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Soko’s Lumia Provides Denim Fading Without the Hazardous Chemicals  

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Vintage and worn jeans, with their localized faded effect on knees, pockets and highlighted details, remain attractive and fashionable. But the way to achieve such looks in production is no longer compatible with the emerging approach to a more sustainable denim industry.

The industry has been well aware of the impact of creating such effects with potassium permanganate, a strong oxidizing agent harmful to operators and the environment.

“Everyone in the denim industry tried to find a replacement, and at Soko, we did the same, but suddenly we realized that all those alternatives just weren’t the right solution,” said Matteo Urbini, Soko’s managing director. “We decided to take a totally different approach; throwing away all previous concepts and looking at the project from a different angle. Because real innovations only come if you change the rules of the game and your mentality.”

At the Soko Innovation Hub—a recently created in-house research and development lab—the team found the solution with Lumia, an advanced process that can achieve similar denim fading effects as potassium permanganate but in a radically different way.

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Soko wouldn’t provide extensive details on its proprietary process, but the Italy-based company did claim it is a revolutionary method based on a single product that is easy to apply, exempt of strong acids, booster and peroxide, and doesn’t need heat for reaction.

“Lumia isn’t just a substitute. It is re-writing the way to create that coveted whitening, fading and bleaching effect on denim,” said Urbini, noting that Lumia highlights contrasts and fading of abraded or laser-treated areas. “In a few words, this is a simple single product applied in the same way of potassium permanganate and is safer towards fabric strength, machineries components and operators.”

Since Lumia doesn’t use acid that weakens or compromises fabric durability, it won’t create the same issues and product rejections that many denim manufacturers face.

Lumia product is applied first, then activated by ozone—which has bactericidal, fungicidal and virucidal properties and is already widely used in denim finishing—so it works with equipment already existing in the washing industry.

The product is also easily controlled during the production process. Garments treated with Lumia can also be dried and activated later, and with no time or moisture limitations, this makes the process much more controllable and flexible, said Urbini, who adds that operators achieve the best performance if they apply it locally, but it can also be sprayed inside the washing machine.

“This is a game changer,” said Urbini. “Many brands have been asking their contractors not to use potassium permanganate, putting various productions into difficult situations for the lack of valid alternatives, but now the solution is Lumia. Brands care a lot about their reputations, and they no longer want fashion to be considered one of the most polluting industries. For some time, they have been organizing to create a roadmap banning all chemicals considered dangerous. Lumia goes exactly in this direction.”

Lumia has GOTS, ZDHC and OEKO-Tex certifications.

To learn more about Soko’s Lumia, click here.