H&M’s new line called Waste is made completely of left-over pieces from their Lanvin collection. Last year, H&M found itself in the middle of a PR firestorm when it was discovered that the company threw away its unsold clothes in New York City. H&M released a statement saying it would end the practice. The Waste line consists of 10 pieces and will be sold starting in February.
Textile waste is a big problem. An estimated 12.7 million tons of textiles were created in 2009, but the recovery rate for all unwanted textiles was 14.9 percent the same year, or 1.9 million tons. Most textiles saved from landfills end up in second-hand shops. Very few are used to make new clothing, which makes the Waste line so unique. And so clever, considering last year’s PR firestorm.
Perhaps in the not so distant future, every major clothing retailer will have their own line made from left-over pieces.
About six months before it was revealed what H&M did with unsold clothes, Speedo found itself with 18,000 unwanted LZR Racer swimsuits after Fina, the swimming world’s governing body, banned it from major swimming championships because it gave swimmers an unfair advantage. First launched in February 2008, Fina banned the swimsuits in July 2009. Speedo gave the swimsuits to a designer who specialized in recycling textile waste, Orsola de Castro who made cocktail dresses out of the swimsuits.
“For recyclers, logo protection is our biggest stumbling block,” de Castro said, “because what are you going to do with 1,000 defective Gap T-shirts that say gap? You can’t use the g or the p. You can’t make ap or ag because it’s immediately recognizable.” De Castro turned the Speedo logo upside down, made it into a butterfly and cut it to say ‘ed.’
“It’s groundbreaking,” she observes. “In terms of sustainability there is nothing more advanced than this.”