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Citizens of Humanity Group Expands Use of Recycled Leather, Sustainable Trims

Citizens of Humanity Group’s exclusive spring collection for Net-a-Porter’s sustainability platform, Net Sustain, was one of the rewards of its multi-prong strategy to control quality while minimizing waste. Described as the group’s most sustainable collection to date, the assortment of Citizens of Humanity (COH), Agolde and Goldsign styles were made with 100 percent organic cotton and recycled fabrics.

In joining forces with Net-a-Porter, the group said it approached the process as an opportunity to push the boundaries of innovation even further.

“This included seeking out and experimenting with new ecological approaches, and rethinking the traditional steps used in denim production to show what can be done, hopefully setting the bar for ourselves and others to create a more sustainable future in fashion together,” it said.

With much of its product developed in Los Angeles and Turkey at owned facilities, the group said it has an “enhanced focus on sustainability efforts.” The group’s new report outlines its environmental gains and how it plans to build on them across all collections for Holiday 2022.

“To us, sustainability is about investing in the future. Using our resources to meet our own needs and doing so in a way that recognizes the needs of future generations,” said Amy Williams, Citizens of Humanity CEO.

Current steps

The group has been reevaluating its use of virgin components for denim. Recycled cotton, pocketing made with Repreve’s plastic waste yarn and recycled thread in COH’s denim products are among the ways the company’s namesake brand is working towards circularity.

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Additionally, the company recently inked a partnership with Control Union to conduct its Regenagri certification audit on its first program-approved farm, Hardwick Planting Company in Louisiana. The 8,000-acre site is the first Regenagri-certified cotton farm in the U.S. By implementing regenerative farming techniques, farmers can reduce carbon emissions and restore soil health, both of which allow for greater crop yields and combat climate change.

At its laundry facilities, the group utilizes machinery that allows it to use green washes and dyes, and laser technology, E-Flow, and ozone machines. High efficiency dryers use 20-30 percent less gas and energy than conventional dyes, while ozone machines, which use electricity generated gas to create washes, consume approximately 60 percent less water and eschew chemicals, unlike traditional methods.

“These tools and techniques help us to achieve authentic washes while eliminating the excessive use of stone washing, chemicals, labor, water, and energy,” it said.

Next steps

Its latest developments include COH’s fall collection of jeans dyed with natural indigo dye extracted from the plant Indigofera tinctoria, and vegetable dyes derived from the bark of acacia trees. In the finishing stage, the brand is using natural enzymes as an alternative to stonewashing to achieve authentic distressing effects.

The group is also transitioning to more sustainable trims. Standard trims for COH and Agolde will be sustainably manufactured using raw materials that contain 75 percent recycled scraps from previous processes and no galvanic coatings. This eco-sustainable line of trims is created by using renewed energy generated by photovoltaic panels with very little water, it said.

COH’s men’s jeans will feature product tags made of plant fibers from California poppy flowers, and the company will begin to transition its process for making woven labels from recycled ocean plastic this year.

Goldsign will follow in the footsteps of COH and Agolde by using recycled leather for its backpatches.

The brands use recycled leather made using RenTec technology, in which leather scraps are recycled into “leather wool” which is then blended with polyester to create the recycled leather base. The final product retains the traditional appearance and feel of genuine leather but uses 90 percent less water and waste versus conventional leather.

Holiday 2022

COH and Agolde will launch Holiday 2022 collections in October.

Spanning bootcut, wide-leg and straight-fit jeans, COH’s collection centers on elevated staples made from organic cotton and lyocell. Faded black and vintage-inspired blue washes dominate the denim range, while a miniskirt and a cropped jean jackets offers variety. Other statement items include a denim-pleated wrap skirt and a deconstructed denim trench coat.

Citizens of Humanity trench
Citizens of Humanity Courtesy

The collection also offers patent leather trousers and button-front skirts, cropped bootcut and slim trousers made with recycled leather as well as recycled leather miniskirts in black and pickled beet. High-rise slim and bootcut pants are given the holiday treatment with plush velvet fabrications available in black, lava red and pony brown.

Agolde opts for bolder pieces for Holiday ’22, including recycled leather in chili red. Patent accents and saturated colors style back to overdyed heathered knits. Bootcut and straight-fit jeans with inky indigo washes, marbled red casts and winter white are updated with crisscross and cutout waistbands. The brand’s Harley jean mixes combines denim and leather in a nod to motorcycle gear.