Circular economy is one of the buzziest topics in fashion at the moment, as companies look to reuse old stock in a bid to reduce the environmental impact of a widely renowned wasteful industry.
Swedish high street giant H&M is the latest to try its hand at adopting this idea, with the news it will be opening pop-ups to sell "vintage" pieces.
The pieces on offer will be from the brand's more fashion-forward line – H&M Studio – rather than its normal stock. H&M Studio has long been the company’s experimental arm, creating out-there fashion collections aimed more at Paris Fashion Week crowds than the high street. It presents two see-now, buy-now collections a year as part of the Paris calendar.
Such avante-garde pieces are not to everyone’s taste, naturally, and those that did not sell were stored away. Now, realising it is better to reuse pieces rather than simply let them gather dust, the company is launching two shops to sell past collections.
At present, the stores will only be in Sweden's Stockholm and Berlin, German, but there are plans to hopefully expand. H&M is partnering with Swedish vintage store Selpy to offer a curated selection of past H&M Studio pieces in four more stores.
Trying to encourage the reusing of clothes among customers, Ann-Sofie Johansson, H&M’s creative advisor, explained: “We need to be circular [and] we know that a big piece of that is reuse.
"It's a matter of seeing every garment as [if] it doesn't just have one life, [but] it has maybe nine lives—like a cat," she told Vogue.
Fast-fashion stores that offer items at rock-bottom prices have drawn heavy criticism for the pollution they are driving and for encouraging a 'throw-away' culture towards clothes.
In an effort to overturn that reputation, H&M has consistently been working on ways to reduce waste, pollution and the use of chemicals.
In October 2020 it launched Looop in one of its Stockholm stores. A machine the size of a shipping container, it enables customers to bring in an old garment and watch the machine turn it into something new. The machine cleans the items, cuts it into mulch and then spins it into new thread. The threads are then woven into a new garment.
Almost a completely closed system, it only needs a fraction of virgin fibres to make the new garment, and uses no water or chemicals.