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By Angela Velasquez
The denim supply chain reconvened at Kingpins Amsterdam last week to present Fall/Winter 23-24 products and to meet face-to-face for the first time for many in more than two years. While the new venue was the hot topic on the show floor, the industry’s circular evolution was evident across SugarCity’s many rooms and floors.
With Amsterdam home to the Denim Deal, experts were on hand to discuss the initiative calling for a new industry standard of using 5 percent post-consumer recycled cotton in the production of all denim garments. The public-private initiative was established by the Dutch Government in October 2020, following the EU Green Deal and Circular Action Plan, and includes more than 40 signatories like PVH Europe, Scotch & Soda and Kings of Indigo on the brand side, as well as Calik Denim, Ereks and Recover from the supply chain.
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“The government can’t do it by themselves,” said Arnoud Passenier, strategic international advisor at the International Department of Netherlands’ Ministry of Infrastructure and Water. “The industry has to innovate and collaborate. We can help them as a partner with setting up the right frameworks, but also by connecting with other governments.”
He added that the group has met with government officials in Germany, Turkey and Pakistan to discuss how to set up a similar system for collection and recycling.
While sustainability is “always the focus,” Dorlet CEO Thibault Greuzat said customers at Kingpins were asking for “something that could make jeans different.” Diablo, the French trims manufacturer’s removeable button concept, addresses both needs. Along with making it easier for consumers to recycle jeans at the end of their lifecycle, the interchangeable buttons provide brands with an opportunity to tell customers a customization story.
Buttons made with raw materials, including wood, brass and copper without plating were part of Dorlet’s collection.
Desert Studio’s 360-degree compostable jean is the result of several collaborations. The Dubai-based denim laundry worked with several partners to develop the jean made with biodegradable fabric, souped-up Tencel thread, bioplastic polymer buttons and chrome- and chemical-free goat leather labeling. Desert Studio sales manager Andrea Duffi said the jeans compost in three to six months.
Though 100 percent recycled cotton jeans seemed like a distant dream just years ago, this was an area of focus for several mills.
Advance Denim showed 100 percent recycled cotton fabrics, as well as fabrics with nylon from recylcled fishing nets. Blue Diamond presented its variation of 100 percent recycled cotton fabrics made with a combination of short staple recycled cotton fiber blended with long staple cotton waste from the spinning process.
Blue Diamond is also teaming with Simply Suzette founder Ani Wells on a collection of jeans sewed and sustainably washed in Los Angeles and is navigating the high demand for soft hand feels with OW Lux, a fabric that looks open end but is ring-ring for a stronger and softer product.
For Bangladesh’s Beximco, Recover Textile Systems, the material sciences company bringing high-quality recycled cotton to brands like C&A and Primark, is the key to circularity. The vertical company teamed with Recover to become the world’s largest collector and recycler of textile waste. It’s a strategic and necessary move, according to Syed Naved Husain, Beximco CEO and group director. Growing organic cotton is hard on farmers, the cost of land is increasing, and acreage will be required to help the grain shortage due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he said.
Additionally, Recover offers a “good-looking product,” is cost neutral and scores a 1 on the Higg Index, he added.
Comfort is the backbone of two technologies The Lycra Company presented at the show: Adaptive fiber and Dual Comfort.
Lycra Adaptive is patent-pending polymer with a unique chemistry allowing it to adjust to a wearer’s functional needs. The polymer adapts its compressive holding force to deliver the right fit, shape and control when the wearer is at rest. When the wearer is in motion, the polymer adjusts its elasticity to provide improved comfort and a second-skin effect that allows the garment to stay in place. This also means Lycra Adaptive fiber helps jeans fit more body shapes within a given size.
Lycra Dual Comfort, which launched in February, provides comfortable stretch and cooling with long-lasting shape retention. The fiber was a part of Naveena Denim Mills’ Dualistic collection of elastane-free everyday fabrics offering up to 35 percent elasticity.
The proprietary combination of Lycra T400 and a special finishing process delivers the texture and appearance of a spun yarn with high mechanical stretch, recovery, durability, and moisture management properties. Naveena’s Dualistic fabrics are also available with Lycra T400 with EcoMade, a version made with 68 percent recycled and renewable materials.
Dualistic was just one of several collections the Pakistani mill presented with leading fiber providers. For its Biotech denim range, Naveena teamed with Circular System, which transforms agricultural crop leftovers into scalable natural fibers with their Agraloop technology. Biotech fabrics use fibers derived from CBD hemp crop residue, specifically. The CBD Hemp BioFibre is “dry refined,” meaning it’s manufactured in a virtually water-free process and releases 54 percent less CO2 into the atmosphere compared to conventional hemp processing.
And for creative inspiration, Naveena teamed with Tencel, Officina +39 and U.K. studio Endrime to develop Future Cellulosic—a circular collection with special attention to removable buttons and circle bar tacks so the garments can be recycled.
“Designing a circular economy requires a shared vision and actions to support it,” said Aydan Tuzun, Naveena Denim Mills executive director of sales and marketing. “The outcome of this collaboration is not just only amazing denim with authenticity but also an invitation to all to close the loop together.”
Endrime was also behind Cone Denim’s “Nothing Goes to Waste” collection made with the mill’s 100 percent recycled fabrics. Designed with zero-waste open-sourced patterns, the collection spans three types of 5-pocket jeans, a Trucker jacket, outerwear and work shirt all sustainably finished with Jeanologia’s technologies.
Alongside its new U.S. hemp collection, Cone presented fabrics with linen-inspired textures, no-fade indigo modal in workwear violet shades and new hues of icy gray and blue that speak to fashion brightening up.
The absence of indigo was the main story in Crescent Bahuman Ltd.’s Blue Infinity innovation. The proprietary dyeing technology provides a variety of shades and washdown effects beyond what is normally achievable with conventional indigo applications. Using GOTS 6.0-approved chemicals and 70 percent less water and energy than the standard indigo dye process, the warp dyeing technology meets RSL requirements from major brands and retailers. It also reportedly produces fewer effluents and pollutants than standard indigo.
Rudolf Group’s Hub 1922 linked up with Hiroshima-based design studio Labor Made Inc. for a collection of reimagined denim icons made with Rudolf’s Offuel products, a collection of chemical auxiliaries for denim finishing that use crude oil alternatives and recycled components. The “crown jewel” of the product range is Rucogen Upcycle RNB, a dispersing agent specific for denim washing based on chemically recycled post-consumer PET plastic waste.
Made with Kaihara’s 13-ounce selvedge denim made with a blend of conventional cotton and pre-consumer waste cotton, the collection spanned versions of the Type 1 jacket, chinos, wide-leg jeans, caps and children’s jeans. Trims like recycled back patches, removable donuts (instead of buttons), pocket bags made from vintage Japanese Yukata and hand-stamped labels emphasized the ways brands can achieve an authentic and traditional look in more sustainable ways.
Italian finishing technology provider Tonello touted the benefits of its All-In-One-System. Equipped with NoStone, Core, UP and EcoFree2 technologies, the integrated garment finishing system offers companies the innovation and flexibility to sustainably move on emerging trends. Meanwhile, Tonello’s Metro software provides the analysis, control and evaluation of real process data.
Chemical specialist Officina +39 is all about adding innovation that complements exiting advancements as well. As part of its Aqualess Mission, a combination of technologies that allows garment laundry processes to use 75 percent less water, the company introduced Aqualess Fade. The technology recreates the bleaching effect of chlorine on fabrics without water and high temperatures.
The Italian company also highlighted a new way to apply its circular Recycrom dyestuff with a gel application instead of water, and new leather effects for the dye.
While sustainability took top billing at the show, trends and creative concepts that plug into consumers’ post-pandemic lifestyles captured attention.
Denim Dudes returned to in-person trend presentations by outlining four themes for F/W 23-24, spanning mood-enhancing colors and playful silhouettes to a Gen Z take on ’90s Glastonbury hippie style. Clothing with protective qualities—be it durable or cocooning in nature—was seen across the themes as biker jackets and jeans with exoskeletons that double as armor and pared-back workwear silhouettes for everyday wear.
Carhartt’s recent surge in popularity is just one reason why brands are looking more closely into workwear as casualwear. With utility and durability being key drivers in women’s and men’s fashion, Sapphire Finishing Mills Limited and Cordura linked up to develop a capsule collection reimagined for “today’s urban living and crossover lifestyles.”
Cordura NYCO fabrics are at the center of the hard-wearing collection, which features more than 20 variations of canvas, twill and ripstop weaves and finishes including wax coatings and DWR. The fabrics combine the comfort of cotton, the durability of nylon 6,6 and engineered stretch and recovery properties.
Though the designs are contemporary, the vertically integrated non-denim woven mill—the largest in Pakistan—and ingredient brand drew parallels between moments in workwear history and the modern needs of consumers on the go. The Gold Rush inspired versatile pieces like a lined shacket and waxed canvas jacket. A classic unisex Trucker jacket nods to farm and ranch life, while a sleek field jacket finished with insect repellant fuses the tactical and fishing clothing markets. The collection takes a sharper turn into streetwear with a trendy coverall and jogger pant.
Advance Denim leaned into the Y2K movement sweeping over fashion with a sleek look called Lux Tencel and others with space dye backs. The Chinese mill also focused on matte Tencel fabrics, merino peached PFDs and new colors like a silvery gray.
For Kaltex, the rigid styles popularized in the ’90s continue to provide inspiration. Rigid-looking 11-ounce fabrics with defined twill lines and crosshatching offer brands the nostalgic base they need for their throwback collections, while 28-30 percent stretch offers comfort and ease. The mill is also introducing more recycled cotton, organic pigments and topical treatments like peppermint oil to add antimicrobial properties.
Denim Prive presented pragmatic items like reversible garments, which provided a solution to companies that want to give customers with more bang for their buck. However, the denim producer impressed with the Unthinkable Jacket made with the world’s first fabric that cleans pollution out of the air and converts it into breathable oxygen. The jacket is the result of five years of researching and prototyping and is accompanied by an app that measures the jacket’s positive impact on the environment through an embedded chip.
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