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Denim Supply Chain Builds on Existing Game-Changing Technologies for S/S ’22

Players across the denim supply chain offered a glimpse into the innovations and projects being developed for Spring/Summer ’22 last week during Kingpins 24, the digital event hosted by Kingpins Show.

Sustainability continues to provide the framework for most collections, but there’s also a renewed focus on the practicality and function of garments and in how they are made.

Technology company Tonello teamed with denim veteran Piero Turk to create a collection of denim garments that showcase the capabilities of its new finishing process, The Laundry (R)Evolution. The concept optimizes the entire garment finishing process by using two technologies: laser finishing machines and Tonello’s water-saving washing operation, the All-in-One System.

For the capsule collection, Turk and Tonello used denim fabrics regarded by the Kingpins Show as the most sustainable. “When it comes to working on new developments, we always start from new ideas and the constant research that starts from a concept that becomes reality, by increasingly raising the bar of sustainability,” said Alice Tonello, R&D and marketing director of Tonello.

Artistic Milliners is building on the success of Crystal Clear indigo dye technology, which it introduced with brand partner G-Star Raw in 2017, with Crystal Clear 3.0, a process that reduces water consumption by 80 percent as a combined wet process that is also powered by G2 Dynamic ozone technology by Jeanologia. The mill presented the concept in a collection called Reflection, which includes eight fabrics made with Tencel Refibra.

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The Lycra Company’s new technology helps garments maintain their appearance wash after wash. The company highlighted its new Anti-Slip fiber, a denim seam slippage solution for applications in single-core spandex fabrics that require durable stretch and good recovery power. The fiber complements Lycra’s existing technologies. It can be combined with Lycra dualFX technology and Lycra T400 fiber.

“Our innovation strategy identifies the stated and unstated needs of our consumers and customers, and is guided by proprietary research, trends and insights,” said Steve Stewart, The Lycra Company’s newly appointed chief innovation officer. “We specifically look for pain points that can be solved with new or improved products or processes that add value. Our stretch technologies have revolutionized the textile and apparel industry and we continue to challenge ourselves to drive further product differentiation that helps to redefine the markets we compete in.”

Mills considered consumers’ at-home lifestyles. DNM Denim debuted a new performance denim concept called Shape N Relax. DNM’s U.K. sales director David Rumsey described the technology, a triple core stretch yarn, as an “intelligent” fabric. When the fabrics expand, extra support is given to areas where there is tension. “This way you get a perfect but comfortable fit around the legs combined with the best shaping and support around the body,” he said. Shape N Relax fabrics are offered in various weights and constructions.

In an effort to address comfort, cut down size-related returns, and prevent ill-fitting jeans from ending up in a landfill, Soorty introduced Re-Sync, a one-size-fits-all technology that allows jeans to adapt to the wearer’s body. The fabric sculpts the body with a 360-degree stretch comfort that enables the garments to “perform well” two sizes up and two sizes down.

“We find it incredibly important to offer products that fit no matter what, and the one-size-fits-all technology will be our step forward towards inclusive fashion with environmental and financial savings,” the mill stated.

Reducing waste and lessening the supply chain’s reliance on virgin components continue to be challenges for the denim industry to chip away.

Calik Denim introduced E-Denim, a patent pending process that allows the mill to incorporate higher recycled content in ring-spun yarn without compromising the quality and strength of the yarn by wrapping recycled core yarn with recycled cotton and recycled Tencel.

In the production of denim fabric, recycled cotton can be used in stretch products in the range of 30-40 percent, and in rigid fabrics this rate can be doubled, the mill stated. E-Denim technology allows the mill to increase its total recycled content rate to 50 percent in stretch fabrics and 80-100 percent in rigid product groups.

“Considering all of the technology that is available at the moment, there’s no excuse for anybody to not care about the environment,” said Faheem Dar, AFM COO garment division.

Zero virgin cotton denims are key in Artistic Fabric Mill’s sustainable production for S/S ’22. The mill is continuing its Phoenix concept, a range of fabrics with zero virgin cotton and zero waste water in the dyeing and finishing process. It is also exploring ways to recycle industrial cotton waste from its own mill floor that requires no additional dyeing.

The Undone line of fabrics features the recycled industrial cotton in the warp and weft, resulting in a distinct shade of blue-gray, while the Reweft line uses industrial cotton waste only in the weft and rich indigo in the warp. This group of fabrics is available in heavy and light constructions and in options that enhance the color contrast like rip-stop and basket weaves.

Hemp is another versatile alternative to cotton that is picking up momentum. “The way we used our technology, you get the natural neps of the fabric,” said Towonda Vaughns, AFM global design director. The mill’s hemp fabrics have the texture of an organic cotton fabric.

Calik’s hemp story for the season is Blue H, a range of articles that includes 20 percent hemp in both rigid comfort, super stretch and 100 percent stretch alternatives. Along with being an ingredient in brands’ sustainable collections, hemp has the added benefit of providing natural antimicrobial properties, meaning it keeps clothes cleaner for longer and prevents it from developing odor-causing bacteria.

In general, companies are responding to the market’s heightened awareness around hygiene, health and wellness—but in ways that are safe for the environment.

Rudolf Hub1922’s Washless technology for denim and non-denim is based on biomimicry to repel dirt and uses “antimicrobial, anti-bacteria and antiviral, non-migrating” chemistry to stop body odor. The combination translates into garments that allow for infrequent launderings.

Life cycle assessment studies on clothes, detergents and washing machines show that home laundering is the most energy‐demanding period during these products’ life cycle, even higher than production or transportation phases, the company stated.

“We own more and more clothing and wash it more frequently. This increased amount of washing counteracts the technological improvements in home laundry,” said Alberto De Conti, head of Rudolf fashion division. “Washless aims at changing consumer habits in clothing maintenance to a more environmentally friendly direction and represents a change that is the most feasible and efficient.”

Calik’s self-cleaning Washpro technology and ViralOff process, which uses a treatment from Swedish chemical company Polygiene, can stop viral activity from adhering to fabric. With the technology, the Covid-19 virus is “completely deactivated” on the fabric within two hours, the mill stated.

New developments by Brazilian denim mill Vicunha center on antiviral and antibacterial technologies. The new V. Tech Protective collection offers denim and twill fabrics with antimicrobial and antiviral, antimicrobial and repellent properties suitable for clothing, masks and other protective items.

“We understand that, right now, the fashion industry’s primary function is to curb people’s fears of buying and wearing clothes. We’re talking about the emergence of a new category of clothing, which functions as a ‘shield’ and aims to bolster people’s sense of security when going out, offering them protection and practicality in their day-to-day lives,” said German Alejandro, Vicunha director of marketing and trade. “As such, we believe these fabrics are ideal for creating pieces that, in addition to being protective, are comfortable, functional and versatile for the new consumer lifestyle.”

The collection uses HeiQ Viroblock, a technology proven to destroy the virus responsible for Covid-19. Tested by Brazil’s Universidade Estadual de Campinas’ virology laboratory, the technology has a 99.9 percent “viral inactivation” in just one minute of contact between the virus and the fabric, the mill reported. Though the treated fabrics can maintain their effectiveness up to 30 home washes, Vicunha recommends that garment manufacturers use minimal industrial laundry processing.