JUNE 2018

Parsons students design sustainable shops with H&M

With 2,500 stores across the United States, H&M is paving the way for sustainable retail.

In recent years, H&M has been steadily making moves to usher in a more sustainable shopping experience for customers. From eco-friendly clothing lines to sustainable shopping, But creating sustainable alternatives is just one part of the battle. To usher in positive results, they needed consumers to engage in more sustainable shopping behaviors. 

H&M challenged students Parsons School of Design at The New School. 

Featured Solutions


With 2,500 stores across the United States, H&M is paving the way for sustainable retail.

In recent years. 


With 2,500 stores across the United States, H&M is paving the way for sustainable retail.

In recent years. 


JUNE 2018

Parsons students take on sustainable retailing with H&M

The world's second largest fashion retailer is on a mission to make fashion more sustainable. For a company like H&M with over 4,500 stores, that's easier said than done. So H&M is teaming up with students in Parsons' cutting edge fashion program to reimagine what "sustainable shopping" might look like in today's retail environment. Throughout Spring 2018, students in Parsons Retailing program took on the following challenge. 






What's the cost of looking good? Lucky for consumers today, it's cheaper than ever before. With more retailers going after the market for affordable fashion, budget-conscious consumers can stay on top of trends without breaking the bank. The star player in this market is H&M, a retailer offering "fashion and quality at the best price in a more sustainable way." By building a fresh fashion brand for the everyday consumer, H&M has emerged as one of the world's largest retailers.


This benefits millions of customers who can now more easily afford the clothing they need. However, mass clothing production does carry an environmental cost. Our population is on track to reach 9.6 billion by 2050; given current consumption behaviors, we would require 3 planets to sustain this. In a world where consumption continues to rise as resources become more scarce, we must be proactive in correcting our environmental impact.

H&M knows that environmental sustainability is crucial to future business success. The company is on a journey to integrate sustainability into every step of its operation. 







As one of the world's largest fashion businesses, H&M carries tremendous capacity to achieve change. While the business has hundreds of employees who focus on sustainability transitions, success also depends on customers buying into better environmental practices. With 4,553 stores in cities around the world, H&M has the ability to influence customer behaviors in the fashion industry on a massive scale.


From an eco-friendly fashion line to a clothing recycling program, H&M has already launched major
initiatives aimed at driving consumer change:


  • Clothing made from sustainable materials- H&M has introduced a green tag to mark clothing that is a better choice. Around 26% of the company's products are now made from sustainable materials.

  • Garment Collection- In 2013, H&M launched a garment collecting initiative that allows customers to turn in their unwanted old clothes and give them a new life.


Students' mission was to imagine the role of retail in driving fashion sustainability in the USA. Students first explored the role of promotion, retailing, location, image development and explored next technologies used in successful retail organizations. Working in diverse teams, students then designed a retail strategy for H&M to accelerate customer adoption of clothing made from sustainable materials and garment recycling. 






Students generated dozens of potential solutions ranging from store redesigns to online campaigns to customer promotions. Solutions were reviewed by the H&M team to determine which proposals were best aligned with the company's strategy. Featured below are three standout solutions: 


The Globe is an installation featured in a proposal to redesign the H&M retail environment. The interactive Globe would educate shoppers on their role in making more sustainable fashion choices. 


The machine is designed as a way to increase the visibility of garment collection. This would make it easier for shoppers to instantly receive a discount based on the weight of their clothes donation.


The Detox Campaign is designed as a public awareness initiative. The campaign is meant to generate a viral reaction and spark a global conversation about our role in driving sustainable fashion forward. 







The ideas put forward by students provided with H&M with a diverse set of strategies to increase customer adoption of the retailer's existing eco collection and garment collection program. Solutions have the potential to reach customers nationwide and significantly reduce the environmental impact of fashion consumption. 


The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals were adopted in 2015, as 191 countries agreed on a positive path forward for our people and planet. This challenge focused on generating solutions for Goal #12 Responsible Consumption and Production, target 12.5: By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse​

Learn more about the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.