H&M brings the metaverse into reality

High-street fashion retailer, H&M, has announced the latest addition to its Innovation Stories initiative with its Metaverse Design Story collection. H&M’s Innovation Stories initiative launched in 2021 and is a series focused on themed collections that promote more sustainable materials and processes, such as the H&M fashion rental service established in 2019, which operates in Stockholm, Berlin and Amsterdam.

Delving into the metaverse is not a first for the fast-fashion retailer, with the release of its first virtual garments in January 2022. Creative advisor, Ann-Sofie Johansson, said in a press release: “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.”

When looking through the up-and-coming collection of physical ready-to-wear clothing, this sentiment certainly rings true. With bold neon frills that defy gravity and cyborg-esque jewellery, it’s hard not to be entranced by a range of clothing that would seem only accessible to the highest echelons of society a hundred lightyears away.

Model posing in a neon purple frilly dress

The physical collections described by the brand as bringing together “the craftsmanship of high fashion with the fantasy of virtual wardrobes”, with the collection comprising clothing and accessories for men and women. “We wanted to present our customers with an explosive collection that captured the excitement we all feel at the dawning of the metaverse, but also the fascination we have with the natural world,” says H&M concept designer, Ella Soccorsi in H&M’s magazine. “The resulting collection is extraordinarily tactile, with hand-beaded and intricately constructed garments, but also explores the endless possibilities of the digital sphere and of H&M’s circular mindset,”

With the fast-fashion retailer coming under fire repeatedly for greenwashing and questionable sustainability practices, the brand has detailed the sustainability initiatives for the extra-terrestrial physical collection – with circularity being a key component. Zero-waste pattern-cutting processes have been utilised in the production of a form-fitting dress, with the glimmering sequins key to the collection being 100% recycled from plastic bottles. The focus on circularity comes into play through a partnership with H&M’s in-store waste collection programme, where textile waste has been recycled to become polyester fibres in the collection. Select pieces from the collection will also be available as part of H&M’s fashion rental service.Model wearing a green fur coat

The release of the physical collection is accompanied by five augmented reality filters designed in partnership with the London-based digital atelier, Institute of Digital Fashion. “These digital garments are for every body, extending beyond seasons, beyond gender and beyond realities, and helping us to consider the planet,” says co-founders of the Institute for Digital Fashion, Leanne Elliott Young and Cattytay, in a press release.

Equally as mesmerising as the physical collection itself, the AR fashion lenses powered by Snap adorn wearers in shifting water droplets and aquatic flowers. This drop is three-fold, with the filters not only readily available through the H&M app but also through the launch of an immersive metaverse experience on hm.com where you can explore and celebrate the collection and look into the future of digital fashion. The interactive space launches prior to the physical collection on December 1.

The ready-to-wear collection inspired by the blurring boundaries between our online and offline lives will be released on December 8 in selected stores and online.

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