"H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection shows how the best style can be mindful of the planet to help protect it for the future. It's such a desirable collection, with pieces made from sustainable materials that you want to wear for seasons to come." These are the words of Natalia Vodianova, the face of H&M's new sustainable collection.
Small wonder then that Jackie Burger and H&M collaborated on Salon 58’s latest soirée that focused on sustainability in fashion held this past Saturday (8 April) at Cape Town’s Gallery Momo. Burger says, "Looking and feeling good is not about empty-headed consumption, it is all about creative liberation and empowerment. It starts with being comfortable with your personal and authentic self-expression. Fashion should never dictate what we can or cannot wear."
She believes that this requires us to be sustainable in everything we do, something the Swedish retailer has committed to in its 2016 Sustainability Report. The range of trousers, shirts, dresses and skirts is all made from recycled and/or sustainably produced fabrics and materials. Centre stage was a gossamer pink evening gown made from soft chiffon that once was plastic bottles washed up on a beach.
In addition to this trademarked Bionic fabric, H&M is the world’s biggestuser of cotton certified by the Better Cotton Initiative. Their goal is to use only recycled or sustainably sourced fabrics by 2030 and to be climate positive throughout the company by 2040. This undertaking starts with using only renewable energy in the production chain.
Burger and H&M’s Amelia-May Woudstra were joined by select panellists for the conversation around conscious living and what it means for each of them. As SARIE editor Michelle van Breda put it, "There is a way of doing things differently in life. There is a way of thinking differently in life." From a fashion point of view, fashion researcher and anthropologist Erica de Greef pointed out that this requires slowing down instead of constantly racing to keep up. "The industry will change with us if we choose more carefully, responsibly, consciously."
Seven-year old Phoebe Ahrens and Kateline Swanepoel added their young voices to the mix and their concern for the welfare of others as well as the planet was a hard-hitting reminder to the adults in the room.
Tarryn Oppel, Marie Claire’s fashion director; architect Ilze Wolff and photographer Gerda Genis all highlighted different aspects of this "new way of thinking" – Oppel by reclaiming her off-duty time, Genis by eating to nourish and feed her body and Wolf by reconsidering what spaces include and exclude in her designs. This last point was underlined by creative director Alwijn Burger of Blomboy who used pared-down décor with undecorated white plastic chairs as a reminder that we do not need as much as we often think.
To illustrate how easy it can be to take a more sustainable approach to fashion, guests were asked to bring unwanted clothes and drop them into the recycling bins provided by H&M's global Garment Collecting initiative. Since its launch, over 35 000 tonnes of garments have been collected. In exchange, shoppers are rewarded with vouchers to use towards their next H&M purchase.
Before and after the conversation guests enjoyed The Duchess Virgin Gin and Tonic, Graham Beck MCC and Juicebox’s fresh fruit juice. Johnny Hamman of Slippery Spoon served raw vegetable rolls and nourishing broth, and set up the Snap, Crackle & Pop cereal bar – all served in eco-friendly bowls. The soirée doubled as the official launch of the H&M Conscious Collection in South Africa and the highlight for many was the pop-up shop where guests could buy their favourites well before the range’s inshore launch on 20 April.
Burger will host her next salon on Saturday 24 June whereafter she will launch a series of smaller, tailored Salon 58 experiences that focus on personal style.