5. What kind of clothes are most commonly donated? And what type of clothing do you wish people would give more of to help this cause?
People hand in all sorts of different garments and home textiles. And we want to offer an easy solution for our customers to leave their old garments with H&M and at the same time do something good for the environment, which means that they really can hand in all sorts of textiles - including an old sock or worn-out underwear.
In the short run, we have a clear vision to avoid waste and minimise what goes into landfills. In the long run, we want find a solution for reusing and recycling all textile fibres for new use. This can change the way fashion is made and massively reduce the need for extracting virgin resources from our planet.
We want to create a closed loop for fashion, where used garments and textiles are converted into new fashion. This will reduce our dependence on new resources and take us a step in the right direction from a linear to a circular economy.
H&M’s Close The Loop denim collection for men, women and children will be available at all H&M stores from 3 September. From 3 September to 23 September, customers who donate unwanted denim (from any brand) to any H&M store will get 20 per cent off Close The Loop products.
Want to learn about other denim technologies? Read The Best New Jeans For Your Bod.