H&M Honors Innovators for Sustainable Fashion Concepts

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Photo: Courtesy of Stellan Stephenson

H&M is recognizing industry innovators for their eco-friendly apparel ideas.

The retailer honored five winners of the H&M Foundation’s Global Change Award, an annual innovation challenge that recognizes teams for their circular fashion concepts, at a ceremony in Stockholm City Hall early this month.

Prior to the ceremony, a public online vote split the $1.1 million grant between the five winning teams and their sustainable innovations, including grape leather, solar textiles, content thread, denim-dyed denim and manure-based fabrics.

The Italy-based grape leather team was granted $321,195 for their sustainable concept, which used leftovers from winemaking to develop vegetable-based leather. In second place, the U.S./Switzerland-based solar textiles team received $267,628 for their green idea, which would use only plant waste, water and solar energy to manufacture decomposable nylon. Three other team innovations, including an RFID garment thread, renewable denim dye powder and biodegradable manure fabric, were also granted $160,597 for their projects.

Each team will be part of a one year accelerator program associated with the Global Change Award. Provided for by the H&M Foundation, Accenture and Stockholm-based KTH Royal Institute of Technology, the program will work with the winners to develop their ideas based on three core areas—innovation, circular economy and fashion industry connection.

“Consumer expectations for more sustainable products are placing an emphasis on the industry to fundamentally re-examine and re-design the entire fashion value chain,” Accenture senior managing director of retail Jill Standish said. “We are passionate about helping them further develop their inspiring ideas through the Accelerator program, to support them in driving the change towards a circular fashion industry.”

Along with the program, H&M Foundation and Accenture also published a Global Change Award trend report. The report will assess the future of sustainable fashion by analyzing the disruptive ideas from 130 nations that competed in the Global Change Award in 2016. With sustainable proposals from nearly 3,000 applications, the industry could work together for an eco-friendlier presence in coming years.


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