Launched last week, H&M's sixth Conscious Collection is the brand's latest line of clothing and accessories made with sustainable materials. It's a rich assortment of evening gowns, cocktail dresses, and workwear—all of which flaunt a higher price tag than your typical H&M piece, a trade-off for their more eco-friendly materials and intricate construction.
Originally launched in 2013, the Conscious Collection, sold in 160 stores worldwide as well as online, is one of the main components of H&M's multipronged sustainability strategy. The mega-chain that brought in a cool $21.17 billion in revenue last year also invites shoppers to return their used clothes—no matter the brand—to stores, where they can be resold or broken down into fiber. To date, this giveback program has collected nearly 39,000 tonnes (85 million pounds) of garments—enough fabric to make 196 million T-shirts. By 2020, H&M hopes that 100 percent of its cotton will be sustainably sourced, meaning it's organic (grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers) or recycled from these old garments and textile leftovers.
While H&M is far from the only fast-fashion brand making sustainable shifts (Levi's repurposes old jeans with its Re/Done line; Urban Outfitters remakes vintage, deadstock, and surplus materials with Urban Renewal; and Zara just launched a sustainable line of its own last year, Join Life), their progress still deserves praise. Let's at least celebrate the fact that a brand with such a massive reach, opening an average of 400 stores a year, is trying to introduce its audience to eco-options, one recycled polyester evening gown at a time. Here are our top picks from the new collection. We bet you can't tell any of them are green upon first, or even second, glance.