The Jeans Redesign project
In order to transform the way fashion companies produce jeans, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation announced last year new circular economy guidelines tackling waste, pollution and the use of harmful practices, setting minimum requirements on garment durability, material health, recyclability and traceability. Joined by the H&M Group and several other major fashion brands, manufacturers and fabric mills around the world, “let’s redesign denim” became the collective vision and immediate challenge at hand.
Fast forward to 2020, H&M now launches a remarkable menswear denim collection that springs from the participation in this landmark project. The collection features three jean styles, two jackets, an overshirt, a tote bag and a bucket hat — all made in denim with a modern workwear vibe — in a colour palette of light grey, washed black, mid-blues and deep indigo. While at Weekday, the focus is on a unisex pair of regular fit jeans and a jacket in a simple rinse wash.
The Jeans Redesign project at both H&M and Weekday is about celebrating our denim expertise and designing pieces that are durable, timeless, easy to repair, and that age with a beautiful patina. In both collections, we followed, and in some cases, even exceeded the guidelines put forth by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
“The fabrics of the Weekday pieces consist of 20% post-consumer waste and we really thought about all the details in order to use as little material as possible. We looked over the whole thread schedule, making sure that we used thicker thread to avoid tearing issues and thinner thread where we thought it unnecessary. And the thread is biodegradable. This project has been a real challenge, but also a great way for us to learn. Circular design is the future. Denim is one of our core categories, so it felt natural for us to start with that and be at the forefront,” says Per Axén, designer at Weekday.
The denim fabric in the H&M collection is made from a mix of organic cotton and up to 35% recycled cotton (from post-consumer waste). The dyes used considerably reduce water waste and energy consumption compared to conventional alternatives. To enable circularity of our denim, we used Tencel threads instead of Polyester, making sure that all of the garments can be recycled easily at the end of their life.
With the Jeans Redesign project, the H&M Group is proactively rethinking the design and production of denim products, taking a further step towards our aim of becoming fully circular in all our processes. It also shows that brands within the same family, and brands from all over the world, can positively collaborate on these issues and all benefit by working together.
“Sustainability and circularity should be seen as the parameters that designers move within. It’s a new set of borders and limitations, if you like. Being a designer is also about finding new opportunities and connecting more with the technical side of how a pair of jeans are made. This project went back to the foundations and what was taken for granted before was now seen with new eyes. With this collection we hope that we can take another great step towards making more sustainable products,” says Jon Loman, designer at H&M.
Ultimately, the aim is to use the learnings from the Jeans Redesign project on a bigger scale — all the way from the design stage, use of materials and production to when the final product reaches our customers. In other words, this is just the beginning of redesigned denim at the H&M Group.