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Denim Supply Chain Players Seek New Ways to Elevate Efficiency

Companies throughout the denim supply chain are developing techniques and fabrics designed to streamline traditional processes in new sustainable ways.

At Kingpins Amsterdam last week, mills, chemical companies and finishing technology companies rolled out their Spring/Summer 2021 solutions to speed up processes and reduce the industry’s environmental footprint.

Chemical company Garmon debuted Smart Foam, a technology designed to be the “easiest and most affordable system to save water in garment finishing, making the technological investment accessible to any industrial laundry.” The technology can be used to create a broad sweep of designs, from traditional finishes to unique fashion concepts.

With Smart Foam, Garmon replaces water with a special foam as the chemical carrier in the garment finishing process. As a result, Smart Foam allows savings of up to 80 percent of water compared to traditional washing processes. Additionally, the treatments are performed at room temperature, therefore reducing the energy required, the company reported.

The technology also promotes efficiency. Smart Foam is compatible with any type of washing machine. Compared to nebulization systems, Smart Foam is three times faster to load into washing machines, and it doesn’t require sealed equipment, allowing technicians to interrupt finishing treatments and check garments with safety and ease.

Ozone has long been an imperfect science, but Tonello has refined the technology with OBleach, a new process that achieves a true bleach effect with minimal environmental impact. In short, the company says “the real bleach without bleach has finally arrived.” The process requires low temperatures to achieve contrasting effects. It is also highly replicable, allowing brands to follow a fixed recipe.

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The rollout of OBleach times well with companies that are aligned with 2020 goals in Greenpeace’s Detox My Fashion campaign, which bans potassium permanganate from the supply chain. The process can also be combined with Tonello’s new natural dye system, Wake, to create unique color denim.

Tonello’s Wake x OBleach Courtesy

The rapid adoption of laser finishing across denim giants like Levi Strauss & Co. and Fast Retailing is driving solutions providers to seek ways to ensure that brands achieve desirable results.

Hub 1922 launched Laser Primer, a three-part system that significantly improves the laser fading of denim and decreases the yellow/brown cast linked to cotton burning. The active ingredients, RUCO-Special LPR and RUCO-Special LPC, act as a crystal reflecting light from the laser. The final product, RUCO-Special DPR, protects the cotton.

Laser print jeans
Laser Primer by Hub 1922 Courtesy

The growing demand for laser-friendly fabrics echoes the need for efficiency.

Naveena is exploring ways to roll out laser-friendly fabrics across its entire collection. The mill introduced Beam Denim, a range of fabrics that easily chip off to achieve natural shade, abrasion and marking effects. This innovation, the mill said, reduces finishing time and saves energy and water without harsh chemicals.

Meanwhile, Artistic Fabric Garment Industries’ solution for laser-friendly fabrics is M-Power fabrics, a collection of denim fabrics that are designed to empower the use of lasers. The fabrics are made with 100 percent cellulose fibers to avoid heat damage and melting under the light. The fabrics are also sulfur free, creating the perfect canvas for the lasers to create crisp or vintage images.

Other fabrics are trying to bypass the wash process entirely.

Calik debuted Denethic, a range of fabrics that have washed effects without actually having to go through the washing process. The fabrics are produced to have the appearance of being rinse washed, rinse and enzyme washed, or bleached. Denethic fabrics can be used for cut-and-sew garments, or laundered for heavier wash effects, but with less water, chemicals, energy and time. The concept includes vintage-looking and crosshatch fabrics in both mid and light washes.

Artistic Milliners sees an opportunity in the market to do more with less. The denim mill aims to reduce the amount of fabric types companies need in their warehouse with a new collection called All Together Now. As more brands increase their size ranges, the mill developed a fabric range with stretch technologies like Lycra FreeFit and DualFX that will better accommodate a breadth of sizes and styles.