H&M: Mainstreaming Sustainable Materials in Apparel

April 2, 2010

H&M’s Garden Collection—which features sustainable fibers throughout the line—hit stores on March 25. A bright green hang tang—including a 30-word description with a link to more information online—marks clothing made with organic cotton and linen, recycled polyester, and Tencel (an environmentally preferable organic fiber). The Garden Collection aligns with H&M’s wider commitment to organic cotton and sustainable fashion plans for 2010, and prices for the new line remain consistent with other H&M products.

H&M is heavily promoting the new line with front-of-store and window displays, billboards, and other advertising campaigns. Some advertisements center on the sustainable features, while others mention the sustainable characteristics as an afterthought.

In the past, companies have offered organic cotton clothing at a premium, hoping that customers would be willing to pay more for the reduced environmental impacts. This collection, along with similar shifts to organic cotton from other major apparel companies like Nike and Walmart, demonstrate that organic cotton can be incorporated affordably, and in harmony with other lines.

Furthermore, H&M has also shown that consumer communication on sustainability has finally gone mainstream. Consumers now understand that they can and should ask questions about where there purchases come from and how they are made. They have also proven that they can understand and incorporate sustainability traits into purchasing criteria.

The question that remains is whether these products will outsell regular garments, but at the very least, H&M has proven they can match them in style, quality, and price.

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