Jun 10, 2021

Customers demand sustainably sourced items and H&M supplies

Helen Adams
2 min
H&M Foundation's virtual collection uses computer-generated imagery and is designed with the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals in mind

‘The Billion Dollar Collection’, launched today by the non-profit H&M Foundation, presents ten innovative sustainable start-ups, that could change the fashion industry. 

Showcased as garments in a virtual fashion collection, each start-up features a price tag, reflecting the estimated support each company believes they need to achieve scale for their disruptive innovations.

The fashion industry lacks sustainability in many areas, from the volume of water used, to accusations of human slavery in factories, to the level of greenhouse gasses produced by synthetic fibers. H&M is out to change this, without compromising on style. 


Customers want sustainable fashion and the fashion industry is keen to meet demand

The H&M Foundation has supported early-stage innovation since 2015 through the Global Change Award, recognising ideas that can make the fashion industry circular. 

With over 20,000 entries since its inception, this innovation challenge shows innovators are ready to transform the fashion industry. More than ever, customers are demanding sustainable fashion and companies are transforming to meet this requirement.

Yet many start-ups struggle to receive the necessary support to bring their ideas to the scale required to truly change the fashion industry beyond capsule collections and pilots. 

Billions of dollars are needed to change the fashion industry and the virtual ‘Billion Dollar Collection’ highlights 10 previous Global Change Award winners with potential to create value, with the fashion industry’s support.

“With this campaign we want to create awareness of the impact sustainable innovation can achieve if given the opportunity to grow”, Diana Amini, Global Manager of the H&M Foundation. “Together, we can create a shift in the fashion industry where sustainability and innovation are implemented as default practice. The time is now.”


H&M aiming for the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The ten innovations selected for this collection of evolved casual classics come from across the globe and encompass elements from materials to traceability. 

The collection has been exclusively created in computer-generated imagery by Mackevision, part of Accenture Interactive. Using the latest CGI character design technology, Mackevision created a unique digital avatar from scratch, which brings the textures and intricate details of the collection to life through movement. 

Accenture also brought its 360-degree value approach to the collection with the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals in mind. The model shows each innovation could have a big, positive impact for the planet, if given the opportunity to scale. 

“The Billion Dollar Collection presents a unique opportunity to help the fashion industry reinvent itself through sustainable innovations that can fuel future growth and bring positive change,” said Jill Standish, senior managing director and global retail industry group lead at Accenture.


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Jul 21, 2021

The masks of sorrow

John Pinching
2 min
Masks of sorrow
Face coverings have been our salvation but also an ugly source of waste

Love them or hate them – okay, we hate them – masks have been a necessary sacrifice in our ongoing battle with COVID-19.

Different countries have had different policies and approaches but, eventually, we all ended up covering our noses and mouths with surgical, decorative or improvised coverings. Some have even used them as weird hammocks for their chins, during 'down time'. 

One thing we can all agree on, is that they are not cool – not even the ‘ironic’ personalised ones with smiles or witty statements (Chris Whitty statements, if you will). For the spectacles wearer, they have been akin to walking through fog. Indeed, finding avocados in the supermarket has become a logistical nightmare of epic proportions.

But, they do save lives. They have been our unsightly salvation; our way of navigating this dystopian maze.

These days, however, there is always a hidden caveat when something is mass produced and – when the pavements and streets are strewn with discarded masks – it is hard to ignore the environmental cost of what has become a ubiquitous accessory.

One of the big problems with masks was the sudden demand, which couldn’t be outpaced by international legislation when it comes to production principles. Therefore, it quickly became a jackpot for ‘manufacturers’ who recognised it as a unique opportunity to cash in on a crisis. There has also been an imperative among every individual to keep replacing face coverings, resulting in one of the least sustainable but wholly essential items in modern history.

The impact on the environment and the economy has, thus, taken its toll. An additional 7,200 tons of medical waste has been generated specifically due to the coronavirus, and most of it is disposable masks. 

One solution involves the sterilisation of regular ‘N95’ masks, allowing healthcare workers to use them more than once and, therefore, reducing costs and environmental waste by upto 75%. Although reusable masks would reduce wastage, until there is a wider cultural shift or even a ban on disposal masks which do not biodegrade the problem could reach catastrophic levels with sewage, drainage and landfill operations unable to cope. 

While we are expected to reduce our mask usage in the months and years to come, the challenge for governments is to create a mask production framework, especially if we are to avoid ‘PPI floating across the ocean’ becoming the defining image of the next century.

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