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What Lee and H&M Pack Into Their ‘Next Gen’ Sustainable Denim

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Lee and H&M have joined forces to create what they’re billing as the “next generation” of more sustainable denim.

It’s a “holistic and ambitious collaboration,” the American denim maker and the Swedish retailer say, that will culminate next month with the debut of H&M’s first-ever 100 percent recycled cotton jeans, along with cotton-free denim made with Tencel, water-saving dyes and lower-impact denim washes. In lieu of leather patches, all jeans will feature animal-free labels derived from cork and jacron, a kind of washable kraft paper. The line also features oversized silhouettes meant for cocooning and workwear shapes that “draw on Lee’s esteemed heritage.”

The partnership has jump-started progress at other stages of design and production: For the first time, H&M will share on its website life-cycle assessment data about the water, carbon and energy impact of each of its denim items, from raw materials to end of life. Both Lee and H&M are members of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jean Redesign project, which is working to create more circular denim. (In October, H&M feted its first men’s collection designed following the initiative’s  guidelines. Earlier in 2020, Lee rolled out a new sustainability roadmap.)

Lee and H&M have joined forces to create what they’re billing as the “next generation” of more sustainable denim.

Lee x H&M

“We just loved working with Lee to push for change: a change for more sustainable and circular denim garments,” Jon Loman, designer at H&M, said in a statement. “We looked at every detail and challenged each other in a positive way. It’s also amazing to work with Lee’s iconic designs and give them a bit of our flavor, for H&M denim lovers around the world.”

The women’s collection includes “wide and loose” fits with callbacks to the ’90s, a more capaciously cut version of Lee’s signature Rider jacket, dungarees and overshirts for utilitarian enthusiasts, denim corsets with a “feminine edge” (“Bridgerton” fans, rejoice) and Texloop RCOT recycled-cotton jersey pieces for the full Lee x H&M look.

Men can look forward to workwear jackets (a “wardrobe essential with Lee’s true authenticity of design”), relaxed-fit, five-pocket and carpenter jeans, rough-and-tumble dungarees and denim bucket hats.

Lee and H&M have joined forces to create what they’re billing as the “next generation” of more sustainable denim.

Lee x H&M

“Lee is proud to be collaborating with H&M to continue our efforts to make better denim,” said Chris Waldeck, executive vice president and global brand president at Lee. “Our brand was founded more than 130 years ago with innovation in mind, and today we are happy to be joining with H&M to advance denim into a more sustainable future.”

The Lee x H&M collection will be available online at www.hm.com and select H&M stores on Feb. 4.

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