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The Denim Supply Chain Zeroes In on Efficiency at Kingpins Amsterdam

Kingpins Amsterdam last week was the first since show organizers announced they would begin requiring exhibitors (mills and laundries) to meet standards for corporate social responsibility and sustainable chemical management by 2020.

The trade show announced its collaborating with the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Foundation to develop the protocol and to define the required progress levels for denim exhibitors. The goal in this, according to the show, is to streamline and eliminate the road blocks preventing the supply chain from becoming more sustainable.

“Kingpins believes that the adoption of a clear and unified approach on sustainable chemical management in the denim supply chain will reduce complexity, increase transparency, improve communication and ultimately lower costs—both in certification and in evaluation tests of chemical substances,” the company said in a statement.

Both organizations will also work together to provide practical improvement support for the industry and showcase best sustainable and innovative practices.

“This bold step will further drive the adoption and implementation of ZDHC as a harmonized and forefront approach to environmental performance in the denim supply chain,” said Christina Raab, ZDHC implementation director.

While the efforts of Kingpins to help guide the industry toward sustainable standards is important, Twin Dragon founder Dominic Poon urged governments to step up and enforce laws collaboratively. Setting compliance standards that can be scaled globally is key for Twin Dragon. The company produces denim, PFGD and color in twills in China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Mexico and Nicaragua.

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To measure its sustainability performance, Twin Dragon uses the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index, which Poon said is the most commonly requested from mass merchant clients. The company, he added, “scores in the top 5,” though the work is continuous. For Fall/Winter 20-21, the mill is working on new dyeing methods, including using liquid indigo across its entire production and ramping up its use of recycled polyester. Fabrics are also being optimized for laser finishing in order to reduce water usage, chemicals and the manpower required to achieve desired effects.

Sei Laser presented Flexi Denim, a digital laser machine for jeans and fabric garment finishing. While the company’s roots are in laser technology for metal, wood and other industrial operations, it’s a relative newcomer in denim. However, a year in, Ivan Blini, Sei Laser international sales, said the company is making major inroads with laser that’s three to four times faster than other laser brands. This, he added, brings with it a reduction of costs and less energy waste.

The company plans to up the ante at ITMA in June with a “garment on demand” innovation for the denim industry. The all-in-one Matrix machine will cut and finish jeans, Blini said.

Laser sensitive fabrics that give high contrasts were among the new efficient fabrications presented by Kaltex. The Mexico-based mill, which made its Kingpins Amsterdam debut, reinforced its focus on innovation with a campaign called “Kaltech” and the message that it is a “total solution provider for sustainability.”

“Sustainability isn’t the trend,” Alvyda Kupinas, Kaltex America director of design, said about Amsterdam “It’s a given here—a must.”

Kaltex, she added, has many of the same sustainable goals for energy and water that Kingpins aims to help set for the denim industry. The company began to establish eco-friendly technologies for its manufacturing in the early ’90s, starting with a chemical recycling system in 1991. Currently, it’s roster of eco initiatives runs the gamut from housing its own heat recovery plant that generates electricity for its own manufacturing, to the adoption of BCI Cotton, to Dry Dye, which Kupinas said brings the wash down process to a 20-minute cycle.

Additionally, for F/W 20-21, Kaltex touts coated “no cotton” fabrications made with Tencel, and fabrics that are blends of recycled scraps and virgin cotton—a combination that works for the trend for overdyed fabrics. “Recycled yarns will pick up,” Kupinas predicted. “It’s starting here, people want to talk about it.”

For Tonello, its focus at Kingpins was on streamlining the way brands measure the environmental impact of garments with Metro, a new transparent software that will provide real time data relating to the consumption of water, energy, chemicals and time.

Candiani Denim continued at the show with its Re-Last story with new grey, black and ecru colorways. The collection uses Roica recycled GRS-certified stretch yarns developed exclusively for the mill’s comfort, stretch and super stretch fabrics. All three wefts are woven with Candiani’s 88 Warp made with 100 percent organic cotton.

And living up to its legacy in the development of stretch denim, Candiani bowed a new bi-stretch made with Lycra dualFX in the warp and Nylon 6.6 in the weft. Described as “sling technology,” the warp of the fabric provides a lifted, sculpted shape with maximum freedom of movement, and a promise that it won’t bag out. The fabrics have an elasticity of 25 percent in the warp and 50 percent in the weft. Shrinkage is proportional, according to the mill, coming in below 5 percent in the warp and 10 percent in the weft.

Along with zero cotton fabrications and Tencel x Refibra, the second season of Naveena’s “Lifecycle of an Idea” concept also includes a new bi-stretch without the flat look typical of the fabrication. A discrete crosshatch adds an authentic look.

Naveena Naveena

The company has an arsenal of stretch technologies, including EasyFit, with less compressive force than typical stretch fabrics, allowing for a wider range of fits, plus Reflex, a four-way stretch that effortlessly responds to movement.

Naveena is also investing in fibers and fabrics that deliver additional benefits to the wearer. The Emana fibers and “active bio-ceramic crystals” used in BioFunction stimulates circulation and provides faster muscle recovery. For sensitive skin, BioCare uses Umorfil beauty fiber for thermos-regulating, moisture-wicking and deodorizing properties. Copper ion technology in Remedy helps restore skin cells for healthier skin texture and tone, while antimicrobial technology from silver adds odor protection to ReFresh.

Kassim launched Blu Volt at Kingpins, a dyeing process that uses Endigo, a liquid reducing agent, to dye the warp using a “patented spray system in a nitrogen environment.”

The result, according to the mill, is zero salt formation and 85 percent reduction in water, plus 25 percent reduction in energy. Additionally, the combination of an organic reducing and fixing agent creates a surface effect on fabrics that make it easier to achieve natural fades in the washing phase.