Sustainable Resource News

‘Upcycling’: Obligation for the Young

Christopher Raeburn, autumn/winter 2012, in London.

“Upcycling” is the buzzword in eco-conscious London.


This season, Estethica, the display of reclaimed and sustainable clothes at London Fashion Week, included colorful work from students at the Central Saint Martins school, who created clothes from the ends of thread spools, fabric remnants and fluff from the bottom of factory machines.

“They are designs from a younger generation,” said Orsola de Castro, creative director of the display’s eco section, sponsored by Mulberry. It has gone from “yummy mummies” to something much more contemporary, she added.

Christopher Raeburn was a founding member of Estethica, but has grown his sporty, outerwear brand of sustainable and reclaimed clothes to encompass genuine fashion style.His collection had parachute silk skirts but also many other pieces, including a floor-sweeping trench and cute spotted dresses. A new accessories section provided unisex tote bags and holdalls.“Recycled fibers, British wool and now accessories — all remade in England,” Mr. Raeburn said. “The plan is to make clothes of quality and value. I think you have a real obligation to sustainability if you are a young designer — and I am really proud.”Upcycling” is the buzzword in eco-conscious London.

This season, Estethica, the display of reclaimed and sustainable clothes at London Fashion Week, included colorful work from students at the Central Saint Martins school, who created clothes from the ends of thread spools, fabric remnants and fluff from the bottom of factory machines.

“They are designs from a younger generation,” said Orsola de Castro, creative director of the display’s eco section, sponsored by Mulberry. It has gone from “yummy mummies” to something much more contemporary, she added.


What does it take to create luxury fashion that is truly green?

Bruno Pieters has created a new line, Honest by, that he bills as fashion’s first financially transparent ecologically sound label.

Photo of model by:Alex Salinas 

The designer Bruno Pieters believes he has the answer with a new brand, Honest by. It is avant garde, luxury fashion that is mostly sustainable, mostly organic and — this is the revolutionary bit — financially transparent.

At, which made its debut Jan. 30, anyone can see a complete description of every material used in the construction of, say, an organic linen jersey knit dress.

Not only can clothing choices be filtered for criteria like recycled or European origin, but the details of each supplier are diligently detailed, including items like the number of employees and how long it took to cut and to iron the garment. The price of components from raw materials to transport is listed, plus the markup. Organic certificates are posted and explained, along with analysis of each product’s carbon footprint.

Mr. Pieters calls Honest by “the world’s first 100 percent transparent company” — and the result of a sabbatical that expanded his thinking about fashion.

A Belgian designer and former Hugo Boss art director, Mr. Pieters closed his eponymous fashion label two years ago to travel around India.

“What struck me most was the openness of the people,” he said. “They are so proud of their products they immediately tell you everything about them, where and by whom they are made, and the time it took to make them — complete, spontaneous, ego-free transparency.

“I was also inspired by this huge billboard of Gandhi I saw in Delhi, saying ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ I realized I should adopt this attitude.”

Mr. Pieters returned to Antwerp, and began research on how to create a line produced with the least possible harm to people, animals and the environment. He says it took him a year to find and to vet the suppliers, many of them based in Europe, where health and safety standards and the rights of employees are vigilantly policed.

When the Honest by Web site arrived, it showcased a 58-piece collection for men and women.

“How it’s made and where it comes from are questions consumers are asking across so many areas of their lives, from food and furniture to fashion,” said Lorna Hall, a senior retail analyst at the global trends forecaster WGSN. “In luxury fashion they need to be talking about it more — Prada did last year with the ‘Made In’ series of locally sourced products.”

“The next generation of consumers in Northern Europe are taught about provenance and sustainability in schools,” Ms. Hall said. “If you’re a brand that wants to stick around, you have to examine this stuff now.”

Transparency isn’t the only twist in the Honest by tale. Twenty percent of the profits will go to charity, currently Sebastian Indian Social Projects, a children’s organization in southern India that Mr. Pieters visited two years ago.

Products are available only online for now, although there have been discussions about a shop in Antwerp and there are plans to open in-store shops at established retailers.

Also, every three months, starting April 5, Mr. Pieters plans to have a guest designer contribute styles that will have the individual’s name or label but will be made to meet Honest by principles.

The Web site’s news section has a woman’s photograph with a large green button bearing the April 5 date covering her face, and a question-and-answer session that mentions her Paris showroom. Mr. Pieters, declined to name names but said: “I admire the work of Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Martin Margiela and Raf Simons. They have been true pioneers. But I also love people like Donna Karan, who aren’t afraid to talk about sensitive and controversial issues, such as the garment manufacturers in New York that are disappearing.”

Honest by garments are limited edition, produced in very small runs of five or 10 per style. Items arrive with no regard for fashion seasons. And they are expensive — the organic linen jersey knit dress, for example, is €656.04, or $865.39. The price breakdown shows that the dress, including the thread, various labels and the tag with its safety pin, cost €135.54, with wholesale and retail markups added on top.

“The transparency concept exists to justify the prices,” Mr. Pieters said. “If you produce 20 pieces in Belgium, or anywhere in the world, it will always be a higher price than if you produce 1,000. But I’m happy that it’s already less expensive than my previous collections.”


 H&M Kicks Up CSR Business Values with Exclusive Conscious Collection and Fashion Against AIDS


We recently covered H&M’s CSR business initiative run in collaboration with Marni in support of Red Cross Japan earthquake relief and now the fast-fashion giant are launching two lines that reaffirm the company’s commitment to walking the talk. The retail clothing conglomerate, whose buyer can be seen on NBC’s Fashion Star, is launching two socio-environmental clothing lines this spring including a new spin on their annual Conscious Collection and an expansion on their Fashion Against AIDS line.
Images courtesy of

H&M’s Conscious Collection initially launched in 2011 and represents its sustainable fashion ethos but what makes this year’s collection different is that they have added an Exclusive capsule line within the Conscious Collection that is specifically made for galas, red carpets and other glamorous events. The collection is made from organic cotton and hemp as well as recycled polyester and demonstrates the variety that is now possible in upscale green fashion with styles reflecting today’s red carpet diversity. The collection has already gained A-list celebrity attention with Amanda Seyfried wearing their blue tuxedo blazer and shorts at a London premiere, Oscar nominee Viola Davis sporting the hot-pink sleeveless top and skirt and Kristin Davis wearing the apple green embroidered dress to a Vanity Fair event. Even Oscar-winners Michelle Williams wore an H&M sustainable black and gold gown to the BAFTAs in London this year and Natalie Portmanchose a $50.00 H&M creation to an Oscar event last year.

Momentum for a sustainable upscale fashion line has been building since Colin Firth’s wife Livia put forth the Green Carpet Challenge for stars to wear eco-fashions this past award season and H&M have certainly taken the challenge to heart. Even though this line is gaining media and celebrity attention, H&M have ensured the pieces remain accessible to the average consumer looking for that special something with the pieces ranging in price from $19.99 for a top to $299 for a floor length gown. According to H&M’s Conscious Actions Sustainability Report, the company is “the number one user of organic cotton in the world and that they’ve donated 2.3 million garments to charitable causes.

H&M Conscious Collection is an excellent example of their consummate approach to CSR business programs which tend to combine responsible practices, spreading awareness for an associated cause and raising funds in support that same cause. The company’s Fashion Against AIDS line is another example of this approach as it too ticks all their CSR business boxes.

Fashion Against Aids will launch tomorrow, April 26th, 2012, in Canada and in over 300 H&M locations worldwide. The line features prints that H&M commissioned from international artists and illustrators solely for this collection. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from the purchase price of every item in the line will go directly to fund youth HIV/AIDS prevention, education and awareness organizations, including: Designers Against AIDS (DAA), YouthAIDS, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and MTV Staying Alive Foundation. The Fashion Against AIDS line first launched in 2008 and has since raised over $6.5 for these projects.

H&M’s Head of Design Ann-Sofie Johansson has said, “I love this year’s Fashion Against AIDS collection. It brings together so many global styles that send not only a powerful fashion message, but also help spread the word about HIV/AIDS awareness. It’s great that the collection includes the work of artists and illustrators from many different countries, helping us to raise funds for these vital youth HIV/AIDS charities.”

You don’t have to purchase a piece of clothing to support H&M’s Fashion Against AIDS as the company will also donate $1.00 for every make-out/kiss photo uploaded to their gallery so pucker up, grab your partner and do your part. Of course another way to support this program is to wear a condom and spread the word to others to do the same as well.

H&M believe Fashion Against AIDS is not about sexual preferences – it’s about love and that’s why they have included gay couples in their adverts so a big standing O for that. Say what you want about H&M as they may not get everything right 100% of the time but you can’t deny that they get more right than most and we’d be better off with more like ‘em.

Original article found here: H & M is launching two socio-environmental clothing lines this spring including a new spin on their annual Conscious Collection and an expansion on their Fashion Against AIDS line.

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