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Online Searches for Clothing Recycling Are ‘Skyrocketing’

Interest in recycling clothing is “growing every month” and may in fact be the top search trend in fashion this year, according to SEMrush, a digital marketing firm based in Boston.

For people looking to cast off clothing, H&M is the most searched fashion brand, followed by Coach, Patagonia, Hollister, Nike and Levi Strauss, Jane Garnako, head of public relations at SEMrush, told WWD.

While not all of the end results have clothing-recycling programs, the term first “skyrocketed” this past January—perhaps, not coincidentally, when Marie Kondo’s show about tidying up hit the Netflix airwaves. But successive months have maintained that momentum with a month-on-month increase in searches, Garnako said.

It’s not just garment offloaders who are flocking to H&M. SEMrush data from March 2019 showed that H&M, with 67.4 million visitors, is the most popular fashion e-commerce site in the world, period, followed by Macy’s (55.9 million), Russia’s Wildberries (55.3 million) and China’s Zaful (53 million).

But H&M’s publicized push into sustainability may be helping. Online interest in ethically produced clothing is at an all-time high now that socially and environmentally conscious Gen Z-ers are coming into their spending power. Search engine Lyst recently reported that searches for “sustainable fashion” have soared by 66 percent since 2018, and French tech startup Heuritech pointed out in July that mentions of #sustainablefashion on Instagram have quintupled since 2016.

And some businesses are noticing. Germany-based e-tailer Zalando, for instance, boosted its eco-friendly apparel assortment after observing an uptick in search terms such as “organic” and “fair trade” on its website. To make it easier for customers to shop green, Net-a-Porter created a dedicated platform for sustainable items, and Asos spruced up its semi-curated “responsible edit.” H&M itself in April announced it will be providing product-transparency details for all garments and most H&M Home interior products sold on, including “production country, supplier names, factory names and addresses, as well as the number of workers in the factories.”

“By being open and transparent about where our products are made, we hope to set the bar for our industry and encourage customers to make more sustainable choices,” Isak Roth, head of sustainability at H&M, said in a statement.