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Buzz from Kingpins Amsterdam: Refibra, Color & Texture

The first steps toward a cleaner denim industry are taking place at Kingpins Amsterdam. Mills, fiber companies, trim suppliers and industry influencers came together last week to unveil Spring/Summer ’19 collections and innovations. And many shared a common theme: sustainability.

Andrew Olah, Kingpins founder and an advocate for a cleaner and more transparent supply chain, plans to boost the show as a platform for sustainable companies. In April 2018, Olah said Kingpins Amsterdam will dedicate a larger space for six to 10 companies that are “doing something exceptional” with sustainability. “It could be anyone. We want to highlight companies that excel and reward them,” he said.

Kingpins Transformers will also become longer and larger, returning to Amsterdam in April with a focus on transparency. The conversation will continue in New York at the first Transformers conference in the Big Apple set for June 2018.

The show’s focus on sustainability was evident at the packed event. Hale Bahar Öztürk, project manager marketing apparel, Lenzing AG, said more people than ever asked about Lenzing’s sustainable products at the show.

The fiber company, which celebrated the 25th anniversary of Tencel, normally meets with brands at Kingpins Amsterdam, but Öztürk said Lenzing saw more garment makers and laundries stopped by its booth for sustainable design inspiration. Items in Lenzing’s capsule collections include EIM score by Jeanologia, as well as a list of the sustainable partners that helped create it.

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The company’s latest capsule collection with Adriano Goldschmied caught the attention of attendees. The 15-piece collection, designed, produced and laundered in Goldschmied’s Los Angeles studio, showcases Lenzing’s new product, Refibra. The fashion forward collection spans women’s wide cuffed straight leg jeans and cutout rompers, to men’s button-down shirts and khaki jeans.

In fact, buzz about Refibra is building throughout the denim community. The cellulose fiber, which combines wood chips, 100 percent cotton post-industrial waste and a fiber ID to allow for transparency, is part of Candiani’s upgraded sustainability plan.

The Italian mill is enhancing its Indigo Juice and Kitotex technologies, with Re-Gen Denim, a 50 percent Refibra and 50 percent recycled cotton construction made with the water-saving innovations. The mill says it saves 2.565 liters of water for every pair of jeans that is produced with this combination because there is no fresh, raw cotton woven into the denim.

Candiani denim

Water continues to be a hot topic in denim as mills and trims suppliers aim to reduce consumption. Naveena partnered with sustainability technology firm Jeanologia to produce “thirst-free” H2NO denim. The sustainable technology uses air to reproduce ozone gas conditions to give fabric a worn-in, authentic appearance. Naveena said it is the first time ozone is being used on the garment side of the denim process.

Trims supplier Metalbottoni introduced a revolutionary jeans button entirely made in copper. The no impact, no chemical button uses copper for all three pieces which can then be recycled.


On the performance side, Canatiba is introducing Lycra Beauty fabrics to offer body shaping without intense and uncomfortable compression. DriRelease shirting and 100 percent cotton TransDry complement Cone’s range of Coolmax and Coolmax with Tencel fabrications.

Artistic Fabric and Garment Industries unveiled Soft-Tech 3.0, a stretch denim that combines three important milling techniques to turn cotton into smoother, more parallel and softer fibers. The Pakistan-based mill also introduced a new generation of sculpting technology with an enhanced soft hand feel. Despite the trend for rigid fabrications, Henry Wong, director of U.S. sales, said sculpting denim remains an important category. Customers are asking for super high stretch products with comfortable compression.

New fabrications offer new design possibilities for brands. Canatiba introduced a new line of fabrics called Kinder Dye, which reacts differently to chemical and physical treatments, allowing brands to purchase one fabric and achieve a multitude of effects. The cost-effective product line’s name takes inspiration from the chocolate egg with a surprise inside.

Buzz from Kingpins Amsterdam: Refibra, Color & Texture

The Brazilian mill is also increasing its use of Tencel, modal and cotton blends for SS ’19 to meet the growing global demand for lightweight layering fabrics. Smooth hand feels and summer weights are always in demand in the mill’s home country. However, a rep said interest in the fabrics is picking up in Europe.

Prosperity presented a deep range of lightweight Tencel fabrications, including the launch of D-Light, one fabric that is both soft and light, or soft and lofty with minimal washing. The collection includes the mill’s lightest denim at 3.8 oz. Prosperity counters its lightweight collection with a wide selection of 11 to 15 oz. selvedge denim. Andy Zhong, Prosperity China marketing director, said the market is getting back to rigid denim with very loose fits. The mill sees movement with its 100 percent cotton fabrication that is still soft because the cotton’s high quality.

Buzz from Kingpins Amsterdam: Refibra, Color & Texture

Cone diversifies its product line with a silk collection that Kara Nichols, Cone vice president of product design and marketing, said is getting a nice reception from brands. The mill also added a new canvas story from the mill’s Mexico facility. Special canvas weaves, 2×2 basket weaves and more tradition canvas weaves make a play here. The mostly neutral collection includes tan and navy yarn dyes and open looks.

Nichols added that she hears more demand for “chatter” in the weft like crosshatch to achieve more surface characteristics. “More home-spun, neppy character, not linear, just something to give consumers more reason to their closets,” she said.

Canatiba unveils a new arsenal of textures for SS ’19 including jersey-like textures, multi-twill construction, loose construction with a smooth hand feel and super-vintage looks with pronounced twill lines. Orange peel looks are prevalent and become more wrinkled as they’re washed down.

Prosperity sees left hand twills gaining momentum, creating different hand feels and more sophisticated looks.

Denim Expert Ltd. brought 100 pieces to the show. Managing Director Mostafiz Uddin said brands turn to the mill to view complete trend collections. For SS ’19, the mill offered over-dyed, three-quarter length biker jeans, stretch chinos, cartoon-inspired artwork and inventive laser designs for brands looking for a sustainability story.

Denim Expert Ltd.
Denim Expert Ltd.

Black is key for the dark, goth theme trend forecaster Amy Leverton sees for SS ’19. Canatiba focuses on black over-dyes with lots of attention on deep shades and light shades. The mill introduces a new black shade that fades to clear white instead of brown or yellow.

Despite the closure of Cone’s U.S. facility, the mill is moving forward. Cone launched Future Black+, the industry’s first certified fade-resistant black denim, and the latest member to join the mill’s TruTone fabrics. Jeans made from Future Black+ denim contain Unifi’s Repreve fibers made from recycled plastic bottles and Lenzing Modal Black. One pair of jeans made with the fabric can contain as many as 17 recycled plastic bottles and provides softness, color retention and stretch, while minimizing the impact on the environment.

Cone’s wash tests have proved that Future Black+ denim shows no sign of color loss even after more than 20 washes. Nichols said the fabrics are a good crossover fabric that bridges the gap between denim and sportswear. She pointed out that Future Black+ can also be applied to any of the mill’s SGene product.

Berto is basking in a new range of colors based on nature. One of the Italian mill’s collections, Urban Safari, combines natural shades of military green and natural white with contemporary styling.

Prosperity launched Bermuda Blue, a mid-tone that is not too light or too dark. The color, achieved with a mix of indigo and liquid sulfur, achieves great high and low effects. The mill also introduces Hi-Lux, a new coating that adds a bit of shine without the weight or hard texture.