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H&M: ‘green’ is the new black

Sweden – H&M’s Conscious Foundation announced this week it will give a Euro 1 million grant to ‘pioneering’ sustainable fashion ideas that will close the loop for the apparel industry. Designers finishing in the top five of the company’s inaugural Global Change Award will receive a guaranteed Euro 100 000 apiece to jump-start their work.

According to the retailer, its Conscious Foundation aims to ‘catalyse green fashion’ to make a positive contribution in the resource efficiency debate. The winner of the innovation accelerator will be revealed at an awards ceremony in the Swedish capital Stockholm in February 2016. Designers can sign up for the competition until October 31 this year.

The global public will be invited to distribute half of the total grant through an online vote to boost awareness of eco fashion. The five finalists will subsequently take part in a fashion boot camp as well as a one-year training and coaching programme with a circular economy focus.

‘The question for fashion is no longer ”What is the new black?” but rather ”What innovative ideas can close the loop?”’ comments Rebecca Earley, professor in sustainable textile and fashion design at University of the Arts London and also a member of the Global Change Award jury.

Other jury members include cradle-to-cradle expert Dr Michael Braungart, supermodel and actress Amber Valletta, Ellis Rubinstein of the New York Academy of Sciences and Vogue Italia’s editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani.

‘Game-changing ideas can come from anywhere, so the challenge is open to anyone,’ says Karl-Johan Persson, ceo of H&M and board member of the Conscious Foundation. However, critics have pointed out that offering sustainable apparel is no quick fix for ”fast fashion”. An estimated 80 million pieces of clothing are made every year so it is argued that overproduction remains a notable challenge too.

French singer and actress Vanessa Paradis wearing H&M’s eco fashion.

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