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H&M Experiments with Sustainable Dyes in New Collection

Sustainable dyes are the latest focus for H&M’s Innovation Stories, a series of capsules collectively aiming to promote the use of sustainable materials, technology and production processes across the garment industry.

The Swedish clothing giant’s “Color Story” for spring centers on women’s separates dyed using techniques such as biotechnology, plant-based pigments and digital textile printing. The result is a collection rich with color spanning warm shades of yellow and orange, deep indigos and blushing pinks, as well as on-trend tie-dye prints that bring the palette together.

The collection includes several sustainable firsts for H&M as well as for the apparel industry. Colorifix, a U.K. biotech company that uses a natural, biological process to produce and fix pigments onto textiles, is launching worldwide with the H&M collection. Meeting all key industry standards, the solution eliminates the use of harsh chemistry and drastically reduces water consumption.

We aRe SpinDye, a recycled polyester that is pigmented before being extracted into yarn, is also featured in the collection in the form of a terra-cotta pant and matching top. The process uses 75 percent less water during the entire coloring process and requires 90 percent less chemical consumption.

H&M debuts Color Story, a collection of sustainably dyed garments, as part of its Innovation Stories series that promotes sustainability.
H&M Color Story Courtesy

“We’re continually aiming to create elevated pieces with more sustainable materials and processes,” said Ann-Sofie Johansson, creative advisor at H&M. “With this collection, our forward-thinking designs work together with revolutionary dye processes to make a positive change—be that lower water consumption or reformed manufacturing. This collection has a charming free spirit; our customers will no doubt love these contemporary pieces, but we hope they’re inspired by the empowering sustainable narrative, too.”

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Defined by graceful draping, delicate silhouettes and prints, the Color Story collection covers a range of skirts, slouchy jeans, ponchos, T-shirts, trousers and more for women. The collection also includes jewelry made from recycled glass and sandals made with Bloom, a flexible foam partly produced with algae biomass. The collection will be available in select stores and online beginning April 15.

H&M debuts Color Story, a collection of sustainably dyed garments, as part of its Innovation Stories series that promotes sustainability.
H&M Color Story Courtesy

Dyes are becoming an increasing point of focus for brands in recent months. Sustainable denim brand Mud Jeans debuting its Undyed collection, a range of jeans that achieves its color from only the recycled fibers in its construction. Earlier this year, Levi’s Wellthread launched a collection featuring a process that uses ultrasonic waves to apply plant-based dye.

Alternative dyes were also the focus of Fashion for Good’s latest Accelerator Program, which features startups such as Eco2Dye, a company that specializes in waterless textile dyeing technology; and Stony Creek Colors, the U.S.-based natural indigo maker.

Sustainable dye is the latest in a series of new sustainable initiatives recently launched by H&M. The company highlighted some key developments from 2020 in a recent Sustainability Performance Report, including 64.5 percent of materials are now from recycled or more sustainable sources, and the company reached its goal that 100 percent of cotton it uses it is organic, recycled or sourced in a more sustainable way.

The first of H&M’s Innovation Stories series, Science Story, launched in March. It showcased future-focused materials like Evo by Fulgar, a yarn made from all natural castor oil, as well as Desserto, a bio-based leather developed from cactus plants and Texloop’s recycled textile fabrics.