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Kingpins 24 Flash: How Denim Mills Are Driving Efficiency

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On Wednesday, viewers gathered for the second and final day of Kingpins 24 Flash, an online event showcasing the latest innovations, products and collaborations in the global denim market.

Transparency

Kipas Textile, a major sponsor of the event, kicked off the program with a conversation around the true definition of transparency, which according to managing director Halit Gumuser goes beyond a supplier list and involves mapping out raw materials and processes used.

“Transparency is a big word,” he said during an interview with Kingpins founder Andrew Olah. “Customers are now more aware of the natural impact of the product they are buying.”

In response to the increasing awareness, Kipas is investing in traceability software to track the origins of the fibers it works with, and looking more closely at ways to reduce its carbon emissions. As one of the largest textile mills in Europe, the company said it has a special responsibility to lower its footprint, and is doing so through an innovative process that utilizes its wastewater with carbon dioxide generated from coal burning. It also plans to offset its remaining carbon emissions by planting 500,000 trees in a five-year period, which will help the company realize its goal of becoming carbon positive by 2030.

Circularity

Spanish denim mill Tejidos Royo announced a new partnership utilizing Hyosung’s GRS-certified, 100 percent recycled Creora Regen spandex for denim. Made from reclaimed waste, the textile innovation makes for high-stretch denim without the use of polyester. According to Hyosung’s global marketing director Mike Simko, the fabric achieves more than 50 percent stretch with 5 percent growth. He added that the material’s spandex composition makes it more cost-efficient than stretch yarns, and also allows for laser finishing, which is typically problematic when applied to polyester.

Circularity was the focus for Artistic Milliners, which introduced a new structure that will serve as a central point for all of the company’s hard and soft waste. Called Circular Park, the 70,000 square-foot structure will collect everything from yarn waste to off cuts to be prepared for re-use.

According to Omer Ahmed, CEO, Artistic Milliners, this is a culmination of the company’s years-long dedication to circularity. “Circularity has been an integral part of our company’s metamorphosis from a traditional denim manufacturer to a truly sustainable one,” he said, adding that he believes the use of recycled fibers is the most sustainable practice currently available to the industry.

The structure will run on solar energy, and use machinery from textile recycling machinery company LaRoche for sorting and shredding.

Efficiency

Digitization is also a main goal for Artistic Garment Industries (AGI), which announced it will launch a campaign to digitize the manufacturing process and introduce what director Ahmed Javed calls a “new wave of traceability.” With two new garment factories, including a spinning mill and denim mill, AGI will be able to expand production by 2023.

Already, the Pakistan-based company uses industry-leading technology and systems, including laser cutting software that reduces fabric waste, and robots that were designed in-house to eliminate human involvement in the denim finishing process. The company reports that 50 percent of its manufacturing is done with laser technology.

“What we aim to achieve through these automations is to design with more circular intent, minimize margin for human error and maximize our consistencies,” Javed said. “We believe that with these automations, we can be leaner, better and faster.”

AGI Denim

The denim supply chain is working together to advance efficiencies in dyeing as well. Founder of House of Gold Adriano Goldschmied presented his “Seed of Joy” capsule collection featuring Tencel Modal fibers with Indigo technology, a process that incorporates indigo pigment directly into Tencel-branded modal fibers using a one-step, spun-dyeing process that uses fewer resources than conventional indigo dyeing.

The collection features woven, circular and sweater knit fabrics, marking another recent non-denim development from Goldschmied. Last year, Goldschmied teamed with Ace Rivington founder Beau Lawrence on AceGoldGreen to create what they considered the most sustainable T-shirt ever made. The product featured a blend of 45 percent hemp and 55 percent Tencel.

Water

Ebru Debbag, executive director of global sales and marketing at Soorty Enterprises, discussed the importance of building upon innovations, noting that it’s not enough to just invent a product or system. “To me, innovation is using technology and design to put to use what already exists,” she said. “From there, progress comes in layers.”

She pointed to Soorty’s Pure D fabric, a Cradle to Cradle certified gold product made using proprietary Zero Waste Water dyeing technology. The company began developing the fabric three years ago and just recently achieved one gold certification and one core certification from the Alliance for Water Stewardship, becoming the first Pakistan-based company to attain the status.

Brazil-based denim manufacturer Covolan presented its denim wastewater treatment plan, which provides an environmentally friendlier process for managing water used during denim dyeing and finishing. Its solution reduces the use of water and energy involved in the process and lowers the amount of sludge generated. The technology is automated and mobile-friendly, and gives operators the ability to manage every part of the process—from changing ph levels to controlling oxygen supply—directly from a smartphone.

Water is a point of focus for AGI as well. The company reported that it currently recycles 300,000 gallons of water daily. By investing in a new effluent treatment plant, it will be able to recycle 1 million more gallons every day by 2022.

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