The push and pull between rigid and stretch, authentic and performance, and fast and handcrafted played out at Kingpins Amsterdam and Denim Première Vision, where a global blend of mills, trim suppliers and other elements of the denim supply chain came together to present their Autumn/Winter 2018-2019 collections and innovations.
Anchoring each of these themes was a heightened awareness for sustainability as mills debuted new efforts to save water, reduce chemicals and increase the use of sustainable fibers like Tencel, BCI cotton, recycled polyester and other post-consumer fibers.
For most mills at the European shows, sustainability began with new techniques that save water, and ultimately money. In fact, Denim Première Vision’s fashion team called out water-less technology as a key theme in its Autumn/Winter 18-19 Denim Tastings seminar, pointing out that these innovations are creating new design possibilities.
At Denim Première Vision, Mexico-based mill Global Denim touted its Ecoljean technology in Paris. Whereas a regular pair of jeans passes through six washes and takes an average of 20 liters of water to produce, Global Denim says its Ecoljean process requires no water discharging, less energy consumption, less dye consumption and creates a smaller CO2 footprint. The result is a product that is efficient and provides less color variation and a better wash down effect.
In Amsterdam, where the cost of sustainability was a hot topic during Kingpins Transformers, Garmon Chemicals rolled out Geopower NPS, the company’s newest effort to establish strong and effective R&D that sets a new standard for sustainable practices. Short for “no pumice stone,” the new technology achieves rich heritage looks on denim and creates a range of stonewash effects, panel and seam abrasion, high color loss and contrasts.
The technology, which has already been implemented denim brand Only’s R&D program, produces zero pumice sludge and radically cuts environmental impact (especially water) and costs.
Soorty takes on the water crisis with Zero Water Blue, a concept that uses zero water waste indigo dyeing and nearly zero water finishing. The process is defined by the use of Herbal Blue, Soorty’s natural alternative to harmful synthetic indigo. Herbal Blue uses GOTS V4.0 certified dye stuff and can achieve the same color and wash downs as regular indigo dye.
Italian trims provider Metalbottoni enhanced its seasonal collection of western-inspired and anti-fashion trims with a new ecological, “no impact” product line. The traceable process uses recycled brass and a water-based system powered by solar energy to create natural effects and colors.
In an effort to help end users make more responsible choices, Artistic Milliners focused on advanced washing techniques that offer longer lasting freshness, hygiene and protection. The mill presented Petrichor, named after the scent of rain on dry earth. The range of fabrics offer anti-bacterial, anti-microbrial, anti-odor and moisture wicking benefits, meaning fewer home laundries and less water and energy consumption.
At Kingpins Amsterdam, Artistic Milliners and its Dubai-based garment and finishing innovation lab, presented denim made with the mission to make each step as sustainable and traceable as possible, from thread to rivet. The end product was a jean made with organic cotton, recycled cotton, recycled polyester and Lycra, finessed with sustainable rivets and sustainable leather back patch.
Denim’s reliance of sustainable and performance fibers was evident at both European shows. Going into the new season, Denim Première Vision’s trend team said BCI cotton is the most frequent proposal, followed by organic cotton and recycled polyester.
Meanwhile, mills turned to fibers from Invista and Lenzing to create stretch and authentic looks that satisfy the market’s demand for recovery, softness and durability.
Artistic Milliners teamed up with Cordura to create a collection called Urban Commuter. The mill said interest for durable denim is no longer constrained to the sport and motorcycle market, but even mass retailers like Express is considering it for its men’s collection.
US Denim partnered with Invista to create SelvedgeX, a range authentic selvedge with built-in comfort and performance. The denim is made with a collection of antique selvedge looms, incorporating Lycra XFit technology for freedom of movement, controlled shrinkage and shape recovery.
The mill also worked to enhance the premium quality look associated with selvedge by adding the fabric with Coolmax, Thermolite, Thermocool, Coolmax All Season and Tough Max fibers.
Cone presented a soft launch of a SGene+, a 10th anniversary update to its SGene collection. The new fabrications feature recycled polyester and dual core yarn for sustainable and stretch stories.
Non-denim manufacturers, like Sapphire, found relevance in special fibers as well. Tencel, viscose and Lycra Dual FX were leading components for the mill.
Artistic Milliners Garments and Finishing used Tencel and Lenzing Modal as a springboard for its new PP-free “sustainable softness” Haptic collection. The eco fabrics, designed to offer softness, moisture management and breathability, combines laser technology and other treatments to achieve a localized effect. For instance, ozone technology enhances Haptic’s sanitizing and disinfecting properties, while Jeanologia’s E-flow technology creates high and low effects.
Overall, Artistic Milliners is seeing brands pull back on flat-looking super stretch fabrication in favor for more comfort stretch with a 90s look. “The end user doesn’t want to feel constrained,” said Ebru Ozaydin, Artistic Milliners director of sales and global marketing.
Inspired by the Nordic “hygee” movement—a trend based on cozy and comfortable living—Artistic Milliners presented Sunday Jeans. The fabrications incorporate Tencel, Lenzing Modal and fiber dyed modal for a soft look and feel. The fabric is suitable alternative to leggings for mellow weekends.
Berto created flannel-like effects for indigo check shirting fabrics. The fabrics are part of the mill’s Lost in Time collection that offers commercial fabrics that span stretch to rigid. The mill has reduced its number of products this season in an effort to offer more tailor-made service and create fabrics for specific customers.
Softness and a cozy touch is key to Bossa’s new collection, Let it Snow. The unisex fabrications feature soft touch fabrics like Tencel and modal and feature heavy brushing. Power stretch is part of the story, too.
While men’s denim takes cues from the women’s market, vintage color and masculine open end looks are trending in women’s. Bossa’s collection, New Aesthetic, tapped in a ’80s salt and pepper look fit for boyfriend jeans.
Kara Nichols, VP of product design and marketing at Cone Denim, said the “’80s and ’90s are in full force.” Vertical and horizontal slubs, Levi’s-inspired orange peel and leg twists engineered into the fabric are part of the nostalgic story. The mill has also added Tencel and modal for comfort. However, Nichols noted that the trend is not going to last forever.
For variety, Cone worked modal into the warp of some fabrications for a nice drape, added silk blends from its China facilities and introduced a black collection made with Repreve and modal.
Soorty, on the other hand, sees demand for more application of denim in the activewear market. The mill rolled out Denim Active, a bi-stretch Tencel and organic cotton concept based on second skin silhouettes. The collection, offered in three variants, delivers an index of performance qualities, including freedom of movement, quick dry, soft touch and moisture management.
A version with Coolmax All Season is designed to keep the wearer cool and dry on hot days and warm on cold days. A version with Coolmax Eco-Made is made with 97 percent recycled resources and provides moisture wicking properties. Denim Active made with Thermolite IR raises the temperature of the garment and absorbs NIR through solar-activated technology.
Soorty played up the collection’s athletic factor with second skin prototypes that sport reflective tape for nighttime visibility and geometric laser patterns inspired by athletic apparel trends.
Jelt denim found a place in mills’ collections for A/W 18-19. The heritage workwear fabric was adopted in large scale by H.D. Lee Company in the 1920s. Known for using better quality, longer staple yarns, the denim became a staple for workwear brands and sailors.
Arvind reconsidered Jelt denim, recreating a faithful reproduction of the original 2×1 weave—complete with shuttle loom versions with selvedge and grey heather weft—with contemporary fibers. The mill added performance to Jelt 2.0, with versions made with Lycra fiber, Tencel and Coolmax.
A touch of novelty fashion, fabrications and new finishes added some visual and textural interest to jeans, and offered some interesting concepts to bring to retail.
US Denim touted Duvet Denim made from poultry feathers that were destined for landfills. The mill utilizes the strength and water-resistant properties of feathers by weaving strands into the fabric. The final product provides enhanced insulation and creates an aesthetic nap character.
Arvind introduced Faux Denim, a collection of denim fabrics with a leather finish. The mill says the coatings are resistant to cracking.
Artistic Milliners introduced easy-care Aloe Vera finishing with freshness and moisturizing properties. The smooth and silky finish can be applied to a variety of blends, including Tencel and Cordura.
Color and wash stories spanned intense to authentic. To satisfy true indigo lovers, Arvind presented Azurite, a line of premium fabrics made with a patented technology that uses indigo dyed weft and warp yarn. The result is saturated blue fabrics with unique wash downs.
Cone winterized its iconic Pinto wash with a moody gray base with a black effect. The mill also introduced Ocean dye, a sulfur shade with a brilliant cast and mélange filling. The color is complemented by seasonal toffee and khaki colors.
Berto added Evo, a new dark shade to its sustainable dyeing process, Sky & Pure. Whereas the initial process launched last year reduced water and chemical consumption by 50 percent, Evo requires 50 percent less water and 30 percent less chemicals.
At Denim Première Vision, Kassim highlighted three stories based on heritage, sustainability and technology. The mill aims to bring back denim production to Nimes, France, by partnering with ready-to-wear brand Ateliers De Nimes. At its booth, the mill boasted the first denim fabric woven in Nimes in 100 years.
Kassim introduced denim that helps clean air pollution. The mill collaborated with an Italian research partner to produce Photocatalytic Denim containing photocatalytic nanocomposites able to to eliminate pollutants by using just natural sunlight. Kassim also teamed up with Bainisha, a biomedical product development company, to create denim for professional athletes. Garments are equipped with sensors that sends data about the wearer’s posture and gait to an app accessible on their phone.
Denim Expert Ltd. played with fashion concepts, including bleach spots, hand painting, patchwork and quilting, while Beximco made its European debut with High Street fashion looks, including denim with fringe, fur and plastic embellishments. The Bangladesh-based vertical mill also focused on heavy shirting and Tencel shirting.
Coatings and Tencel shirting were key to Prosperity’s collection for A/W 18-19. The mill also focused on lightweight fabrics with a heavy appearance.
Understanding the need for variety in a season as eclectic as A/W 18-19, Albiate 1830, a division of the Albini Group, offered a broad range of concepts in more than 1,000 versions suitable for shirting, vests, jackets, blouses and more. Weights ranged from an ethereal 70-gram variation to a thick 250-gram option.
The Italian mill broke the collection down into three main themes: casual and contemporary sport, denim and jacquard for an “unexpected aesthetic solution.”