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The Future of Denim Is Linked to Technological Innovations

Welcome to the age of “denim technovation”—a new term created by Bluezone Business Manager Panos Sofianos that sums up the direction he believes the denim industry needs to move toward.

“Denim needs a refurbishing,” Sofianos said during a workshop titled “Denim Tech/Novation” Wednesday at Bluezone in Munich, Germany.

Be it selvedge, the ultra washed and ripped, the ’80s oversized, the tight fit, the marbled look or the patchwork, Sofianos said the denim industry is guilty of repeating the same stereotypes.

“Denim technovation is the innovation of denim through technology, powered by technology and science,” he continued.

At the workshop on Wednesday, Sofianos gathered denim mills and innovators from the performance fabric space to share concepts and ideas about the future of denim.

With an ever-growing list of new and emerging end uses—from climate control, wellness and skin care, and rain protection, to self cleaning and anti stain fabrics—and new retail realities like Amazon using drones to for home delivery— Sofianos pointed out that fashion trends are being replaced with designs and services that fulfill consumer needs.

“Brilliant ideas and disruptive creativity are changing our consuming habits,” he said. “We are living the future today.”

As consumers demand more from their denim, they are also getting back to nature. “People are going back to their roots. Active lifestyle, fitness and being in nature are becoming important. We should provide fabrics according to this trend, like denim with wicking and anti-odor properties,” said Sedef Uncu Aki, Orta director.

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At Bluezone, Orta debuted Biocharge the first denim created to support muscle wellness. The intelligent denim is infused with minerals designed and medically proved to refresh muscles with the energy needed to get through the day. By supporting muscle regeneration to reduce stress and tension, Biocharge denim improves the body’s balance and maximizes relaxation during sleep. Orta is pitching the innovation toward brands that cater to the active outdoor markets. However, its uses are limitless.

Likewise, Royo presented performance denim with a new collection called Atmosphere. “Smart denim is sustainable denim and transparent,” said a representative from Royo.

Geared toward outdoor activities that require maximum comfort and protection, Atmosphere features performance fabric that provides thermal insulation and protects against rain, wind and cold temperatures. The fabric is made with high temperature resistant fibers and disperses body perspiration through ultrathin breathable hydrophilic lamination.

“It is great to hear that though we’re competitors, we are always thinking toward the same direction,” Orta’s Uncu Aki added. “The next generation will not only be determined by color and fashion, but will be looking at technology. science and fashion working together hand in hand,” she said.

Born in the outdoor space, Schoeller Textiles sees endless opportunities for denim to adopt the company’s protective and insulating innovations, including Ceraspace, a ceramic coating that increases fabric’s durability and membrane laminations for water and stain repellency.

Reflective denim for commuters is also on the up and up, Schoeller COO Hans Kohn reported. “It’s a heath and security concern. Each item needs to have built-in security items in the future. [Consumers] want imbedded things that protect them,” he explained.

Kohn said Schoeller looks for trends in the textile arena and crossover industries like technology. “Our home land is sport and outdoor, so whenever we look into the denim segment, we look from the outside in and we take our approach—innovation, performance, functionality—to see how we can innovate denim,” he said.

However, Kohn noted the lines between categories and industries are blurring. “When we develop technology for denim, it is all about outdoor functions, but all of you know [categories are] getting closer and closer,” he said. “We can’t talk about sport, fashion, outdoor and denim separately. Categories are [blending].”