Denim Première Vision in London last week was a breeding ground for creativity and responsible design.
When Balmain and Chanel need denim expertise, the fashion houses turn to Italian design company FashionArt. The 100 percent “Made in Italy” manufacturer showcased its high-level concepts and capabilities in London using materials from fellow exhibitors.
With upcycling gaining prevalence, and the aesthetic becoming more mainstream, FashionArt chief executive Andrea Rambaldi said the company sees mixed materials gaining in importance for Spring/Summer 2021. The company presented jeans with Western-inspired suede appliques, corduroy jackets with soft touch flocked denim collars and a denim and nylon puffer coat.
The jacket, Rambaldi noted, could become a sustainable story for a brand by using recycled filler.
Corduroy is the most requested non-denim at the moment, but Rambaldi said the company is also seeing an upswing in denim blended with silk and wool. There also a move toward indigo jacquards—both simple or with unfurled threads that mimic the look and feel of fur. The fabrics lend a sartorial edge to the tried-and-true 5-pocket jean, which he pointed out is taking more inspiration from traditional tailoring than streetwear in the coming seasons.
Similarly, Cone Denim saw interest in its “silk denim,” a blend of cotton, modal and silk. Attendees responded well to the fabric’s drapey hand feel, Cone sales manager Gabriel Theodor said.
That drapey feeling is reflected in Spring/Summer 2021 print trends, too. Prints and laser prints that mimic the flowing feel of waves and swimming pools are among the themes presented by 4th Avenue, the U.K.-based design studio. Founder Nick Williams, a member of the 2019 Rivet 50, said denim brands are gravitating to the water designs, as well as art-inspired prints and patterns like crackled paint, marbling and ink splatters.
The R&D team at Chottani is betting on digital prints as a major trend for Spring/Summer 2021. The print trend is spurred by the prevalence of street art and is one that speaks to the convergence of virtual and real life. The prints also allow designers to add a jolt of color to denim, which remains a key selling point for Gen Z and millennial consumers.
Italian brands are especially interested in the prints, Chottani director of marketing Aamir Chottani said. The brands can develop their own prints, or create a mood board for Chottani’s team of graphic designers to interpret into custom digital prints. As logo mania dies down, the original prints can serve as a branding tool.
Tencel blends, he added, work best with digital prints. The fiber’s soft hand and smoothness enhance the prints and adds a sustainable element.
While digital prints offer a sleek and modern look, the Pakistan-based design and development company continues to have a strong business in handcrafted details. Blue, white and red denim with eyelet embroideries are among the springtime looks Chottani is proposing for the season.
And its Swarovski program remains popular with a wide scope of brands, ranging from the Max Mara Group to Guess, but in modern ways. Entire images are made out of micro crystals, while others are used to accentuate quilting details. Brands, Chottani noted, are also using Swarovski crystals to create “evening denim,” typically with denim fabrics with stay black technology.
Garment dyes are holding strong for the spring season, particularly in shades of mustard and purple. More fashion brands, Chottani noted, are using the color denim for capsule collections within their seasonal lines.
That’s a trend Berto picked up on with its limited-edition color denims. The Italian denim mill’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection is based on Gen Z consumers’ desire to purchase items that are both unique and sustainable. The result is a range of denims with an indigo warp and a weft made out of colorful post-consumer recycled fabrics, including purple, orange, red and blue for a more commercial look.
Interest in non-traditional colors is widening the playing field for more sustainable dye techniques. India’s Raymond Denim presented a yarn-dyed collection of springtime fabrics inspired by nature. A color-blocked jacket offered up a modern interpretation of workwear.
Maritas Denim from Turkey showcased its Terra Denim collection, a new product line made with clay-based pigments. The resulting earth-hued fabrics use 80 percent less water, 35 percent less energy and fewer chemicals than traditional dyeing systems. Additionally, the colorways tap into the ecru trend story Meidea presented at the show for Spring/Summer 2021.
Overall, ecru and various shades of tan and beige lightened collections. Cone Denim offered a versatile option with its beige fabric that can be used two ways, giving brands a dark and light option in one.
Ecru was part of Baykanlar Tekstil’s collection. The Turkish denim manufacturer used the natural shade in garments that spanned prairie-inspired blouses with pintucked details, to indigo tie-dyed short shorts. Bleached pink, jade green, golden yellow and coated white denim with streaky splashes of pastel colors were among the other non-traditional colorful moments from the company.
Beaded waistbands and Southwest embroidery on denim with an acid wash look smacked of the ’80s. High-waisted jeans with front yoke details, puff-sleeved cropped jean jackets and hardware details like cinch belts and buckles on the hem of jeans were other nostalgic touches from Baykanlar. The company also played with mixed materials, lining the inside of jean jackets with ditsy floral cotton fabrics, or splicing denim Trucker jackets with inserts of traditional tapestries.
A representative from Baykanlar said attendees also responded strongly to a new vivid blue with a ’70s slant. Clean lines, flare cuts and jeans with front patch pockets enhanced the retro story.
Blue Meets Green
Despite the bursts of color at Denim Première Vision, the show floor was still flooded with blue. However, the focus was on indigo-dyed fabrics that consume less natural resources and use efficient finishing technology.
Regarding the creative and fashion-forward designs presented at the show, Matthew Fuhr, advisor for Pakistani denim manufacturer Siddiqsons, said it was depictive of the fact that brands in Europe “are more segmented and have a budget for more R&D.”
However, sustainability remained top of mind. “Sustainability is so important in Europe,” he said, comparing the region to the U.S. market. “There’s a clear expectation that products will be sustainable in Europe.”
For Spring/Summer 2021, Berto introduced Sky, a new indigo cast that uses pre-reduced indigo, allowing brands to wash down to a lighter shade while using less water and chemicals. With the look of bleached denim being a trend with huge commercial success, the mill sought out to develop fabrics that will reach a light color faster.
Berto offered the cast in a wide array of constructions and weights, including 100 percent cotton variations, cotton and linen blends, shirting weights and fabrics with a diagonal weave.
Mills emphasized fabrics that are laser compatible. Cone Denim’s Natural Indigo fabrics often catch the attention of brands for their eco story and classic denim aesthetic, but Theodor noted that the fabrics also have laser-friendly properties. The mill also highlighted thread for its sister company, American & Efrid, that performs better with laser. Thread sometimes melts under the heat of a laser, Theordor said.
Kassim Denim brought its Automic process to the show, which eliminates the dry process, reduces the dye usage and accelerates time to market. Kassim achieves this by applying indigo to the yarn surface only, meaning brands can create whiskers, scrapping and blast effects similar to dry processes by hand with more sustainable and time efficient lasers.
To complement this, the Pakistan-based mill also presented Endigo, a patented technology that reduces indigo and chemicals through an electro-chemical process. The technique results in indigo that has a higher yield, reduces variation in the process and cuts down on the salt content required in the dyeing process. The addition of an organic reducing and fixing agent helps achieve more natural fades.
And Rudolf Hub 1922’s Laser Primer technology is gaining traction. Launched in October, the technology is made up of four processes that can significantly enhance the aesthetics of indigo and sulphur dyes and achieve important energy savings. The results, said Alberto De Conti, head of Rudolf Fashion Division, sell themselves, but brands are also wowed by the minimal application process.
In the mill, Laser Primer is applied to the outside of fabrics as a foam, which he likened to micro crystals that help reflect light, meaning once the fabric is treated it is always ready for the garment and finishing stage. Products made with the technology, he added, should be in stores within six months.