We are constantly searching for new ways to build a better and more circular fashion industry.
Why innovation is at the core of our business
The fashion industry is transforming from a linear approach towards a circular system. This is not an easy shift, but one we need to make to tackle some of the most urgent impacts of our industry. This transition will open up lots of opportunities to strengthen our customer offering, take smarter business decisions, create better products and build more resilient value chains.
We need to invent new materials and processes, develop new business models and investigate new ways for people to experience fashion and design. We also need to find new ways to improve working conditions and plan for the jobs of the future in a digital world with circular supply chains.
How we innovate at H&M Group
Innovation isn’t easy. Ideas need to be trialled and tested, and then scaled up to make them work in a business our size. At H&M Group, we have built an innovation ecosystem that offers a broad range of support and helps remove any barriers along the way:
- H&M Foundation’s Global Change Awards funds early-stage innovations that have the potential to build a planet-positive fashion industry.
- Our Circular Innovation Lab supports innovators and start-ups in joint development projects around circularity, from early-stage proof of concepts to capsule collections.
- H&M CO:LAB is our venture capital arm that invests in new and developing technologies.
- The Laboratory is our wider internal innovation hub that supports our brands and business with research and idea exploration.
Investing in the materials of tomorrow
We helped Renewcell release the first commercial products using its Circulose® fibres made from discarded textiles and we have ordered further volumes from their first commercial plant that opened in 2022.
To test and support the future of sustainable textile processing, we have invested in Alchemie Technology, and are investigating how we can implement their technology in our supply chain.
We invested in Colorifix, which uses microbiology to produce and fix dye on textiles. A number of our brands intend to place orders following the launch of their first bioreactor.
In 2022, we supported research from Karolinska Institutet and SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) to scale production of a protein-based fibre that mimics spider silk.
Our Circular Innovation Lab and ARKET produced a capsule collection using SPINNOVA®, a natural fibre made in Finland from FSC or PEFC certified wood using minimal water and energy. The fibre has the potential to be recycled repeatedly without loss of quality.
H&M CO:LAB also supported Infinited Fiber Company to scale the production of InfinnaTM, an man-made cellulosic fibre made from cotton waste.
For a full list of innovative materials and process we supported in 2022, see our Sustainability Disclosure.
Offering customers new ways to access our products
From integrating second-hand products to our online channels to offering curated, pre-loved clothing in-store, we are continuously updating the ways our customers can access and engage with fashion. Find out more about these and other circular business models here.
Building reverse supply chains
We are developing reverse supply chains. These items can then be put back into circulation either as second-hand products or reused and recycled so they can be used as fibres and other resources in our production.
As part of this initiative, we launched Looper Textile Co., a joint venture with our garment collecting partner, Remondis. The company collects and sorts used and unwanted textiles for resale and recycling in Europe.
Access to sustainable products and services should be universal, so we’ll continue to develop and scale Circular Business Models. This way we can make sure our products are used more, reduce pressure on resources and generate new revenue streams.
We also want to make it easier to recycle garments. Today, a small percentage of clothing is recycled because it is hard to sort garments efficiently and there is a lack of chemical recycling processes working at the scale we need. We will focus on scaling up this industrial set-up in future innovation projects.