It's safe to say that Olivia Wilde knows a thing or two when it comes to eco fashion. As the star of H&M's Conscious Exclusive campaign last year, Wilde has become the brand's biggest advocate. Plus, she and Barbara Burchfield co-founded Conscious Commerce, an agency with the goal to integrate conscious consumerism into, well, everything. So naturally, she was on-hand to celebrate what might be H&M's chicest Conscious Exclusive collection yet (available in stores and online April 7).
"This is the second year we've partnered with H&M to help bring attention to the collection and to celebrate the amount of effort H&M has put in into a new more sustainable fashion future," Wilde tells us at the event. "It means maintaining an enthusiasm for fashion while being less destructive of our habits in the construction of clothes, the manufacturing of clothes, and the disposal of clothes."
H&M has taken great strides in the manufacturing of its clothes, like sourcing organic cotton and hemp or creating embellishment from recycled materials, but now they're addressing the disposal aspect. The brand has launched a global Garment Collecting initiative, in which they're asking customers to recycle old garments (for a 30 percent discount in return) during World Recycle Week (April 18 to 24). "This is really significant, because too often when we think about H&M, we think about mass production with a disregard for the disposal of clothes," Wilde says. "[The recycling initiative] is asking people to shift their philosophy on how they think of their clothing—hopefully they'll become a little more conscious about the way something was made, what was used to make it, and what will happen once we’re done with it."
Recycling worn clothing you may never wear again is one thing. But to implement eco fashion completely? Too much change leads to resistance, which is why we asked Wilde to break down the three biggest misconceptions about going green.
1. That It Will Be Too Hard. "It doesn't have to be if you think about it in terms of incremental steps," she says. "It's not about going home and throwing away everything to absolve yourself of guilt. Instead, it’s about incorporating pieces slowly into your wardrobe. Plus, it's neat that each piece has a story—you can say, 'oh this jacket is made from organic silk or this dress is made from organic hemp.'" A good place to start? H&M's Conscious collection.
2. That It Sacrifices Style. "H&M's Conscious Exclusive collection proves that that's not the case—this dress is made from hemp," she says, gesturing to her screen-printed graphic gown (pictured, above). "We used to think that anything from hemp is impossible to be chic, but H&M is doing a lot to change the stigma that is connected to sustainability in fashion, and I think it will affect the rest of the industry. H&M is an enormous company, and they're proving that this can happen on a massive level."
3. That It Won't Make a Difference. "Absolutely not true—if you look at the organic food movement, the way people shop for non-GMO food and organic produce has completely changed in just our own lifetime; the fact that shopping at Whole Foods is now a given," she says. "I foresee that happening in fashion, and there will be a time when we look back and we won't believe that people were buying things that were causing so much destruction around the world. It just takes people embracing these things slowly."