Showcasing H&M’s Conscious Collection
Photographing the garments at a local laundry which epitomises both re-use and recycling of clothes.
Creative Conceptualisation, Photography, Styling, Modelling by Rhea Gupte
In an atmosphere tepid with a growing environmental crisis, alongside the lack of information, when a retail giant such as H&M works towards a cause, people notice and listen. Although, once at the forefront of several controversies, it is a relief to see the brand fare with flying colors, acquiring a B+ on the recent report card evaluating company ethics and practises, published by Baptist World Aid.
The brand launched it’s Recycle Your Clothes campaign last year, informing and encouraging millions of it’s customers to help create a sustainable approach towards fashion. Followed by subtly coaxing people to ‘Re-wear and re-use’ their clothing with M.I.A. belting out a rap number on a pile of used clothing while dancers perform routines alongside water bodies left saturated with dyes. From it comes H&M’s Garment collection initiative, asking people to donate their discarded clothes in any of their 3,600 plus stores worldwide, where the brand promises to reuse and recycle these materials. Thus, H&M Conscious is born, a collection of clothing designed entirely out of recycled material.
Created in collaboration with Museé des Arts Décoratifs, Palais Du Louvre; this collection uses an environmentally friendly Tencel fabric, recycled rhinestones and Denimite—a precious stone like material made from recycled, worn-out denim. The choice of the word ‘conscious’ is intriguing. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines ‘conscious’ as awake and able to understand what is happening around you; aware of something (such as a fact or feeling) or knowing that something exists or is happening. Simply being aware of the problems facing the industry, might be half the battle won. When there is consciousness, the correct actions follow, wrong-doings are addressed and there is an opportunity to correct oneself. A lack of awareness is living a life without any possibility of rectification.
Every garment in the collection, inspired by an artist or an artistic vision, is poetic, refined and beautifully finished. Each piece may as well be a story-teller, one inspired by a Gustave Moreau, another by a Botticelli. The garments feel and look like something never before created by H&M, further solidifying their goal to make sustainability fashionable and fashion sustainable. As long as the brand continues on this trajectory, getting more and more people to listen and act, we’re golden.
EDIT: As per recent news reports and studies, H&M has not been able to keep up with it’s promise to deliver ethical and sustainable clothing apart from their conscious collections. This is a subject matter I am constantly informing myself about and following closely through several channels. The conditions in their overseas factories remain deplorable. It would be a good time for a large fast fashion brand such as this one to set an example and turn over a new leaf.