H&M’s latest drive to become a sustainable company has led to new technology, Looop, being installed in its Denmark store. You take in old unwanted clothes, you walk out with brand new clothes. Looop ensures you leave with a different garment, ready to wear, with an environmentally clean conscience. Is this just the latest fad in sustainable marketing that only really touches the tip of the iceberg, or is this the real thing?
The process takes five hours in total, from walking into the store with an old shirt in hand, to walking out the store fresh t-shirt adorned. The material is cleaned, shredded, strengthened, twisted and knitted in an eight-step process; though it’s possible the item won’t be as strong as when first purchased, the entire concept of Looop is that the new garment can be returned once it becomes to feel weathered again. The idea is that a circular solution like Looop not only recycles existing materials, but ensures that new fabrics don’t need to be produced en masse to meet demand.
With the young person's compass increasingly pointing towards environmentally beneficial options - 80% of 18-21-year-olds are happy to purchase second-hand clothes - it’s refreshing and important to see a brand tackling the challenge of fast fashion head on. This is a move that may not benefit revenue as much as creating a new season collection would; despite possibly surfing the wave of sustainably sourced clothing revenue in years to come, right now this will have negative financial implications for H&M. The company’s much discussed, and much promoted, environmental policy has been a forerunner of sustainable thinking over the last ten years, with a transparent policy, be conscious range, and wash less initiative. Too often, the moves we see the big players in the fast-fashion world make are big shiny gestures lacking actual substance, and quite possibly there with the ulterior motive of hiding an ugly underbelly of environmental atrocities.
On a broader scale, it’ll be fascinating to see if this will work its way up to the higher powers of the fashion world. The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second; could we see Gucci’s infamous end of season collection burn become recycled garments through Looop? The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel, designers of Looop, have licensed the product non-exclusively to H&M, which gives scope for an increasing number of brands to opt for a circular solution, whether that be in-store or behind closed doors.
The question that should be posed against every would-be enviro-tech solution is: could this work for everyone? This is where a lot of projects and marketing bluffs fall down; they look great, they sound cool, but they aren’t workable as a scaled-up version. Looop may very well succeed where others fail. It’s easily usable for the general public, as yet we can see no environmental detriment, and can be rolled out to a more widescreen range of stores than just H&M. Watch this space.
Words by: Jordan Bramley
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