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H&M x Lee collaboration: We’ve reviewed the new sustainable denim collection, here’s what to buy

Forget Vampire's Wife or Simone Rocha, our eyes are on these jeans, dresses and jackets

Eva Waite-Taylor
Thursday 11 February 2021 11:17 GMT
Release your inner Nineties kid with these reimagined staples
Release your inner Nineties kid with these reimagined staples (The Independent)

With the H&M x Simone Rocha collaboration the talk of the town, you'd be forgiven for forgetting the brand's latest collection with Lee. But, we’re here to offer the perfect reminder.  

As high street brands go, H&M’s collaborations are unanimously excellent – we’ve seen everything from the likes of Balmain and Erdem to Alexander Wang and Vampire's Wife. So, we had high expectations when news dropped of H&M's partnership with Lee.

Read more: 8 best sustainable knitwear brands to know

Heralded as H&M's most conscious effort yet to tackle sustainability, the collection boasts the brand’s first 100 per cent recycled cotton jeans, made from 80 per cent post-industrial waste and 20 per cent consumer waste. As well as a non-cotton denim jacket we got our hands on, which is made from lyocell, a sustainable fibre made from wood pulp. 

The sustainable focus doesn't stop there. In a bid to increase transparency, H&M is sharing the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the entire collection for the first time, highlighting water, CO2 and energy usage across the entire production of each item, from raw materials to end of use.

Read more: 13 best sustainable clothing brands for women that are ethical and stylish 

This shift towards a more sustainable approach to denim is particularly welcomed since WRAP, a charity helping businesses and communities achieve a circular economy, reports that it takes between 10,000 and 20,000 litres of water to create enough cotton for just one pair of jeans. This water waste contains harmful chemicals and coloured dyes, which enters waterways and causes destruction to ecosystems and local communities. 

The new sustainable collection is good news as it proves that brands are becoming increasingly aware of the need for change and developing products in accordance with demand. But, it is important to remember that H&M is, of course, a fast fashion brand, which will never be entirely sustainable owing to the vast number of items continually produced.

Despite this, making denim from recycled fabric is, of course, commendable and an exciting step in the right direction for a leading high street brand, one we hope that other retailers take note of.

But, the brand's transition towards more sustainable practices isn’t the only thing that’s laudable, as the new collection is also more size inclusive, with many of the pieces being sold in sizes up to 4XL.

The collection itself is a range of reimagined Nineties staples, think mom jeans, cropped jackets, denim corsets and bucket hats, as well as long sleeve crewneck tees and sweaters. We got our hands on some the key pieces ahead of its release so that you can make your mind up as to whether to invest. But, spoiler: we're into it.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent. 

H&M loose fit mom jeans


While many of us have forgone wearing jeans over the past year in favour of an elasticated waistband, these loose-fitting mom jeans are the perfect pair to transition into donning denim again. Made from recycled cotton, these have little to no stretch and are supportive around the bum, while the zip fastening is robust and makes you feel you sucked in. Fitting nicely around the waist and skimming the thighs, they'll make an easily wearable item in your wardrobe. As mom jeans go, these are one of the best pairs we've tried – best of all, sustainability and style credentials will be on point. Also available in a light blue and a white wash, we'll be adding these to the basket ASAP.

  1.  £34 from H&M
Prices may vary
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H&M short lyocell-blend dress


Despite the soft to touch fabric, this dress is surprisingly rigid. Made from a blend of lyocell (50 per cent) and viscose (50 per cent), it's a far more sustainable option that using cotton, which gets a thumbs up from us. As for the cut, it's fitted around the waist and, for us, skimmed the thigh and bum area nicely. A versatile piece that can be worn throughout the seasons – in spring we'd pair with tights, but when it gets to the height of summer you could unbutton and wear with a lace bralette. As for winter, this would look great with a thick polo neck jumper underneath and your favourite winter boots. We were particularly appreciative of the deep pockets, that could store your mobile and keys with ease.

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H&M soft lyocell mix denim jacket


A timeless staple in anyone's wardrobe, a denim jacket is an essential for spring and summer, and we were instantly transformed to sunny days and festivals when we put this on. Similarly to the dress, this is made from a blend of lyocell (50 per cent) and viscose (50 per cent), and while not as heavy as real denim, it still feels well-made and a piece you can wear year after year, particularly important if you're looking to make your wardrobe more sustainable. It has a slightly cropped fit and a subtle puffy balloon sleeve. Now that double denim is making a comeback, we'll be wearing with the loose fit mom jeans.

  1.  £39 from H&M
Prices may vary
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H&M skinny ultra high waist jeans


Despite some Gen Z-ers declaring that skinny jeans dead, this pair is here to prove them wrong. Made from recycled cotton and elastane, some of which is also recycled, they're everything you'd want from a skinny, the great fit and high waist offer a strong silhouette that accentuates the waist and gives the illusion of longer legs. While the cut is supportive on the bum, it doesn't tighten or dig in when sitting down, as is the case with more traditional denim jeans.

  1.  £34 from H&M
Prices may vary
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H&M denim shirt jacket


As we enter spring, this is a reliable wardrobe essential, and it's not just luxe looking it's also luxe feeling. The white felt wearable and versatile, and as it's designed to be the middle ground between a shirt and jacket, it can be worn buttoned up, or unbuttoned with your favourite tee underneath. You may even choose to tap into the tonal dressing trend and wear with your favourite pair of white jeans (we'd suggest considering the H&M x Lee loose fit mom jeans in white).

  1.  £39 from H&M
Prices may vary
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