The effects of the pandemic will reverberate through the denim supply chain for years, but the unprecedented crisis didn’t put a kibosh on the industry’s sustainable progress.
Brands and suppliers with strong sustainable backbones managed to eke out major wins in responsible apparel manufacturing. Closed, the German denim brand known to the industry for its short and sustainable supply chain and to consumers for its classic yet on-trend collections, was one of those brands.
“In spite of the difficult conditions in this truly bizarre year, we were also able to work with our partners to introduce some sustainable innovations,” the company stated in its recently released 2020 sustainability report.
Among Closed’s sustainable gains in 2020 was the launch of the world’s first 100 percent degradable stretch denim made with the biodegradable stretch yarn Coreva.
The innovative jeans are part of Closed’s “A Better Blue” denim line, which is manufactured with sustainable materials, low-impact dyeing processes and environmentally friendly washing techniques in Italy to save resources. The company reports that 223,950 items have been made following the A Better Blue guidelines, resulting in more than 6.8 million liters of water saved.
Closed also introduced Jacron back patches for its jeans as a sustainable vegan-alternative to leather.
The brand ramped up its consumer-facing communication on the benefits of the line in 2020, with an updated website that provides in-depth information about the jeans’ sustainable manufacturing process. Consumers can now shop the collection with new “eco product” and “eco denim” filters on Closed’s online store.
On the horizon
There will be more sustainable denim options to shop in 2021, according to the report, as denim will continue to be a major focus area for the company. Half of the men’s jeans, and 41 percent of the women’s denim in Closed’s Winter ’21 collection will be part of the A Better Blue line.
The company is also exploring measures to have a completely climate-neutral supply chain. From the Fall ’21 collection, the brand said it will offset the CO2 emissions for all A Better Blue jeans.
Sourcing better raw materials will continue to be at the crux of Closed’s sustainable achievements.
In the report, the company said it followed up last fall’s introduction of recycled cashmere with the addition of organic cashmere in the F/W 21-22 range.
It will also increase its usage of organic cotton. By incorporating an increasing amount of organic cotton and other eco-friendly materials and techniques in collections, Closed reported that 35 percent of the women’s and 47 percent men’s Winter ’21 collection will be eco-friendly.
Animal welfare is on Closed’s agenda as well. Though the leather the company currently uses is exclusively the by-product of the food industry, it will introduce PETA-approved vegan labels for products that contain no components of animal origin.
In addition to signing a Code of Conduct, from the Winter ’21 collection on, Closed will require suppliers to provide additional certificates, declarations of purchase and the origin of the raw material, including animal welfare regulations, for all yarns containing animal fibers.
Science aside, trust in partnerships may be the most underrated quality brands to create a sustainable and ethical supply chain. The first lockdown from March 2020 demonstrated just how important long-standing partnerships with loyal production partners are, Closed stated, adding that these relationships are the foundation to high-quality products and “are essential in our vision of sustainability.”
For this reason, Closed recently decided to joined the Fair Wear Foundation, which will audit the production facilities at regular intervals in future. This will allow the brand to “officially show our customers the excellent conditions in which our production partners work,” the company stated.