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H&M’s Latest Footwear Collab Turns to Banana Fiber and Grape Leather

Earlier this year, H&M unveiled Innovation Stories, a series of capsules collectively aiming to promote the use of sustainable materials, technology and production processes across the garment industry.

The first of these collections debuted in March. Dubbed Science Story, the line featured 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.

Though not technically a part of its Innovation Stories initiative, the Swedish retailer’s latest collaboration is channeling that same ethos as it uses banana plant-based fibers and grape leather to make eco-conscious shoes.

H&M and the British footwear brand Good News joined forces Thursday to release a retro collection of sustainably made trainers and slides. Designed with a ‘70s-inspired color palette, the footwear features recycled rubber soles, as well as uppers made with recycled cotton, Bananatex—a fiber derived from banana plants—and the vegan grape leather Vegea.

The line includes seven trainers and one pair of slides. An accompanying kids’ collection features three of the trainer styles.

“Working with Good News gave us such good energy and positivity,” David Söderlund, a designer at H&M, said in a statement. “Their creativity and drive for change inspired our team. We joined forces to become better together. The collection is a bright and colourful contrast to a grey and uncertain world. I love the colours and the innovative materials.”

Fashion industry veterans Nia Jones and Ben Tattersall founded Good News in 2016 after seeing first-hand the amount of waste the footwear industry can produce.

“We are very proud to be collaborating with H&M, pushing one of the giants to look at every component of a shoe,” Jones said in a statement. “It was important for us to make the collection as sustainable as possible while still looking fun and cool.”

H&M’s relationship with its grape leather partner dates back to 2017, when the retailer’s associated non-profit, the H&M Foundation, named Vegea one of five Global Change Award winners. The Italy-based materials maker took home the largest prize, $321,195, for its sustainable concept—using leftovers from winemaking to develop vegetable-based leather.

As one of the five winners, Vegea joined a one-year accelerator program associated with the Global Change Award. H&M has turned to the company’s plant-based leather since then, including to make bags and footwear for last spring’s Conscious Exclusive collection.