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Turn-of-the-Century Train Travel and Taffeta Inspire H&M’s Latest Sustainable Line

Fast-fashion favorite H&M will reboot its Conscious Exclusive collection this spring with a new line of sustainable products that celebrate “the Golden Age of train travel.”

Inspired by Le Train Bleu, a French sleeper train that ran from the port city of Calais to the French Riviera during its 1920 heyday, the range features gauzy dresses and skirts with copious ruffles and voluminous sleeves, along with tops and scarves adorned with antiqued florals and stripes.

The line will feature new materials like Vegea vegan leather and Circulose recycled textile.
A tulle ball gown made from recycled polyester. H&M

The warm weather line will employ a new roster of sustainably sourced materials, like Circulose, a natural fabric produced from recycled textiles, and Renu, a premium recycled polyester, in addition to the organic cottons and recycled materials that the brand has used in Conscious Exclusive collections past. It will also utilize leftover stock fabrics from previous H&M releases. Ranging in price from $24.99-$399.99, the capsule will be available in select stores and at HM.com beginning March 26.

“The stimulus for SS20 was the idea of glamorous train travel, which the design team felt was wonderfully symbolic of H&M’s journey as a company towards circularity,” the company’s designer, Ella Soccorsi, said in a statement.

The spring Conscious Exclusive line was inspired by the Golden Age of train travel in France.
Satin slides made from recycled polyester and repurposed glass beads. H&M

The collection was inspired not only by Le Train Bleu, but also by the “decadent creatives” of the time, like Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso, who spent their idle hours relaxing at Villa Santo Sospir in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France, Soccorsi said.

“We wanted to propose a collection that played to that decadent, carefree time but also contained enduring designs our customers will love wearing daily,” she added.

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The collection’s key styles include a floor-length recycled polyester ball gown, a recycled taffeta mini dress with pleated sleeves, a ruffled mini skirt made from recycled polyester, and denim made from 100 percent undyed organic cotton.

The apparel offering is complemented by over-the-top accessories like flat cocktail slippers with recycled glass bead embellishments, which the company said were leftover from a previous collection, and a pouch-like evening bag made from Vegea, a vegan leather alternative made from discarded grape skins and stalks.

The line includes new sustainable materials like Renu, a high-quality recycled polyester.
A ruffled cocktail dress with chiffon lining made from recycled polyester. H&M

“For SS20, the Conscious Exclusive design team considered the emotional durability and afterlife of the garments they were designing more carefully than ever before,” creative advisor Ann-Sofie Johansson said.

“The team has doubled down on fabric composition, alongside utilizing dyeing methods that come with less environmental impacts,” she noted, citing natural dye made from coffee grounds collected from H&M’s own production offices.

“We are committed to a truly holistic approach to sustainability, as well as to creating special pieces that will last a lifetime,” she added.