The debate about how to wash jeans—and how often—is part of denim’s unique legacy, but as consumers become more conscious about the environmental impact of their fashion, Rudolf Group’s Hub 1922 is taking steps to reduce the need for at-home laundry.
The Milan-based innovation center recently introduced Washless Denim, a combination of two existing Rudolf technologies, Bionic-Finish Eco and Silverplus, that together address the opportunity to reduce domestic washing.
Bionic-Finish Eco is a system of macroscopic branches that attach to the fiber and help restrict liquid droplets—be it an accidental spill or a sneeze—from penetrating the fabric. Silverplus is a “micro-structured element” coated with metallic silver, which controls odor-causing bacteria. This technology, the company added, is “exactly the same technology used to prevent infections in clinics and hospitals.”
Together the technologies allow for extended wearing time between washes, giving consumers protection from liquids, jeans that feel fresh, and products that last longer due to less frequent laundering.
The concept for Washless Denim was born as a consequence of a company-wide effort to dig even deeper into ways to contribute measurable environmental sustainability. While water consumption in industrial garment finishing is improving as companies introduce alternatives like laser and ozone, the environmental impact of domestic washing remains poor.
Life cycle assessments of jeans, the company reported, contribute 20-25 percent of a single pair’s water consumption to at-home laundry.
Washless Denim, however, is a “tangible and easy to understand” concept for brands to share with their consumers—which Alberto De Conti, head of Rudolf Fashion Division, said is essential for any added-value, sustainable concept to succeed at retail.
“For the Washless Denim initiative to be successful it needs to be understood and embraced by brands and retailers because they have a pivotal role to play when it comes to [informing and educating] their customers,” he said. “We hope that truly responsible apparel brands and retailers will share knowledge with their audience because pushing consumers to have a different caring attitude towards the denim they purchase is of paramount importance.”
Rudolf Hub 1922 teamed up with denim designer Piero Turk and his team to show how the technology can be universally applied to a variety of denim looks, including jeans with abrasions, scrapings and paint splatters.
“As individuals, the single best thing we can do for the planet is to use our stuff for longer and wash them less,” Turk said.