Skip to main content

Crescent Re-creates Vintage Denim Looks for Lower-Impact Jeans

As the denim industry looks to lower the environmental cost of jeans, one strategy to reduce this impact is looking to the past. Whereas today’s jeans are typically dyed a deep indigo color and then heavily processed to achieve varied hues, vintage jeans were dyed lighter shades of indigo and left raw. Instead of manufacturing lived-in details like whiskering and fading, denim naturally gained these variations over time through wear.

This aesthetic and concept inspired Crescent Bahuman Limited’s latest collection, A Lighter Touch. The Pakistan-based mill worked with denim consultant Miles Johnson to develop a collection using different rigid and stretch constructions in denim materials in four lighter hues. The shades of indigo in the line are largely based on those seen in the 1920s and ‘30s, and Johnson took inspiration from casual workwear of yore for the 16 clothing styles in the collection.

Washing denim has only been part of the finishing process since the ‘70s. During this process, heavy chemicals like bleach are used to strip dye from denim. In addition to the chemical impact, there is significant water consumption during this commercial washing.

Instead of putting the jeans in commercial washing machines, the garments were finished with hand washing and outdoor line drying. “Taking bleach and chemicals away from the finishing process could be huge,” said Zaki Saleemi, vice president of strategy at Crescent Bahuman Limited. “A future of simple, reduced rinses and educating the customer to understand how denim is treated to give light finishes would help clean up the denim industry and allow us to reduce and reuse.”

Related Story

“As waste is one of the biggest problems in the industry, we have focused on taking waste, such as heavy dye, cotton, water and chemicals, and finding ways to reduce or remove it from processes,” Saleemi added. “The idea is to produce lighter shades, as opposed to making dark shades to be washed out, which makes no sense in this current climate.”

Wet processing is not only wasteful, but it also lowers the starting strength of the garments. Rigid textiles can last longer, allowing denim to stay in consumers’ closets for longer. “Because of the reduced need to heavy wash these bases, the fabric and garment will be stronger and more durable than ones that have gone through typical treatments,” said Saleemi. “At the same time, it would appeal to denim lovers to create their own fade stories by capturing and replicating the highs and lows in whiskers and honeycombs that come with authentic wear.”

All of the denim hues in A Lighter Touch were created using Crescent’s proprietary Naya Tech dyeing method, which reduces the chemicals and water needed without sacrificing color. Naya Tech eliminates the pre- and post-wash, and also saves up to 98.5 percent of the discharged water. To further improve the sustainable footprint of these garments, the yarn includes recycled materials, the sewing thread is cotton-based and the garments have removable trims that enable them to be recycled.

Although this is a concept collection, Saleemi sees the potential for raw, lighter denim to scale to a commercial level. “It simply requires the customer to think about the end look and shade and order their mid-light shade,” he said. “This is a much more natural way to look at shade ranging, which as we know, is an important part of establishing five-pocket fits within rolling collections.”

CBL previously worked with Johnson on Now or Never, a collection featuring blends of hemp, Tencel lyocell and cotton. “Miles carries the same values and interest as CBL does,” said Saleemi. “We both want to create denim collections that address the need to focus on our environmental footprint but still remain true to our heritage.”

Click here to learn more about Crescent Bahuman Limited.