PARIS — Having invited its customers to donate used clothing back to its stores, Hennes & Mauritz AB is now encouraging them to reduce the environmental impact of caring for their garments.
The Swedish high-street giant has introduced a new labeling system, Clever Care, developed with Ginetex, the International Association for Textile Care Labeling.
It directs customers to a Web site, clevercare.info, that provides tips on how to minimize the impact of garment care through simple measures like lowering wash temperatures and reducing the use of tumble drying and dry cleaning.
Catarina Midby, sustainable fashion manager at H&M, said the Clever Care logo, which resembles a water lily, already appears on the care labels of around 50 percent of the retailer’s products and will be fully integrated by the end of the year, with the exception of underwear, home wear and some accessories.
“We realized that we wanted to do something about wear and care phase of a garment’s life cycle when we started studying life cycles and so forth at the design office to see how we could affect the general footprint of a garment from production through to the user phase,” she said.
“We know that over 60 percent of our customers do read the care labels, so we thought that’s where we need to be,” she added.
The initiative will be officially launched at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit on April 24, and Midby hopes other members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition will also adopt it. A redesigned version of the Web site will be unveiled in March.
The project is part of H&M’s ongoing efforts to make its products more eco-friendly, which includes a commitment to using only sustainable cotton by 2020. Midby said the measures were not incompatible with the retailer’s position as one of the world’s leading purveyors of fast fashion.
“I don’t think our fashion is so fast anymore. It’s clearly gone from being all about trends to being about personal style, which of course is much more long-lasting, and then with the quality we have, we don’t see our clothes as disposable at all,” she said.
“Hopefully, our consumers are aware that we have a very big sustainability commitment at H&M and that all of us at H&M — all 104,000 of us — are actually responsible for our sustainability work. This is a small part of it, but it’s very important,” she said.