While wearable technology usually conjures up ideas of dresses flashing lights to the rhythm of your heartbeat or trainers that use your own sweat to self-clean, fashion giant H&M has used tech for an altogether different purpose - to help reduce waste in the environment.
Imagine a model dressed from shoulder to toe in plastic trash. If you're thinking a dress constructed from multicoloured chip packets with bottle tops for buttons, think again.
The piece that got all the Instagram love at the launch in South Africa is a floaty, delicate pink, pleated floor-length gown made from bionic yarn (out of plastic reclaimed from the sea). Unlike other plastic-based fabrics, bionic yarn is super-soft and can adapt to almost any design.
The Conscious Collection was launched by H&M last year using materials that have a reduced carbon footprint. The retailer knows that fashion's dependence on natural resources can only be curtailed by innovative materials that have a minimal carbon footprint - recycled or natural - and that conscious shoppers are starting to prefer goods that do less damage to our world.
''This collection shows how the best style can be mindful of the planet to help protect it for the future. It's such a desirable collection, with pieces made from sustainable materials that you want to wear for seasons to come," says Natalia Vodianova, the face of the collection.
At the Cape Town launch of the collection in conjunction with Jackie Burger's Salon 58 a few weeks ago, Burger said: ''Looking and feeling good is not about empty-headed consumption, it is about creative liberation and empowerment. It starts with being comfortable with your personal and authentic self-expression. Fashion should never dictate what we can or cannot wear."
• H&M Conscious Collection launches at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town today.
Some of the materials used in the collection:
Bionic - recycled polyester made from shoreline waste.
Denimite - solid, marbled material made from recycled, worn-out denim. Jeans are shredded, mixed with resin, heated up and pressed, which makes it hard and durable.
Recycled plastic - from PET plastic bottles, plastic bags, shampoo bottles and plastic containers. .
Lyocell Tencel and Monocel - made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified eucalyptus and bamboo. The trees grow quickly , need little water and few pesticides can thrive. More sustainable than cotton.
FSC natural rubber - comes from FSC- managed rubber tree forests. Renewable and recyclable, and requires little energy or chemicals to produce.
Recycled glass - glass beads made from used glass, saving sand and limestone.
Cotton - They also only use cotton certified by the Better Cotton Initiative.
H&M have also started their Bring it On in-store activation, where people can dump unwanted clothes at bins inside stores.
• Source: urbanmeisters.com
• This article was originally published in The Times.