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Going Green: H&M Unveils Sustainable Denim

H&M is stepping up its commitment for a more sustainable future in stores and behind the scenes. On Tuesday, the fashion retailer revealed the first images of its debut Conscious Denim collection, set to hit stores worldwide Oct. 2, made using more sustainable materials and with more conscious processes.

The brand used guidelines from Spanish denim consultants Jeanologia to test its denim washing processes, including water and energy consumption. To meet the Conscious Denim standards at H&M, the materials had to be more sustainable and the washes had to achieve the highest status according to Jeanologia’s criteria.

Women’s styles include contemporary cuts, including boyfriend, high-waisted skinnies and tapered ankle in deeo indigo hues, and jogger jeans in knitted indigo and a jumpsuit in Tencel. Classic five-pocket styles in raw denim, coupled with a range of denim and twill jackets in indigo are highlights in the men’s range. The children’s collection spans jeans to dungarees.

On Monday, the Swedish retailer also announced a unique partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) on a sustainable global supply chain that will address industrial relations, wages, and capacity building for social partners and skills development. In 2001, the fashion retailer joined the ILO Better Factories program in Cambodia designed to improve working conditions in the county’s export garment facilities. The new strategic agreement will promote a broader range of activities in a larger number of countries aimed to enhance the sustainability work in H&M’s supply chain. Efforts will take place at the global, national and enterprise level.

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H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson, said, “We see the cooperation as a great opportunity to further strengthen our work towards the establishment of well-functioning industrial relations on all our strategic production markets. ILO, with its unique tripartite composition, is the perfect partner for addressing issues such as wages and training and skills development in the textile industry.”

The partnership is also intended to set a standard model for other operators and create a global alliance to promote the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda, which was forged to create a consensus among governments, employers and workers that productive employment and “decent work” are key elements to achieving a fair globalization, reducing poverty and sustainable development. The ILO has a tripartite structure with governments, employer groups and workers’ organizations from 185 countries.

ILO director general Guy Ryder, said, “Issues in the garment industry are systemic and require action that helps develop effective industrial relations and promote respect of international labor standards. There is therefore an urgent need to establish strategic and comprehensive collaborations with companies that have experience in these fields, such as H&M.”