Denim mills have taken innovation to the next level this year, giving greater attention to recycled materials, collaborative efforts that bring out new qualities and fresh fiber development.
Candiani, for one, has introduced the next stage of Re-Gen denim, the closest the mill has come to a biodegradable denim fabric. Dyed with water-saving Kitotex and Indigo Juice technologies, the fabric is made up of 50 percent Refibra, Lenzing’s closed loop fiber that’s made using recycled cotton scraps and wood pulp, and 50 percent recycled cotton.
At Kilim, recycling has also been a focus. The Turkish denim factory’s Re-Create collection features recycled denim derived from fibers created from second hand jeans. Kilim then dyes and weaves the denim fabrics with recycled fibers in the weft and organic cotton in the warp.
Diving further into fiber technologies, Artistic Milliners tapped Cordura denim, Invista nylon and Lenzing Tencel and modal fiber technologies, to produce its Supercharged Noir collection. A black performance denim portfolio, Supercharged Noir is inspired with “5S” performance attributes–softness, strength, stay black, stretchability and sustainability.
Lenzing Modal Black, which is used in Supercharged Noir, is also estimated to have a 50 percent to 60 percent lower environmental impact than conventional dyed fabric. The process also comes with 64 percent water savings, 90 percent less chemical usage and 64 percent wastewater. The durability of Cordura denim also allows for less laundering and a longer-lasting pair of jeans, Cindy McNaull, global Cordura brand and marketing director, noted.
With that collection already in the brand adoption stage, the firms are working on the next chapter of their collaboration. According to McNaull, the styling and performance attributes of the collection wouldn’t be successful if they didn’t come with costs savings and environmental benefits.
Also answering the call for sustainability to become more commercially available, Jean Hegedus, Apparel & Advanced Textiles’ global segment leader for denim at Invista, said the new Lycra T400 EcoMade has been launched with several mills, including Advance Denim, Artistic Milliners, Soorty and Prosperity Textile. The bi-component fiber uses 50 percent recycled polyester and 18 percent fiber made from plant-based materials, making 68 percent of it sustainable.
“Many companies have 2020 sustainable goals they want to achieve, so this helps them along that road, since it’s replacing virgin polyester with recycled polyester,” Hegedus said.
More niche fibers have also seen strong take-up in denim.
Sir Peter Middleton, chairman of Directa Plus, a producer and supplier of graphene-based products for use in consumer and industrial markets, said a key development in this market is the recent signing of an exclusive collaboration agreement with Arvind Limited, a major conglomerate in India, to infuse the high-performance benefits of G+ into their denim fabrics. Significant activity is already under way, according to Middleton, who added, “we expect that the relationship will be broadened to include Arvind’s other textile segments” such as workwear.
“Technology plays a vital yet invisible hand in determining the performance, fashion quotient and functionality of the denims we develop,” Aamir Akhtar, CEO of Denims at Arvind, said. “The use of graphene in denims is absolutely new and will yield some of the smartest, most widely used fabrics in the years ahead…We want our key customers to be among the first to experience and enjoy the advanced, new-age clothing we will create with Directa Plus.”
In a recent update on progress made during the year within the textiles sector for graphene-based products, Middleton said commercial progress was “significant” in 2017 and that the momentum has continued into this year.
“We have a strong pipeline of opportunities for near term commercial progress and continue to broaden our portfolio of patents with two patents granted in 2018 covering our non-toxic flame retardancy composition for the textiles market,” he said. “The benefits of our chemical-free G+ are widely understood and we are increasingly engaging with global brand owners and textile companies who want to enhance the performance of their end products through leveraging its bacteriostatic, thermal management and fire retardant properties.”