Hennes & Mauritz’s Innovation Stories initiative takes its inspiration this time from the metaverse.
Although our website readers may be unimpressed with metaverse stories, it seems momentum with the virtual world is on the rise, with more opinion leaders and movers and shakers getting involved.
Called the H&M Innovation Metaverse Design Story, the new collection became available at two of its US retail stores (Williamsburg and Times Square) and online at hm.com.
While it’s a real collection, the inspiration comes from the metaverse and what the company identifies as ‘self-expression and an exploration of sustainability’.
The physical collection uses sustainable materials, but there is also a digital collection, and, in some countries, rental services.
H&M has turned up the colours in the collection—not just due to present trends as highlighted in this magazine, but because of the possibilities presented by the virtual world. Since there are no restrictions on the metaverse, and it’s a free space for human imagination, the label has gone more experimental. However, as real and virtual worlds blur—and they have been doing so for decades—it’s believed people will bring into the real world what they see avatars wear. It is another legitimate source of style that’s set to become even more mainstream.
Intricate embroidery, metallics, tulle and beading are all part of the anything-goes æsthetic, as styled by Ibrahim Kamara, who advised H&M on this project.
On sustainability, H&M has focused on circularity, including the use of recycled polyester fibres from old garments and textile waste collected by the retail giant, as part of a programme announced some years ago. One dress has been made using a zero-waste pattern-cutting process. A faux fur coat and jacket are made from Repreve Our Ocean, a recycled polyester made from ocean-bound plastic bottles. The sequins on two dresses, a pair of leggings and a blazer-and-skirt combination are recycled from plastic bottle waste. A pair of metallic sandals spiral to the thigh. For men, there is an oversized black beaded bomber jacket.
They follow earlier H&M forays into recycled fabrics in its Conscious Exclusive collections, such as Eastman Naia Renew (60 per cent certified wood fibres and 40 per cent recycled waste plastics, including carpet fibres and plastic packaging, which are difficult to recycle); and Econyl, a regenerated fibre from fishnets and nylon waste. An earlier collection saw recycled silver from, inter alia, discarded candlesticks and other scrap metal.
There are five augmented reality filters via the H&M app, designed by the Institute of Digital Fashion with fashion lenses powered by Snapchat. A metaverse experience launched December 15 celebrating the collection, in partnership with AI avatar Kuki.
H&M’s creative adviser, Ann-Sofie Johansson, said, ‘The increasingly virtual dimension of fashion creates exciting future opportunities for H&M, allowing us to create vibrant, bold and daring virtual counterparts to our physical collections. In addition to the endless creative possibilities, it also allows us to propose a more sustainable and inclusive fashion vision that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world.’
Leanne Elliott Young and Cattytay, co-founders of the Institute of Digital Fashion, added, ‘We at the Institute of Digital Fashion are excited to partner with H&M on a digital collection that pushes the boundaries of fashion as we know it, breaking free of physical restraints to embrace pure creativity. These digital garments are for every body, extending beyond seasons, beyond gender and beyond realities, and helping us to consider the planet.’ •