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Bluezone Recap: Denim Mills Adjust to More Digital Future

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Munich Fabric Start and Bluezone provided the first opportunity since the start of the pandemic to explore denim fabrics and trims in real life last week. Parts of the show, however, was still focused on the digital world the industry has adapted to during the global health crisis.

Though it specializes in traditional trade shows, Munich Fabric Start Exhibitions is embracing the digitization of sourcing. The show launched Fabric.iD, a new service that uses texture and color scanners from Vizoo GmbH and Caddon Printing and Imaging GmbH to digitize fabric collections.

The service is intended to complement the physical shows and to further the dialogue between fabric makers and designers, according to Sebastian Klinder, managing director of Munich Fabric Start Exhibitions GmbH. Customers can send their fabrics to the show and its team will then take over the scanning process and digitize the textiles at the trade fair and throughout the year.

“We then make the data available for further processes,” Klinder said. “The samples can be measured without restriction on any monitor with a click of the mouse and used for sales, product presentations, design processes, trying on avatars and other areas of application.”

Orta is experimenting with the digital world as well. The Turkish denim mill turned its Scenic Route collection, inspired by iconic film directors like Stanley Kubrick and Federico Fellini, into a virtual reality experience at the show. There, users explored the mill’s line of fabrics dyed with Archroma’s EarthColors and the different types of fiber used in the collection through the unique gaming experience.

A new partnership between Naveena Denim Mills and MYR introduces a gaming component to product development. Customers can now view and manipulate the mill’s entire fabric collection through MYR’s prototyping software that allows designers to work with fabrics in sketch, photo and 3D form. The software syncs with PLM systems so all departments and external suppliers can work from the same file efficiently. Laser and embellishment files stored in the cloud also enable designers to adjust designs without the need for a graphic designer.

Digital technologies, color denim and comfortable fabrics were among the hot topics at Bluezone in Munich last week.

MYR

“Proper use” of the software can lead to a 40 to 60 percent reduction in costs and environmental impact, MYR reports.

Naveena Denim Ltd., based in Lahore, Pakistan, aims to achieve better laser effects through a new collaboration with Acticell, an Austrian green chemical company. The mill is applying Acticell’s Laser Digitalizer to help eliminate the gray ash effect that laser finishing often leaves on darker washes. The result is a sharper and brighter color effect.

Digital technologies, color denim and comfortable fabrics were among the hot topics at Bluezone in Munich last week.

Naveena Denim Ltd.

Beyond the supply chain side of business, denim mills also presented concepts designed to mitigate online returns. Calik Denim highlighted its Selfsized fabric collection of stretch fabrics, which is already being used by brands like Good American. The fabric’s ultra-high elasticity offers softness and comfort and allows brands to make jeans that fit multiple sizes. Naveena showed Self-Fit, its stretch solution made with Lycra fibers that fits up to two sizes up and down. Along with being adaptable to any silhouette, the mill says the fabric provides “excellent shape retention and recovery.”

Though most of the concepts have already come to market, mills notably shifted the collections’ original storylines about size inclusivity to ones that focused on how size-less denim can help lower return or exchange rates, especially as online shopping grows during the pandemic.

Next act

The show was home to several projects in their second and third phases.

Round two of The Circle Book, a joint effort between fiber producer Tencel, chemical company Officina +39 and design and branding consultancy Meidea to promote circular and transparent production, made its physical debut at Bluezone after launching as a digital-only project during the height of the pandemic.

With the tagline “act together,” the original book served as a guide to low-impact apparel. The concept was brought to life in a capsule collection that follows circular criteria such as recycled and degradable materials, items that can be easily disassembled and reassembled, and are accessible to many people. Tencel and Tencel x Refibra fabrics were dyed with Officina+39’s recycled Recycrom dye. Others were dyed with the company’s Aqualess Mission, a collection of technologies that help laundries achieve the look of perfectly worn-in jeans in a sustainable way.

To emphasize the power of collaboration—in this case between European companies—and to underscore the full scope of resources that is necessary to produce a circular garment, the second edition boasted an expanded roster of participants including mills Calik Denim and Tejidos Royo, thread producer Crafil, manufacturer DR Bock Industries, RGT Laundry and trim suppliers Ribbontex and Spring 85.

Though the intention behind the project is positive, bringing companies together especially under the added weight of the pandemic was no easy feat, according to Lucia Rosin, Meidea owner and creative director. While companies often share the same vision on paper, putting words into action relies on passion. “You have to believe in what you’re doing,” she said.

Munich Fabric Start and Bluezone provided the first opportunity since the start of the pandemic to explore denim fabrics and trims in real life last week. Parts of the show, however, was still focused on the digital world the industry has adapted to during the global health crisis.

The Circle Book

It also takes time, resources and the perseverance to overcome hurdles such as logistic issues, added Andrea Venier, Officina+39’s managing director. Save for one day spent in a laundry, most of the planning for the collection took place online. The pros outweigh the cons, however. “We need to be inspired,” he said.

The inspirational collection strikes on popular themes in fashion, including size-less, gender-free and versatile design. Pieces like a scarf vest with generous pockets, voluminous jumpsuits and convertible tops were designed for comfort, while shawl collar jackets and culotte trousers tapped into the growing demand for elevated workwear. The colors—rich casts of green, purple and indigo—were selected based on Spring 2023 color forecasts. Some were enhanced with leather-like coatings.

Naveena Denim Mill, based in Karachi, offered a look at the next round of its Holistic Denim concept, an ever-expanding collection of sustainable fabrics relevant to current market demands. Here, the mill combines fibers like organic cotton, hemp, Tencel, CiCLO and more with Horizon, its dyeing and finishing technology that uses 80 percent less water and 40 percent less energy while cutting steam in half compared to conventional processes.

“When we talk about sustainability in the fashion industry, we mainly talk about fiber production, clothing production, recycling, and so on, but we sometimes overlook a very important part of the lifecycle of a garment, the consumer use part,” said Aydan Tuzun, Naveena’s head of global sales and marketing. “Our latest technologies complement each other to cover the whole value chain, including the consumer use part.”

Naveena’s Wraptech 2.0, a line of high-elasticity fabrics made with Lycra fiber and Lycra T-400 fiber, is a key part of the collection. The rigid-looking fabrics fill the market’s insatiable demand for ’90s-style jeans with the added benefit of super-stretch comfort and flexibility.

The mill is also looking at how to reduce denim’s impact once the jeans are in consumers’ closets, Tuzun said. Stay Fresh is Naveena’s solution to reduce the frequency of at-home launderings, which in turn helps garments last longer and reduces water and energy usage. The fabrics use Polygiene’s Stays Fresh technologies that keep clothes feeling fresh and odor-free for longer periods of time. Calculations made with Polygiene show that by skipping three at-home washes, a consumer can reduce water consumption by 40 percent and energy usage by 45 percent.

Fashion factor

PG Denim was home to some of the most fashion-forward ideas at Bluezone, especially ones that used denim in unconventional and non-indigo ways. Highlights included fabrics made with silver and gold threads, leather and laminated effects, flocking, printed flocking and custom digital prints. It also featured PFD fabrics that are 100 percent free of contaminants.

Digital technologies, color denim and comfortable fabrics were among the hot topics at Bluezone in Munich last week.

PG Denim

Tejidos Royo presented ReBoot, a line of PFD fabrics made from recycled pre-consumer fibers that allows for clean colors in both light and dark tones. The fabrics meet the Global Recycled Standard requirements. PFD fabrics were popular with Calik Denim’s German clientele. A rep pointed to printed, sparkle and colorful PFD options like yellow and lime green as of their favorites.

Bossa emphasized color as well with its Warm White collection of ecru fabrics. The fabrics serve as a canvas for hearty neutrals, soft pastels and mid-tones colors that can be washed down to achieve an orange peel effect. Orta introduced sand, clay and forest to its lineup of fabrics dyed with organic EarthColors.

Digital technologies, color denim and comfortable fabrics were among the hot topics at Bluezone in Munich last week.

Bossa

Demand for comfortable clothing translated into fabrics with a soft touch. Prosperity Textile’s Stella Blu line served up a deep range of indigo corduroy as well as check and striped shirting fabrics that tie back to the mill’s denim business. While basic denim shirts make up the bulk of business, a rep said there was a lot of movement in indigo check shirts, indigo-dyed cotton and nylon blends for jackets and stronger twill lines.

While green casts and bright ’70s-inspired indigo washes added a jolt of color to Orta’s collection, the mill’s line made with hemp was surprisingly among of its softest products. The mill applied its Alchemy finishing technology to hemp and organic cotton blends to create a cashmere finish.

Chunky corduroy fabrics and natural wool fabrics with a brushed back and moisture management added a cozy look and feel to Panther Denim’s collection. Fabrics like the Warmlux line are geared toward brands that offer smart casual looks like pleated trousers and hybrid chino jeans. Meanwhile, the mill’s Marbelous range keyed into the demand for modern vintage denim. Rigid and stretch fabrications featured cracked and marble effects.

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