There isn’t a single rule book for how the denim industry should operate during a global pandemic or the financial crisis it bears, but companies along the supply chain, like Artistic Garment Industries (AGI Denim), are finding their way.
Though Henry Wong, AGI Denim senior director of product development and marketing, points out that “nothing beats being in the same physical space, looking and feeling beautiful denim,” the vertically-integrated company has successfully converted its client service strategies to the digital world.
“During this period, we have almost become an Amazon, of sorts,” Wong said. “Clients shop our digital library and order samples to compare. We have virtual meetings to discuss developments and the pace of business has the opportunity of speeding up.”
For Fall/Winter 21-22, Karachi, Pakistan-based AGI Denim narrowed its focus to products that bring true, additional value to consumers. “This can mean distilling products to their core essence as well as maximizing the benefits of other products to drive value,” Wong explained.
As the environmental impact of jeans become more widely known across the supply chain down to the end consumers, clients are seeking technologies that will help reduce their footprint. AGI Denim has seen interest spike in its technologies related to water-savings and less-impactful fibers, including hemp and organic cotton.
“This is built on a strong foundation developed over years, one in which many of our clients already use our post-consumer and post-industrial recycled fibers in their denim programs,” Wong said.
On the creative side, AGI Denim is fielding requests from the market for more color concepts and un-dyed, natural-colored denim. The company is also seeing a continuation of retro aesthetics reflecting strong marble character, defined twill lines and slub character.
“We were quite successful with our previous Sensei and Retro concepts, which focused on two authentic denim head aesthetic systems,” Wong said. “Naturally, we have begun building new fibers and performance characteristics into these.”
For F/W 21-22, AGI Denim added a hemp blend fabric with authentic, slub character in its Sensei line. The company also has a new Retro denim product that looks like it came from the flea market. The fabric has an ’80s looks yet feels soft because it’s made with 50 percent Tencel.
Designers, however, drive the fashion trends. “We see our job as empowering clients with the textiles technologies they need while maintaining their looks,” Wong said.
And that opens up AGI Denim to focus on more efficient and sustainable innovations. “When we develop something like our Redefine Denim which uses no virgin fibers, or our Double Zero technology which generates zero waste-water in both dyeing and finishing, we are free to focus on the technology because we are not constrained by the fashion trend cycles,” Wong explained.
And as new consumer behaviors unfold, fashion may become less of a factor in their purchasing decisions. “We are seeing new value propositions to technologies we have had in our line,” Wong said.
With topics like hygiene and protective properties becoming a greater part of the fashion conversation due to the coronavirus, clients are looking at AGI’s antimicrobial finishes in a new light, he said.
The same can be said for the company’s EverRaw Tech, which is comfortable fabric that maintains its raw denim appearance even after many home laundries. Additionally, the fabric never stains furniture—which is a draw as brands begin to build collections for consumers with new work-from-home lifestyles.
Preparing for the future in such uncertain times is a challenge, however, Wong says AGI is not straying from its focus on reducing its corporate environmental impact and building a better tomorrow for the denim industry.
“Our presentations always advocate product changes that result in denims that are less impact than yesterday’s,” he said. “From a product standpoint, we remain committed to our approach of finding opportunities to be better in fiber, fabric and finishes.”