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H&M Taps Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower as Big Data Expert

His name might forever be linked with the Facebook privacy scandal that launched a thousand congressional hearings, but Christopher Wylie is likely hoping to leave controversy behind and return to his original passion: fashion and data.

The former Cambridge Analytica director of research-cum-whistleblower embarked on a new role with the H&M Group, effective Dec. 1, as director of research, Business of Fashion first reported. Wylie is tasked with working alongside artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics head Arti Zeighami to see how AI can address ongoing sustainability challenges in fashion, from overproduction and overconsumption to manufacturing using hazardous materials.

The move returns the Canadian data analytics guru to roots that saw him studying fashion and law in London prior to launching Eunoia Technologies, a data intelligence firm that aspired to “[sell] its data services to the advertising arms of clothing retailers like H&M or Burberry,” per The Globe and Mail.

H&M’s forays into sustainability includes its Conscious Collection, an annual capsule collection crafted from sustainable, recycled materials, with environmental impact that’s minimal compared to traditional, virgin raw materials. What’s more, each year the H&M Foundation, through its Global Change Award, sets out to find groundbreaking ideas that advance circularity in fashion, from new methods of textile recycling to innovative biobased fabrics.

This year has seen H&M experiment with applications for technology and big data, not to mention new payment options, amid financial woes and mounting inventory challenges.

The news comes on the heels of H&M’s November Transparency Hack in Los Angeles, which gathered students from the University of Southern California and Yale University as well as organizations including the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Nike, Patagonia, Microsoft and Reformation. The event, timed around the ReMode conference, focused on using technology, like blockchain and AI, to further supply chain transparency and asked industry leaders to brainstorm viable means of making these goals a reality.