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Tencel Targets Heritage-Focused Denim Brands With New Collection

Denim means many things to different people. A denim head may believe raw denim is the only denim. A traditionalist may live in classic 501s. Meanwhile, a fashionable millennial woman rotates through her wardrobe of skinny, straight, mom and utility jeans.

The Tencel denim team’s new collection, Broadband, represents the wide scope of the many kinds of denim in the market.

At Kingpins Amsterdam this week, Tencel debuted the unique project that includes two concepts based on Tencel Lyocell fabrics: Hardwear, a workwear wardrobe inspired by archival garments; and Softwear, a feminine range of fluid denim fashion statements.

Together, they represent the “ying” and “yang” of denim, underscoring that there’s no singular denim trend driving the category at the moment.

While Tencel has presented several collections in the past that have highlighted denim trends like garment-dyed or chambray garments, nothing has shown its diversity as Broadwear. Nor has a project showed the fiber in a way like Hardwear does.

“You wouldn’t normally associate Tencel with these type of garments,” said Michael Kininmonth, global denim development manager for Lenzing, adding that the collection may be Tencel’s “foot in the door” with brands that focus on heritage workwear design.

The garments are weighty, durable and aged with precision under the watchful (and admittedly obsessive) eyes of Endrime founders Mohsin Sajid and Sadia Rafique.

Sajid based the designs on pieces in his own archive that date back as far the 1870s and made the prototypes in his studio in West Sussex, England, using vintage machinery. Each garment includes a hidden mistake—a Sajid signature.

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“Being asked to design an authentic denim collection using Tencel Lyocell has been a dream project for Sadia and I,” Sajid said. “It has been a joy for us to create and has been a true collaborative project. It’s been a career highlight.”

Blackhorse Lane Ateliers in London produced the final garments, which were sustainably finished by Jeanologia in Spain. The trims were custom made by YKK using sustainable finishes. The buttons, washers and burr rivets were made to include period-accurate details.

Like all of Tencel’s collections, the fabrics were narrowed down from approximately 40 to just eight for Hardwear, chosen on their finishing performance and compatibility with laser treatment. The collection includes fabrics from A&A Textiles, Atlantic Mills, Blue Diamond, Kaihara, KG Denim, Orta Anadolu, Stella Blue and Candiani. Most are Tencel/cotton blends.

Kininmonth said Tencel plans to put together a digital book with high-res images that highlight the significance of specific details of each garment. A second group of raw Hardwear garments will be on display at Kingpins New York, taking place Nov. 19-20.

“This project was a real departure for us, because this denim category has historically been the domain of 100 percent cotton. We wanted to challenge that model and we did so by going to partners who are recognized for their expertise in this area,” Kininmonth said. “As always, we aim to work with what we believe are some of the best sustainably produced denim fabrics available in today’s market that combine the latest advancements in fiber and finish.”

Softwear shirt
Softwear Lenzing

Equally complex and inspiring, Softwear showcases Tencel fabrics in a familiar yet elevated and fashionable way.

The collection—which includes a long halter dress, shirt dress, ruffled skirt, cropped jacket and more—was designed in collaboration with Jeanologia and fashion students from Jeanologia’s home base in Valencia.

Softwear uses fabrics from Indigo Istanbul, Anubha and several from Mozartex—an early adopter of Tencel. Mozartex’s fabrics, Kininmonth said, were chosen because they are mill wash, meaning they are ready for cut and sew and require no additional wash.

The collection’s water-inspired effects, he added, aim to spark dialogues about water conservation in the apparel industry.