H&M took one more step toward global green fashion domination this week with the launch of its H&M Global Change Award—a contest offering €1 million to the innovator who presents what judges deem the next great method for recycling clothes. The best part? This challenge is annual, meaning vanguards have a chance of winning big bucks next year and the year after—and each passing year will see a much-needed shift in green technology.
This isn’t the first time the Swedish mega-brand has left its green thumbprint on the fashion world. In 2012, it launched its Conscious Collection, an assortment of hyper-trendy clothes crafted from sustainably-sourced materials like organic hemp and recycled polyester. Conscious Collection drew a lot of attention, and not just because stars like Vanessa Paradis, Emmy Rossum and Olivia Wilde sang its praises—the issue really resonated. Then, in 2014, H&M invited shoppers to donate their old jeans at H&M stores in exchange for shopping credit.
Some industry insiders say these efforts are just, well, window-dressing, and that H&M is simply trying to cash in on good publicity. But major changes don’t happen easily or quickly at companies of H&M’s size. We think the Global Change Award is just another step in the right direction, and every step counts. Yes, H&M will benefit from the good publicity. But the entire fashion industry will also prosper from innovations in clothing recycling technology that stem from this big-bucks contest. When the winner is announced at a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, next February 2016, we’ll be watching.