Conscious Exclusive is our premium womenswear collection of elevated, special pieces that are made from more sustainably sourced materials. The line was launched in 2012 with a focus on development and innovation.
I head up the design team for Conscious Exclusive. We’re a diverse team of people, so we always get together at the beginning of every season and pool our ideas and inspirations to create a mood board. Then, we begin working on designs as well as exclusive prints, and begin researching fabrications.
Over time, we have established great relationships with our suppliers. We also have a fantastic production team which weighs up the strengths and weaknesses of a particular material, waiting until an incredible innovation that we might have discovered during our Global Change Awards, for instance, is durable enough for us to use in a product. Often, we carry out trials with more sustainable fabrics we want to use in the future, but sometimes they’re not quite right. We always wait until a fabric is absolutely perfect before we use it – even if that takes years. In that sense, it’s a very mindful approach to creation involving a lot of patience.
For AW19, the H&M design team was enthralled by mysterious, glamorous parties from a bygone era. We started looking at masquerade and Surrealist balls in the 1960s, thinking about parties where getting dressed up increases the pleasure. We wanted to create special, one-off pieces that will stay in your wardrobe for years to come.
There are lots of feminine, fun pieces in this collection that appeal to my personal style, but my favourite piece is the ruffle-sleeved, velvet cropped top made from recycled polyester. It makes for a dramatic silhouette and looks great with a mini skirt or sleek black trousers and a glamorous pair of earrings. The Surrealist-eye drop-earrings are also one of my favourite pieces in the collection, as I think they’re brilliant, and will instantly elevate any outfit.
We hope the jacquard rose-print skirt made from recycled polyester will appeal to lots of our customers because it can be styled in lots of different ways. We know that some of our customers will want to wear this princess-shape skirt with a t-shirt and flats, in a more low-key manner; and some customers will want to give it a more sophisticated spin, pairing it with glamorous earrings and heels for a festive occasion. There is never just one correct way to style one of these pieces – they’re endlessly flattering in all their iterations.
We never design with one person in mind – our emphasis is always on democratising style and making timeless pieces that will suit different body types and personalities. We hope this AW19 collection, with its emphasis on dressing up, will appeal to our customers who want to shop more sustainably ahead of party season. I am always struck by how differently our customers style specific items according to their own taste – I love to see customers wearing the collection in their own way.
One of things we are most happy about is that this collection contains recycled brass and zinc. The accumulated metal is recycled jewellery that is melted, purified and cast into new products. Using recycled metal means we reduce our energy footprint and lessen the negative impacts of mining. We’re also really excited to be using REFIBRA™, which is made of reconstituted factory waste cotton that has been shredded and combined with wood pulp, before being remade into a new Tencel/Lyocell fibre. It contributes to a circular economy thanks to its closed-loop process.
We always try to adopt a 360-degree approach, and one of the most satisfying things for me about working on Conscious Exclusive was when one of our suppliers decided to specialise in sustainability because of our work at H&M. They saw a demand and decided to go for it. We know we are changing the business, and it’s exciting to think how it will grow in the years to come.
We are always looking to innovate and push the boundaries of more sustainable fashion to remain at the forefront of this powerful movement. We have lots of exciting plans about new innovations we want to include in the collections going forward, but it’s always a case of making sure they are entirely right for our products. Ultimately, our products have to be beautiful and timeless, otherwise they won’t appeal to our customers. Creating products that aren’t desirable is one of the most unsustainable things that you can do.
In stores from September 26th